The most recommended cancer books

Who picked these books? Meet our 150 experts.

150 authors created a book list connected to cancer, and here are their favorite cancer books.
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Book cover of The Last Wish of Sasha Cade

Paula Stokes Author Of Girl Against the Universe

From my list on YA for people navigating grief or loss.

Why am I passionate about this?

I knew when I was in elementary school that I wanted to be a therapist when I grew up, but I took a slight detour after finishing a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology to work as a line cook, retail manager, veterinary assistant, freelance editor, and registered nurse before finding my way back to graduate school. I also released ten young adult novels, many of them populated by characters struggling with mental illness. I understand anxiety, survivor’s guilt, grief, and loss as both a counselor and a human being, and I selected these books because they resonated deeply with me. I hope readers find comfort and connection in their pages.

Paula's book list on YA for people navigating grief or loss

Paula Stokes Why did Paula love this book?

I used to work as an oncology RN so I generally avoid cancer stories, but this author is a friend so I gave the book a chance, and wow am I glad I did. This story manages to capture the crushing reality of cancer for both the patient and the people who love her, but it’s also funny and mysterious and romantic, with plenty of meaningful things to say about grief. It takes insight and compassion to balance all those elements without ever being disrespectful to or flippant about terminal illness. I powered through this gorgeous book (the cover is even more incredible in person!) in one sitting and finished the story feeling hopeful and inspired.

By Cheyanne Young,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Last Wish of Sasha Cade 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 day Raquel has been dreading for months has finally arrived. Sasha, her best friend in the whole world, has died of cancer. Overwhelmed and brokenhearted, Raquel can't even imagine life without her. And then a letter from Sasha arrives. Has she somehow found a way to communicate from beyond the grave? In fact, Sasha spent her final weeks planning an elaborate scavenger hunt for the friend she would have to leave behind. When Raquel follows the instructions to return to Sasha's grave, a mysterious stranger with striking eyes is waiting for her. There's a secret attached to this boy…


Book cover of Chasing My Cure: A Doctor's Race to Turn Hope Into Action; A Memoir

Devesh Dahale Author Of The 5000th Baby: A Parent's Perspective and Journey through the First Year of Life

From my list on patient/family experience in healthcare.

Why am I passionate about this?

Life caught me by surprise when our youngest son was born with a birth defect that launched our family into the world of surgeries, and treatments. After experiencing the management of chronic care for our child firsthand, I realized how important it is to share personal stories and experiences. It enables empathy and a deeper understanding and appreciation of what patients and families go through. Autobiographical accounts of patients and families are still very limited. We need more people to come forward and share their own patient/family experiences in order to promote the betterment of healthcare and healing through relating with others and learning from others’ experiences.


Devesh's book list on patient/family experience in healthcare

Devesh Dahale Why did Devesh love this book?

Imagine being a medical school student in the best of health and full of spirit and ambition, and suddenly being engulfed by a strange and mysterious illness that even the best of doctors in the most renowned hospitals are unable to appropriately diagnose, let alone treat. This chilling story of a doctor who literally chases his own cure is a great example of the much-needed patient advocacy that may often be required to diagnose and treat rare and complex conditions effectively. The author’s passion for finding the underlying cause of his disease (Castleman’s disease) and experimenting with innovative unlikely combinations of drug therapies makes his story memorable and truly inspiring.

By David Fajgenbaum,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

LOS ANGELES TIMES AND PUBLISHERS WEEKLY BESTSELLER • The powerful memoir of a young doctor and former college athlete diagnosed with a rare disease who spearheaded the search for a cure—and became a champion for a new approach to medical research.

“A wonderful and moving chronicle of a doctor’s relentless pursuit, this book serves both patients and physicians in demystifying the science that lies behind medicine.”—Siddhartha Mukherjee, New York Times bestselling author of The Emperor of All Maladies and The Gene

David Fajgenbaum, a former Georgetown quarterback, was nicknamed the Beast in medical school, where he was also known for…


Book cover of Late Fragments: Everything I Want to Tell You (About This Magnificent Life)

Renita D'Silva Author Of The War Child

From Renita's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Reader Writer Cook Long distance walker Mother

Renita's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Renita D'Silva Why did Renita love this book?

Kate Gross was dying of cancer when she wrote this book and far from being morbid or depressing, it shines with wisdom, grace, beauty.

It is inspiring, beautifully written, and uplifting. I was awed by this woman’s bravery, her wisdom, her courage. Just beautiful. It taught me to savour every moment instead of letting it slip through my fingers, to look for wonder instead of giving in to drudgery, to celebrate every day I’ve been given in this beautiful, terrible world. 

By Kate Gross,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

*THE NUMBER 1 BESTSELLER*

What are the things we live for? What matters most in life when your time is short? This brave, frank and heartbreaking book shows what it means to die before your time; how to take charge of your life and fill it with wonder, hope and joy even in the face of tragedy.

Ambitious and talented, Kate Gross worked at Number 10 Downing Street for two British Prime Ministers whilst only in her twenties. At thirty, she was CEO of a charity working with fragile democracies in Africa. She had married 'the best looking man I've…


Book cover of Malignant: How Bad Policy and Bad Evidence Harm People with Cancer

Frank S. David Author Of The Pharmagellan Guide to Analyzing Biotech Clinical Trials

From my list on prescription drug discovery and developed.

Why am I passionate about this?

Frank S. David, MD, PhD leads the biopharma consulting firm Pharmagellan, where he advises drug companies and investors on R&D and business strategy. He is also an academic researcher on strategy, regulation, and policy in the drug industry; a member of the Harvard-MIT Center for Regulatory Science; and a former blogger at Forbes.com.

Frank's book list on prescription drug discovery and developed

Frank S. David Why did Frank love this book?

Since Nixon’s "War on Cancer," oncology treatment has seen some great advances, but also the approval of scores of over-priced drugs that do little to improve patients’ quality or quantity of life. Oncologist Vinay Prasad has written a broad, accessible overview of the flaws of modern cancer drug development that spans clinical trial design, conflicts of interest, regulatory policy, and more. His unabashedly anti-pharma stance gets preachy in places, but most of the challenges he identifies are spot-on and provide a thought-provoking roadmap for the future.

By Vinayak K. Prasad,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

How hype, money, and bias can mislead the public into thinking that many worthless or unproven treatments are effective.

Each week, people read about new and exciting cancer drugs. Some of these drugs are truly transformative, offering major improvements in how long patients live or how they feel-but what is often missing from the popular narrative is that, far too often, these new drugs have marginal or minimal benefits. Some are even harmful. In Malignant, hematologist-oncologist Dr. Vinayak K. Prasad writes about the many sobering examples of how patients are too often failed by cancer policy and by how oncology…


Book cover of The Priority List: A Teacher's Final Quest to Discover Life's Greatest Lessons

Jennifer Nelson Author Of Teaching with Heart: Lessons Learned in a Classroom

From my list on becoming a great teacher.

Why am I passionate about this?

For almost 20 years, I worked in public and private schools, first teaching with the Peace Corps in Niger and finally in a public high school in New Jersey. For a while, I didn’t feel I knew how to teach. I struggled to reach American teens. I thought they had attitude—and were nasty and lazy. I didn’t want to be in the classroom. But then matters turned around and I began to see how I could make a difference in their lives, enjoying the time I spent with them, and shaping them into decent, hardworking types. And, in the process, they all learned some French—and respected me.

Jennifer's book list on becoming a great teacher

Jennifer Nelson Why did Jennifer love this book?

This tearjerker book made me want to get back to the classroom to make students feel as strongly about me as they had about David.

The author visits former students to find out how he impacted their lives. He has cancer and marital issues, but it doesn’t stop him for being positive and grateful about his encounters with students he taught in high school.

On his travels throughout the country, he slept on their couches, broke bread with them, and conversed with them for hours. He came to the conclusion that his life had been richer through knowing and guiding them into people he was proud of.

Through this book, I discovered the generosity of spirit that exists among educators as they create communities in classrooms that encourage growth and learning.

By David Menasche,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In this “beautiful, heartfelt, and ultimately important story about love, kinship, gratitude, and miracles” (Elizabeth Gilbert, #1 New York Times bestselling author), a beloved high school English teacher with terminal brain cancer undertakes a cross-country journey to reunite with his former students in order to find out if he made a difference and discovers what is truly important in life along the way.

David Menasche lived for his work as a high school English teacher. His passion inspired his students, and between lessons on Shakespeare and sentence structure, he forged a unique bond with his kids, buoying them through personal…


Book cover of Eat to Beat Disease: The New Science of How Your Body Can Heal Itself

Ginny Dent Brant Author Of Unleash Your God-Given Healing: Eight Steps to Prevent and Survive Cancer

From my list on showing you how to help prevent and survive cancer.

Why am I passionate about this?

Unleash Your God-Given Healing is the book I never wanted to write. As an educator and trained researcher, I uncovered some of the reasons I got a cancer I had no risk factors or genetics for. I also discovered what I could do to help my doctors to beat my cancer and prevent a recurrence. After surgeries and then chemo and immunotherapy for a year, my cancer was gone. My doctors called me their “Rock Star” cancer patient and attributed my lifestyle changes as to why I fared well and returned quickly to vibrant health. I realized that what I learned could help many people. The treasures I learned are in this book. 

Ginny's book list on showing you how to help prevent and survive cancer

Ginny Dent Brant Why did Ginny love this book?

Dr. William Li is a well-known and well-trained Harvard medical doctor. He has devoted his life to research. This book reveals much of his research and how we can use nutrition to beat cancer and many other diseases. Did you know that cruciferous vegetables, tea leaves, and the extract from berries which are loaded with antioxidants, can help fight cancer? There is much rich information in this book.

By William W. Li,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Eat to Beat Disease as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Is your diet feeding or defeating disease?

We are at a turning point in our understanding of how to prevent and fight disease. Rates of cancer, heart disease, strokes, diabetes, obesity and other common health problems are skyrocketing. However, the latest scientific research and clinical evidence is revealing that the power to protect ourselves against these threats and resist them lies in a simple solution: the foods we eat everyday.

In Eat to Beat Disease, Dr William Li explains that your body was designed to fight threats like these and we have radically underestimated how food can be used to…


Book cover of Stravaganza City of Masks

H.J. Nelson Author Of The Last She

From my list on reads according to your favorite Taylor Swift song.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a Sci-Fi and Fantasy author who loves all things young adult! I always listen to Taylor Swift when I write, because I love how her songs are full of nostalgia, romance, humanity, and a lust for adventure—just like my books. If you couldn’t make it to the Era’s tour, no fear, check out some of these books below! 

H.J.'s book list on reads according to your favorite Taylor Swift song

H.J. Nelson Why did H.J. love this book?

If your favorite song is “Wildest Dreams” try City of Masks, by Mary Hoffman. This is an older book, but it’s one of my favs.

It’s about a boy with cancer who every night dreams and wakes up in a fantastic version of Italy, where he isn’t sick from cancer. I love its lush and dangerous feel; something about the intrigue, masks, and romance get me every time.

I also loved the female characters in this book—they’re driven and complicated and so fun to read. It all feels like a wild, wonderful dream you won’t want to come back from.

By Mary Hoffman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Stravaganza City of Masks as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

Set in Talia, a parallel world very similar to 16th-century Italy, the narrative follows Lucien, who in our world is very ill. Given a marbled notebook to use as a diary, the notebook is the unexpected means that transports Lucien to this dangerous new world; a world that thrills to the delight of political intrigue and where a life can be snuffed out with a flash of a merlino blade. The city of Bellezza (Venice in our world) is astonishingly evoked, with a filmic eye to detail, from the sensuousness of silks and velvets, to the thrill and danger of…


Book cover of Your Pain is Not a Waste

Judy Sheer Watters Author Of The Road Home

From my list on memorable memoirs that speak to you.

Why am I passionate about this?

As bedtime stories, I told our children my personal stories of life on a Pennsylvania farm with a city-slicker father who yearned to be a successful farmer. Growing up in a Jewish orphanage in the early 1900s, he dreamed of someday owning a farm and breathing the fresh air of the country. So many funny stories from the farm encouraged our children to say “Tell me a story when you were little, Mommy,” every night. I decided to write these down and they became my first memoir The Road Home. I love memoir and through my YouTube channel, I encourage others to “Write Your Story for Your Generations to Come.”

Judy's book list on memorable memoirs that speak to you

Judy Sheer Watters Why did Judy love this book?

I love this book’s honest look at questioning the goodness of God. When Delia, at 28 years old, finds she has only a short time to live, she considers her options. Her husband, Remon, never once doubts his options; Delia has to fight this incurable cancer ravaging her body. The life lessons she learns and shares with her readers put pain, life, and faith, in a new perspective for me. I especially love memoirs that teach life lessons, since my own book does the same thing. When we learn from others’ experiences, our world widens to us. Delia and Remon’s story has been a testimony of God’s goodness to countless people throughout the world. 

By D. N. Grace,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Your Pain is Not a Waste as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

D.N. Grace tells her story as a cancer survivor. Still in her twenties, Grace sees her life goals unfolding just as she planned. With a passion to serve God, her dream school within reach, and the love of her life at her side, she suddenly finds her life out of control and turned upside down taking a very different path. In Your Pain Is Not A Waste, Grace tells her story of being diagnosed with stage 3 soft tissue sarcoma and given two years to live, only if the chemotherapy drugs work.

Cancer survivors will learn about:

early symptoms of…


Book cover of Ice Bound

Ashley Shelby Author Of South Pole Station

From my list on the coldest place on earth.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a Minnesotan, so I thought I was a cold-weather badass, but it wasn’t until my younger sister winter-overed at South Pole Station in the early 2000s that I realized that Minnesota is a balmy paradise compared with the ice chip at the bottom of the earth. Her adventures at 90 South inspired my interest in Antarctica, the history of how humans interact with extreme and dangerous natural environments, and the social dynamics of a community trying to survive in the most remote location on the planet. That interest grew so intense that I ended up spending four years researching and then writing a novel set on the seventh continent—South Pole Station.

Ashley's book list on the coldest place on earth

Ashley Shelby Why did Ashley love this book?

Icebound is not a literary masterpiece nor is it a tale of exploration. It is, however, an essential Antarctic text, not just for the personal account found in its pages, but also because of the controversy still raging among Antarctic veterans regarding the decision to extract the author from Antarctica during the polar winter. Dr. Jeri Nielsen was the doctor at South Pole Station during the 1998 season. Her account of the challenges of polar medicine (Superglue is an essential medical supply at 90 South) and the stories of warm relationships with support staff at the station are fascinating. But the real story here is the diagnosis she made of her own breast cancer, which became a global news story when she was evacuated from the base during a dangerous winter flight.

Typically, there are no flights to South Pole Station during the polar winter due to exceptionally dangerous conditions…

By Jerri Nielsen, Maryanne Vollers,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Jerri Nielsen was a forty-six-year-old doctor working in Ohio when she made the decision to take a year's sabbatical at Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station on Antarctica, the most remote and perilous place on Earth. The "Polies," as they are known, live in almost total darkness for six months of the year, in winter temperatures as low as 100 degrees below zero--with no way in or out before the spring.

During the long winter of 1999, Dr. Nielsen, solely responsible for the mental and physical fitness of a team of researchers, construction workers, and support staff, discovered a lump in her…


Book cover of The Fault in Our Stars

Bhavik Sarkhedi Author Of The Unproposed Guy

From my list on romantic teen reads for those who are single.

Why am I passionate about this?

Ever since I penned my first romantic tale Will You Walk A Mile?, I've been enamored with the complexities of young love. For me, writing isn't just a profession; it's akin to breathing. I live to write and write for a living, with a special fondness for narratives that explore the highs and lows of teen romance and human emotion. I have been that ‘teen guy’ next door. That same teenage wonder for love stories that first sparked my passion for writing has stayed with me, maturing into a deeper understanding.  to curate a list of teen novels that will tug at your heartstrings.

Bhavik's book list on romantic teen reads for those who are single

Bhavik Sarkhedi Why did Bhavik love this book?

Honestly, this book crushed me, but in the most beautiful way possible.

It taught me that love can be found in the most unexpected places, even when faced with life's harshest realities. This narrative made me appreciate the small but significant moments in life, a lesson I try to convey in my own writing.

By John Green,

Why should I read it?

12 authors picked The Fault in Our Stars 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 beloved, #1 global bestseller by John Green, author of The Anthropocene Reviewed and Turtles All the Way Down

"John Green is one of the best writers alive." -E. Lockhart, #1 bestselling author of We Were Liars

"The greatest romance story of this decade." -Entertainment Weekly

#1 New York Times Bestseller * #1 Wall Street Journal Bestseller * #1 USA Today Bestseller * #1 International Bestseller

Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters…