Great summer reads for aspiring physicians, Vol. 4

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With summer just around the corner, it’s time for the AAMC’s annual list of book recommendations for any student interested in pursuing a career in medicine.

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New section


With summer just around the corner, it’s time for the AAMC’s annual list of book recommendations for any student interested in pursuing a career in medicine. We narrowed this summer’s list down to 10 powerful reads that we think you’ll want to pack for your next beach trip or pick up when taking 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.

  1. When Death Becomes Life: Notes from a Transplant Surgeon — Joshua D. Mezrich, MD
    As a transplant surgeon, Joshua Mezrich examines the medical marvel of modern-day medicine in moving organs from one body to another to improve life from loss. He explores the history of transplant surgery and connects it the stories of his own transplant patients. 

  2. In Shock: My Journey from Death to Recovery and the Redemptive Power of Hope — Rana Awdish, MD, FCCP
    In her memoir In Shock, Rana Awdish’s recounts her harrowing sudden critical illness and near-death experience. As she fought for her own life, Awdish was exposed to the shortcomings of her own profession and the disconnected and often misguided approach to patient care.

  3. Heart: A History — Sandeep Jauhar, MD
    A practicing cardiologist and bestselling author, Sandeep Jauher weaves the history of cardiology and his own personal medical experiences to reveal the story of the physicians who risked their careers and the patients who risked their lives to understand the heart and advance the field of cardiology.

  4. The Butchering Art: Joseph Lister’s Quest to Transform the Grisly World of Victorian Medicine —Lindsey Fitzharris, PhD
    Historian Lindsey Fitzharris reveals the shocking world of nineteenth century surgery recounting the life and work of Joseph Lister and the development of antiseptic surgery.

  5. The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America’s Shining Women Kate Moore
    In this incredible true story, Kate Moore tells the story of the women working in radium dial factories in the early 20th century, the health effects that followed, and their fight to get recognized and compensated by the companies that employed them. Their case led to the development of Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

  6. What Patients Say, What Doctors Hear — Danielle Ofri, MD-PhD
    Danielle Ofri explores the world of doctor-patient communication and how implementing better communication practices can improve overall health.

  7. The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer — Siddhartha Mukherjee, MD-PhD
    Siddhartha Mukherjee is a cancer physician and researcher. His Pulitzer Prize winning book leads readers through the history of cancer from its first documented appearances through the present day for a glimpse into the future of cancer treatments. 

  8. Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness — Susannah Cahalan
    In her award-winning memoir, Susannah Cahalan tells her incredible story of her experience with a mental health diagnosis, her family’s inspiring faith in her, and the lifesaving diagnosis that nearly didn’t happen.

  9. Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President — Candice Millard
    After four months into his presidency, President James Garfield was shot in the back in an assassination attempt. It looked like he might recover, until his doctors got involved. Candice Millard recounts the rise of Garfield to the American presidency and how malpractice likely killed him.

  10. RX — Rachel Lindsay
    A graphic memoir about the treatment of mental illness, treating mental illness as a commodity, and the often unavoidable choice between sanity and happiness.

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