The most recommended books about nurses

Who picked these books? Meet our 28 experts.

28 authors created a book list connected to nurses, and here are their favorite nurse books.
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Book cover of The Light of Luna Park

Connie Hertzberg Mayo Author Of The Sharp Edge of Mercy

From my list on historical fiction with rockstar nurses.

Why am I passionate about this?

My mother went back to school for her PhD in Anatomy when I was a pre-teen. During the summers of my high school years I worked with her in her lab, and let me tell you, you see your mother in a new light when you see her dissect a rat. Though I didn’t go into medicine, anyone raised in our household learned an impressive amount of biology just sitting around the dinner table. Consequently, I’ve always loved fiction with a medical bent. My mother was also the one to introduce me to historical fiction, so perhaps I was fated to write a historical novel with a nurse protagonist.

Connie's book list on historical fiction with rockstar nurses

Connie Hertzberg Mayo Why did Connie love this book?

A dual-time story written by a Vanderbilt undergraduate (!), this is the story of a nurse at the Coney Island incubator “exhibit” where premature babies were brought because hospitals did not want to invest in this new technology (yes, this really happened). In 1926, Nurse Anderson takes a failing baby there with intentions of returning it to the parents, and a special education teacher in the 1950s has a connection to that fateful decision. Another fascinating piece of history that is not well known.

By Addison Armstrong,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In the spirit of The Orphan Train and Before We Were Yours, a historical debut about a nurse who chooses to save a baby's life, and risks her own in the process, exploring the ties of motherhood and the little-known history of Coney Island and America's first incubators.

A nurse's choice. A daughter's search for answers.

New York City, 1926. Nurse Althea Anderson's heart is near breaking when she witnesses another premature baby die at Bellevue Hospital. So when she reads an article detailing the amazing survival rates of babies treated in incubators in an exhibit at Luna Park, Coney…

Book cover of An Irish Hostage

Helen Webster Author Of Company Wife

From my list on strong women who have survived restrictions.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have seen Degas’ astonishing paintings in the Quai d’Orsy in Paris and his wonderful sculptures of ballerinas. So I was immediately drawn to this book. Like most people who admire his incredible work, I had no idea of the pain suffered by the girls who saw the ballet as a way to rise above their pitiful lives. Nor did I know the stories behind the abuse of Degas’ models. It is difficult when we have to try to separate the works of genius from the horrible things geniuses did.

Helen's book list on strong women who have survived restrictions

Helen Webster Why did Helen love this book?

As a student of history I am impressed with the research that underpins this series, and especially the life of ordinary people in Ireland following the  Easter 1916 uprising. The whole Bess Crawford series tells the story of Bess, a strong-willed, independent woman who serves as a battlefield nurse in World War One. She needs all her courage and intelligence to survive then and in all of her ventures. Society’s expectations of women and how they should behave were dramatically changed during and following the Great War. How was it possible to expect a woman who had nursed on battlefields or driven an ambulance through enemy territory to return to a life of ‘proper’ behaviour, of tea and cucumber sandwiches, and absolute obedience to her husband?

An Irish Hostage finds Bess in Ireland at the wedding of a friend, only to become embroiled in the trouble and treachery following the…

By Charles Todd,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"[Readers] are bound to be caught up in the adventures of Bess Crawford . . . While her sensibility is as crisp as her narrative voice, Bess is a compassionate nurse who responds with feeling."- The New York Times Book Review

In the uneasy peace following World War I, nurse Bess Crawford runs into trouble and treachery in Ireland-in this twelfth book in the New York Times bestselling mystery series.

The Great War is over-but in Ireland, in the wake of the bloody 1916 Easter Rising, anyone who served in France is now considered a traitor, including nurse Eileen Flynn…

Book cover of Reminiscences of My Life in Camp: An African American Woman's Civil War Memoir

Jocelyn Green Author Of Wedded to War

From my list on women nurses during the Civil War.

Why am I passionate about this?

Jocelyn Green is the bestselling and award-winning author of eighteen books as of 2021. Her historical fiction has been acclaimed by Publishers Weekly, Booklist, Library Journal, the Historical Novel Society, and the Military Writers Society of America.

Jocelyn's book list on women nurses during the Civil War

Jocelyn Green Why did Jocelyn love this book?

Many African American women served as nurses, especially in the South, as Susie King Taylor did. But their stories have largely gone unrecorded. This memoir adds an important perspective to any consideration of Civil War nurses.

By Susie King Taylor,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Reminiscences of My Life in Camp as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Near the end of her classic wartime account, Susie King Taylor writes, ""There are many people who do not know what some of the colored women did during the war."" For her own part, Taylor spent four years - without pay or formal training - nursing sick and wounded members of a black regiment of Union soldiers. In addition, she worked as a camp cook, laundress, and even teacher. Written from a perspective unique in the literature of the Civil War, ""Reminiscences of My Life in Camp"" not only chronicles daily life on the battlefront but also records interactions between…

Book cover of We Band of Angels: The Untold Story of the American Women Trapped on Bataan

Eileen A. Bjorkman Author Of The Fly Girls Revolt: The Story of the Women Who Kicked Open the Door to Fly in Combat

From my list on hidden histories of women in the military.

Why am I passionate about this?

I work in aviation, so it was natural to write about it when I started as a freelance writer. But I quickly realized that writing about aviation people is much more interesting than writing about airplanes. Because of my military background I found myself writing veterans’ stories. I’ve uncovered many stories that have never been told or have been forgotten over the years. And because I was in the Air Force in the 1980s and 1990s, I knew the events in my new book had never been told. During my research, I found more books with hidden histories and rediscovered some I read decades ago. This list is my favorites.

Eileen's book list on hidden histories of women in the military

Eileen A. Bjorkman Why did Eileen love this book?

This is the story of 99 Army and Navy nurses who I consider the first U.S. women to serve in combat.

The women endured four months of harrowing bombings, dwindling supplies, and disease as they tended to U.S. casualties from the Japanese invasion of The Philippines in the early days of WWII.

After U.S. forces surrendered, 77 of the nurses were interred in civilian camps in the Philippines until February 1945. The women continued to work as nurses while enduring starvation diets and disease.

Part of my fascination with this story of strength and courage also lies with the fact that one of my great uncles was a survivor of the Bataan Death March. I like to think that my uncle encountered one of these wonderful women at some point.

By Elizabeth M. Norman,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In the fall of 1941, the Philippines was a gardenia-scented paradise for the American Army and Navy nurses stationed there. War was a distant rumor, life a routine of easy shifts and dinners under the stars. On December 8 all that changed, as Japanese bombs began raining down on American bases in Luzon, and this paradise became a fiery hell. Caught in the raging battle, the nurses set up field hospitals in the jungles of Bataan and the tunnels of Corregidor, where they tended to the most devastating injuries of war, and suffered the terrors of shells and shrapnel.

Book cover of Between the Lines: Diaries and Letters from Elsie Inglis's Russian Unit

Wendy Moore Author Of No Man's Land: The Trailblazing Women Who Ran Britain's Most Extraordinary Military Hospital During World War I

From my list on women’s experiences in WW1.

Why am I passionate about this?

Wendy Moore is a journalist and author of five non-fiction books on medical and social history. Her writing has appeared in the Guardian, Times, Observer and Lancet. Her new book is about Endell Street Military Hospital which was run and staffed by women in London in the First World War.

Wendy's book list on women’s experiences in WW1

Wendy Moore Why did Wendy love this book?

History is just “one damned thing after another” is a common phrase. For me this is the book which has led me to my next project. Cahill traces the story of the women who went to Russia in 1916 with the voluntary outfit the Scottish Women’s Hospitals. Set up by a Scottish surgeon, Elsie Inglis, the SWH became the biggest women’s medical organisation serving abroad in the war. The SWH women ran hospitals in France, Serbia and Russia. Here Cahill tells the story of their astonishing adventures in Russia – driving ambulances close to the firing line, retreating with the Serbian and Russian armies, surviving the cold, food shortages and the Russian Revolution – through the women’s own words. It’s staggering stuff – and great material for my next book about one of those incredible women pioneers.

By Audrey Fawcett Cahill,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Shipped from UK, please allow 10 to 21 business days for arrival. First Published by PENTLAND, EDINBURGH, 1999 BETWEEN THE LINES: Letters and Diaries from Elsie Inglis's Russian Unit. Arranged and edited by Audrey Fawcett Cahill. 372 p., ill., maps A very good, near fine soft-cover copy.

Book cover of The Man in the Window

Molly D. Campbell Author Of The World Came to Us

From my list on unforgettable characters.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a novelist, I focus on the characters in my books, and the plot is woven around them. I'm a people-watcher, and I remember bits and pieces of the folks I observe—many of which find their way into my novels. As a reader, plot pulls me in, but it is the characters that I remember. As a novelist, I always begin with a cast of characters: I start with a physical quirk, a personality flaw, an offbeat way of seeing things. Then I add a plot. For me, plot is the hardest. There are hundreds of characters swimming around in my imagination (see my first book, Characters in Search of a Novel).

Molly's book list on unforgettable characters

Molly D. Campbell Why did Molly love this book?

Perhaps this was an inspiration for my own novel. It is about Louis, who has not left his house in sixteen years, due to his disfigured face. I won’t ruin the book, but I must say that it is written with great tenderness and understanding, and the characters are luminous. 

This book has stayed with me for years. Cohen weaves a bit of magic into his writing, and though the topic is sad on the surface, its two main characters will fill the reader with deep love and great satisfaction.

By Jon Cohen,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

An off-beat love story alternately deeply moving and laugh-aloud funny. Good Housekeeping Jon Cohen conjures magic, weaving a gentle romantic fantasy of piercing and eccentric beauty. Boston GlobeSince he was disfigured in a fire sixteen years ago, recluse Louis Malone has remained hidden from the prying eyes of his neighbors in the small town of Waverly.Across town, Iris Shula, a lonely and unlovely nurse knows, at thirty-seven, it is unlikely that her Prince Charming will ever appear. But Iris is about to learn how wrong she is.When Louis accidently falls out of his second story window these two kindred souls…

Book cover of Far Gone

Marcy McCreary Author Of The Disappearance of Trudy Solomon

From my list on memorable female detectives/investigators.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm the author of two police procedural mysteries, a series that features a father/daughter detective team. I write in the traditional mystery genre for the simple reason that I'm a passionate reader of this genre, and always have been. I enjoy the structure of a whodunnit—the pacing, red herrings, clues, plot twists, reveals—and love constructing a multi-layered mystery that is both engaging and suspenseful. I’m a big fan of the masters of this genre: Agatha Christie, PD James, Dick Francis, and Val McDermid. I’m also an avid watcher of police procedural television series, and I’m especially drawn to the darker investigative stories you find in programs like The Killing, Mare of Easttown, and The Wire.

Marcy's book list on memorable female detectives/investigators

Marcy McCreary Why did Marcy love this book?

Detective Kylie Millard returns to her investigative duties in this second book in the Badlands Thriller series when she’s called to a murder scene of a young couple and a missing baby. Like the first book in the series, White Out, the writing is taut and the pacing is brisk. But what I especially love about this book is the intertwining narratives of the three female characters—Kylie, Lily, and Hannah—and how these disparate stories eventually come together. Quite the twist at the end!

By Danielle Girard,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From the USA Today bestselling author of White Out comes a story of two heroines with shattered pasts and a town with blood on its hands.

When a North Dakota couple is shot down in their home in cold blood, the sleepy town of Hagen wakes with a jolt. After all, it's usually such a peaceful place. But Detective Kylie Milliard knows better.

Despite not handling a homicide investigation in years, Kylie is on the case. A drop of blood found at the scene at first blush promises to be her best evidence. But it ultimately only proves that someone…

Book cover of The Wonder

Emily Matchar Author Of In The Shadow Of The Greenbrier

From my list on historical fiction with mysteries.

Why am I passionate about this?

I love historical settings and detail – I love coming away from a novel feeling like I’ve also learned something about the world. But I also like lots and lots of plot and intensity. Historical fiction slash mystery novels hit the spot just right. Though my own work thus far is more on the historical fiction side, I do try to plot it like a mystery, with lots of questions, revelations, and discoveries to be made as you go along.  

Emily's book list on historical fiction with mysteries

Emily Matchar Why did Emily love this book?

Like many, I came to know Emma Donoghue through Room, which was adapted into the 2015 film. But she’s mostly a writer of historical fiction.

This book (which also became a movie) is set during the Irish Potato Famine when an English nurse is called to examine a supposedly miraculous “fasting girl” who claims to have gone weeks without food. 

By Emma Donoghue,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Now a Netflix film starring Florence Pugh: In this “old-school page turner” (Stephen King, New York Times Book Review) by the bestselling author of Room, an English nurse is brought to a small Irish village to observe what appears to be a miracle—a girl said to have survived without food for months—and soon finds herself fighting to save the child's life.

Tourists flock to the cabin of eleven-year-old Anna O'Donnell, who believes herself to be living off manna from heaven, and a journalist is sent to cover the sensation. Lib Wright, a veteran of Florence Nightingale's Crimean campaign, is hired…

Book cover of Florence Nightingale: The Courageous Life of the Legendary Nurse

Amy Gary Author Of In the Great Green Room: The Brilliant and Bold Life of Margaret Wise Brown

From my list on biographies of bold women.

Why am I passionate about this?

In 1990, Amy Gary discovered unpublished manuscripts and songs from Margaret Wise Brown tucked away in a trunk in the attic of Margaret’s sister’s barn. Since then, Gary has catalogued, edited, and researched all of Margaret’s writings. She has worked with several publishers to publish more than 100 of those manuscripts, which include bestsellers and Caldecott nominees.

Amy’s work on Margaret has been covered in Vanity Fair, Entertainment Weekly, and on NPR. Her biography on Margaret, In the Great Green Room, was published by Flatiron Books, a division of Macmillan, and was named a best book of the year in 2017 by Amazon.

She was formerly the Director of Publishing at Lucasfilm and headed the publishing department at Pixar Animation studios. In addition to writing, she packages books for retailers and consults with publishers. In that capacity, she has worked with Sam’s Wholesale, Books-a-Million, Sterling Publishers, and Charles Schultz Creative Associates.

Amy's book list on biographies of bold women

Amy Gary Why did Amy love this book?

I loved the way this book intertwined Florence Nightingale’s story with images of her life. It may have been written for young adults, but readers of any age will be immersed in this well-written and graphically beautiful book. Catherine Reed’s engaging story of Nightingale combating the gruesome hygienic conditions at the Crimean battlefront, going against Victorian society expectations, creating sanitary methods still used today, and earning the moniker of The Lady with the Lamp is a testament to the difference one life can make.

By Catherine Reef,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Florence Nightingale 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?

Most people know Florence Nightingale was a compassionate and legendary nurse, but they don't know her full story. She is best known for her work during the Crimean War, when she vastly improved gruesome and deadly conditions and made nightly rounds to visit patients, becoming known around the world as the Lady with the Lamp. Her tireless and inspiring work continued after the war, and her modern methods in nursing became the defining standards still used today. Includes notes, bibliography, and index.

Book cover of The Daughters of Mars

Joanna Higgins Author Of In the Fall They Leave

From my list on WWI Angels of Mercy.

Why am I passionate about this?

Although I’m neither a healthcare professional nor a historian, my passions are reading great fiction and continually striving to write it. Degrees in literature led to college teaching and then full-time writing. And that, to the publication of six works of fiction, including four historical novels. So, add to the mix, then, the years spent studying and teaching literature as well as those spent writing and rewriting—and, too, being an inveterate reader—and you have, in brief, the sum of my expertise. Each of the works listed below, I feel, has super qualities. I certainly enjoyed reading such masterful work and hope you will as well.   

Joanna's book list on WWI Angels of Mercy

Joanna Higgins Why did Joanna love this book?

As a writer, I found so much to admire in The Daughters of Mars by Thomas Keneally. Simply put, it’s epic. I was blown away by Kenneally’s Tolstoian precision of narrative and by the drama of two sisters who leave their confined lives in Australia and serve as nurses in WWI, first on a hospital ship in the Mediterranean and then on the Western Front. Keneally recreates a full sense of the times, showing how individuals can become enmeshed and shaped by huge historical events. The sisters confront not only the terrible effects of war but also a secret that haunts them. This is a stunning, multi-layered novel by a master, The Daughters of Mars has earned numerous accolades—and no wonder. It’s beautifully written and deeply affecting.  

By Thomas Keneally,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In 1915, two spirited Australian sisters join the war effort as nurses, escaping the confines of their father's dairy farm and carrying a guilty secret with them. Used to tending the sick as they are, nothing could have prepared them for what they confront, first in the Dardanelles, then on the Western Front. Yet they find courage in the face of extreme danger and become the friends they never were before. And eventually they meet the kind of men worth giving up their precious independence for - if only they all survive.

At once epic in scope and extraordinarily intimate,…