Pre-Health Reading List

last modified 2017-08-31T11:05:48-04:00

These recommendations come from Carol Bokros, Assistant Director of Pre-Health Professions Programs.  Her goal in assembling the list is to easily direct pre-health students to materials to help them better prepare for entrance exams, professional schools, and for careers in the health professions.  Of special note are titles recommended by Mercer faculty who responded to the question "what books do you wish your own doctors had read?"

The collection is divided according to the categories in the table of contents box to the right.

Clicking on links in the lists below will take you to the catalog where you can determine availability, view the summary and/or table of contents when available, and find a map of where items not shelved in the collection are available.  If the item you need is in another location, view this guide on locating and requesting items.  Links are provided for audiobooks that appear with the description [sound recording] and videos that appear with the description [videorecording]. 


  • Awakenings
  • Being Mortal
  • Discovery Channel Series Body Story
  • The Doctor
  • Doctors' Diaries
  • Escape Fire
  • One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
  • Patch Adams
  • Sick around America
  • Sick around the World
  • Something the Lord Made
  • Still Alice
  • The Waiting Room
  • Wit

You can also search Kanopy Video Streaming to find other films on health (using subject Health) and Alexander Street Video using the discipline of Health Sciences:

Training for and Practice of the Health Professions

  • All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot, 1973
  • Art of Medicine in Metaphors:  A collection of poems and narratives edited by James Borton
  • Awakenings by Oliver Sacks, 1990
  • Complications:  A Surgeon's Notes on an Imperfect Science
  • Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese, 2009
  • Doctor Stories by W. Carlos Williams, 1984
  • Doctors: The Biography of Medicine by Sherwin Nuland, 1995
  • Everything I Learned in Medical School by Sujay Kansagra, M.D.
  • Five Days at Memorial:  Life and Death in a Storm-ravaged Hospital by Sheri Fink, 2013
  • Gentle Vengeance: An Account of the First Year at Harvard Medical School by Charles LeBaron, 1982.
  • Gifted Hands:  The Ben Carson  Story by Ben Carson, 1996
  • Gifted Hands:  The Ben Carson  Story by Ben Carson, 1996
  • God's Hotel:  A Doctor, A Hospital, and a Pilgrimage to the Heart of Medicine by Victoria Sweet, 2012
  • Haiti after the Earthquake
  • Healing of America:  A Global Quest for Better, Cheaper, and Fairer Health Care by T.R. Reid
  • House of God by Samuel Shem
  • Human Side of Medicine: Learning What It's Like to be A Patient and What It's Like to be A Physician by Lawrence Savett, 2002
  • I Wasn't Strong Like This When I Started Out:  True Stories of Becoming a Nurse edited by Lee Gutkind
  • Illness As Narrative
  • Illness Narratives:  Suffering, Healing, and the Human Condition by Arthur Kleinman, 1989
  • Intern Blues: The Timeless Classic about the Making of a Doctor by Robert Marion, 2001.
  • Learning to Play God: The Coming of Age of a Young Doctor by Robert Marion, 1991.
  • Life after Medical School: Thirty-two Doctors Describe How They Shaped Their Medical Careers by Leonard Laster, 1996
  • Longer Stories from the Last Decade
    Notes:  short story Ward Number Six included in this volume
  • Making of a Nurse by Tilda Shalof, 2008
  • The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and Other Clinical Tales
  • Medical School Coach:  Waking Your Inner Doctor
  • Mindful Medical Student by Jeremy Spiegel
  • My Own Country:  A Doctor's Story of a Town and Its People in the Age of Aids by Abraham Verghese, 1995
  • Narrative Medicine:  Honoring the Stories of Illness
    Note: Recommended by Dr. Anya Silver, Mercer University Department of English
  • A Not Entirely Benign Procedure:  Four Years as a Medical Student by Perri Klass, 1988.
  • On Becoming a Doctor by Tania Heller
  • Reflections on Doctors:  Nurses' Stories about Physicians and Surgeons by Terry Ratner, 2008
  • To Repair the World:  Paul Farmer Speaks to the Next Generation by Paul Farmer, 2013
  • Something for the Pain:  Compassion and Burnout in the ER by Paul Austin, 2009
  • The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down:  A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures
  • Stories of Illness and Healing:  Women Write Their Own Bodies by Sayantani DasGupta, 2007
    Note:  Recommended by Dr. Anya Silver, Mercer University Department of English
  • True Confessions of a Veterinarian: An Unconditional Love Story by Gene Witiak, 2004
  • Vetting:  The Making of a Veterinarian by Pete Freyburger, 2009.
  • What Doctors Feel
  • When Doctors Don't Listen by Leana Wen and Joshua Kosowsky, 2013
  • When the Phone Rings, My Bed Shakes:  Memoirs of a Deaf Doctor by Philip Zazove
  • White Coat, White Cane: The Extraordinary Odyssey of a Blind Physician by David Asbell Hartman, 1979

Critical Thinking and Scientific Thought

  • Autism's False Prophets:  Bad Science, Risky Medicine, and the Search for a Cure
  • Broca's Brain by Carl Sagan, 1980
  • Galileo's Revenge:  Junk Science in the Courtroom by Peter Huber, 1991
  • How Science Works
  • How We Know What Isn't So: The Fallibility of Human Reason in Everyday Life by Thomas Gilovich, 1993
  • Is That a Fact?:  A Field Guide to Statistical and Scientific Information by Mark Battersby, 2010
  • On Being a Scientist:  A Guide to Responsible Conduct in Research
  • Reliable Knowledge:  An Exploration of the Grounds for Belief in Science
  • Science and Human Values
  • The Structure of Scientific Revolutions
  • The Checklist Manifesto
  • Why People Believe Weird Things: Pseudoscience, Superstition and Other Confusions of Our Time by Michel Shermer, 2002

The Patient's Perspective

  • Autobiography of a Face by Lucy Grealy, 2003
    Note: Recommended by Dr. Anya Silver, Mercer University Department of English
  • The Cancer Journals
    Note:  Recommended by Dr. Anya Silver, Mercer University Department of English
  • Cancer Made Me A Shallower Person:  A Memoir in Comics by Miriam Engelberg
  • Cancer Vixen:  A True Story
    Note: Recommended by Dr. Anya Silver, Mercer University Department of English
  • Darkness Visible:  A Memoir of Madness
  • The Diagnosis by Alan Lightman, 2000
  • Diving Bell and the Butterfly: A Memoir of Life in Death by Jean-Dominique Bauby, 2007
    Note: Recommended by Dr. Anya Silver, Mercer University Department of English
  • The Fault in our Stars
  • Girl, Interrupted
  • I Watched You Disappear
  • Intoxicated by My Illness by Anatole Broyard, 1992
  • It's Always Something by Gilda Radner, (20th anniversary edition), 2009
  • A Leg to Stand On
  • My Stroke of Insight:  A Brain Scientist's Personal Journey
  • Over My Head: A Doctor's Own Story of Head Injury from the Inside Looking Out by Claudia L. Osborn, 2000
  • Poetic Medicine
  • Poetry in Medicine
  • Still Alice
  • What the Body Told
    Note:  Recommended by Dr. Anya Silver, Mercer University Department of English
  • Wit
    Note:  Recommended by Dr. Anya Silver, Mercer University Department of English
  • Wounded Storyteller by Arthur W. Frank, 2013
    Note:  Recommended by Dr. Anya Silver, Mercer University Department of English

Historical Aspects of Disease

  • Disease: The Extraordinary Stories Behind History's Deadliest Killers by Mary Dobson
  • The Emperor of All Maladies:  A Biography of Cancer
    Note:  Recommended by Dr. Anya Silver, Mercer University Department of English
  • The Gospel of Germs by Nancy Tomes
  • The Great Influenza: The Epic Story of the Deadliest Plague in History
  • Living in the Shadow of Death:  Tuberculosis and the Social Experience of Illness in American History by Sheila Rothman, 1994
  • The Medical Messiahs; A Social History of Health Quackery in Twentieth-Century America
  • The Plague Makers:  How We Are Creating Catastrophic New Epidemics--And What We Must Do to Avert Them by Jeffrey Fister, 1994
  • Polio:  An American Story

Biographies and Autobiographies

  • The Autobiography of Malcolm X
  • Black Man in a White Coat
  • Bonhoeffer:  Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy:  A Righteous Gentile vs. the Third Reich
  • Breaking Ground:  My Life in Medicine
  • Lives of Moral Leadership:  Mean and Women Who Have Made a Difference by Robert Coles, 2001
  • Memoirs
  • No Such Thing as A Bad Day:  A Memoir
  • Out of My Life & Thought:  An Autobiography

Ethical Issues

  • Classic Works in Medical Ethics: Core Philosophical Readings by Gregory Pence, 1997
  • Doctors' Dilemmas: Moral Conflict and Medical Care by Samuel Gorovitz, 1985
  • Drawing the Line:  Life, Death, and Ethical Choices in an American Hospital
  • First, Do No Harm
  • Forgive and Remember: Managing Medical Failure (2nd ed.) by Charles Bosk, 2003
  • Illness as Metaphor; and AIDS as Metaphor by Susan Sontag, 1978
  • The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
  • The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (audiobook)
  • Infections and Inequalities: The Modern Plagues by Paul Farmer, 2001
  • Medical Ethics and the Faith Factor by Robert D. Orr
  • Professionalism in Health Care
  • Professionalism in Medicine:  A Case-Based Guide for Medical Students Edited by John Spandorfer

History, Social Issues, Perspectives

  • Anatomy of Racial Inequality (W.E.B. DuBois Lectures) by Glenn Loury, 2003.
  • Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee
  • Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee (audiobook)
  • Childhood Roots of Adult Happiness: Five Steps to Help Kids Create and Sustain Lifelong Joy by Edward M. Hallowel, 2003
  • Collapse:  How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed
  • Composing A Life
  • Descartes' Error:  Emotion, Reason, and the Human Brain
  • Einstein's Dreams by Alan Lightman, 2004
  • Engineering of Consent by Edward Bernays, 1955
    Note:  unable to obtain a copy, still trying
  • Excellence, Can We be Equal and Excellent Too?
  • History of Architecture: Settings and Rituals (second edition) by Spiro Kostof, 1995
  • In the Kingdom of the Sick:  A Social History of Chronic Illness in America by Laurie Edwards
  • Language of Life: DNA and the Revolution in Personalized Medicine by Francis Collins, 2011
  • Learning to Fall:  The Blessings of an Imperfect Life
  • The Moral Sense
  • The Places In Between
  • Race Matters
  • The Selfish Gene
  • Teacher:  The One Who Made the Difference
  • Under the Banner of Heaven:  A Story of Violent Faith by Jon Krakauer, 2003
  • Unequal Childhoods:  Class, Race, and Family Life
  • Unequal Treatment edited by Brian D. Smedley, Adrienne Y. Stith, and Alan R. Nelson
  • The White Nile
  • The World is Flat:  A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century

Planning for, Applying to, and Getting into Professional School

  • ADEA Official Guide to Dental Schools
  • Applicant's Guide to Physician Assistant School and Practice
  • Caribbean Medical Schools:  A Journey and Guide
  • Dental School Interview Guide
  • Essays that Will Get You into Medical School
  • Essays that Will Get You into Physician Assistant School
  • Essays that Worked for Medical School
  • Essential Advice for Pre-Meds
  • Everything Practice Interview Book
  • Get into Medical School:  A Strategic Approach
  • Getting into Medical School:  the Premedical Student's Guidebook
  • Getting into Physician Assistant School
  • How to Ace Your Medical School Interviews
  • How to Write the Perfect Personal Statement
  • Medical School Essays that Made a Difference
  • The Medical School Interview
  • The Medical School Interview:  Secrets and a System for Success
  • Official Guide to Medical School Admissions
  • Osteopathic Medical College Information Book
  • Perfect Phrases for Medical School Acceptance
  • So You Want to be a Physician Assistant
  • The Top 100 Health-Care Careers
  • Ultimate Guide to the Physician Assistant Profession
  • Veterinary Medical School Admission Requirements