100 books like A History of Present Illness

By Anna DeForest,

Here are 100 books that A History of Present Illness fans have personally recommended if you like A History of Present Illness. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of God's Hotel: A Doctor, a Hospital, and a Pilgrimage to the Heart of Medicine

Kay White Drew Author Of Stress Test: A Memoir

From my list on women physicians about their own healing.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a woman physician who struggled with depression, the words “Physician, heal thyself” have particular resonance for me. In my own quest for healing, I’ve explored alternative modalities like acupuncture and reiki, as well as conventional psychotherapy. I’m always interested in reading about other women who faced the ever-present sexism of medicine, as well as those who dealt with mental health challenges and traumatic events before and during their medical training. I want to know what the factors were that helped them and healed them. Therapy? Other healing modalities? Mentors, friends, lovers? Finding a loving life partner? We all have so much to learn from each other. 

Kay's book list on women physicians about their own healing

Kay White Drew Why did Kay love this book?

This thoughtful, well-written memoir of a medical doctor and historian reminded me of why we doctors practice medicine.

The story of her years at Laguna Honda, a long-term rehabilitation hospital for indigent patients, presented me with a kind of medical practice as different as possible from the intensive care I myself practiced: Slow Medicine, which promotes close observation and deep listening, just sitting together, allowing time to do at least some of the healing. Laguna Honda was a place of hospitality, community, and charity.

I take comfort in knowing that there is still a place for these values in today’s highly fragmented, technologized, and speeded-up “healthcare system.” I was particularly moved by Sweet’s reflectiveness and vibrant humanity as she allowed “God’s Hotel” to heal her even as it—and she—healed her patients. 

By Victoria Sweet,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked God's Hotel as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Victoria Sweet's new book, SLOW MEDICINE, is on sale now!

For readers of Paul Kalanithi’s When Breath Becomes Air, a medical “page-turner” that traces one doctor’s “remarkable journey to the essence of medicine” (The San Francisco Chronicle). 

San Francisco’s Laguna Honda Hospital is the last almshouse in the country, a descendant of the Hôtel-Dieu (God’s hotel) that cared for the sick in the Middle Ages. Ballet dancers and rock musicians, professors and thieves—“anyone who had fallen, or, often, leapt, onto hard times” and needed extended medical care—ended up here. So did Victoria Sweet, who came for two months and stayed…


Book cover of The Beauty In Breaking: A Memoir

Kay White Drew Author Of Stress Test: A Memoir

From my list on women physicians about their own healing.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a woman physician who struggled with depression, the words “Physician, heal thyself” have particular resonance for me. In my own quest for healing, I’ve explored alternative modalities like acupuncture and reiki, as well as conventional psychotherapy. I’m always interested in reading about other women who faced the ever-present sexism of medicine, as well as those who dealt with mental health challenges and traumatic events before and during their medical training. I want to know what the factors were that helped them and healed them. Therapy? Other healing modalities? Mentors, friends, lovers? Finding a loving life partner? We all have so much to learn from each other. 

Kay's book list on women physicians about their own healing

Kay White Drew Why did Kay love this book?

Michele Harper’s memoir is beautifully written, and her compassion and empathy shine through.

I was deeply moved by the way in which she carried that clear-eyed compassion forward from a trauma-ridden childhood through her medical training—where she, as a Black woman, experienced both racism and sexism—and into her life as an emergency room physician. I admired her forthrightness in calling out these injustices as she saw and experienced them while still maintaining her own humanity. I was inspired by her integrity and by the way she showed us, through her own life and the lives of her patients, that, as she says in the epilogue, “[b]rokenness can be a remarkable gift.” 

By Michele Harper,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Beauty In Breaking as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

A New York Times Notable Book

“Riveting, heartbreaking, sometimes difficult, always inspiring.” —The New York Times Book Review

“An incredibly moving memoir about what it means to be a doctor.” —Ellen Pompeo

As seen/heard on Fresh Air, The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, NBC Nightly News, MSNBC, Weekend Edition, and more

An emergency room physician explores how a life of service to others taught her how to heal herself.

Michele Harper is a female, African American emergency room physician in a profession that is overwhelmingly male and white. Brought up in Washington, D.C., in a…


Book cover of We Are All Perfectly Fine: A Memoir of Love, Medicine and Healing

Kay White Drew Author Of Stress Test: A Memoir

From my list on women physicians about their own healing.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a woman physician who struggled with depression, the words “Physician, heal thyself” have particular resonance for me. In my own quest for healing, I’ve explored alternative modalities like acupuncture and reiki, as well as conventional psychotherapy. I’m always interested in reading about other women who faced the ever-present sexism of medicine, as well as those who dealt with mental health challenges and traumatic events before and during their medical training. I want to know what the factors were that helped them and healed them. Therapy? Other healing modalities? Mentors, friends, lovers? Finding a loving life partner? We all have so much to learn from each other. 

Kay's book list on women physicians about their own healing

Kay White Drew Why did Kay love this book?

I LOVE the author’s voice in this memoir: she is eloquent, funny, and blisteringly honest about the dehumanization that has plagued medical training from its inception to this day.

I found it enlightening to see that a woman who is a concert pianist and turned down a full scholarship to Oxford to go to medical school suffered the same level of self-doubt as a medical student and resident that I did! I found her descriptions of sleep deprivation, the anxiety of being on call, and the pager as “the box of pain” highly relatable, even as I laughed out loud—or sometimes shed a tear.

I was inspired by her redemption through what she called “Doctor Rehab,” a Zen mindfulness retreat which gave her a whole new take on her calling.   

By Jillian Horton,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked We Are All Perfectly Fine as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When we need help, we count on doctors to put us back together. But what happens when doctors fall apart?

Jillian Horton, a general internist, has no idea what to expect during her five-day retreat at Chapin Mill, a Zen centre in upstate New York. She just knows she desperately needs a break. At first she is deeply uncomfortable with the spartan accommodations, silent meals and scheduled bonding sessions. But as the group struggles through awkward first encounters and guided meditations, something remarkable happens: world-class surgeons, psychiatrists, pediatricians and general practitioners open up and share stories about their secret guilt…


Book cover of Starved: A Nutrition Doctor's Journey from Empty to Full

Kay White Drew Author Of Stress Test: A Memoir

From my list on women physicians about their own healing.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a woman physician who struggled with depression, the words “Physician, heal thyself” have particular resonance for me. In my own quest for healing, I’ve explored alternative modalities like acupuncture and reiki, as well as conventional psychotherapy. I’m always interested in reading about other women who faced the ever-present sexism of medicine, as well as those who dealt with mental health challenges and traumatic events before and during their medical training. I want to know what the factors were that helped them and healed them. Therapy? Other healing modalities? Mentors, friends, lovers? Finding a loving life partner? We all have so much to learn from each other. 

Kay's book list on women physicians about their own healing

Kay White Drew Why did Kay love this book?

I loved this memoir because it is a story of incredible resilience.

I was deeply moved by the author’s ability to recount the stark facts of the heartbreaking intergenerational trauma she suffered while showing how her early life experiences of deprivation and abuse helped pave the way for her compassionate work with patients and populations. I nodded in recognition and sometimes laughed out loud at her account of her Catholic school education, which I could relate to my own experience.

I was awestruck by her grit and determination to rise above her difficult circumstances without any kind of model and little or no encouragement. I was inspired by her ability to find love and a fulfilling career after such a rocky start, and I’m sure her patients appreciate the depth of her compassion.  

By Anne McTiernan,

Why should I read it?

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


Book cover of Moloka'i

Elizabeth R. Andersen Author Of The Scribe

From my list on historical fiction that are not in Western Europe.

Why am I passionate about this?

Ever since I picked up an old copy of Richard Halliburton’s Book of Wonders as a child, I’ve known that exploring other cultures and countries is something I wanted to experience for the rest of my life. From then on, I’ve traveled, taken cross-cultural studies, and managed international teams as a tech marketer–and my passion for new people and places hasn’t ceased. I love reading (and writing) about the liminal spaces in history–the times and places that aren’t easy to define and don’t make it into standard history books. This list reflects my interests, and I hope it broadens the horizons of other readers. 

Elizabeth's book list on historical fiction that are not in Western Europe

Elizabeth R. Andersen Why did Elizabeth love this book?

This book is personal to me. My ancestry is Hawaiian, and I have often stared at the old photographs of my Hawaiian great-grandparents, which were taken at the beginning of the 20th century, and wondered about their world.

This book begins also at the turn of the century, and as I read, I imagined that Rachel, the protagonist, might be walking down the street at the same time as Mary, my 6-foot-tall great-grandmother. Although I had often heard that there was a “leper colony”(we now refer to it as Hansen’s disease) on the island of Moloka’i, I knew almost nothing about it.

Through this book, reading the descriptions of the clothes and houses, the language and attitudes through history into the 1980s, I really felt like I was a passenger on a voyage through my grandparent’s world. 

By Alan Brennert,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Moloka'i as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Young Rachel Kalama, growing up in idyllic Honolulu in the 1890s, dreams of seeing far-off lands, but at the age of seven Rachel's dreams are shattered by the discovery that she has leprosy. Forcibly removed from the family, she's sent to an isolated leprosy settlement on the island of Moloka'i. In exile Rachel finds a family of friends to replace the family she's lot - but loss remains a constant shadow as Rachel watches those she loves succumb to the ravages of leprosy. Moloka'i is a story of hope, dignity, and the strength of the human spirit.


Book cover of The Surgeon

Annie Payne Author Of The Doctor

From my list on medical thrillers featuring doctors and nurses behaving very, very badly.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have always been fascinated by medicine and the people who are there to care for us when needed. I have worked as a nurse and midwife, and the thought that someone, anyone, could actively harm those in their care is horrific. But it happens. At first, I read medical thrillers as I would have read any murder mystery, but now, post-Shipman et al., I also want to know why they kill. I think that these books give us some ideas about this, but we can still never really know what goes on in the mind of a murderous doctor or nurse, and that’s what makes these books so thrilling. 

Annie's book list on medical thrillers featuring doctors and nurses behaving very, very badly

Annie Payne Why did Annie love this book?

I liked this book firstly because of the level of authenticity, something that is very important as a nurse myself. The reader needs to be able to suspend disbelief and if there is a detail that is wrong, it becomes impossible to fully believe in the story. Getting this right requires a lot of research, particularly if the writer does not come from a medical background.

As with Jack Jordan’s book, I liked that the reader could feel sympathy for the surgeon, and could understand why she behaved as she did.

The story in this book also has some unexpected twists, and I enjoyed the tantalizing slow reveal of the back story so that the reader eventually comes to understand what has happened and why.

By Leslie Wolfe,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Trusted surgeon. Loving wife. Murderer?

Before my world came crashing down, I had it all. The successful career I dreamed of. The beautiful red-brick home where I could relax in front of the fire. The handsome, devoted husband whose blue eyes and charming smile always made me feel safe.

As I call time of death, my voice is steady. My colleagues stand hushed around me, their eyes on me, confused, concerned.

I have never lost a patient until today.

My hands tremble inside their gloves. I slide down the cold tiled walls, my heart racing in my chest.

I have…


Book cover of The Girl in His Shadow

Alina Rubin Author Of A Girl with a Knife

From my list on making you glad for modern medicine.

Why am I passionate about this?

Stuck at home during the pandemic, I started watching historical fiction and fell in love with the British miniseries, Hornblower. Suddenly I found myself writing my own stories about an imprisoned midshipman and Ella Parker, a surgeon that saves him. But there was a plot hole. Women could not be doctors in 19th-century England, leave alone ship surgeons. Thus, I sent Ella into medical school disguised as a man, and Hearts and Sails series was born. Looking for interesting cases for Ella to observe and treat, I became obsessed with the history of modern medicine. I also wanted my character to overcome great obstacles and eventually prove to others what a woman can do.

Alina's book list on making you glad for modern medicine

Alina Rubin Why did Alina love this book?

The Girl in His Shadow is my favorite comparative fiction. Similar to my story, Nora Beady lives in England, at the time when woman couldn’t practice medicine. But Nora’s path is very different from Ella Parker’s. Nora is a secret assistant to famous Dr. Croft, but her position is threatened when Dr. Daniel Gibson joins the practice. Soon Dr. Gibson sees Nora’s value, and the two become friends and more. The novel is very well-researched, beautifully written, and kept me hooked to the end. This book is great for fans of woman’s fiction with a medical theme. Be ready for detailed surgeries, experiments with ether, patients lost to difficult births and infections, and slow but sure steps of medical progress and perseverance. 

Readers who enjoy the medical details of my book will be treated to a galore of similar themes in The Girl in His Shadow. In the 1840s,…

By Audrey Blake,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Girl in His Shadow as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

THE USA TODAY BESTSELLER!
"An exquisitely detailed journey through the harrowing field of medicine in mid-19th century London."-Tracey Enerson Wood, USA Today bestselling author of The Engineer's Wife and The War Nurse
An unforgettable historical fiction novel about one woman who believed in scientific medicine before the world believed in her.
London, 1845: Raised by the eccentric surgeon Dr. Horace Croft after losing her parents to a deadly pandemic, the orphan Nora Beady knows little about conventional life. While other young ladies were raised to busy themselves with needlework and watercolors, Nora was trained to perfect her suturing and anatomical…


Book cover of My Name Is Mary Sutter

Kinley Bryan Author Of The Lost Women of Mill Street

From my list on American Civil War great female leads.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a historical novelist originally from Ohio. In Civil War lessons at school, we learned about battles and generals and read The Red Badge of Courage and other books centering on men’s experiences. With the exception of Florence Nightingale, women were largely absent from the discussions. I want to know about the women. As an adult, I lived in Roswell, Georgia, where I learned of the mill workers, mostly women and children, who, in 1864, were arrested and sent north by Federal forces for making Confederate cloth. Their fates largely remain a mystery, and I wrote my book in order to imagine what we may never know.

Kinley's book list on American Civil War great female leads

Kinley Bryan Why did Kinley love this book?

Part of the pleasure of reading historical fiction is the opportunity to learn something new, and this novel offered insight into medical practices of the Civil War period. Oliveira spares no details, no matter how gruesome. Yet the novel never feels like a lecture; the details are expertly woven into the story.

I loved following Mary Sutter’s journey from a well-respected Albany midwife to an aspiring Washington surgeon. I was inspired by her determination to learn all she could about the human body and how to treat it despite the many obstacles in her path.

By Robin Oliveira,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked My Name Is Mary Sutter as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A moving, New York Times bestselling novel about a young Civil War midwife who dreams of becoming a surgeon

Chosen by Good Housekeeping as a Top 10 Good Read

Mary Sutter's story continues in Winter Sisters, coming February 2018 from Viking

Fans of Caleb's Crossing by Geraldine Brooks, Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier, and Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker by Jennifer Chiaverini will love this New York Times bestselling Civil War tale.

Mary Sutter is a brilliant young midwife who dreams of becoming a surgeon. Eager to run away from recent heartbreak, Mary travels to Washington, D.C., to help tend the legions…


Book cover of The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot

Karen Cassiday Author Of The No Worries Guide to Raising Your Anxious Child: A Handbook to Help You and Your Anxious Child Thrive

From my list on becoming a better human even when you're not sure you want to.

Why am I passionate about this?

I've always been fascinated with how people overcome terrible circumstances ever since my childhood when my parents took me through the Tower of London and told me people survived the horrible torture devices on display. I got into reading biographies of war heroes, concentration camp survivors, and athletes who survived torture, betrayal, illness, and cruelty only to become people I admire. I became a clinical psychologist because I love inspiring others to discover their own greatness during life’s worst moments. I’ve had to learn how to find love, hope, and meaning when trauma, disability, death, and broken promises have ground me down to a bloody pulp.

Karen's book list on becoming a better human even when you're not sure you want to

Karen Cassiday Why did Karen love this book?

This book tells the story of a teenage girl with terminal cancer who befriends a hospital chaplain and an elderly woman during her last year of life. 

She asks the big questions of life and finds friendship and meaning during existential and physical struggle. You cannot help but fall in love with the characters and share their efforts to find self, meaning, and hope during great struggle.

By Marianne Cronin,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

**LONGLISTED FOR THE AUTHOR'S CLUB FIRST NOVEL AWARD**

'Emotional, involving, witty and sad. Everyone is going to love Lenni and Margot'
JILL MANSELL

'Lenni and Margot are two of the most wonderful, warm, witty and wise heroines I've ever met. Beautiful and glorious' CLARE POOLEY, author of The Authenticity Project

Fiercely alive, disarmingly funny and brimming with tenderness, THE ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF LENNI AND MARGOT unwraps the extraordinary gift of life, and revels in our infinite capacity for friendship and love when we need them most.
_______________________________________

Life is short.

No-one knows that better than seventeen-year-old Lenni. But as…


Book cover of Ghost Heart

Elizabeth Goddard Author Of Shadows at Dusk

From my list on Christian stories that take readers to stunning locations.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m always inspired by nature. I’m sure that’s because my parents always took us to beautiful places on our summer vacations. I enjoyed snorkeling in Florida, hiking in the Rockies, exploring at Yellowstone National Park, to name a few places. I’ve never forgotten how in awe I was at seeing such beauty, and when I started writing romantic suspense novels, it seemed natural to look for a setting that not only inspired me to write but would lend to the suspense and tension aspect of my novels as well as provide an exciting adventure. Even now, when we travel and explore, it’s always setting that inspires me with new story ideas.

Elizabeth's book list on Christian stories that take readers to stunning locations

Elizabeth Goddard Why did Elizabeth love this book?

Ghost Heart is an attention-grabbing title for starters. This is a riveting thriller novel that sweeps the reader up in an action-adventure romance brimming with danger and suspense.

Readers will travel into the African bush, compliments of a heroic bush pilot who assists a surgeon in facing danger to find the answers about why her heart patients are failing. A medical thriller on steroids, this is one of my all-time favorite novels. 

By Lisa Harris, Lynne Gentry,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

USA Today bestselling authors Lisa Harris and Lynne Gentry deliver an unforgettable and chilling medical thriller about a mother willing to risk everything for her child, and a surgeon desperate to cover his crimes.

A Carol-award winning finalist!

A brutal murder convinces Dr. Mia Kendall there's more than she imagined to the mysterious spike in heart transplant rejections. Determined to find answers before she loses another patient, Mia gets sucked into a dangerous international medical web. With time running out for her youngest transplant recipient, Mia is forced to partner with a disillusioned ex-military pilot who flies brokered organs across…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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