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6 Must-Read Books for Medicine Students

Looking to read around your subject to prepare you for medical school interviews? Finding time to schedule and read some secondary reading can feel like a chore.

However, it doesn’t need to be.

Take a look at our top 6 must-read books for medicine students below. Inspiring and insightful, they’re a great way to reconnect with the subject and get a real idea of what becoming a medic would look like.

They’ll also give you a great secondary source to bring into your university applications and medical school interviews, and help form your opinion on a whole range of topical questions.

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  1. Bad Science, by Ben Goldacre

Fed up of hearing about the constantly changing state of health on the news? One minute you hear about how ‘eating butter is bad for you’, the next it’s a superfood! And it’s the same with almost all the other foods and drinks out there.

There’s so many stories and ‘experts’ coming forward and promoting new diets and herbal remedies to lose weight or cure illnesses that no one truly knows what the best method is for staying healthy.

Bad Science offers an entertaining insight into the media and why we tend to believe everything as fact that’s printed from large publications. Reading it will be a light and refreshing insight on how to critically analyse sources of information – something which you’ll probably be asked about in interviews.

  1. The Children Act, by Ian McEwan

You may have already heard or seen this title, as its film adaptation was released in 2017, starring Dame Emma Thompson. However, it’s been around for a few more years than that in paperback form and is so much more than a box office hit.

The Children Act is written by Ian McEwan, who is also famous for writing the beloved novel, Atonement. It centres around a High-Court judge who, in the middle of her own marital crisis, has to make the difficult decision as to whether she should order a life-saving blood transfusion for a teenager (nearly 18 year-old), despite his family’s refusal to accept medical treatment as Jehovah’s Witnesses.

For medicine students, it will give you a fresh perspective on the question of ethics and medical law, which should help immensely for interviews and decisions you will make throughout your career.


  1. Trust Me, I’m a Junior Doctor, by Max Pemberton

Based on his anonymously-written columns for The Telegraph, this best-selling book recounts a number of hilarious and quite frankly, terrifying tales from Max Pemberton’s first year as a junior doctor in the NHS.

If you’ve ever wanted an insight into your first steps as a graduate from medical school, then this is it. Where you may think being a medic is all about saving lives, Pemberton reveals the realities of the abundance of paperwork that needs to be completed, as well as navigating daily questions for ward-life such as ‘how do you really know if someone is dead?’

If you’re not sure whether a career in medicine is right for you, you’ll certainly know after reading this book.

  1. The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, by Oliver Sacks

If you have ambitions of working in neurosurgery, then this book is a must-read! Oliver Sacks, a trained neurologist, recounts the stories of patients who suffer from a wide range of bizarre neurological disorders.

These are real-life case studies of people who have lost various functions of their brain, such as developing some uncanny artistic or mathematical talents, not being able to recognise people or common objects, or even identify their own limbs.

A rather deep human study of life, it will offer you great insight into some of the most extraordinary cases to happen in medicine.


  1. Being Mortal, by Atul Gawande

Sometimes when you’re aspiring to become a medic, it’s often easy to fall into the trap of thinking that medicine is all about curing illnesses and saving patients. However, Atul Gawande’s book is a stark reminder that medicine is not always about being able to save lives, but often involves watching and caring for lives that come to an end.

The book offers some witty and uplifting anecdotes and advice, and will help you to answer those all-important ‘quality of life’ questions which you’ll face throughout your medicine degree.

  1. In Stitches, by Anthony Youn, M.D.

This fantastic memoir by Dr Youn recounts his career as a celebrity plastic surgeon. Growing up in a small town, where diversity was uncommon, Dr Youn, an Asian-American student with a ‘huge protruding jaw’ stood out amongst his classmates. A subsequent jaw reconstruction led him to a major career breakthrough, where he decided he wanted to become a plastic surgeon.

The book explains how he achieved his dream, and offers readers many humorous insights into life as a medical student, such as how to balance studying with a social life, as well as finding the time to go on dates.

You’ll get an insight into what it’s like to work as a plastic surgeon, including the setbacks and risks. But you’ll also quite literally be ‘in stitches’ as you hear him recount a number of amusing stories.

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Prepare for medical school interviews with 6 must-read books. Topics include media analysis, ethics, NHS experiences, neurological disorders, end-of-life care, and plastic surgery. Apply for Oxford Summer Courses for an unforgettable experience.

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