The most recommended doctor books

Who picked these books? Meet our 123 experts.

123 authors created a book list connected to doctors, and here are their favorite doctor books.
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Book cover of Waiting

Jack B. Rochester Author Of Wild Blue Yonder

From my list on coming of age novels that tell fascinating stories anyone can relate to.

Why am I passionate about this?

A youthful summer with my grandparents transformed me into a voracious reader, but I don’t recall what turned me into becoming a lifelong writer and editor. My first two teenaged short stories concerned a rock and a stoplight. My writing got better, and I’ve never stopped reading. As a grad student teaching literature, I longed to see my name on a book cover. Today, it’s on 20 books. My career was in publishing; I wrote and edited nonfiction for decades until 2007, when I turned to writing novels. My most recent is a collection of my early poetry. I also enjoy helping writers become published on The Fictional Café.

Jack's book list on coming of age novels that tell fascinating stories anyone can relate to

Jack B. Rochester Why did Jack love this book?

Emotion, in particular love, knows no bounds of race, culture, past, or future. I think love reaches uncommon heights in times of stress, which accounts for falling in love with abandon–like in wartime. Or when culture curbs or forbids love’s expression.

So here in this book, Lin Kong, a doctor, feels constrained during the Chinese Cultural Revolution–perhaps seeing through its façade of freedom, particularly in his own marriage. And upon that conundrum rests the plot: Lin’s waiting 18 years (by law) for divorce so he can be with the woman he desires. But the longer he waits, the more he desires her; then, once the waiting is over, desire leaves him.

Perhaps it is better for Lin to live in never-ending desire? Was his grass greener on the other side? 

By Ha Jin,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

For more than seventeen years, Lin Kong, a devoted and ambitious doctor, has been in love with an educated, clever, modern woman, Manna Wu. But back in his traditional home village lives the humble, loyal wife his family chose for him years ago. Every summer, he returns to ask her for a divorce and every summer his compliant wife agrees but then backs out. This time, after eighteen years' waiting, Lin promises it will be different.


Book cover of Hatter Fox

David Hight Author Of An Unlikely Messiah

From my list on fiction that examine the human condition.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m just a guy, a normal guy who enjoys thinking and writing about things that can nudge humanity along towards peace. If everybody thought just a little bit about it, we’d have it.

David's book list on fiction that examine the human condition

David Hight Why did David love this book?

Hatter Fox is one of those rare stories which causes me to lose my sense of self.

There is no who am I, how am I, or why am I, none of that matters, all that matters is the story. This story is so real, and shows so accurately what can happen to young minds when they are raised in an oppressive, prejudiced environment.

Hatter Fox also exemplifies the true power of fiction, in that it allows us to shed a tear. We steel ourselves against the harsh realities of life, and do not weep for the downtrodden, but for fictional characters, we are free to feel our sorrows.

By Marilyn Harris,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A young doctor struggles to save an alienated and vengeful Navajo girl from imprisonment and self-destruction


Book cover of Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story

Tracy Crump Author Of Health, Healing, and Wholeness: Devotions of Hope in the Midst of Illness

From my list on faith and hope during illness.

Why am I passionate about this?

Having practically grown up at the hospital where my dad worked as a medical photographer, I wanted to be a nurse from the age of ten. I worked in ICU for five years and then retired to become a stay-at-home mom and later a homeschool mother. But once a nurse, always a nurse. I continued to care for friends and family, including my one-hundred-year-old mother-in-law, through health crises and long-term illnesses. My book and the others listed here tell stories of God’s healing—physically, mentally, and spiritually—a theme I’m passionate about and hope you are, too!

Tracy's book list on faith and hope during illness

Tracy Crump Why did Tracy love this book?

Another favorite! Raised by a single mom who spurred him to do his best, Ben Carson rose from a low-income, inner-city upbringing to become director of pediatric neurosurgery at John Hopkins by age thirty-three. He gained worldwide recognition for developing a technique to separate Siamese twins conjoined at the back of the head—the first successful operation of its kind. His strong faith, instilled in him by his mom, influenced every decision he made, making him a more compassionate and sensitive doctor. This book combines fascinating scenes from the surgical suite with a picture of a remarkable yet humble man who is an extraordinary role model for future generations.

By Ben Carson, Cecil Murphey,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This bestselling book reveals the extraordinary life of Dr. Ben Carson--from inner-city kid to renowned neurosurgeon.

Dr. Ben Carson is known around the world for breakthroughs in neurosurgery that have brought hope where no hope existed. In Gifted Hands, he tells of his inspiring odyssey from his childhood in inner-city Detroit to his position as director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions at age thirty-three.

Filled with fascinating case histories, Gifted Hands will transplant you into the operating room to witness surgeries that made headlines around the world, and into the private mind of a compassionate, God-fearing physician…


Book cover of Sometimes Brilliant: The Impossible Adventure of a Spiritual Seeker and Visionary Physician Who Helped Conquer the Worst Disease in History

Parvati Markus Author Of Love Everyone: The Transcendent Wisdom of Neem Karoli Baba Told Through the Stories of the Westerners Whose Lives He Transformed

From my list on by Westerners on Eastern mysticism.

Why am I passionate about this?

I've devoured books ever since learning to read. Now I am an author and a professional substantive book editor, particularly for spiritual memoirs. I am indeed fortunate to be able to combine my love of books with my love of the mystic realms, spiritual transformation, and beloved gurus. The first book I ever helped to edit was the first part ("Journey") of Be Here Now. Then I lived in India for a year, spending much of it with Neem Karoli Baba, Ram Dass's (and my) guru, absorbing his unconditional love. That state of real love, and the pathway leading to it, are the focus of the books I have recommended.

Parvati's book list on by Westerners on Eastern mysticism

Parvati Markus Why did Parvati love this book?

Dr. Larry, as he is known to our Neem Karoli Baba satsang (the community of seekers), has written a tour de force memoir of his extraordinary adventures, starting as a young hippie doctor in Detroit and moving on to cofounding one of the first digital social networks (The WELL), cofounding the Seva Foundation (restoring sight to millions of blind people), and being a key player in eradicating smallpox.

He is chair of the Skoll Global Threats Fund and the epidemiologist California Governor Newsom called upon to set up COVID protocols for the entertainment industry. To me, the deepest value of Sometimes Brilliant is the way it illustrates how science and service to humanity combine with spiritual awareness and love—the perfect mix of karma yoga and bhakti (service and devotion).

By Larry Brilliant,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

When a powerful mystic steps on the hand of a radical young hippie doctor from Detroit, it changes lives and the world. Sometimes Brilliant chronicles the adventures of a philosopher, seeker, unconventional doctor, groundbreaking tech innovator, and key player in the eradication of one of the worst pandemics in human history. His story-about what happens when love, compassion, and determination meet the right circumstances to effect positive change-is the kind that keeps hope and the sense of possibility alive.

After sitting at the feet of Martin Luther King Jr. at the University of Michigan in 1963, Larry Brilliant was swept…


Book cover of The Doctor's Wife

Jennifer Fawcett Author Of Beneath the Stairs

From my list on thrillers that give you something to chew on.

Why am I passionate about this?

I love thrillers. Mysteries, police procedurals, domestic noir, horror—no matter the sub-genre, I love books that grip me in a well-structured plot. But the books that I re-read, that leave me thinking about them long after, have more than just the pull of a page-turner. There’s a lushness to the language, a psychological complexity to the characters, and the landscapes are alive, vivid, and filled with menace. I call these books “chewy” because, like excellent food, there’s so much to savor. They satisfy my cravings and fill me up, but their flavors and textures add layers to the experience. I hope you’ll devour and savor these books as much as I have.

Jennifer's book list on thrillers that give you something to chew on

Jennifer Fawcett Why did Jennifer love this book?

I once heard Elizabeth Brundage talk about how she sees the thriller plotline as something to attach larger ideas to. That made so much sense to me. It was hard for me to choose which of her books to recommend, but I decided on The Doctor’s Wife because it has a new resonance with the current debate around reproductive rights. There are two characters in this book who are on opposite sides of the abortion debate. Brundage’s characters can do monstrous things but they are not monsters; they are complex, hurt, angry, loving, and so recognizably human.

By Elizabeth Brundage,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A stunning work of literary suspense by the the acclaimed author of All Things Cease to Appear.

"The memory starts here, in my apron pocket, with the gun."

Lydia Haas is devoted to Jesus, her church, and her husband. Only recently, after it's too late, has she understood how much she has sacrificed to all of them.

Michael Knowles is a rising young doctor, an OB/gyn at a prominent hospital. A man committed to his principles, to rescues with uncertain outcomes; to his wife. The life they've made. He never intended to have to make a choice.

Annie Knowles is…


Book cover of Summer House with Swimming Pool

Ricardo Sosa-Melo Author Of Men

From my list on instilling a fear of men.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been obsessed with psychological thrillers ever since I was young. The messed-up characters, the unreliability of narrators, and the plot twists gripped me as a young reader. As I’ve grown older, my passions have stayed in this general field, but now with more of an emphasis on the effects of masculinity, power, and relationships (both platonically and romantically). There is something so fascinating to me about the complexity of men: their emotions, their motivations, their violence, etc. I have compiled a list of my favorite novels that delve deep into these interests and, truthfully, fears.

Ricardo's book list on instilling a fear of men

Ricardo Sosa-Melo Why did Ricardo love this book?

A lot of books by Herman Koch deal with the failures of adulthood and the inexplainable violence of men (i.e., The Dinner).

However, Summer House with Swimming Pool is littered with masculine rage and revenge as the story takes you through a doctor’s recount of the summer that changes his life – and how that affects his future procedures.

The complexity of emotion written into Dr. Marc Schlosser’s character is quite a feat, as well as the sharp dry humor throughout the book that deals with serious dark topics. 

By Herman Koch,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Summer House with Swimming Pool as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Marc Schlosser is a doctor to the rich and famous.
When his most famous patient, the actor Ralph Meier, invites him and his family on holiday, Marc finds that he can't refuse. But by the time the suntans fade, Ralph Meier is dead.
The medical board accuses Marc of negligence.
Ralph's wife, however, accuses him of murder...


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 Fighting for Life

David Healy Author Of Children of the Cure: Missing Data, Lost Lives and Antidepressants

From my list on how medicine should be.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been researching treatment harms for 3 decades and founded RxISK.org in 2012, now an important site for people to report these harms. They’ve been reporting in their thousands often in personal accounts that feature health service gaslighting. During these years, our treatments have become a leading cause of mortality and morbidity, the time it takes to recognize harms has been getting longer, and our medication burdens heavier. We have a health crisis that parallels the climate crisis. Both Green parties and Greta Thunberg’s generation are turning a blind eye to the health chemicals central to this. We need to understand what is going wrong and turn it around.   

David's book list on how medicine should be

David Healy Why did David love this book?

Medicine loves stories about heroic men who made breakthroughs that have saved lives and given us the life expectancies we have today. It has never celebrated women and yet it was a woman, Josephine Baker, who in two decades starting in 1908, by focusing on antenatal and postnatal care, laid a basis for saving lives that has given us the life expectancies we have today. She did so against fierce opposition from doctors who argued that creating conditions that make infants and children healthy would be bad for medical business. Now that life expectancies are falling, and were falling before Covid, we desperately need to recover Baker and her insights. Her book written in 1939 gives clear hints of how unimpressed she would likely be with today’s medical business.

By S. Josephine Baker,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

An “engaging and  . . . thought-provoking” memoir of battling public health crises in early 20th-century New York City—from the pioneering female physician and children’s health advocate who ‘caught’ Typhoid Mary (The New York Times)
 
New York’s Lower East Side was said to be the most densely populated square mile on earth in the 1890s. Health inspectors called the neighborhood “the suicide ward.” Diarrhea epidemics raged each summer, killing thousands of children. Sweatshop babies with smallpox and typhus dozed in garment heaps destined for fashionable shops. Desperate mothers paced the streets to soothe their feverish children and white mourning cloths…


Book cover of In Shock: My Journey from Death to Recovery and the Redemptive Power of Hope

Lisa Doggett Author Of Up the Down Escalator: Medicine, Motherhood, and Multiple Sclerosis

From my list on medical memoirs with an inspirational female narrator.

Why am I passionate about this?

At age 36, I was juggling work as a family doctor and clinic director for people without insurance while raising two young daughters. It was exhausting and often demoralizing, but at least I had my health. Until I didn’t. I woke up dizzy one morning, and then developed double vision and taste changes. It was multiple sclerosis, a leading cause of disability in young adults. As I started to process my new “life sentence” with MS, I turned to medical memoirs, as sources of inspiration and validation. I then started to share my own story – part of my healing – in articles, blogs, and now a book, Up the Down Escalator.    

Lisa's book list on medical memoirs with an inspirational female narrator

Lisa Doggett Why did Lisa love this book?

Dr. Rana Awdish, a critical care physician, describes the sudden and catastrophic illness that causes a miscarriage and lands her in the ICU, in multi-organ failure, at the hospital where she works.

Her arduous recovery is nothing short of a miracle. I appreciated her perspective as a physician, trying to advocate for herself, even while she is seriously ill. She draws on stories of her patients and shares her well-founded frustrations with our healthcare system.

This powerful story will be appreciated by those who have experienced a serious illness and anyone who works in health care. 

By Rana Awdish,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'Tense, powerful and gripping... her writing style is often nothing short of beautiful - evocative and emotional.' Adam Kay, Observer

At seven months pregnant, intensive care doctor Rana Awdish suffered a catastrophic medical event, haemorrhaging nearly all of her blood volume and losing her first child. She spent months fighting for her life in her own hospital, enduring a series of organ failures and multiple major surgeries.

Every step of the way, Awdish was faced with something even more unexpected and shocking than her battle to survive: her fellow doctors' inability to see and acknowledge the pain of loss and…


Book cover of A History of Present Illness

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 novel by a neurologist/palliative care physician appealed to me because of its highly idiosyncratic yet spot-on accounts of many things I experienced in my own medical training.

I found her writing style challenging because of the novel’s highly fragmented structure, but I appreciated her trenchant observations and stunning language. Like other authors I’ve recommended, her protagonist comes from a devastatingly traumatic background. I could really relate to this fictional medical trainee’s struggles with despair and suicidality.

Reading this book was like a dash of ice water to the face, and I pondered it for weeks after I finished it.