Top 20 Books for Pre-Med Students
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Top 20 Books For Pre-Med Students

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Besides having exceptional medical skills, future doctors need to develop essential perspectives on the different practices of medicine. A great way to do this is to read good books!

But I understand, it can be difficult to read other books on top of everything on the curriculum. 

This is why before you go to med school, I suggest going through some good books to help make you a well-rounded future physician.

That said, here are my top 20 books for pre-med students!

Top 20 Books For Pre-Med Students

These top 20 books for pre-med students contain various advice, insights, recommendations, and opinions for your future medical journey. 

But before we go to my most recommended books by other authors, let me first introduce you to one of my own for pre-meds, The Pre-Med Journey. (Sorry I’m biased! :D)

1. The Pre-Med Journey: Advanced Strategies To Get Into Medical School 

The Pre-Med Journey

I have written The Pre-Med Journey to give pre-med students a step-by-step guide to get to med school. It includes how to increase college retention, prepping for exams, crafting med school applications, writing med school essays and personal statements and taking the whole process with confidence! 

Author: Me!
Must-read for: Pre-meds who want advanced strategies to get to med school and avoid the common pitfalls of med students: studying too long, failing grades, being unproductive and feeling burned out. 

The Pre-Med Journey is on Amazon, click here!

2. Being Mortal: Medicine And What Matters In The End 

Being Mortal

Probably one of my favorites reads of med school thus far!

Being Mortal touches on the less discussed experience of taking care of patients nearing death. While all doctors should be committed to extending their lives, Gawande stresses the importance of providing a comfortable end with less suffering.

Author: Atul Gawande
Must-read for: Healthcare professionals and would-be professionals to create a more socially-fulfilling model for assisting the critically ill patients and the elderly. 

Being Mortal is on Amazon, click here!

3. When Breath Becomes Air

When Breathe Becomes Air

I finished this book in one sitting. That’s how good it was! (Don’t think I’ve done that since the Harry Potter series!)

If you want brilliant writting, a touching story, and a huge dose of inspiration – When Breath Comes Air by Dr. Kalanithi is for you!

Kalanithi wrote his memoir entitled When Breath Becomes Air to detail his reflections on life as both a doctor and a patient facing stage-four cancer. It’s about how a neurosurgeon faces his own death while questioning the true worth of his mortality. 

Author: Paul Kalanithi
Must-read for: Everyone who wants to read a raw, heartbreaking but powerfully inspirational memoir.

When Breath Becomes Air is on Amazon, click here for the nearly 9,000 reviews!

4. My Stroke Of Insight: A Brain Scientist’s Personal JourneyMy Stroke of Insight

My Stroke Of Insight chronicles the experience of a brain scientist who had a massive stroke leading to her inability to talk, read, write or walk. With this experience, Taylor came up with an inspiring testimony and valuable recovery guide for stroke and brain injury patients.

Author: Jill Bolte Taylor
Must-read for: Pre-meds and healthcare providers who’ll take care of patients with brain injury.

My Stroke of Insight in on Amazon, click here!

5. The Emperor Of All Maladies: A Biography Of Cancer

The Emperor of All Maladies

The Emperor of All Maladies examines the history of cancer from its first documented appearances, the 20th century’s war against cancer, and potential cure and treatments at present. Everything is written by a cellular biologist who seeks to demystify cancer. 

Author: Siddhartha Mukherjee
Must-read for: Pre-meds and med students looking for a comprehensive biography of cancer.

The Emperor of All Maladies is on Amazon, click here!

6. Cutting For Stone 

Cutting for Stone

Cutting for Stone is a unique novel with beautifully intertwined medical topics and universal truths. The story revolves around the lives of twin brothers from Ethiopia orphaned by their father’s disappearance and their mother’s death. 

Author: Abraham Verghese
Must-read for: Medical enthusiasts and practitioners who enjoy reading novels in the themes of betrayal, controversy, revolution, medicine, miracles and everything in between. 

Cutting for Stone is on Amazon, click here!

7. Left Neglected 

Left Neglected

Featuring a story of a busy, young mother who later suffered the traumatic effects of brain injury, Left Neglected accurately depicts brain disorder, its recovery, and the psycho-social issues surrounding it. 

Author: Lisa Genova
Must-read for: Pre-meds considering a career in neurosurgery and others who feel the need to just halt and reflect on what matters most in life. 

Left Neglected is on Amazon, click here!

8. Complications: A Surgeon’s Notes On An Imperfect Science 


Another must-read book from the physician-author Atul Gawande is Complications. This book lays bare the problems every surgeon faces in training and practice as well as the power and uncertainties of medicine. 

Author: Atul Gawande
Must-read for: Pre-meds and physicians wanting to learn the bare truths and limits of medicine.

Complications is on Amazon, click here!

9. The House Of God 

The House of God

The House of God isn’t exactly a preview of what happens in reality but gives us good lessons and entertainment. The story centers on how an intern and his colleagues dealt with difficult cases and tragic circumstances.

Author: Samuel Shem
Must-read for: Pre-meds and med students looking for an uncensored novel on what it’s like to train to become a doctor.

The House of God is on Amazon, click here!

10. The Real Doctor Will See You Shortly: A Physician’s First Year 

The Real Doctor Will See You Shortly

This is such an underated book! I’m writing this as a first year intern and I can relate to so many things that Dr. McCarthy feels like as a first year resident!

If you want to put yourself in the shoes of a new doctor and the stresses of being in residency – this book is for you!

The Real Doctor Will See You Shortly is a truthful and funny memoir of an intern’s first year as a physician. It takes us inside a physician’s journey from incompetence to confidence. 

Author: Matt McCarthy
Must-read for: Pre-meds and med students who want to take a close and real look at what happens in an intern’s first year.

The Real Doctor Will See You Shortly is on Amazon, click here!

11. Better: A Surgeon’s Notes On Performance 

Better-A Surgeon's Notes on Performance

Better contains various sections that explore healthcare issues, the system of compensation for physicians, insurance, malpractice law, ethics and more.

Author: Atul Gawande
Must-read for: Anyone interested in a career in medicine or those already employed in it.

Better is on Amazon, click here!

12. The Devil Wears Scrubs: A Short Comedic Novel 

The Devil Wears Scrubs

Yet another account on a newly-minted doctor’s hospital experience is The Devil Wears Scrubs. In this book, we see funny depictions of the challenges faced by Jane McGill who previously thought can’t make it through the year with her sanity intact. 

Author: Freida McFadden
Must-read for: Pre-meds and med students who want a comedic look at the life of a medical intern.

The Devil Wears Scrubs in on Amazon, click here!

13. In Stitches 

In Stitches

In Stitches will walk you into the life of Dr. Youn on his way to becoming a physician. Through all his struggles, he found his way out of his frustrations by bringing out the best in his patients

Author: Anthony Youn
Must-read for: Pre-meds looking for a career in plastic surgery and ongoing med students still trying to gain confidence in their own skin.

In Stitches is on Amazon, click here!

14. Hot Lights, Cold Steel: Life, Death And Sleepless Nights In A Surgeon’s First Years 

Hot Lights, Cold Steel

Hot Lights, Cold Steel brings us into the life of an orthopedic surgeon at the reputable Mayo Clinic. This memoir reveals his triumphs and devastation as an oblivious first-year resident.

Author: Michael Collins
Must-read for: Aspiring surgeons and students who wants to contemplate on the limitations and imperfections of medicine and the harsh reality of a doctor’s life. 

Hot Lights, Cold Steel in on Amazon, click here!

15. What Doctors Feel: How Emotions Affect The Practice Of Medicine 

What Doctors Feel

Dr. Ofri reveals in What Doctors Feel the emotional responses of doctors to the life-changing moments in hospitals and clinics. Much like everyone else, physicians feel love, anger, fear, empathy, grief, and shame that all contribute to medical care.

Author: Danielle Ofri
Must-read for: Future physicians who wants to gain perspective on how their emotions can influence patient care. 

What Doctors Feel in on Amazon, click here!

16. The Premed Playbook Guide To The Medical School Interview: Be Prepared, Perform Well, Get Accepted 

The Premed Playbook

One of the top books for pre-med students is The Premed Playbook. It’s a compilation of over 600 interview questions with real answers and feedback from students and Dr. Gray. 

Author: Ryan Gray
Must-read for: Pre-meds preparing for med school interviews who wants to see how successful applicants have done in real interviews.

The Premed Playbook in on Amazon, click here!

Note: If you are preparing for a residency interview or knows someone who is, you may want to check out our post on the 6 Amazing Residency Interview Tips You Can’t Miss!

17. Med School Confidential: A Complete Guide To The Medical School Experience: By Students, For Students 

Med School Confidential

I’m pretty sure this was the first ever pre-med/med school book I ever bought. Crazy how far things have come but Med School Confidential is still a classic for interested future doctors!

Med School Confidential is a step-by-step guide of the entire med school process from A to Z. That is, from thinking about entering med school to finding the ideal job.

Author: Robert Miller
Must-read for: Premeds looking for a comprehensive guide of the entire med school process.

Med School Confidential in on Amazon, click here!

18. The Soul Of A Doctor: Harvard Medical Students Face Life And Death 

The Soul of a Doctor is an account of third-year medical students’ experience in an Ivy League school. The authors have shown not only the repetitive routines and life-and-death situations they had to deal with but also their growth as training physicians.

Author: Susan Pories, Sachin Jain, Gordon Harper, and Jerome Groopman
Must-read for: Premeds and everybody else who want a doctor’s eye view of the realities inside the medical classroom and the hospital.

The Soul of a Doctor in on Amazon, click here!

19. An Anatomy Of Addiction: Sigmund Freud, William Halsted, And The Miracle Drug, Cocaine  

The Anatomy of Addiction

An Anatomy of Addiction is a story of how cocaine influenced the father of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud, and the father of modern surgery, William Halsted to becoming what they have become. The book is rich in historical context told by a medical doctor and a History of Medicine professor. 

Author: Howard Markel
Must-read for: Premeds interested in joining the field of surgery.

An Anatomy of Addiction in on Amazon, click here!

20. The Intern Blues: The Timeless Classic About the Making Of A Doctor 

The Intern Blues

One of our top books for pre-med students is The Intern Blues which takes an interesting look at the lives of pediatric interns. They’ve kept a diary of their experiences for a year detailing their triumphs and real-life lessons in treating sick children

Author: Robert Marion
Must-read for: Premeds looking to become pediatric doctors.

The Intern Blues in on Amazon, click here!


So, these are the top 20 books for pre-med students you should start exploring as a future medical professional. Wherever you’re heading in the field, you are sure to find inspiration, helpful advice, tips and perspectives from these books!

Go on and start reading!

Did you find this post enjoyable and helpful, if you did, you may also like:

How To Study in Medical School (Ultimate Guide) 
5 Proven Study Methods For Med School 
How Long Does It Take To Be A Doctor? [Detailed Breakdown]
How to Study Faster With Batching: Become More Effective
A More Efficient Way to Study In Medical School

Finally, before you go, let me introduce you to The Pre-Med Blueprint, a step-by-step blueprint that will help you get into medical school! 

Pre-Med Blueprint

This video course has helped struggling pre-meds learn valuable tips, tricks, and strategies to get to med school! Get on with it!

Until next time my friends…

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