100 books like The House of God

By Samuel Shem,

Here are 100 books that The House of God fans have personally recommended if you like The House of God. 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 The Things They Carried

Ellen Birkett Morris Author Of Beware the Tall Grass

From my list on a well-rounded look at Americans touched by the Vietnam War.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am passionate about the Vietnam War because my male relatives served and came back changed by the experience. I spent ten years as the editor of The Patton Saber, writing articles about the experience of World War II soldiers, but when I came across an idea for a novel about past life memories, I decided to focus on memories of the Vietnam War. What I love about this list is that it reflects many facets of the war, including soldiers, nurses, veterans, and the family members touched by those affected by war.

Ellen's book list on a well-rounded look at Americans touched by the Vietnam War

Ellen Birkett Morris Why did Ellen love this book?

O’Brien’s depiction of American soldiers in Vietnam was vivid and moving. It gave me a deeper understanding of the soldier’s experience. His artful use of the metaphor of what they carried revealed not only the items on hand but also the psychological baggage each soldier dealt with.

The stories were haunting and made me a full witness to the complexity of war and the many ways it is experienced. It is artfully written, moving, complex, touching and unforgettable.

By Tim O'Brien,

Why should I read it?

20 authors picked The Things They Carried as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 14, 15, 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

The million-copy bestseller, which is a ground-breaking meditation on war, memory, imagination, and the redemptive power of storytelling.

'The Things They Carried' is, on its surface, a sequence of award-winning stories about the madness of the Vietnam War; at the same time it has the cumulative power and unity of a novel, with recurring characters and interwoven strands of plot and theme.

But while Vietnam is central to 'The Things They Carried', it is not simply a book about war. It is also a book about the human heart - about the terrible weight of those things we carry through…


Book cover of The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles

Dr. Caroline Brookfield Author Of The Reluctant Creative: 5 Effortless Habits to Expand Your Comfort Zone

From my list on trying new things even if you are scared.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was driven to become a veterinarian for as long as I could remember. Then, in high school, I developed a love of performance. I felt stuck. Should I choose art or science? I chose science, and despite a great career, I felt like something was missing. When I reconnected with my creativity through stand-up comedy, entrepreneurship and other non-artistic creative outlets, I found out what I had been missing. Why do we drop creativity for science? It was a common story. I dove into the research on creativity, and was blown away by how a bit of creativity can make us happier, more resilient, and make workplaces more effective.

Dr.'s book list on trying new things even if you are scared

Dr. Caroline Brookfield Why did Dr. love this book?

As I read this book, I felt like the author was looking into my soul. I loved the short, punchy observations and challenges to anyone seeking to share their creativity. The Resistance is a force universal to everyone who is trying to share a little piece of themselves, and I love the way that it is broken down in this book.

I realized that when I could see what was holding me back from expressing myself, I was able to find strategies to mitigate that fear. This book was instrumental in my ability to express myself as an author and speaker. 

By Steven Pressfield,

Why should I read it?

22 authors picked The War of Art as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A succinct, engaging, and practical guide forsucceeding in any creative sphere, The War ofArt is nothing less than Sun-Tzu for the soul.

What keeps so many of us from doing what we long to do?

Why is there a naysayer within? How can we avoid theroadblocks of any creative endeavor—be it starting up a dreambusiness venture, writing a novel, or painting a masterpiece?

Bestselling novelist Steven Pressfield identifies the enemy thatevery one of us must face, outlines a battle plan to conquer thisinternal foe, then pinpoints just how to achieve the greatest success.

The War of Art emphasizes the resolve…


Book cover of Cutting for Stone

Dean-David Schillinger MD Author Of Telltale Hearts: A Public Health Doctor, His Patients, and the Power of Story

From my list on books by or about doctors that focus on our shared humanity.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a primary care doctor who is fascinated by my patient’s stories and what they reveal about their lives, their illnesses, and their pathways to recovery. I have always been a lover of literature related to the human condition and “the big questions,” having majored in Russian Language and Literature as an undergraduate. All the books I have chosen were written by physicians who were accomplished not only in the sciences but in the arts. I hope you enjoy this hybridization of disciplines as much as I have!

Dean-David's book list on books by or about doctors that focus on our shared humanity

Dean-David Schillinger MD Why did Dean-David love this book?

How could I not love a book about an Indian surgeon who finds himself living and working in Ethiopia, especially when the book has a plot that simply refused to allow me to put the book down?

I was deeply touched by the struggles of a surgeon trying to apply his craft in circumstances that seemed nearly impossible. I was equally affected by the fulfillment he experienced by being welcomed and so deeply appreciated by a community. I was hooked when his trust and resilience were put to the ultimate test.

By Abraham Verghese,

Why should I read it?

10 authors picked Cutting for Stone as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

My brother, Shiva, and I came into the world in the late afternoon of the twentieth of September in the year of grace 1954. We took our first breaths in the thick air of Addis Ababa, capital city of Ethiopia. Bound by birth, we were driven apart by bitter betrayal. No surgeon can heal the would that divides two brothers. Where silk and steel fail, story must succeed. To begin at the beginning...


Book cover of The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat And Other Clinical Tales

Dean-David Schillinger MD Author Of Telltale Hearts: A Public Health Doctor, His Patients, and the Power of Story

From my list on books by or about doctors that focus on our shared humanity.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a primary care doctor who is fascinated by my patient’s stories and what they reveal about their lives, their illnesses, and their pathways to recovery. I have always been a lover of literature related to the human condition and “the big questions,” having majored in Russian Language and Literature as an undergraduate. All the books I have chosen were written by physicians who were accomplished not only in the sciences but in the arts. I hope you enjoy this hybridization of disciplines as much as I have!

Dean-David's book list on books by or about doctors that focus on our shared humanity

Dean-David Schillinger MD Why did Dean-David love this book?

I was simply stunned by this book. Dr. Sacks, a neurologist, drew me into the inner mysteries of the brain by describing the amazing lives and characters of some his most bizarrely afflicted patients. I was delighted to see how some of them overcame or coped with their afflictions, and I finished the book with an indescribable feeling of the magical alchemy of science and story to reveal our deepest truths.

By Oliver Sacks,

Why should I read it?

12 authors picked The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat And Other Clinical Tales as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Celebrating Fifty Years of Picador Books

If a man has lost a leg or an eye, he knows he has lost a leg or an eye; but if he has lost a self - himself - he cannot know it, because he is no longer there to know it.

In this extraordinary book, Dr. Oliver Sacks recounts the stories of patients struggling to adapt to often bizarre worlds of neurological disorder. Here are people who can no longer recognize everyday objects or those they love; who are stricken with violent tics or shout involuntary obscenities, and yet are gifted with…


Book cover of When Breath Becomes Air

Mahala Yates Stripling Author Of Bioethics and Medical Issues in Literature

From my list on medical/scientific stories that show what it means to be human.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an independent scholar who read Mortal Lessons, Richard Selzer’s book of essays about our common human condition - mortality. I began writing the biography of this Yale surgeon who influenced the literature-and-medicine movement, ushering in patient-centered care. I read everything by and about him, gaining a background in the medical humanities. In the middle of this project, I was asked to write Bioethics and Medical Issues in Literature. The first edition came out in 2005; subsequently I updated and published a second paperback edition in 2013, accessible by the general public and used as a complete curriculum. Clearly, reading literature helps us explore what makes us human.

Mahala's book list on medical/scientific stories that show what it means to be human

Mahala Yates Stripling Why did Mahala love this book?

Dr. Kalanithi’s memoir is surprisingly uplifting. A non-smoker, he was diagnosed with stage IV metastatic lung cancer in 2013. He was an American neurosurgeon, and his wife Lucy, an internal medicine doctor, is now a Clinical Professor of Medicine at Stanford.

I find it brave that they decided to have a child in the midst of Paul’s treatment. Cady was eight months old when her father died in 2015 at the age of 37. His jargon-free writings from a doctor-patient point of view show they lived intentionally, finding joy and meaning, regardless of a terminal diagnosis. Medical training is based on empirical science; however, Paul’s despair caused him to return to the devout Christianity of his youth. He found its language better suited to grasping hope and love in human life. 

By Paul Kalanithi,

Why should I read it?

12 authors picked When Breath Becomes Air as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

**THE MILLION COPY BESTSELLER**

'Rattling. Heartbreaking. Beautiful.' Atul Gawande, bestselling author of Being Mortal

What makes life worth living in the face of death?

At the age of thirty-six, on the verge of completing a decade's training as a neurosurgeon, Paul Kalanithi was diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer. One day he was a doctor treating the dying, the next he was a patient struggling to live.

When Breath Becomes Air chronicles Kalanithi's transformation from a medical student asking what makes a virtuous and meaningful life into a neurosurgeon working in the core of human identity - the brain - and…


Book cover of It's All in Your Head: Stories from the Frontline of Psychosomatic Illness

Guy Leschziner Author Of The Nocturnal Brain: Nightmares, Neuroscience, and the Secret World of Sleep

From my list on medical mysteries.

Why am I passionate about this?

Guy Leschziner is a professor of neurology and sleep medicine at King’s College London. He is the author of The Nocturnal Brain: Nightmares, Neuroscience and The Secret World of Sleep, and the forthcoming The Man Who Tasted Words, and is a presenter on BBC Radio 4 and the World Service.

Guy's book list on medical mysteries

Guy Leschziner Why did Guy love this book?

For doctors and patients alike, it is almost impossible to understand how some of the most dramatic conditions we see – seizures, paralysis, blindness – may have an underlying psychological basis. In this book, O’Sullivan explains the basis of psychosomatic illness with skill, illustrating this area of neurological practice with fascinating case studies.

By Suzanne O'Sullivan,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked It's All in Your Head as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A neurologist explores the very real world of psychosomatic illness.

Pauline first became ill when she was fifteen. What seemed to be a urinary infection became joint pain, then life-threatening appendicitis. After a routine operation Pauline lost all the strength in her legs. Shortly afterwards, convulsions started. But Pauline's tests are normal: her symptoms seem to have no physical cause whatsoever.

This may be an extreme case, but Pauline is not alone. As many as a third of people visiting their GP have symptoms that are medically unexplained. In most, an emotional root is suspected which is often the last…


Book cover of Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End

Sam Carr Author Of All the Lonely People: Conversations on Loneliness

From my list on the psychological challenges of being human.

Why am I passionate about this?

I guess we all have a "calling." Mine has always been to explore the deeper, darker, less palatable aspects of being human. I’m a bit like a space explorer of the human psyche. I’m lucky in the sense that my day job permits me to research, teach, and better understand things like love, death, and loneliness. I’ve been researching and writing about them for many years now. I always treasure books that help me to shed light on these themes. They are like shiny pebbles or jewels that I pick up and keep in my pocket. I hope you enjoy and learn from some of the treasures in my personal collection!  

Sam's book list on the psychological challenges of being human

Sam Carr Why did Sam love this book?

This book invited me to think about how we age and meet death in contemporary Western societies.

I have seen people close to me die. I watched as my grandma, then my grandpa, and then my father passed away. They each, in different ways, faced the brutal realities of growing old and they encountered a healthcare system that ultimately medicalized their death and the aging process–striving to ‘eek out’ more time, as though that was the only honorable thing to do.

Atul Gawande’s book really taught me to reflect critically on that.

By Atul Gawande,

Why should I read it?

12 authors picked Being Mortal as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

THE INTERNATIONAL BESTSELLER

'GAWANDE'S MOST POWERFUL, AND MOVING, BOOK' MALCOLM GLADWELL

'BEING MORTAL IS NOT ONLY WISE AND DEEPLY MOVING; IT IS AN ESSENTIAL AND INSIGHTFUL BOOK FOR OUR TIMES' OLIVER SACKS

For most of human history, death was a common, ever-present possibility. It didn't matter whether you were five or fifty - every day was a roll of the dice. But now, as medical advances push the boundaries of survival further each year, we have become increasingly detached from the reality of being mortal. So here is a book about the modern experience of mortality - about what it's…


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 Intern: A Doctor's Initiation

Adam Stern Author Of Committed: Dispatches from a Psychiatrist in Training

From my list on medical memoirs that will make your heart ache.

Why am I passionate about this?

I used to think one had to choose a career and work at it, giving up the parts of himself that didn’t fit neatly into that category. I was wrong. As a man in my late thirties, I am an assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, but I’m also a writer. It’s books like the ones I’ve recommended here that convinced me that one does not need to turn off the parts of himself that are creative in order to be a doctor or even a grown-up. In fact, cultivating those same parts can be additive to this whole experience of being an adult. 

Adam's book list on medical memoirs that will make your heart ache

Adam Stern Why did Adam love this book?

Intern is the realest account I’ve ever read of what it’s truly like to start working after leaving the nest of medical school. Jauhar’s writing is crisp and human, while the content gives the reader a true glimpse into the life of a new doctor. This book taught me that it was okay to experience impostor syndrome, to feel overwhelmed, and to express yourself creatively even as a doctor. This author has gone on to write regularly in The New York Times and has become one of medicine’s most treasured physician-writers.

By Sandeep Jauhar,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"In Jauhar's wise memoir of his two-year ordeal of doubt and sleep deprivation at a New York hospital, he takes readers to the heart of every young physician's hardest test: to become a doctor yet remain a human being." ― Time

Intern is Dr. Sandeep Jauhar's story of his days and nights in residency at a busy hospital in New York City, a trial that led him to question his every assumption about medical care today.

Residency―and especially its first year, the internship―is legendary for its brutality, and Jauhar's experience was even more harrowing than most. He switched from physics…


Book cover of Letter to a Young Female Physician: Notes from a Medical Life

Adam Stern Author Of Committed: Dispatches from a Psychiatrist in Training

From my list on medical memoirs that will make your heart ache.

Why am I passionate about this?

I used to think one had to choose a career and work at it, giving up the parts of himself that didn’t fit neatly into that category. I was wrong. As a man in my late thirties, I am an assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, but I’m also a writer. It’s books like the ones I’ve recommended here that convinced me that one does not need to turn off the parts of himself that are creative in order to be a doctor or even a grown-up. In fact, cultivating those same parts can be additive to this whole experience of being an adult. 

Adam's book list on medical memoirs that will make your heart ache

Adam Stern Why did Adam love this book?

Dr. Koven and I are on the same broad faculty at Harvard Medical School, though we had never crossed paths until our medical memoirs were released the same year. I got to know her a bit in that time, but even more so in the pages of her wonderful memoir, Letter to a Young Female Physician. This book so clearly elucidates and humanizes the complex path of becoming a physician as a woman and the lessons she learned along the way. Its pages are as charming as they are poignant.

By Suzanne Koven,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Letter to a Young Female Physician as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In 2017, Dr Suzanne Koven published an essay describing the challenges faced by women doctors, including her own personal struggle with "imposter syndrome"-a long-held, secret belief that she was not clever enough or good enough to be a "real" doctor. Accessed nearly 300,000 times by readers around the world, Koven's Letter to a Young Female Physician has evolved into a work that reflects on her career in medicine, in which women still encounter sexism, pay inequity and harassment. Koven tells engaging stories about her pregnancy during a gruelling residency in the AIDS era; the illnesses of her son and parents…


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