Top 6 Must-Read Books for Aspiring Medical Students
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Top 6 Must-Read Books for Aspiring Medical Students

Ari Horesh

So, you're thinking about pursuing a career in medicine, but you're not quite sure if it's the right path for you? Fear not, aspiring medical student! We've got you covered with a list of the top 6 must-read books that will give you a glimpse into the world of medicine and help you make an informed decision. These books, written by experts and acclaimed authors, provide valuable insights into the medical profession and the lives of those who practice it. So, grab a cup of tea, find a comfy spot, and get ready to dive into these fascinating reads!

1. "Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End" by Atul Gawande

If you're looking for a book that discusses the ethical dilemmas and challenges faced by medical professionals, "Being Mortal" is a must-read. Written by renowned surgeon and author, Atul Gawande, this book delves into the importance of addressing patients' needs and desires as they near the end of their lives. It emphasizes the value of compassion and understanding in the medical profession and encourages aspiring doctors to ponder on the true purpose of medicine. Not only will this book provide you with a better understanding of a doctor's role in end-of-life care, but it will also inspire you to consider how you can make a difference in the lives of your future patients.

2. "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks" by Rebecca Skloot

This extraordinary book tells the true story of Henrietta Lacks, an African-American woman whose cancer cells were taken without her knowledge in 1951, leading to significant scientific breakthroughs. As you follow the journey of Henrietta's cells, known as HeLa, you will learn about the importance of medical ethics, consent, and the impact of scientific discoveries on society. "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks" will not only pique your interest in medical research but also serve as a powerful reminder of the responsibility that comes with pursuing a career in medicine.

3. "The House of God" by Samuel Shem

If you're curious about the daily life of a medical intern, "The House of God" is the book for you. This fictional account, written by a doctor under the pen name Samuel Shem, presents an unflinching look at the trials and tribulations faced by a group of interns at a prestigious teaching hospital. Through humor and brutal honesty, the author highlights the challenges of balancing one's personal and professional life in the medical field. While some aspects of the book may be exaggerated, it provides valuable insight into the world of medical training and the importance of self-care and resilience in a demanding profession.

4. "The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat" by Oliver Sacks

Renowned neurologist and gifted storyteller, Oliver Sacks, brings a collection of unusual and fascinating case studies in "The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat." This book provides a glimpse into the world of neurology and the complexities of the human brain. Sacks' compassionate and empathetic approach to his patients will inspire future medical students to treat their patients with kindness and understanding. Additionally, this book will encourage you to think critically about the ever-evolving field of medicine and the importance of staying curious throughout your career.

5. "Better: A Surgeon's Notes on Performance" by Atul Gawande

In his second appearance on our list, Atul Gawande offers a compelling collection of essays that delve into the pursuit of excellence in medicine. "Better" focuses on the never-ending quest to improve patient care and outcomes, addressing topics such as handwashing, medical errors, and the role of physicians during wartime. This book will encourage aspiring medical students to reflect on their own performance and consider how they can contribute to the betterment of medicine. "Better" is a must-read for those looking to understand the challenges and rewards of a career in medicine.

6. "When Breath Becomes Air" by Paul Kalanithi

In this poignant memoir, neurosurgeon Paul Kalanithi shares his journey from medical student to patient after being diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. "When Breath Becomes Air" is a powerful exploration of what it means to be a doctor, a patient, and ultimately, a human being facing mortality. Kalanithi's eloquent writing and profound insights will leave a lasting impact on anyone considering a career in medicine. This book serves as a reminder of the privilege and responsibility that comes with being a physician, as well as the importance of finding meaning and purpose in one's work.


These six books offer a diverse range of perspectives on the medical profession, touching on ethics, personal experiences, and the pursuit of excellence. By delving into these must-read books, aspiring medical students will gain valuable insights and a deeper understanding of the world of medicine. They will also help you to determine if a career in medicine is the right path for you. Remember, the journey to becoming a doctor is a long and challenging one, but with passion, dedication, and a love for learning, you can truly make a difference in the lives of your patients. Happy reading!

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