The Best Medical Books of All Time

***Click here for revised and updated list.***

Here are the best medical books of all time:

  1. The Chest X-Ray: A Survival Guide by Gerald de Lacey (2008, reviewed here)
  2. Brain CT Scans in Clinical Practice (2009, reviewed here)
  3. Learning Radiology, Recognizing the Basics, 2e, by William Herring MD (2011, reviewed here)
  4. Acid Base Case Studies (2004) by Ira Kurtz MD (reviewed here)
  5. Clinician’s Guide to Laboratory Medicine: Pocket by Samir P. Desai MD (2009, reviewed here)
  6. Atlas of Tropical Medicine and Parasitology (2007, reviewed here)
  7. Differential Diagnosis of Infectious Diseases (1996, reviewed here)
  8. Robbins and Cotran Atlas of Pathology, 2e (2009, reviewed here)
  9. Antibiotic Basics for Clinicians: The ABCs of Choosing the Right Antibacterial Agent, 2e, by Alan R Hauser, MD, PhD (2012, reviewed here)
  10. Sapira’s Art and Science of Bedside Diagnosis (2009)
  11. Physical Examination of the Spine and Extremities (1976, reviewed here)
  12. Minor Emergencies (2007, reviewed here)
  13. NMS Surgery Casebook (2003, reviewed here)
  14. Cope’s Early Diagnosis of the Acute Abdomen by William Silen MD (2010, reviewed here)
  15. Basic Clinical Neuroscience (2007) by Paul A. Young PhD.
  16. Netter’s Essential Histology by William K. Ovalle PhD (2007)
  17. Gallagher, Christopher, MD, Board Stiff TEE: Transesophageal Echocardiography, 2e (2013)

Criteria for inclusion:

  • Educational value: the degree to which the book successfully teaches, simplifies and distills an otherwise complex topic – and makes it stick.
  • Timelessness: the degree to which the book stood the test of time, or is expected to do so.
  • Relevance: the degree to which the book is useful to physicians across multiple specialties.
  • Transformative value: the degree to which the book  changes both one’s understanding, framing and appreciation of a particular subject or specialty. I favor books which will make you better at what you do, and not just make you know more.
  • Uniqueness: I give books special consideration if they are the sole books, or best books, about their respective topics.
  • Conciseness

By Mark Yoffe MD

[Updated August 23, 2013. Please read important Disclaimer.]

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I would appreciate your comment:

  1. Might be a bit controversial and nit everyone approves of the illustrations but I’d put Nick Harris’ “Advanced Examination Techniques in Orthopaedics” in there. And I think from a UK viewpoint we’d have to put the Oxford Handbook and MacRae’s “Practical Fracture Treatment”. Also, long out of print but occasionally gets reprinted: if you can lay your hands on a copy of Charnley’s “Closed Treatment of Common Fractures” it’s still very relevant.

    • Matt, thank you for drawing my attention to these books.

      Right now I only have two British books on my list of ten. Perhaps we need to rebalance things a bit. It would be great to see what a British person considers to be the best ten medical books of all time!

  2. Pingback: A Review: Atlas of Tropical Medicine and Parasitology (2007) « The Medical Media Review