The most recommended nursing books

Who picked these books? Meet our 22 experts.

22 authors created a book list connected to nursing, and here are their favorite nursing books.
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Book cover of The Roses of No Man’s Land

Diane Atkinson Author Of Rise Up, Women! The Remarkable Lives of the Suffragettes

From my list on women’s history.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been researching, curating, and writing women’s history for 30 years. I curated the suffragette exhibition Purple, White, and Green at the Museum of London. I wrote The Suffragettes in Pictures; Love and Dirt: The Marriage of Arthur Munby and Hannah Cullwick; Elsie and Mairi Go To War: Two Extraordinary Women on the Western Front; The Criminal Conversation of Mrs Norton, and Rise Up, Women! The Remarkable Lives of the Suffragettes. I am a public historian, devoted to sharing my research and writing with all. I am a keen podcaster, Youtuber, and guest on television and radio. You could say I’m a heroine addict. I hope you love my recommendations.

Diane's book list on women’s history

Diane Atkinson Why did Diane love this book?

This is the very best book on nursing during the First World War. Packed with first-hand accounts of the ‘roses’ and their heroic efforts to nurse the wounded during and after that ghastly war that killed so many and destroyed the lives of many more who survived. Expertly contextualized, the author included the memories of the soldiers who were nursed and comforted by these extraordinary women who rose to the Government’s plea to ‘do their bit’. It is a profoundly moving book that should be read by anyone interested in the First World War and its painful aftermath.

By Lyn MacDonald,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Roses of No Man’s Land as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Lyn Macdonald's The Roses of No Man's Land is a compelling look at the women who risked their lives on the Western Front.

'On the face of it,' writes Lyn Macdonald, 'no one could have been less equipped for the job than these gently nurtured girls who walked straight out of Edwardian drawing rooms into the manifest horrors of the First World War ...'

Yet the volunteer nurses rose magnificently to the occasion. In leaking tents and draughty huts they fought another war, a war against agony and death, as men lay suffering from the pain of unimaginable wounds or…

Book cover of The War Nurse

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?

Based on a real-life WWI nurse, this novel is about Julia Stimson who supervised dozens of British nurses in Rouen, France. Horrific battle injuries and a deadly influenza that infiltrates their camp put Julia to the test, all while she tries to advocate for her nursing staff and navigate the egos of some of the male doctors. But when one doctor falls for her, she must decide how this relationship squares with her career aspirations. This book is a wonderful way to learn about this amazing woman who wants to put her career first.

By Tracey Enerson Wood,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"Any readers who enjoyed the mix of romance, intrigue, and medical accuracy of Call the Midwife will love The War Nurse."-New York Journal of Books
"[An] impeccably researched, well-drawn, based-on-a-true-story tale, written by a former RN...The War Nurse shines an important light on a woman whose story was, until now, lost to time."-Kristin Harmel, New York Times bestselling author of The Book of Lost Names
Based on a true story, The War Nurse is a sweeping historical novel by USA Today bestselling author Tracey Enerson Wood that takes readers on an unforgettable journey through WWI France.
She asked dozens of…

Book cover of Unknown Warriors: The Letters of Kate Luard RRC and Bar, Nursing Sister in France 1914-1918

Alison Fell Author Of Women as Veterans in Britain and France After the First World War

From my list on women and the First World War.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been fascinated by the First World War ever since I read Vera Brittain’s Testament of Youth at the age of 19. When I lived in France in my twenties I started to read French nurses’ memoirs and diaries, and for the last fifteen years or so have continued to read and write about women’s experiences during and after the war as a university academic researcher, often from a comparative perspective. Men’s stories and memories of the First World War still dominate our understanding of it, but I believe that women’s perspectives give us a vital and often overlooked insight into the war and its consequences.

Alison's book list on women and the First World War

Alison Fell Why did Alison love this book?

Although it’s not as well-known as Vera Brittain’s powerful 1933 memoir Testament of Youth, British military nurse Kate Luard’s letters deserve to be widely read, for the vivid and moving picture they paint of life in a front-line hospital in the last two years of the war. Luard had already worked as a military nurse in the Boer War, and was a confident and highly skilled nurse, but it is clear that four years of nursing seriously ill and wounded soldiers often stretched her to her professional and emotional limits. There are lighter moments, too, and Luard pays tribute not only to the men she nursed, but to the courageous and tenacious women she worked alongside. Make sure you also read nurse historian Christine Hallett and Tim Luard’s excellent introduction.

By John Stevens, Caroline Stevens,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The words of Unknown Warriors resonate as powerfully today as when first written. The book offers a very personal glimpse into the hidden world of the military field hospital where patients struggled with pain and trauma, and nurses fought to save lives and preserve emotional integrity.

The book's author was one of a select number of fully trained military nurses who worked in hospital trains and casualty clearing stations during the First World War, coming as close to the front as a woman could. Kate Luard was already a war veteran when she arrived in France in 1914, aged 42,…

Book cover of Finding Themselves

Tracey Enerson Wood Author Of The President's Wife

From my list on amazing women whose stories were lost or hidden.

Why am I passionate about this?

 As a military wife, and daughter, sister, mother, and mother-in-law to military members, I gained a strong perspective of what it is like to be behind the scenes, keeping the family together and building my own career while supporting the important missions of the men around me. In my reading, I’m drawn to historical fiction, as I feel it makes the stories come alive for me. I love a good story, and what entertains and informs even better than the documented facts are the dialog, relationships, and emotions of the characters. So it seems only natural to write about the amazing women behind the curtain in history in the engaging and memorable form of novels.

Tracey's book list on amazing women whose stories were lost or hidden

Tracey Enerson Wood Why did Tracey love this book?

This collection of letters home by Chief Nurse Julia Stimson is an enlightening account of nursing during World War 1.

As a retired Registered Nurse myself, I wanted to learn more about those important and challenging times for the profession. There is nothing like reading a character’s own words to help you understand their daily turmoil and triumph. It provides a window into not only medical and nursing care, but of the vast challenges of the day, putting our own troubles into perspective.

By Julia Catherine Stimson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This work has been selected by scholars as being culturally important, and is part of the knowledge base of civilization as we know it. This work was reproduced from the original artifact, and remains as true to the original work as possible. Therefore, you will see the original copyright references, library stamps (as most of these works have been housed in our most important libraries around the world), and other notations in the work.

This work is in the public domain in the United States of America, and possibly other nations. Within the United States, you may freely copy and…

Book cover of Those Splendid Girls: The Heroic Service of Prince Edward Island Nurses in the Great War

A.J.B. Johnston Author Of Ancient Land, New Land: Skamaqn - Port-La-Joye - Fort Amherst

From my list on the history of Prince Edward Island.

Why am I passionate about this?

This marks the second time Jesse Francis and I have collaborated to explore an aspect of Prince Edward Island history. Our first book—Ni’n na L’nu: The Mi’kmaq of Prince Edward Island (2013)—won three prizes. We hope this new work, which presents aspects of the history of the Mi’kmaq along with those of French, Acadian, and British colonists, will be welcomed. We think it important to bring together—rather than separate—the many strands of our shared past.

A.J.B.'s book list on the history of Prince Edward Island

A.J.B. Johnston Why did A.J.B. love this book?

More than 115 PEI women served as nurses in the First World War, and this book provides rich details about their individual and collective experiences. The author carried out meticulous research to gather the nurses’ stories from a wide range of sources and she writes about that service with admiration. Helping to convey the nurses’ varied experiences are a large number of photos and several maps which locate the overseas hospitals and other facilities where they served. Despite all they accomplished, the PEI nurses—like nurses from other parts of North America—were largely greeted by a “great silence” when they returned from overseas. Those Splendid Girls makes an important contribution to the history of women and nursing during the First World War. 

By Kathleen Dewar,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Over 115 women from Prince Edward Island women served as nurses in the First World War. They were fullblooded, complex women living in a tumultuous time in our history, doing their duty on distant battlefields. Their courage, and the courage of all Canadian nurses, is saluted in a powerful new book about wartime nursing called Those Splendid Girls. It features many wartime nursing photos from private albums, a 35-page biography section, an index, and bibliography.

Book cover of Feline Stress and Health: Managing Negative Emotions to Improve Feline Health and Wellbeing

Celia Haddon Author Of A Cat's Guide to Humans: From A to Z

From my list on cat behaviour, which should be read by vets.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a writer and journalist who went back to study cats after my retirement. I realized I didn’t know as much as I thought I knew. I was out of date and overconfident that experience could beat knowledge. I needed knowledge as well as experience. So I took a degree and a masters. These books will help anybody who wants to improve their knowledge of cats. Rescuers, pet owners, and behaviour people: we need to stay up to date and learn more if we want to help cats lead happy lives.

Celia's book list on cat behaviour, which should be read by vets

Celia Haddon Why did Celia love this book?

Cats can be very stressed and unhappy without cat rescuers knowing it. This book will help you be a better rescuer. Cats don’t always show their emotions in a way that we can see. This is a serious book from International Cat Care, the best website for cat rescuers.  If you have a passion for rescuing cats, read it. Many cat rescuers need their knowledge updated and this is a good book.

Book cover of Healing Wounds: A Vietnam War Combat Nurse's 10-Year Fight to Win Women a Place of Honor in Washington, D.C.

Marvin J. Wolf Author Of M-9

From my list on to safely satisfy your lust for action and mystery.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was 13 years a soldier and saw combat in Vietnam. There I met some of the finest men this country has ever produced and became hooked on the exploits of brave men. I have written many books about men—and women—in peril, and strive always for accurate accounts.

Marvin's book list on to safely satisfy your lust for action and mystery

Marvin J. Wolf Why did Marvin love this book?

Evans was the power behind the creation of the Vietnam Women's Memorial located at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Twenty-some years ago, she called me—we didn’t know each other—and asked to meet. She was looking for help in writing about her experiences as a combat nurse in Vietnam, and how that led to her spending ten years to create the Vietnam Woman’s Memorial. We spent a long lunch at a beachfront bistro in Venice, CA talking, and finally agreed that she should have the catharsis from writing her book, when she was ready. This is that book, and it tells about war and politics—war by peaceful means—from a woman’s perspective. Positively riveting story by an extraordinary woman.

By Diane Carlson Evans, Bob Welch,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

What is the price of honor? It took ten years for Vietnam War nurse Diane Carlson Evans to answer that question—and the answer was a heavy one.

In 1983, when Evans came up with the vision for the first-ever memorial on the National Mall to honor women who’d worn a military uniform, she wouldn’t be deterred. She remembered not only her sister veterans, but also the hundreds of young wounded men she had cared for, as she expressed during a Congressional hearing in Washington, D.C.: “Women didn’t have to enter military service, but we stepped up to serve believing we…

Book cover of The Great Escape from Woodlands Nursing Home

Clayton Graham Author Of Saving Paludis

From Clayton's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Universal explorer Multi-dimensionalist Soul searcher Animal lover

Clayton's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Plus, Clayton's 15-year-old's favorite books.

Clayton Graham Why did Clayton love this book?

This novel describes the inhabitants and escapades of the Woodlands Nursing Home residents. I found it poignant and whimsical, engaging and comical - all rolled into one.

Through the eyes of Hattie and Walter, we meet the staff and fellow 'inmates' and share their adventures over time as small things become paramount and love blossoms in the most unexpected way.

I recommend this book to readers who value a pleasant read with deep insights into the human soul.           

By Joanna Nell,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Great Escape from Woodlands Nursing Home as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Poignant and warm-hearted . . . a tonic for our times.' - Holly Miller, author of The Sight of You

At nearly ninety, retired nature writer Hattie Bloom prefers the company of birds to people, but when a fall lands her in a nursing home she struggles to cope with the loss of independence and privacy. From the confines of her 'room with a view' - of the car park! - she dreams of escape.

Fellow 'inmate', the gregarious, would-be comedian Walter Clements also plans on returning home as soon as he is fit and able to take charge of…

Book cover of Notes on Nursing: What It Is, and What It Is Not

Lisa M. Lane Author Of Murder at Old St. Thomas's

From my list on the wonders of Victorian medicine.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have always been interested in the history of medicine, particularly the ways in which historical methods are portrayed to be inferior to modern medicine. As a historian, I am alternately amused and horrified at the way we go overboard in discarding historical methods of healthcare, ridding ourselves of perfectly useful techniques, drugs, and therapies. The more I learn about older curative methods, the more I’ve become sensitive to the knowledge and technologies that have been lost. At the same time, I am fascinated by new technologies, and find anesthesia particularly captivating as a technique that improved survival and recovery from what had previously been deadly conditions.

Lisa's book list on the wonders of Victorian medicine

Lisa M. Lane Why did Lisa love this book?

Although known for being the “Lady with the Lamp” during the Crimean War, Florence Nightingale was also a statistician and tireless crusader for more hygienic conditions in hospitals both temporary and permanent. This book explains how to nurse a loved one or client at home, and includes advice we should follow today, particularly about ventilation in the sickroom. When she herself became ill later in life, she became a sofa-bound activist, influencing policies via correspondence. Nightingale founded a nursing school at St. Thomas’s Hospital, and the nurse probationers featured in my book attended her school. Mrs. Sarah Wardroper, a character in the novel, was Nightingale’s lieutenant in real life.

By Florence Nightingale,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Written by the founder of modern nursing, Florence Nightingale, Notes of Nursing was the first book of its kind. It was originally published when the simple rules of health were only beginning to be known. Its topics were of vital importance for the well-being and recovery of patients, when hospitals were riddled with infection.

In this edition, Mark Stinson adds his commentary, writing that this book "portrays the background for understanding the historical evolution from Nightingale’s experiences and sine qa non of her day to today’s utilization of evidence-based medicine in healthcare. The Nightingale legacy is also a call to…

Book cover of Oh, Nurse!: One Man’s Journey Through the Nursing Life, a Personal Account of the Highs and Lows

Cheryl Dellasega Author Of Toxic Nursing: Managing Bullying, Bad Attitudes, and Total Turmoil

From my list on wellbeing for nurses.

Why am I passionate about this?

Juggling roles as a professor, nurse practitioner, author, mother, and grandmother would seem to limit my reading time but instead, I always have a book in my car, on my phone, or in my hands. I read broadly and enjoy all genres, from fiction to nonfiction, poetry to medical comics, as well as the creative essay columns nursing journals are beginning to embrace. In particular, I gravitate toward resources that help nurses create a positive relational workplace where their best efforts can be even more effective. Whether it’s ending the RN-RA (relational aggression) Rut, using poetry to express feelings about caregiving, or writing creatively about the many aspects of nursing, I am ready to read! And of course, the best part of reading is having a discussion with colleagues or friends about what exactly that book was about…

Cheryl's book list on wellbeing for nurses

Cheryl Dellasega Why did Cheryl love this book?

Although this book wasn’t as smooth or polished as some and used occasional rough language, I was curious to learn more about Mr. Daniels and his 30-year career as a nurse. Full of anecdotes and the kind of “fireside chat” nurses like to exchange, the narrative is very readable and offers insight into a male perspective on the nursing profession.

By David Daniels,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

You think hospitals are full of calm competent professionals? You’re about to get a true behind-the-scenes look at exactly what it’s like to be a nurse. (And a male nurse, at that!)

Oh, Nurse! is David Daniels’s first-hand account of his experiences as a nurse, offering personal anecdotes to peel open the curtain to unveil the secrets of the nursing life. Following Daniels over the course of his 30-year career, this book helps the reader discover the hidden truths of medical professionals, both good and not so good, and it even describes specific instances where he either succeeds or fails…