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My medical memoir list + tiny reviews

As you probably already know, I have been on a serious medical memoir/medical non-fiction bender since early 2021. I adore memoirs, and I am interested in medical topics, so the combo of these two things? PERFECT. <chef’s kiss>

A stack of four medical memoirs.

“This is Going to Hurt” is by far the funniest medical book I’ve read so far.

Several of you have asked for a list, so I’m putting it into this post, and I’ll keep adding to it as I go.

(My pace has slowed a bit since college began. But winter break is coming very soon, so I see some non-school reading in my future!)

If you have a suggestion for me, do leave it in the comments and I will see if my library has it.

Medical Memoirs

Super short reviews from my trip through medical-memoir world

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Carrie Willard

Thursday 2nd of June 2022

Oh gosh! I’ve read most of these and medical memoirs is a favorite niche of mine too. Thanks for this list, I’ll add a few more to my TBR pile.


Wednesday 16th of March 2022

I wound up reading "A Thousand Naked Strangers" because it was recommended here and loved it. The author can really write.

I also loved "This is Going to Hurt." It's been made into a current TV series in England, which I'd love to see.


Monday 21st of February 2022

I love this list of books and the comments about medical memoirs. My husband was a retired neurosurgeon who had served on the USS Repose during Vietnam. Later in life he had an incurable illness and was close to the end when "When Breath Becomes Air" was published. He read it with great interest, after our daughter gave it to him, underlining the parts of the residency experience that resonated with him. For me, a nurse, these books are also so interesting about a way of life that requires such a complex combination of skill, judgement, compassion and commitment.

Robert Ranum

Monday 3rd of January 2022

I loved The Immortal Life of Hennrietta Lacks and Being Mortal, and thought about those a lot when I was writing my own medical memoir, Clinical Trial: An ALS Memoir of Science, Hope, and Love. Check it out on Amazon!


Tuesday 14th of December 2021

One lesser known book that I don't see mentioned, "Malignant: Medical Ethicists Confront Cancer" edited by Rebecca Dresser. My library didn't have a copy so I bought it used. It's a series of essays by medical ethicists who either had cancer or whose spouse had cancer and what they learned as a patient. In a couple of cases they had totally unnecessary medical tests that they knew were unnecessary but which revealed unrelated life threatening problems. So unnecessary tests save lives...???

If schizophrenia is of interest to you, "Hidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of an Amercian Family" by Robert Kolker is great. It's a family of 12 children more than half of whom became schizophrenic. It also documents the evolving thinking about this illness over the years.


Tuesday 14th of December 2021

Thank you for these!

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