The most recommended books about surgeons

Who picked these books? Meet our 17 experts.

17 authors created a book list connected to surgeons, and here are their favorite surgeon books.
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What type of surgeon book?


Book cover of Embracing What Remains: A Memoir

Ann Campanella Author Of Motherhood: Lost and Found: A memoir

From my list on inspiring memoirs about Alzheimer’s and Dementia.

Why am I passionate about this?

An author of a caregiving memoir myself, I’m also a former magazine and newspaper editor who has had the opportunity to read and write about many topics. For the past five years, I have been a manager and director of AlzAuthors, an online global organization that offers the world’s most comprehensive collection of books and blogs on Alzheimer’s and dementia. To say I have done a lot of reading on this subject is an understatement. I’ve been honored to work with so many talented and big-hearted authors who share their Alzheimer’s and dementia experiences. Being immersed in the Alzheimer’s world through AlzAuthors has given me insight into many of the best memoirs on this subject.   

Ann's book list on inspiring memoirs about Alzheimer’s and Dementia

Ann Campanella Why did Ann love this book?

Andrea Couture’s father, a well-known, recently retired surgeon, develops Alzheimer’s at the age of 67. As someone who also lost a parent at a young age, Embracing What Remains touched a deep place in my heart. I connected with how she processed her emotions through her writing. I also appreciated the way she balances her grief over his disease with the gratitude and joy she discovers in each moment. This is a beautifully written memoir! 

By Andrea Couture,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

*** recommended book***

***Finalist in Next Generation Indie Book Awards***

Andrea struggles to mourn a man who is still alive as she witnesses her father decline into the depths of Alzheimer’s.
Denial and devastation color her life when she learns her father, Richard, a recently retired surgeon, is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s at the age of 67. Her dream to grow closer with him is crushed as the reality of his disease is fully realized. Andrea, a mother of three young children, learns to balance motherhood with daughterhood as she grapples to accept her father’s fate. Andrea rides an unpredictable wave…

Book cover of The Surgeon

Annie Payne Author Of The Doctor

From my list on medical thrillers featuring doctors and nurses behaving very, very badly.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have always been fascinated by medicine and the people who are there to care for us when needed. I have worked as a nurse and midwife, and the thought that someone, anyone, could actively harm those in their care is horrific. But it happens. At first, I read medical thrillers as I would have read any murder mystery, but now, post-Shipman et al., I also want to know why they kill. I think that these books give us some ideas about this, but we can still never really know what goes on in the mind of a murderous doctor or nurse, and that’s what makes these books so thrilling. 

Annie's book list on medical thrillers featuring doctors and nurses behaving very, very badly

Annie Payne Why did Annie love this book?

I liked this book firstly because of the level of authenticity, something that is very important as a nurse myself. The reader needs to be able to suspend disbelief and if there is a detail that is wrong, it becomes impossible to fully believe in the story. Getting this right requires a lot of research, particularly if the writer does not come from a medical background.

As with Jack Jordan’s book, I liked that the reader could feel sympathy for the surgeon, and could understand why she behaved as she did.

The story in this book also has some unexpected twists, and I enjoyed the tantalizing slow reveal of the back story so that the reader eventually comes to understand what has happened and why.

By Leslie Wolfe,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Trusted surgeon. Loving wife. Murderer?

Before my world came crashing down, I had it all. The successful career I dreamed of. The beautiful red-brick home where I could relax in front of the fire. The handsome, devoted husband whose blue eyes and charming smile always made me feel safe.

As I call time of death, my voice is steady. My colleagues stand hushed around me, their eyes on me, confused, concerned.

I have never lost a patient until today.

My hands tremble inside their gloves. I slide down the cold tiled walls, my heart racing in my chest.

I have…

Book cover of Welcome Home from Vietnam, Finally: A Vietnam Trauma Surgeon's Memoir

Angel Giacomo Author Of The Jackson MacKenzie Chronicles: In the Eye of the Storm

From my list on war that go beyond the battles.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a retired police officer, except I don’t write about law enforcement. I write about the military. My degree is in Political Science and History. I am a meticulous researcher. My emphasis has been on the Vietnam War. My father served in both the U.S. Navy and the Army National Guard. One of my great uncles served in Africa during WWII. His brother during the Occupation of Germany. I have a step-uncle who spent time as a POW in Laos during the Vietnam War. My step-father served in the Army National Guard, and my step-brother in the U.S. Army, Korea and Ft. Hood.

Angel's book list on war that go beyond the battles

Angel Giacomo Why did Angel love this book?

Dr. Gus Kappler contacted me via my Facebook page. After we spoke, I ordered his book, Welcome Home From Vietnam, Finally: A Vietnam Trauma Surgeon’s Memoir. Since I write Vietnam War fiction, I found his memoir both enlightening as to how it really was for the doctors saving the lives of our troops. M*A*S*H it is not, while themes in that classic show have a ring of truth. I will not mention them as you need to read the book to understand. The book is written from Gus’ heart and soul of his experiences and illustrated with the pictures he took in-country. The book is gritty, down-to-earth, and above all, how it truly was to work in a Vietnam War field hospitalthe 85th Evacuation Hospital. You need to read this book.

By Gus Kappler, MD,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Welcome Home from Vietnam, Finally as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Gus Kappler MD served as an Army trauma surgeon at the 85th Evacuation Hospital, Phu Bai, Vietnam. The 85th routinely witnessed the devastation of war on body, mind, and soul. Every known and out-of-the-box technique was employed to salvage life and limb. At the 85th a wounded soldier had a 95% chance of survival. It was that 5% that still haunt the surgeons, nurses, and anesthesiologists today.

"Welcome Home From Vietnam, Finally" is the medical memoir of a surgeon in the most intense environment possible. It is a gripping, honest, real-life, disturbing wartime memoir.

Book cover of My Name Is Mary Sutter

Margie Lukas Author Of The Broken Statue

From my list on heroines who inspire.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up watching my mother suffer under a strict patriarchal religion. She never felt she had a choice in her life, and yet she always remained a dreamer, collecting newspaper articles about events in history that interested her. They piled up in a box and I’ve no idea what she thought to do with them. She would thumb through them between bouts of standing over a ringer washer or hanging wet clothing outside in freezing weather. There were 15 of us, you can imagine the laundry. I never saw her cry…despite working like a mule. I admire her and women like her for getting through. 

Margie's book list on heroines who inspire

Margie Lukas Why did Margie love this book?

I love historical novels, love learning about the past and what the past teaches us about today. Mary Sutter dreams of becoming a surgeon at a time when both men and women looked down on a female who dreamed outside her prescribed role. I admire how she fights through all the denouncers. What also interests me is her recognition of internal demons. Who doesn’t have those? I didn’t have my sights on becoming a doctor, but I’ve always wanted to be a writer. My studying writing in college seemed wasteful and elitist to naysayers. Even now, with three novels, I get patronizing looks as though I ought to be doing something more valuable with my time. As though writing is somehow an affront to people who hold real, 8-5 jobs.    

By Robin Oliveira,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked My Name Is Mary Sutter as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A moving, New York Times bestselling novel about a young Civil War midwife who dreams of becoming a surgeon

Chosen by Good Housekeeping as a Top 10 Good Read

Mary Sutter's story continues in Winter Sisters, coming February 2018 from Viking

Fans of Caleb's Crossing by Geraldine Brooks, Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier, and Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker by Jennifer Chiaverini will love this New York Times bestselling Civil War tale.

Mary Sutter is a brilliant young midwife who dreams of becoming a surgeon. Eager to run away from recent heartbreak, Mary travels to Washington, D.C., to help tend the legions…

Book cover of Shadow Woman

Steve Liskow Author Of Oh Lord, Won't You Steal Me a Mercedes Benz

From my list on mysteries featuring feisty females.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up in a family of strong women, and have always been drawn to women with brains and a sense of humor. When I worked in theater as an actor, director, and designer, my favorite stage manager and designers were women because they looked at the production challenges from a different angle than mine, so we both learned something while coming up with the best possible ideas and solutions. I can’t stand fluffy “victim” females. The women in my stories are always looking for a better way and a better world. Both my detective series feature several strong, resourceful women that complement the male detective, adding humor and insight, and—I hope—more humanity.

Steve's book list on mysteries featuring feisty females

Steve Liskow Why did Steve love this book?

American Indian Jane Whitefield rescues people the police can’t protect and helps them find new identities and new homes. But now her job is complicated because Pete Hatcher, a Vegas gambling executive, is the target of Earl and Linda, a lethal tag team who will become very rich if Hatcher dies. The job is even more complicated because Jane has recently married Corey, a successful local surgeon, so it’s harder to maintain a low profile in the town. When Earl and Linda hone in on Corey, Jane realizes she has to protect her own family as well as her client, and her foes know every trick that she knows, too.

By Thomas Perry,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In her latest adventure, Jane Whitefield, who helps people in trouble disappear from one life and establish a new identity, is hired by a Las Vegas gambling casino executive running from contract killers. But the killers are on the trail of the shadow woman and soon Jane becomes the principle target of their rage and revenge.

Book cover of Prince Edward's Warrant

Toni Mount Author Of The Colour of Bone

From my list on murder mysteries to challenge your brain cells.

Why am I passionate about this?

Many years ago, when I’d read my first medieval mystery, I decided I wanted to write my own. But mine would be as realistic as I could manage; I wanted the reader to smell medieval London and to be there with me. A lot had been written about Kings and Queens but not much about ordinary life so that became the center of my academic study leading eventually to my Master's Degree in medieval medicine. As well as my novels I now write popular factual books and I’m pleased to say people have taken the time to say how much they enjoy the fine details I share.

Toni's book list on murder mysteries to challenge your brain cells

Toni Mount Why did Toni love this book?

Mel Starr is an American author who deserves to be better known for his Chronicles of Hugh de Singleton set in late fourteenth-century England.

Hugh is a surgeon as well as bailiff of Brampton. In this eleventh tale, Hugh is escorted to Kensington Palace, his expertise required to treat the ailing Black Prince. But I knew things had to get more serious than that and, sure enough, murder is committed.

Mel Starr’s research is impeccable and I found myself in the heart of medieval England, encountering royalty, rogues, and worse villains. But Hugh’s medical knowledge means he can tell an accident from a deliberate killing and there’s no deceiving him when he’s on a murderer’s trail.

By Mel Starr,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Prince Edward's Warrant as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Another delightful and absorbing mystery from Mel Starr, keeping the reader guessing as the corpses pile up in Prince Edward's palace. Hugh de Singleton, of the dry wit and engaging humility, is one of my favourite sleuths.' Penelope Wilcock, British author and blogger

Master Hugh won the Black Prince's favour when he helped to ease the Prince's illness.

Now, in the autumn of 1372, the prince is suffering a relapse and sends to Bampton for Master Hugh to attend him. While at dinner in Kennington Palace, Sir Giles, the knight who escorted Hugh to London, is stricken and dies. Poison!…

Book cover of The Secret Life of Dr James Barry: Victorian England's Most Eminent Surgeon

Patrice McDonough Author Of Murder by Lamplight

From my list on offbeat books about the Victorian Era.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up in a reading and history-loving family. My parents read all the time, and their books of choice combined historical fiction and nonfiction. It’s no wonder I ended up teaching high school history for over three decades. The first books I read were my older brother’s hand-me-down Hardy Boys. Then, I went on to Agatha Christie. Books written in the 1920s and 30s were historical mysteries by the time I read them decades later, so the historical mystery genre is a natural fit. As for the Victorian age, all that gaslight and fog makes it the perfect milieu for murder.

Patrice's book list on offbeat books about the Victorian Era

Patrice McDonough Why did Patrice love this book?

This superb biography is an engrossing account of the mysterious title surgeon and the doctor’s fascinating world. James Miranda Barry joined the British Army in 1813 as a regimental surgeon and served in colonial posts for the next fifty years. But Barry had been born Margaret Bulkley, an anatomical female—a surprise revealed after the doctor’s death.

Was Barry’s masquerade strategic, the doctor’s only route to a medical career? Was Barry a transgender person? I wondered if the “truth” would remain a mystery. Rachel Holmes persuaded me that the probable answer lies in a document “gathering dust” in Edinburgh’s medical school archives, a revelation she saves for the last chapter. 

By Rachel Holmes,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Secret Life of Dr James Barry as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A reissue of Rachel Holmes's landmark biography of Dr James Barry, one of the most enigmatic figures of the Victorian age. James Barry was one of the nineteenth century's most exceptional doctors, and one of its great unsung heroes. Famed for his brilliant innovations, Dr Barry influenced the birth of modern medical practice in places as far apart as South Africa, Jamaica and Canada. Barry's skills attracted admirers across the globe, but there were also many detractors of the ostentatious dandy, who caused controversy everywhere he went. Yet unbeknownst to all, the military surgeon concealed a lifelong secret at the…

Book cover of The Butchering Art: Joseph Lister's Quest to Transform the Grisly World of Victorian Medicine

Andrew Lam Author Of The Masters of Medicine: Our Greatest Triumphs in the Race to Cure Humanity's Deadliest Diseases

From my list on the history of medicine.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a surgeon who loves history. I always have. I studied military history in college but decided to become a doctor because I also love helping people. In my medical training I marveled at the incredible treatments and operations we use to save lives and always felt the unsung heroes who gave us these miracles deserve to be better known. That’s why I wrote this book.

Andrew's book list on the history of medicine

Andrew Lam Why did Andrew love this book?

Fitzharris’s book is a page-turner that takes readers into the macabre operating theaters of the Victorian era, when surgeons rarely washed their hands or cleaned their scalpels, anesthesia did not exist, and the “best” surgeons were simply those who worked the fastest.

Joseph Lister’s effort to convince the world of the merits of antisepsis is a true underdog story in which the stakes could not have been higher. 

By Lindsey Fitzharris,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Butchering Art as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Winner, 2018 PEN/E.O. Wilson Prize for Literary Science Writing
Short-listed for the 2018 Wellcome Book Prize
A Top 10 Science Book of Fall 2017, Publishers Weekly
A Best History Book of 2017, The Guardian

"Warning: She spares no detail!" —Erik Larson, bestselling author of Dead Wake

In The Butchering Art, the historian Lindsey Fitzharris reveals the shocking world of nineteenth-century surgery and shows how it was transformed by advances made in germ theory and antiseptics between 1860 and 1875. She conjures up early operating theaters—no place for the squeamish—and surgeons, who, working before anesthesia, were lauded for their speed and…

Book cover of Trauma: My Life as an Emergency Surgeon

Dave Horowitz Author Of Emergency Monster Squad

From my list on for and about emergency medicine.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a paramedic. I like being a medic. Not so much because of the science and medicine related to the job, but I like connecting with people. People from every walk of life. I like the chaos and unpredictability of the streets. The books on my list portray what it’s like to be out there. Not just war stories. But stories of humility and grace.  

Dave's book list on for and about emergency medicine

Dave Horowitz Why did Dave love this book?

I found Trauma: My Life as an Emergency Surgeon when I was on a read-all-the-books-about-emergency-medicine kick. I had recently gotten my paramedic certification and was trying to learn all I could about the science of medicine. My brain does not do well with textbooks, so I gravitated towards memoirs.

Unfortunately, being a great doctor and being a great—or even good—writer, seldom go hand in hand. Most of the doctor memoirs I came across were as thrilling as an Anatomy and Physiology textbook.

Dr. Cole’s book was different. He’s a skilled writer and his experiences are exciting and varied.

By James Cole,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"Trauma" is Dr. Cole's harrowing account of a career fighting to save lives. But unlike the authors of other medical memoirs, Cole trained to be a surgeon in the military and served as a physician member of a Marine Corps reconnaissance unit, United States Special Operations Command, and on a Navy Reserve SEAL team. From treating war casualties in Afghanistan and Iraq to his experiences as a civilian trauma surgeon treating alcoholics, drug addicts, criminals, and the mentally deranged, "Trauma" is an intense look at one man's commitment to his country and to those most desperately in need of aid.

Book cover of Ashes in the Wind

Lauri Robinson Author Of An Unlikely Match for the Governess

From my list on that create great discussions for book club.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a kid, I read by flashlight under the covers and loved family vacations because long car rides meant hours of reading time (they still do!). I love belonging to book clubs because of the variety. Stories I might not have chosen, but end up loving. For years I devoured romance novels, especially historical and westerns. When my husband said, “You should write a book, you’ve read so many.” I decided to try and now have over 70 published romance novels, 50+ with Harlequin, Mills & Boon, and one young adult book that I co-wrote with two of my granddaughters. I hope my recommendations provides your book club with lively discussions!     

Lauri's book list on that create great discussions for book club

Lauri Robinson Why did Lauri love this book?

This is one of those books that a reader doesn’t forget.

I can discuss the sweeping story of a young woman who flees her home during the American Civil War and the trial and tribulations she encounters for years. It was first published in 1979 and is still a top seller. The fact it was written in the 70’s is one of the reasons it provides so many subjects for discussion. 

The author did a great job with the characters, but also with the settings and secondary characters. The end has an unexpected, but welcome, surprise.  

I remember my grandmother and her friends discussing this book when it was first released, and is one I’ve read more than once.

By Kathleen E. Woodiwiss,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Ashes in the Wind as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A woman burdened by war ...A doctor torn between passion and duty ...A sweeping tale of love in the face of dishonor from the incomparable storyteller - Kathleen Woodiwiss. Alaina MacGaren is forced to flee the devastation of her homeland in the guise of a young boy, only to find sanctuary in the arms of an enemy. Cole Latimer is a dashing Yankee surgeon who has served the Union faithfully, and his tender heart compels him to help a ragged, innocent 'lad' in need - never suspecting the rags conceal a bewitching belle suspected of being a rebel spy. But…