We round up a collection of books on all things medical—memoirs, history, fiction, and more—to keep you busy through the holidays and beyond. 

Books imageFiction

The Heart Specialist – Claire Holden Rothman
A fictionalized account of Canada's first female heart specialist, and one of the first women to go to medical school.

Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures –Vincent Lam
A collection of short stories from an ER doctor at Toronto East General.

The Good Doctor – Damon Galgut
Two doctors, one black, one white, in post-apartheid South Africa, negotiate the country's new reality.

The Communist's Daughter – Dennis Bock
Pioneering Canadian doctor Norman Bethune is brought to life through a series of letters to an unknown daughter.

The Doctor Stories – William Carlos Williams
From a paediatrician with a talent for words, a collection of short stories and other writing on doctors.

Chekhov's Doctors – Anton Chekhov
The famed Russian writer was also a physician, a background he puts to good use in this short story collection.

Between the Heartbeats: Poetry and Prose by Nurses – Courtney Davis (ed.)
As the title indicates, a contemporary collection of writing by nurses about caregiving and their experiences with patients.


The Night Shift – Dr. Brian Goldman
The ER physician and CBC radio host on his experiences working the night shift at Mount Sinai.

Intern: A Doctor's Initiation – Sandeep Jauhar
A cardiologist of Indian descent documents the ups, downs, and mistakes of his internship at a New York hospital.

On Call: A Doctor's Days and Nights in Residency – Emily R. Transue
Another memoir, chronicling the journey from resident to physician.

A Nurse's Story: Life, Death, and In-Between in an Intensive Care Unit– Tilda Shalof
An ICU nurse from a busy, Canadian hospital, not unlike UHN, writes about her early days in the profession.

Critical Care: A New Nurse Faces Death, Life, and Everything in Between – Theresa Brown
A former English professor-turned-nurse chronicles her first year on the job as an RN in medical oncology.


The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks – Rebecca Skloot
The story of the poor, black woman whose cells unwittingly became the HeLa cells, one of medicine's most important research tools. (Note – Skloot will be in Toronto on Jan.27)

Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers – Mary Roach
The many fates of cadavers, both now and historically, from body snatching in the early days of anatomy, to crash-test "dummies," to cannibalism.

Five Quarts: A Personal and Natural History of Blood – Bill Hayes
A gay San Francisco man whose partner has HIV, Hayes uses his personal connection to the disease as a launching point for a wide-ranging history of this most basic of "elements."

The Anatomist: A True Story of Gray's Anatomy – Bill Hayes
The story of the two Henry's behind the famed medical bible—Henry Gray, the writer, and illustrator Henry Carter, set against Hayes' own experiences in anatomy class.

The Emperor Of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer – Siddhartha Mukherjee
A social and medical history of cancer through the ages and the many advances in treatment and understanding of the disease over the past century.

Deadly Companions : How Microbes Shaped Our History – Dorothy H. Crawford
The story of the microbes behind human civilization—the epidemics and plagues that have shaped our decisions and changed human history.

Disease: The Extraordinary Stories Behind History's Deadliest Killers– Mary J. Dobson
Diseases such as malaria, rabies and TB are just some of the silent players in human history chronicled here.

General Non-Fiction

Effective Medical Leadership – Dr. Bryce Taylor
Our very own former surgeon-in-chief on the lessons learned from a career in medical leadership.

The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat: And Other Clinical Tales –Oliver Sacks
A series of almost literary vignettes exploring neurological disorders and their impact on the human experience.

An Imperfect Offering: Humanitarian Action in the Twenty-first Century – James Orbinski
From the founder of the Canadian branch of Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders/MSF).

The Wisdom of Whores: Bureaucrats, Brothels, and the Business of AIDS – Elizabeth Pisani
An epidemiologist on a lifetime of international AIDS research.

A Life in Medicine: A Medical Anthology – Robert Coles, MD, and Randy Testa (ed.s)
A compilation of essays, short stories, poems and other writing by health care professionals, both famous and not-so-famous.

The Best American Medical Writing 2009 – Pauline Chen (Ed.)
As the title promises, a collection of essays from the past year on medical topics, compiled by a liver transplant and liver cancer surgeon.

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