The best medical memoirs which take you 'behind the scenes' of gritty specialties

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a retired, Scottish, NHS consultant forensic psychiatrist, who worked with mentally disordered offenders in prisons, hospitals, and in the community. I am passionate about raising awareness, destigmatisation of mental illness, and introducing the human beings behind the sensationalist newspaper headlines. They are all someone's son or daughter, who didn't ask to get ill. Occasionally mental illness makes good people do bad things. It was my job to find, treat and rehabilitate them. I believe entertaining medical memoirs can engage readers and inform thinking by challenging attitudes and assumptions.

I wrote...

I Don't Talk to Dead Bodies: The Curious Encounters of a Forensic Psychiatrist

By Rhona Morrison,

Book cover of I Don't Talk to Dead Bodies: The Curious Encounters of a Forensic Psychiatrist

What is my book about?

Join Dr. Rhona Morrison on a funny, bizarre, and often thought-provoking rollercoaster ride through some of the most curious encounters of her career as a forensic psychiatrist. Delve into the minds of real people, whose actions may shock you, but whose stories have the power to challenge your assumptions and the stigma that surrounds mental illness. Travel directly into their living rooms and see behind the closed doors of hospitals, prisons, and courtrooms.

Lift the lid on Dr. Morrison's jaw-dropping experiences with murderers, a stalker and other dangerous offenders as she attempts to make sense of some highly unusual situations. Discover the true stories of the inspiring human beings who are bravely learning to live with major mental illness.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of This Is Going to Hurt: Secret Diaries of a Young Doctor

Rhona Morrison Why did I love this book?

I loved this memoir because it was humorous and it transported me back to my own days as a junior doctor in a District General hospital, in the mid-1980s.

The black humour of a medic combined with the real human stories made it very relatable. This, merged with an easy-to-read diary style, captured the true life experiences and dilemmas of a junior doctor working in the NHS perfectly.

It was a walk down memory lane for me and it would provide an amusing insight for non-medics.

By Adam Kay,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked This Is Going to Hurt as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Now an AMC+ series starring Ben Whishaw

The acclaimed multimillion-copy bestseller, This Is Going to Hurt is Adam Kay’s equally "blisteringly funny" (Boston Globe) and “heartbreaking” (New Yorker) secret diaries of his years as a young doctor.

Welcome to 97-hour weeks. Welcome to life and death decisions. Welcome to a constant tsunami of bodily fluids. Welcome to earning less than the hospital parking meter. Wave goodbye to your friends and relationships. Welcome to the life of a first-year doctor.

Scribbled in secret after endless days, sleepless nights, and missed weekends, comedian and former medical resident Adam Kay’s This Is Going…

Book cover of War Doctor: Surgery on the Front Line

Rhona Morrison Why did I love this book?

I loved this book as it gave a vivid, no holds barred glimpse into the world of a general/vascular surgeon volunteering in a war zone.

It was written with passion and an eye for detail which captured the imagery and emotions for me, in a way that transported me right into the frontline of the war zone beside him.

This book highlights the necessity for medical services to be provided in war zones and the superhuman personal attributes of those brave staff who venture in there. I am not sure I would have been so brave.

By David Nott,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked War Doctor as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The #1 internationally bestselling, gripping true story of a frontline trauma surgeon operating in the world s most dangerous war zones

For more than 25 years, surgeon David Nott has volunteered in some of the world s most dangerous conflict zones. From Sarajevo under siege in 1993 to clandestine hospitals in rebel-held eastern Aleppo, he has carried out lifesaving operations in the most challenging conditions, and with none of the resources of a major metropolitan hospital. He is now widely acknowledged as the most experienced trauma surgeon in the world.

War Doctor is his extraordinary story, encompassing his surgeries in…

Book cover of All That Remains: A Renowned Forensic Scientist on Death, Mortality, and Solving Crimes

Rhona Morrison Why did I love this book?

I loved this book, as it confirmed for me the importance of forensic anthropology as a specialty, helping us access information from human remains, to assist in disentangling a person's history after death.

It was heartening to feel the respect shown to the dead ooze from every page and it reminded me of 'Albert' (that's what I named the gentleman who had kindly donated his body to science for me to learn human anatomy as a medical student).

I planted a tree in his memory. It was fascinating, informative, and entertaining in good measure. I am a psychiatrist, but I also have a diploma in forensic medicine, so know a little about the scene of crime investigation.

This book brought the anthropologist's skills to life.

By Sue Black,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked All That Remains as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Book of the Year, Saltire Literary Awards
A CrimeReads Best True Crime Book of the Month

For fans of Caitlin Doughty, Mary Roach, Kathy Reichs, and CSI shows, a renowned forensic scientist on death and mortality.

Dame Sue Black is an internationally renowned forensic anthropologist and human anatomist. She has lived her life eye to eye with the Grim Reaper, and she writes vividly about it in this book, which is part primer on the basics of identifying human remains, part frank memoir of a woman whose first paying job as a schoolgirl was to apprentice in a butcher shop,…

Book cover of The Prison Doctor

Rhona Morrison Why did I love this book?

I loved this book as it triggered memories for me from my time working as a prison psychiatrist in HMP Cornton Vale, Scotland's female prison.

The scenarios and emotions evoked were very relatable and highlighted the complexities involved in dealing with a population of women with complex trauma histories, who may often be both victims and perpetrators of crime.

The mix of relationship difficulties, mental health problems, personalities, substance misuse, self-harming, and humour is both interesting and sadly very familiar. This book helps to raise awareness.

By Amanda Brown,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Prison Doctor as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


As seen on BBC Breakfast

Horrifying, heartbreaking and eye-opening, these are the stories, the patients and the cases that have characterised a career spent being a doctor behind bars.

Violence. Drugs. Suicide. Welcome to the world of a Prison Doctor.

Dr Amanda Brown has treated inmates in the UK's most infamous prisons - first in young offenders' institutions, then at the notorious Wormwood Scrubs and finally at Europe's largest women-only prison in Europe, Bronzefield.

From miraculous pregnancies to dirty protests, and from violent attacks on prisoners to heartbreaking acts of self-harm, she has witnessed it…

Book cover of Anti-Social: The Secret Diary of an Anti-Social Behaviour Officer

Rhona Morrison Why did I love this book?

Whilst this book is not a medical memoir, I have included it, as it is written by a local authority worker dealing with the gritty side of life.

Often his clients may have crossed over into criminality and have wound up at scenes of crimes, in hospitals, or in custody, where they would have encountered some medics from the grittier specialties with which I am more familiar.

It was raw and funny, but underlying this there was a sadness about the state of humanity and the impact on the health of staff. Local authority service workers are overstretched and understaffed, but find themselves working with some of the most complex and challenging situations and individuals.

This fly-on-the-wall account takes us right into the situations and we feel the emotion. It provides a valuable insight into a less well-known occupation.

By Nick Pettigrew,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Anti-Social as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Perfect for fans of The Secret Barrister and Adam Kay's This is Going to Hurt.
'Superb. This hysterically funny and moving memoir of an anti-social behaviour officer is a real eye-opener that hits all the right notes' FRANKIE BOYLE

'Anti-Social is brutally honest, exceptionally funny and terribly sad - a scything indictment of broken 21st century Britain. I could not put it down.' THE SECRET BARRISTER

'A fascinating insight into a job that stitches together the cracks in compassion in our communities' RENI EDDO-LODGE, bestselling author of Why I Am No Longer Talking To White People About Race

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American Flygirl

By Susan Tate Ankeny,

Book cover of American Flygirl

Susan Tate Ankeny Author Of The Girl and the Bombardier: A True Story of Resistance and Rescue in Nazi-Occupied France

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Susan Tate Ankeny left a career in teaching to write the story of her father’s escape from Nazi-occupied France. In 2011, after being led on his path through France by the same Resistance fighters who guided him in 1944, she felt inspired to tell the story of these brave French patriots, especially the 17-year-old- girl who risked her own life to save her father’s. Susan is a member of the 8th Air Force Historical Society, the Air Force Escape and Evasion Society, and the Association des Sauveteurs d’Aviateurs Alliés. 

Susan's book list on women during WW2

What is my book about?

The first and only full-length biography of Hazel Ying Lee, an unrecognized pioneer and unsung World War II hero who fought for a country that actively discriminated against her gender, race, and ambition.

This unique hidden figure defied countless stereotypes to become the first Asian American woman in United States history to earn a pilot's license, and the first female Asian American pilot to fly for the military.

Her achievements, passionate drive, and resistance in the face of oppression as a daughter of Chinese immigrants and a female aviator changed the course of history. Now the remarkable story of a fearless underdog finally surfaces to inspire anyone to reach toward the sky.

American Flygirl

By Susan Tate Ankeny,

What is this book about?

One of WWII’s most uniquely hidden figures, Hazel Ying Lee was the first Asian American woman to earn a pilot’s license, join the WASPs, and fly for the United States military amid widespread anti-Asian sentiment and policies.

Her singular story of patriotism, barrier breaking, and fearless sacrifice is told for the first time in full for readers of The Women with Silver Wings by Katherine Sharp Landdeck, A Woman of No Importance by Sonia Purnell, The Last Boat Out of Shanghai by Helen Zia, Facing the Mountain by Daniel James Brown and all Asian American, women’s and WWII history books.…

5 book lists we think you will like!

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