Pre-Med Reading List

Looking to expand your personal library? If you’re interested in medicine, medical education and/or health care reform, be sure to add these nonfiction reads to your list.

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Being Mortal

Being Mortal
By Atul Gawande, MD
Medicine has triumphed in modern times, but when it comes to the inescapable realities of aging and death, what medicine can do often runs counter to what it should. Through eye-opening research and gripping stories of his own patients and family, Gawande reveals the suffering this dynamic has produced.

The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right

The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right
By Atul Gwande, MD
Gawande begins on familiar ground, with his experiences as a surgeon. But before long it becomes clear that he is really interested in a problem that afflicts virtually every aspect of the modern world: how professionals deal with the increasing complexity of their responsibilities.

The Creative Destruction of Medicine: How the Digital Revolution Will Create Better Medicine

The Creative Destruction of Medicine: How the Digital Revolution Will Create Better Medicine
By Eric Topol, MD
Pioneering geneticist and cardiologist Eric Topol introduces a radical new approach; by bringing the era of big data to the clinic, laboratory, and hospital. With personal technology, doctors can see a full, continuously updated picture of each patient and treat each individually.

The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer

The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer
By Siddhartha Mukherjee, MD
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, this is a profoundly humane “biography” of cancer—from its first documented appearances thousands of years ago through the epic battles in the 20th century to cure, control, and conquer it to a radical new understanding of its essence.

Get Inside Your Doctor's Head: 10 Commonsense Rules for Making Better Decisions about Medical Care

Get Inside Your Doctor's Head: 10 Commonsense Rules for Making Better Decisions about Medical Care
By Phillip K. Peterson, MD
Most medical decisions are based on common sense. In this short and easy-to-read book, Peterson explains the Ten Rules of Internal Medicine. Then, using real case examples, he shows how following the Rules will help you make good decisions and avoid bad decisions when it comes to medical care.

Hallucinations

Hallucinations
By Oliver Sacks, MD
With his usual elegance, curiosity, and compassion, Sacks weaves together stories of his patients and of his own mind-altering experiences to illuminate what hallucinations tell us about the organization and structure of our brains, how they have influenced every culture’s folklore and art, and why the potential for hallucination is present in us all.

How Doctors Think

How Doctors Think
By Jerome Groopman, MD
This book provides a window into the mind of a physician and an insightful examination of the all-important relationship between doctors and their patients. Groopman explores the forces and thought processes behind the decisions doctors make, pinpointing how doctors succeed and why they err.

How We Do Harm: A Doctor Breaks Rank About Being Sick in America

How We Do Harm: A Doctor Breaks Rank About Being Sick in America
By Otis Webb Brawley, MD, with Paul Goldberg
This book exposes the underbelly of healthcare today: the over treatment of the rich, the under treatment of the poor, the financial conflicts of interest that determine the care that physicians’ provide, insurance companies that don’t demand the best care, and pharmaceutical companies concerned only with selling drugs.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
By Rebecca Skloot
Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor black tobacco farmer whose cells, taken without her knowledge in 1951, became one of the most important tools in medicine, vital for developing the polio vaccine, cloning, gene mapping, in vitro fertilization, and more.

Intern: A Doctor’s Initiation

Intern: A Doctor’s Initiation
By Sandeep Jauhar, MD
This is Jauhar's story of his days and nights in residency at a prominent teaching hospital in New York City, a trial that led him to question every conventional assumption about doctors and medicine, and that makes him an ideal figure to speak to our own misgivings about doctors and medicine today.

When the Air Hits Your Brain: Tales from Neurosurgery

When the Air Hits Your Brain: Tales from Neurosurgery
By Frank Vertosick, Jr., MD
With poignant insight and humor, Vertosick describes some of the greatest challenges of his career, including a six-week-old infant with a tumor in her brain, a young man struck down in his prime by paraplegia, and a minister with a .22-caliber bullet lodged in his skull.

Many of these recommendations are courtesy of the Best Books by Physicians reading list.