The best nursing books

8 authors have picked their favorite books about nursing and why they recommend each book.

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Women at the Front

By Jane E. Schultz,

Book cover of Women at the Front: Hospital Workers in Civil War America

This volume offers a survey of Civil War nurses in both the North and the South. Not only do readers meet individuals like Clara Barton, but readers get an overview of pioneering women in this field, with detailed statistics not found in memoirs.


Who am I?

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.


I wrote...

Wedded to War

By Jocelyn Green,

Book cover of Wedded to War

What is my book about?

Tending to the army's sick and wounded meant leading a life her mother does not understand and giving up a handsome and approved suitor. Yet Charlotte chooses a life of service over privilege, just as her childhood friend had done when he became a military doctor. She soon discovers that she's combatting more than just the rebellion by becoming a nurse.

A Glimpse of My Heart

By Delraya Anstine RN OCN,

Book cover of A Glimpse of My Heart: One Nurse's Story

Television has offered movies and series with nurses as the primary protagonists, but few books narrate the gritty lived experience of RNs. A Glimpse of My Heart is one that does, sharing her story in a light but informative tone that makes the book very readable despite the grim realities of cancer nursing. 


Who am I?

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…


I wrote...

Toxic Nursing: Managing Bullying, Bad Attitudes, and Total Turmoil

By Cheryl Dellasega,

Book cover of Toxic Nursing: Managing Bullying, Bad Attitudes, and Total Turmoil

What is my book about?

Nurse-to-nurse incivility and relational aggression can poison the work environment of virtually any organization. My work shares practical solutions from real-life professional conflicts nurses face and offers suggestions for coping with and preventing relational aggression. 

Oh, Nurse!

By David Daniels,

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

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.


Who am I?

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…


I wrote...

Toxic Nursing: Managing Bullying, Bad Attitudes, and Total Turmoil

By Cheryl Dellasega,

Book cover of Toxic Nursing: Managing Bullying, Bad Attitudes, and Total Turmoil

What is my book about?

Nurse-to-nurse incivility and relational aggression can poison the work environment of virtually any organization. My work shares practical solutions from real-life professional conflicts nurses face and offers suggestions for coping with and preventing relational aggression. 

American Nightingale

By Bob Welch,

Book cover of American Nightingale: The Story of Frances Slanger, Forgotten Heroine of Normandy

I confess to a passion for WW2 fiction and non-fiction, so this book was a no-brainer for me. Frances Slanger, a Polish Jew who immigrated and grew up in Boston, was the first nurse to due during the D-day invasion at Normandy. She left a legacy in writing that helps the author piece together her story and offer insight into what military nurses faced.


Who am I?

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…


I wrote...

Toxic Nursing: Managing Bullying, Bad Attitudes, and Total Turmoil

By Cheryl Dellasega,

Book cover of Toxic Nursing: Managing Bullying, Bad Attitudes, and Total Turmoil

What is my book about?

Nurse-to-nurse incivility and relational aggression can poison the work environment of virtually any organization. My work shares practical solutions from real-life professional conflicts nurses face and offers suggestions for coping with and preventing relational aggression. 

Unknown Warriors

By John Stevens, Caroline Stevens,

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

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.


Who am I?

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.


I wrote...

Women as Veterans in Britain and France After the First World War

By Alison Fell,

Book cover of Women as Veterans in Britain and France After the First World War

What is my book about?

This is the story of how women in France and Britain between 1915 and 1933 appropriated the cultural identity of female war veterans in order to have greater access to public life and a voice in a political climate in which women were rarely heard on the public stage. The 'veterans' covered by this history include former nurses, charity workers, secret service agents, and members of resistance networks in occupied territory, as well as members of the British auxiliary corps.

What unites these women is how they attempted to present themselves as 'female veterans' in order to gain social advantages and give themselves the right to speak about the war and its legacies. Alison S. Fell also considers the limits of the identity of war veteran for women, considering as an example the wartime and post-war experiences of the female industrial workers who led episodes of industrial action.

Russia's Sisters of Mercy and the Great War

By Laurie S. Stoff,

Book cover of Russia's Sisters of Mercy and the Great War: More Than Binding Men's Wounds

Stoff’s work on women’s history during the war has been consistently excellent, starting with her book on women soldiers and continuing with this book. One of the most significant developments of the war was the need to dramatically expand medical care, especially for sick and wounded soldiers. Women rushed in to fill this need, with significant consequences not only for the health of the army but also the nature of gender and sexual relations throughout the whole country.


Who am I?

I’m a professor of history at Lafayette College in Pennsylvania, and I’ve been studying Russia ever since visiting the Soviet Union as a college student in 1990. I’ve been particularly interested in seeking connections between violence and other dimensions of historical experience. My first book (Drafting the Russian Nation) explored connections between political ideologies and violence, Imperial Apocalypse is in part a social history of violence, and my current project is examining the connection between literary cultures, professional communities, and the violence of the Cold War.


I wrote...

Imperial Apocalypse: The Great War and the Destruction of the Russian Empire

By Joshua A. Sanborn,

Book cover of Imperial Apocalypse: The Great War and the Destruction of the Russian Empire

What is my book about?

Imperial Apocalypse describes the collapse of the Russian Empire during World War One. Drawing material from nine different archives and hundreds of published sources, this study ties together state failure, military violence, and decolonization in a single story. I examine the individual lives of soldiers, doctors, nurses, politicians, and civilians caught up in the global conflict along the way, creating a narrative that focuses both on actual people and on large historical processes.

Officer, Nurse, Woman

By Kara Dixon Vuic,

Book cover of Officer, Nurse, Woman: The Army Nurse Corps in the Vietnam War

Kara Dixon Vuic’s Officer, Nurse, Woman reveals the lives and livelihoods of nurses in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam war years. Through oral histories, she presents colorful anecdotes that make one laugh, shudder, and cry. In addition to lively stories, Vuic shows the Army’s contradictory treatment of and expectations toward women, their gender, and their sexuality. For example, recruitment materials for women as nurses promised both adventure and a secure career path, including equal pay as their male counterparts. Yet, women in the military also faced sexism, harassment, and assault with little means of recourse. Both a fun and challenging read, Officer, Nurse, Woman urges readers to consider gendered assumptions that continue to shape military policy today.

Who am I?

I fell into researching women’s antiwar activism during the U.S. war in Vietnam by chance when I came across evidence of middle-aged American women traveling to Jakarta, Indonesia in 1965 to meet with women from North Vietnam and the National Liberation Front—the enemies of the United States at the time. Discovering that some of these same U.S. women (and many others), would later travel to Hanoi despite the United States conducting extensive bombing raids over North Vietnam, despite travel to North Vietnam being prohibited, and despite some of the women having young children at home, simply astounded me, and I had to find out more.


I wrote...

Women's Antiwar Diplomacy During the Vietnam War Era

By Jessica Frazier,

Book cover of Women's Antiwar Diplomacy During the Vietnam War Era

What is my book about?

In 1965, fed up with President Lyndon Johnson’s refusal to make serious diplomatic efforts to end the Vietnam War, a group of female American peace activists decided to take matters into their own hands by meeting with Vietnamese women to discuss how to end U.S. intervention. While other attempts at women’s international cooperation and transnational feminism have led to cultural imperialism or imposition of American ways on others, Jessica M.Frazier reveals an instance when American women crossed geopolitical boundaries to criticize American Cold War culture, not promote it.

The American women not only solicited Vietnamese women’s opinions and advice on how to end the war but also viewed them as paragons of a new womanhood by which American women could rework their ideas of gender, revolution, and social justice during an era of reinvigorated feminist agitation.

The War Nurse

By Tracey Enerson Wood,

Book cover of The War Nurse

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.


Who am I?

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.


I wrote...

The Sharp Edge of Mercy

By Connie Hertzberg Mayo,

Book cover of The Sharp Edge of Mercy

What is my book about?

Lillian Dolan is optimistic about her new job at the New York Cancer Hospital after dreaming for years of becoming a nurse. But she struggles to fit in, so when the confident surgeon Dr. Bauer takes a shine to Lillian, she is thrilled to be noticed.

Lillian has been warned not to get too close to the patients, but Mrs. Sokolova draws her in. When Mrs. Sokolova’s situation becomes dire, however, she puts Lillian in an impossible situation – all while the young nurse slowly loses control of her relationship with Dr. Bauer. Her decision to help her patient throws her life into chaos, and she must make a terrible choice: capitulate to Dr. Bauer’s demands or face possible arrest.

Healing Wounds

By Diane Carlson Evans, Bob Welch,

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.

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.


Who am I?

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.


I wrote...

M-9: A Chelmin and Spaulding CID Mystery

By Marvin J. Wolf,

Book cover of M-9: A Chelmin and Spaulding CID Mystery

What is my book about?

When you step into the origin story of Marvin J. Wolf's Chelmin and Spaulding CID mystery, M-9, it's much like being in the front seat of the world's wildest roller coaster. You have a nice overview from the original climb, and then drop right into more action than you are ready for, with boomerang turns that double back, corkscrew twists to disorient you, the odd "what the hell was that" moment that leaves your heart in your throat, and when you hit that last page, the feeling of, "Ah man, this can't be the end already."

Louisa on the Front Lines

By Samantha Seiple,

Book cover of Louisa on the Front Lines: Louisa May Alcott in the Civil War

We know Louisa May Alcott primarily as an author and the writer of the great masterpiece, Little Women, but many do not realize she was also a nurse during the Civil War. This book explores how her experiences in Washington D.C. as a nurse impacted her writing as well as her beliefs. Easy to read, captivating account. Highly recommend!


Who am I?

Heidi Chiavaroli first knew the magic of history and story while standing in Louisa May Alcott’s bedroom as a twelve-year-old. Her favorite pastime is exploring places that whisper of historical secrets in her home state of Massachusetts, where she lives with her husband, two sons, and poodle puppy. Her latest dual timeline novel, The Orchard House, is inspired by the lesser-known events in Louisa May Alcott's life.


I wrote...

The Orchard House

By Heidi Chiavaroli,

Book cover of The Orchard House

What is my book about?

Award-winning author Heidi Chiavaroli transports readers across time and place in this time-slip novel that will appeal to fans of Little Women. Two women, one living in present-day Massachusetts and another in Louisa May Alcott's Orchard House soon after the Civil War, overcome their own personal demons and search for a place to belong.

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