Top 12 Best Medical Books if you love to read about medicine

I run a medical book club. For the last 6 years, we have met every 6 weeks and have read over 50 books. Our club is named Aceso after the Greek Goddess of sickness and healing. Our group all work in medical professions (physicians, nurses, dentists, health care technicians, psychologists) in a range of specialties (EM, Rheumatology, ICU, OB/GYN, Internal Medicine, Pediatrics, Dentistry). We only read medically-themed books. Each time, we ‘pitch’ a book selection to the group and then vote for the next read. This keeps our book picks diverse—everything from historical fiction, popular fiction, non-fiction, memoirs–whatever gets the most votes, becomes our next read. Although each of us has a personal favorite, the following 12 books are the ones we liked the most as a group. These books are in random order. If you scroll further down further, I have also included many from the whole list in case you are looking for more medical book recommendations.

Top 12…….

Historical fiction about a young girl who survives the black plague during 17th century England.
A Neurosurgeon’s reflective memoir about his journey through medical training and eventual practice.
Historical fiction about a young girl who contracts leprosy and is then quarantined in Hawaii in 1890s.
Lovely book that examines end-of-life care from a different perspective.
Historical fiction of a midwife from Nova Scotia and her clash with newer medical practices.
A Hmong family with seizure disorder and their interaction with Western medicine.
Infectious disease doctor’s experience at the start of the AIDS epidemic in rural Tennessee.
Historical fiction about the practice of blood-letting in Prague in the 1600s.
Non-fiction about why certain diseases still persist over time. Relatable to current events.
Non-fiction about what happens to our bodies after we die. Each chapter focuses on different things.
After 9/11, a reporter becomes a paramedic and documents his experiences. Strong imagery.
A thrilling true story about a nurse who intentionally kills patients throughout his long career.

Books that did not make the list but are still worth reading…….

Left Neglected by Lisa GenovaA young mother has a particular type of stroke where she doesn’t perceive one side of her body (“left neglect”)
Trans-sister Radio by Chris BohjalianA man who undergoes a sex-change operation.
Possessing the Secret of Joy by Alice WalkerFemale genital mutilation.
Ghost Boy: The Miraculous Escape of a misdiagnosed boy trapped inside his own body by Martin PistoriusA young child becomes misdiagnosed with a degenerative disease, becomes wheelchair-bound and then miraculously recovers.
The Red Market: On the Trail of the World’s Organ Brokers, Bone Thieves, Blood Farmers and Child Traffickers by Scott CarneyThe black market for organs, blood, cadavers.
When Breath Becomes Air by Paul KalanithiNeurosurgeon’s memoir about getting cancer and dying.
The Great Believers by Rebecca MakkaiA fictional story about friends dealing with the AIDS epidemic.
Fever by Mary Beth KeaneHistorical fiction about ‘typhoid Mary’
The Hot Zone by Richard PrestonEbola outbreak
The Immortal Life of Henrietta LacksA story about the origin of He-La cells.
Born on a Blue Day: Inside the Extraordinary Mind of an Autistic Savant by Daniel TammetA memoir written by an actual savant.
All Fall Down by Jennifer WeinerA fictional account of a mother who becomes addicted to opioids.
Five Days at Memorial by Sheri FinkAn account of the 5 days in a hospital after Hurricane Katrina.
Doctored: The Disillusionment of an American Physician by Sandeep JauharA Cardiologist’s take on American medicine.
Orphan #8 by Kim van AlkemadeHistorical fiction about experiments on kids in a Jewish orphanage during the 1920s in NYC.
Dreamland by Sam QuinonesOpioid epidemic.
The Queen of Hearts by Kimmery MartinThe fictional story of friends from medical school who harbor a secret.
The Lives They Left Behind: Suitcases from a State Hospital Attic by Darby Penney and Peter StastnyA story about the belongings that patients left behind in an attic at NY’s largest states hospital.
Oxygen by Carol CassellaA fictional story about an Anesthesiologist’s horrible case that led to a malpractice case.
Mama might be better off dead: The Failure of Healthcare in Urban America by Laurie Kate AbrahamA story about a multi-generational family’s dealing with the healthcare system in Chicago.
Dead Men Do Tell Tales: The Strange and fascinating cases of a Forensic Anthropologist by William R Maples, PhDForensic anthropologist examines skeletons to piece together facts about their lives.
An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks and Sarah PekkanenA young college girl signs up to be a research study participant and soon finds her life turned upside down.
Daughter of Moloka’i by Alan BrennertSequel to the Moloka’i book about a girl quarantined to leper colony.
Sickened: The True Story of a Lost Childhood by Julie GregoryMunchausen by proxy.
Quackery: A Brief History of the Worst Ways to Cure Everything by Lydia Kang, MD and Nate PedersenThe history of medical treatment throughout the years. Talks about the “treatments” that doctors, spiritualists, and snake oil salesmen recommended in the past.
The Alienist by Celeb CarrA psychologist is asked to examine the mutilated bodies to help catch the perpetrator.
The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele RichardsonAbout a woman with methemoglobinemia (from the blue people of Kentucky)who goes around delivering books to people in rural Appalachia.
Blind Eye: The Terrifying Story of a Doctor Who Got Away with Murder by James B. StewartA psychopathic doctor who moves from hospital to hospital intentionally killing patients.
White Coat Black Hat: Adventures on the Dark Side of Medicine by Carl ElliottHow medicine has transformed into big business.
Hidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of an American Family by Robert KolkerA family of 12 children, 6 of which become diagnosed with schizophrenia. Based on true story.
The Code Breakers: Jennifer Doudna, Gene Editing and the Futures of the Human Race by Walter IsaacsonBiography about Jennifer Doudna, the Nobel Prize winner, who discovered CRISPR technology.
The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of Ameria’s Shining Women by Kate MooreYoung women in the 1920s flocked to industries that use radium and eventually find out how dangerous it really is.

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