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5 Top Medical Books of All Time

5 Top Medical Books of All Time

  • Criteria for inclusion in a list of top 25 medical books of all time: Usefulness: is it useful to an array of generalists and specialists? Accessibility: can a non-expert understand it on the first read? Temporal relevance: is it likely to remain relevant for many years to come?
  • The Chest X-Ray: A Survival Guide: Authors approach interpretation of the chest x-ray in sections on: Anatomical problems (eg, lobar collapse, pleural abnormalities) Clinical problems (eg, dyspnea, cough, chest pain) Visual problems (eg, nodules, white outs, one lung looks blacker).
  • Acid-Base Case Studies: Unique case-based approach to diagnosing acid-base disorders. “It seems as though almost every case presented was, is, or should be, a Board question somewhere.”
  • Differential Diagnosis of Infectious Diseases. Text arranged based on clinical problems, chief complaints (eg, fever, pneumonitis, diarrhea), not according to bugs or disease.Special entries included that alert readers to noninfectious diseases that can mimic infectious diseases (eg, eosinophilic pneumonia and pulmonary embolism as possible mimics of acute infectious pneumonitis).
  • Minor Emergencies: Splinters to Fractures. “A book about exceedingly common, seldom taught, and frequently overlooked medical conditions (eg, avulsed teeth, tick bites, bee stings…aphthous ulcers.)” A “veritable goldmine of high-yield Board material for Steps 1, 2, & 3 and is just plain excellent.”
  • Physical Examination of the Spine and Extremities. Diagrams delineate surface anatomy and underlying bony and ligamentous structures. Reader can appreciate surface anatomy and predict what underlying structures might feel like.

Mark Yoffe, MD, an internal medicine specialist who also writes about medical education and media, is the creator of the Web site Among other assessments of educational literature on the site is Dr Yoffe’s “Top 25 List of the Best Medical Books of All Time” which he updates every year. 

To curate contenders, Dr Yoffe trolls both online and brick-and-mortar bookstores looking for newly published medical texts and new editions of old standards. He also pays attention to what medical students and residents are reading.

How does a text make the Medical Media Review’s annual list of  “Top 25 of All Time”?  In the slides above, find Dr Yoffe’s criteria for inclusion and our unscientific sampling of 5 texts from the most recent roster of the Top 25. Get the full “Top 25 List of the Best Medical Books of All Time for 2015.”


Merck Manual every time. I'm a South African anatomical pathologist who passed the ECFMG using it, with a bit of extra reading from Ganong's physiology, Jawetz's microbiology and Katzenstein's pharmacology. Never heard of the rest.

Charles @

I passed the FLEX exam by cramming the Merck Manual. Why a book on brain CT? It would appeal only to radiologists. How about Guyton's Physiology? Merritt's Neurology? Rakel's Family Practice? Tintinalli's Emergency Medicine? And of course (as stated below) the bible was Degowin and Degowin (I actually gave copies to medical students in my office).

William @

No Harrison's Internal Med? Then your list is a whack.

manuel @

Well, I guess I got screwed with my medical school education. Never heard of 4/5 of those books.

Thad @

AAP - Redbook. Peds annual handbook on infectious diseases.
Degowin and Degowin Bedside clinical exam.
The Harriet Lane Hand Book - Peds

Kenneth @

Not Sanford's pocket guide to Antimicrobial Therapy ??

Kenneth @

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