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Medic’s Bookshelf

We all love a good read. Over the years I’ve enjoyed hearing the stories of other medics, some of their experiences I’m glad I’ll never have to go through and many, I have found, are universal to all who enter the medical profession. I have loved reading all the books in my Medic’s Bookshelf and have not listed them in a particular ranking order.

#1. House of God by Samuel Shem

The House of God

This is a must read. If you haven’t already, go and buy a copy. Written by a psychiatrist in the 70s and based in a fictional hospital, it focuses on the dehumanization and psychological trauma experienced in a year in the lives of its resident physicians. House of God is the source of many of the Laws you will hear around hospitals today and may have even quoted yourself: “There is no body cavity that cannot be reached with a #14G needle and a good strong arm.” or “At a cardiac arrest, the first procedure is to take your own pulse” and “The delivery of good medical care is to do as much nothing as possible.” It’s a hilarious and tragic read full of the ridiculousness of life as a medic.


#2. This is Going to Hurt: Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor by Adam Kay

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This is Going to Hurt

I read this book recently and found myself staying up until 2 am to finish it. Written by one of the founders of the group Amateur transplants (if you haven’t heard of them look them up) and now comedy writer, This is going to hurt is funny and visceral, a real account of what its like to work as a doctor in the modern NHS, with no punches pulled. It highlights how devalued the workforce has become, but also the hugely valuable impact doctors can have on their patients.




#3. Trust Me I’m A (Junior) Doctor Max Pemberton

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Trust Me I’m a Junior Doctor

Another diarized book written by a now, psychiatrist, detailing the daily life of a junior doctor. Originally serialized in a daily telegraphy column, Trust me I’m a (Junior) Doctor was published in 2008 and followed by two sequels. It’s a frank and humorous account of what we all see and experience in hospital life and brings home both the ridiculousness and importance of what we do. This is the first “medical” book I ever read and helped me understand that no matter what situation I found myself in, someone else had already been through it.


#4. Operations that Made History By Harold Ellis

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Operations that made History

Slightly less personal and more factual, operations that made history is still an entertaining and interesting read. Stepping back in time Prof Ellis, a renowned anatomy teacher explores some of the most important operations and famous patients in history. Not just one for the surgeons or historians this book would make a fascinating read to medics and non-medics alike.





#5. Do No Harm: Stories of Life, Death and Brain Surgery by Henry Marsh

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Do No Harm

The well known Neurosurgeon, Henry Marsh, you may have seen him in the BBC documentary Your Life in their Hands, has achieved something incredible with this book. Enthralling and enlightening as well as showing the very human side of surgeons and the burden their carry it is a must read. Its also fascinating to read about the silver service sit down meals doctors were provided with once-upon a time, now that we cannot find hot food in the hospital no night shifts and being called to A&E only is Matron could not manage the patient seem entirely alien.

Have you read any of the above titles? Perhaps you’ve got them on the shelf, ready to? Let us know what you’re reading in our Community, or contact our editor at if you would like to write a blog about your Medic’s Bookshelf!


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