Five Books Every Pre-Med Should Read

Hi I'm Hira! I am a MS1 and hope to become a surgeon one day. I love medicine and spend time aside from studying on research. I got my masters in neuroscience from New York University so I love the connection of the mind and body. Currently, I am gearing up to present at the American Academy of Neurology national conference in Boston! I hope to one day treat lower extremity abnormalities as they relate to the brain. If I've learned anything so far in my first year it's that there is a huge difference between studying a lot and studying effectively!


Reading is essential. It can take you from a dreary afternoon on the train to a thrilling day in the operating room or into a mindful state of contemplation. As future doctors learning from the stories of those more experienced is a requirement for our success in the future.

1. When the Air Hits Your Brain: Tales From Neurosurgery by Frank Vertosick

Exhilarating stories of being a student, neurosurgery, and all things medicine. Follow Dr. Vertosick into the operating room as he describes the intense procedures, surgeries, and detailed stories from neurosurgery cases. Trust me, you won’t be bored.

2. Complications: A Surgeon's Notes on an Imperfect Science by Atul Gawande

A real perspective of a surgeon's experiences. Dive into the world of surgery. Dr. Gawande documents his life as a surgeon with insight that radiates necessary wisdom for future physicians like ourselves. He maintains a perspective that you’ll see, is quite necessary in the ever changing, imperfect field of medicine.

3. The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande

Uncover the magic of the infallible check list. Dr. Gawande takes you through his findings that lead him to believe the perfection and power that lies within lists. This book isn’t as much of a story as it is a life hack in a book. You will find yourself trusting checklists more than any person or method.


4. When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

This one in particular resonates for longer than you’d expect. The story follows the life of Dr. Kalanithi, a neurosurgery resident as he find himself becoming a patient to his own field. The honest, heartfelt account of his life and struggles as a physician turned patient leaves a mark on your heart and mind. He beautifully shows how important is it to remember that every patient is a person, not just a number in a database.

5. The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down- Anne Fadiman

A much needed perspective. This book gives a deeper understanding of the struggles, fears, and pain from a patient’s perspective. This story follows a young Asian girl, and the struggle between her parents and the physicians to manage her epilepsy as she seeks treatment in the United States. Read this, and you’ll realize the ability to understand the people you treat is simply step one in resolving their pain.

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What's the best part of Hira's reading list?

Most of these books are $10 or less! Click on each title for a direct amazon link.

Thank you Hira for your list of book recommendations! We wish you the best of luck with your research presentation.