Great Summer Reads for Aspiring Physicians, Vol. 3

It’s finally summer! Whether you’re looking for something to read by the pool or looking to take a break from writing secondary applications, check out our list of great reads for aspiring physicians.

It’s finally summer, which means a new installment of recommendations of summer reads for aspiring physicians! Summer is a great time to read interesting books that aren’t required for class. Here are our suggestions for what to bring to the pool or what to read when you need a break from studying or writing secondary applications. We realize this list is incomplete, so if you have additional recommendations, tweet us at @AAMCPreMed with your favorite book(s) about the practice of medicine with the hashtag #premedreads.


  • “Bellevue: Three Centuries of Medicine and Mayhem at America’s Most Storied Hospital” – David Oshinky, PhD
    Historian David Oshinky tells the story of Bellevue, the oldest public hospital in America that is known for its historic medical advancements and service. In telling Bellevue’s story, Oshinky also chronicles the history of New York City and advances in public health.


  • “Black Man in a White Coat: A Doctor’s Reflections on Race and Medicine” – Damon Tweedy, MD
    Damon Tweedy’s memoir describes the challenges he faced as an African American in the medical community — both as a physician and a patient — and how health disparities negatively impact African American patients.


  • “The Doctor Stories” – William Carlos Williams, MD
    William Carlos Williams, pediatrician and poet, tells 13 compelling short stories based on his experiences as a doctor and the frustrations and moments of empathy he experienced over the years. The compilation also includes several poems and his essay “The Practice” from his autobiography.


  • “Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War” – Mary Roach
    American author Mary Roach writes about the scientific research performed by the military to overcome the challenges that soldiers face in their lives, and about the science behind the improvements that need to be made. She also explains just how far questions about diarrhea will get you with special forces troops.


  • “Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance” – Angela Duckworth, PhD
    Psychology professor Angela Duckworth explains how the combination of passion and perseverance creates the quality of grit. Based on her research, she uses diverse examples of successes to explain how grit is responsible for our achievements, not genius.


  • “Doing Harm: The Truth about How Bad Medicine and Lazy Science Leave Women Dismissed, Misdiagnosed, and Sick” – Maya Dusenbery
    Through research, interviews, and personal stories, Maya Dusenbery explains how gender bias and the lack of research on illnesses affecting women is negatively impacting female patients.


  • “How Doctors Think” – Jerome Groopman, MD
    Through his research, Jerome Groopman demonstrates the reasonings behind the decisions doctors make and what patients can do to ensure their doctor doesn’t miss the big picture and make mistakes.


  • “Complications: A Surgeon’s Notes on an Imperfect Science” – Atul Gawande, MD
    Surgeon Atul Gawande highlights how doctors are far from perfection with 14 essays from his experiences during his surgical residency. Divided into three sections — fallibility, mystery, and uncertainty — the book illustrates how doctors are human and make errors too.


  • “Hot Lights, Cold Steel: Life, Death and Sleepless Nights in A Surgeon’s First Years” – Michael Collins, MD
    In his memoir, Michael Collins focuses on his experiences during his four years of residency to express how the life of a doctor isn’t flashy like people presume it to be.


Looking for more recommendations? See our summer reading lists from previous years in volumes one and two.

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