5 books to read that aren’t textbooks

5 books to read that aren’t textbooks

Is it just me that feels like the only books I read during the year are textbooks? But reading doesn’t have to be solely educational, it can be light-hearted and fun (although it doesn’t feel like that when you’re neck-deep in Grey’s Anatomy). Here are some suggestions for books to read to learn more about being a doctor, and perhaps inspire you a bit as well!

When breath becomes air by Paul Kalanithi

An inspiring and incredibly emotional book about a young neurosurgeon who gets diagnosed with terminal cancer. The book explores how Paul transitions from the being the doctor to the patient, and the impact it has on his personal and professional life, and the meaning of life itself. It is really thought-provoking, and there is a lot to learn about neurosurgery and life as a doctor within the book as well.

This is Going to Hurt: Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor by Adam Kay

This book is written by Adam Kay, a junior doctor-turned-comedian who writes about his time as a junior doctor, based on a diary he kept at the time. He writes about cases that he remembers and found funny, but he also tackles some important topics such as the pressure of being a junior doctor in the NHS and the sacrifices that come with it.

Trust Me, I’m a (Junior) Doctor by Max Pemberton

This is another ‘diary’ style book, this time written by Max Pemberton as an FY1, based on columns he wrote for the Telegraph (so if you have read these you might get a few repeats with this book!). It gives a comedic but realistic insight into life as a foundation year doctor. Max has also written two follow up books if you enjoy this one!

Being Mortal by Atul Gawande (2015)

This is a fascinating book focusing on a growing problem in healthcare- ageing. He writes about an interesting concept- have doctors been so focused on elongating life that they have started to neglect the quality of life? He also talks about the cultural differences when it comes to looking after older people, and some interesting potential developments in the field of geriatrics!

Do No Harm: Stories of Life, Death and Brain Surgery by Henry Marsh

Henry Marsh is a now retired neurosurgeon who has written, in a frank way, what it is like to be a neurosurgeon. He talks about the difficulties of sticking to ‘do no harm’ when the nature of what he does can go very wrong, very quickly and have devastating effects. It is a real insight into the ups and downs of a neurosurgeon and the fact that a doctor cannot save everyone.


These are all great reads to learn more about specific specialities, gain an insight into what being a junior doctor will be like, or just for fun! There are comedic, emotional and insightful parts to each book, so definitely something for everyone.


About the Author

Hi, I’m Sumona and I’m a UCL medical student. I’m passionate about medical education and I hope that my posts are interesting and inspiring for you. Check out my personal blog for posts on travel, food and my experiences being a student in London!

If you missed Wednesday’s post catch it here for some great libary locations if you are based in London!

What to know more about the UKMLA?

Check out our post on frequently asked questions on the  UKMLA exam, or our informative posts on the the AKT and CPSAs which will both be a part of the UKMLA exam. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *