If you’re a medical professional, you’re certainly aware of the value of books in your career––you can never have enough of them. Books, whether academic or fiction, become your companions in no time. Your mind is ripe for acquiring new knowledge on the job, and when you’re off work, your brain and body demand a break. These two facts make you a perfect candidate for an age-old hobby: reading.
When it comes to doctor books, there are two categories: the erudite reads and the fun stuff. Both can center on your passion for medicine, but some of these books say “Saturday night self-care,” while others scream, “leave me at work!”
Read on to find out about some inspiring books about doctors, fascinating books about medicine and cut-and-dry books on medical conditions and pharmacology (the latter are the ones best left at work). Discover a read for when you want to wind down and relax and others for when you need to ramp up your knowledge. Here’s our ultimate guide to medical books to read—both light and heavy (in content and pages). Let’s start with our few favorites that can inspire you.
You’re an inspiration. There are no two ways about it. Your work as a physician saves lives, improves patients’ well-being and motivates your peers to provide the best care possible. You can deeply relate to the inspiring tales told in medicine books about researchers and real-life doctors (or your distant colleagues) and their experiences. Here are a few must-read books about medical practice:
“Mountains Beyond Mountains”
Written by Tracy Kidder, this nonfiction book with a literary bent tells the story of Dr. Paul Farmer, a philanthropic doctor who was determined to bring lifesaving care to under-resourced and underserved regions. Just like Mahatma Gandhi said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world,” it’s a text that demonstrates one person can change the world.
“The Real Doctor Will See You Shortly: A Physician’s First Year”
There’s nothing quite like a sense of humor for the soul. In this witty memoir, author Matt McCarthy, MD, talks about his first year as an intern and the heart-wrenching and humorous moments that shaped this time in his career.
“An Elegant Defense: The Extraordinary New Science of the Immune System: A Tale in Four Lives”
No one judges you for wanting to study the immune system during your time off. You might not be on the clock, but the body is fascinating. In this nonfiction book by Pulitzer-prize-winning journalist Matt Ritchel, you’ll explore the strengths and weaknesses of the bodily system that helps keep us alive.
You won’t be taking a 400-page reference guide into the tub, but it can certainly help on a shift. Here are a few career essentials to bolster your knowledge:
“Atlas of Human Anatomy”
Authored by Frank H. Netter, MD, this expertly illustrated book puts the human body on display. You’ll experience vessels, nerves, lymphatics, veins and other structures in this visually focused guide.
“The Merck Manual of Diagnosis and Therapy”
You can only carry so much knowledge around with you in your brain, so carry some around in your pocket—okay, honestly, your bag because this is a 3,530-page book. Now in its 20th edition, this manual is an everyday guide for medical professionals—from oncologists to neurosurgeons. It helps them diagnose and treat conditions.
“Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine”
This massive, two-volume reference book is one you’ll want on your office bookshelf. The “definitive guide to internal medicine,” this text will walk you through clinical trials, guidelines and treatments. “State of the art” is an understatement!
At Jaanuu, we’re true-blue advocates of work-life balance. You can read about rare diagnoses and inspiring stories from the field but don’t skip those practical texts that help you live your best life as a doctor. Make the most of your time and money with these reads. Here are our top two:
“The White Coat Investor: A Doctor’s Guide to Personal Finance and Investing”
You chose to become a doctor, not an investment banker, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be an expert at your finances. Written by Dr. James M. Dahle, MD, this great book explores the administrative and financial issues that medical professionals face and helps you get your business bearings.
“Better: A Surgeon’s Notes on Performance”
The life of a medical professional is riddled with insecurity, burnout and self-criticism. Authored by Atul Gawande, this best-seller explores the standards doctors set for themselves versus the reality of being mortal in the operating room. It’s the kind of book that’ll make you feel seen, heard and accompanied as a healthcare provider.
Med school life
If you’re pursuing your medical education, you may not have much time to read. But, when you do, we’d bet you want to reach for a comforting book that reminds you that you’re not alone in this unique and challenging experience. Here are a few texts that can do that for young doctors:
“A Not Entirely Benign Procedure: Four Years as a Medical Student”
Written by Perri Klass, this candid collection of essays will accompany you through the highs and lows of your medical school career. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry and you’ll feel understood!
This memoir follows one man’s route to becoming a doctor. Dr. Anthony Youn describes his journey from an awkward high-schooler to an incredible plastic surgeon through self-deprecating humor and heartfelt moments.
“The Intern Blues by Robert Marion”
Who doesn’t love a classic? This read may be over 20 years old, but it’s timeless. Authored by Robert Marion, this book is a story of a lifetime. Marion had three of his med students keep journals for a year. The results are inspiring, impactful stories but not without a touch of humor.
As a doctor, you work hard, and burnout is real. So, while you may want to spend your free time brushing up on your clinical skills or reading reports from the field, allow yourself to have a moment of catharsis.
Pick up that pleasure book—whether it’s a beach read or the latest literary fiction, and swap your lab coat out for a cozy bathrobe. Make time for yourself and activities that bring nothing else to your life but fun and relaxation. Self-care isn’t a luxury!
At Jaanuu, we’re all about helping healthcare professionals feel good both at work and at home. Whether looking for a pair of the most comfortable scrubs or content that helps you stay motivated and feel rejuvenated, we’re here––just a click away!