Happy Birthday to the NHS! 70 years old today. Hopefully we are all feeling that little more grateful than usual for this wonderful service available to us in the UK. I’ve literally just come back from taking the 2 eldest to the Doctors. I’m seriously winning at life, getting both of them in the Docs at the same time. Thank goodness for antibiotics with our family history of tonsillitis! Anyhow, while we were there it got me thinking about books (I know, when am I not thinking about reading?) I do love a good medical read as well as the numerous medical programmes that we watch in this house. In fact, my most favourite ever book is included in this list I’m about to share with you. 9 brilliant books that I have read and enjoyed with a Medical Theme.
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There’s a mixture of fiction and non-fiction in these lists. I find medically related non-fiction books easier on the whole to read than other non-fiction stories. Some of these reads are really new and only just read, others have stuck with me for years. I hope you enjoy them too.
Top 9 Books with a Medical Theme
Doctors – Erich Segal
This is my favourite book of all time! I’m not saying it is a literary masterpiece but it is the book that turned me from an occasional reader to a voracious reader. I’ve recommended this book to so many people throughout the year and most have loved it too. Written by the same author as Love Story, I think this book is far superior.
It follows a group of students, Barney Livingstone in particular, as they go through medical school in the States. There is a beautiful love story in there with fellow student, Laura Castellano (I love her even more now my married name is quite similar!) which just transported me to another place. I was at school (or maybe 6th form college) when I read this for the first time and it was the perfect time & place. I have read it several times since and love it just as much. Please try it! I need people to talk about this book.
Blood, Sweat and Tea – Tom Reynolds
The first of my non-fiction books in this list. This was written like mini blog posts which made it very quick and easy to read. A real eye-opener about what life is like for ambulance crew in the back of a London ambulance. Sometimes hilarious, sometimes devastatingly sad.
This Is Going To Hurt – Adam Kay
A very recent read and so popular last year. Adam Kay shares his diary from his time starting off as a junior doctor, working on a variety of wards. There are some totally laugh out loud moments in this book and others that made me gasp. Not for the feint hearted as there are some really rather graphic explanations (I’m really squeamish but can read about procedures no problem). I really wanted Adam Kay to be able to bring out a sequel to this book but sadly he is no longer practising medicine, so that is unlikely.
The Fault In Our Stars – John Green
I think this was originally billed as a YA novel but it still held my attention. A fictional account of 2 teenagers who both have cancer. Hazel and Augustus are just lovely characters and their relationship will break your heart. Also made into a film that I still haven’t had the guts to watch – I’m still broken by the book.
Call The Midwife – Jennifer Worth
Yes, the book that inspired one of our favourite TV series. Jennifer Worth’s memoirs from her time working as a midwife in the East End of London. If you enjoyed the programmes, then I’d urge you to give the book a go (There’s quite a few books). They are not as chronological as the TV series but that doesn’t spoil the enjoyment.
The Immortal Life of Henriette Lacks – Rebecca Skloot
I remember this book taking a long time to read but being so worth the effort. Henrietta Lacks was responsible for so much medical progress – all without her knowing. Her cells were taken for medical research after her death from cervical cancer in the 1950’s in South America. Henrietta’s daughter finds out about the tests that are being done on her mother’s cells and sets out to find how this happened and what happened next. There is so much to question in this book about ethics, how poorer people are treated and medical science. I’ve heard others talk about it being ideal for a book group read and thoroughly agree.
The Midwife’s Confession – Diane Chamberlain
Another fiction read and the first of Diane Chamberlain’s that I came to. Tara & Emerson are left devastated when their close friend, Noelle commits suicide. They had no idea of the torment that Noelle had experienced during her time as a midwife but the letter she leaves them will reveal all. This was a really addictive read. I couldn’t wait to find out what happened next and remember it being cleverly written to keep the readers guessing.
When Breath Becomes Air – Paul Kalanithi
Oh wow, this was a heart breaking one. Paul Kalanithi wrote his memoirs as a neuro surgeon after being diagnosed with terminal cancer.I read this earlier last year and at the time, described it as the closest non-fiction book to my favourite book ever, Doctors. The end couple of chapters will just break you in two.
While I Was Sleeping – Dani Atkins
This was a pleasant surprise. I thought it would be a light and fluffy read but actually got my thinking much more than expected. Maddie is involved in a horrendous accident and wakes from a coma 6 years later. The story explores the lives of the people in Maddie’s life. While not a completely medical themed book, there are quite a lot of hospital references. I was sent an advance reader copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.
So there is my medical theme book list – Have you read any of them? As always, if you have any book recommendation (particularly those on a medical theme) then feel free to share!