Top Ten Books That Should Be Required Readings

It is back to school season, which means that this week’s Top Ten Tuesday with the Broke and the Bookish is quite fitting.  They ask for the top ten books that should be required readings.  Ah.  I could really go to town on this one.

I decided to split the books into two categories… The education in general category (aka school/life) and the medical education category (I feel like we really aren’t required to read much of anything).

Plus, I missed Medical Monday yesterday, so this is a fantastic way to combine my two favourite regular link-ups!  Medical Mondays are the first Monday of the month in which medically-afilliated bloggers link-up.  Click the button below to check out some fantastic medical sorts of blogs.

I feel like a lot of the history I learned in school was actually from our novel reading.  It just steemed to click in better with the stories.

  • The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.  I like that it combined history with a great story and life lessons not just related to war.  Plus, Death is awesome.
  • The Help by Kathryn Stockett.  Again, a great story showing different perspectives.  I found some of the behavior shocking, but I think it is good that we realize that is really what people were like at that time.

There also is something to be said for contemporary literature and pointing out some of the bigger issues.

  • The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins.  I know they are really popular right now, but in all seriousness, a lot of discussion can be had about government policies, how we perceive our world, justice, family ties and all that good stuff.  There are a lot of levels to these books.  Minus the annoying love triangle thing.
  • The Divergent series by Veronical Roth.  Again, it is another world compared to where we are, but it is interesting to look at division based on strengths and weaknesses and how people view their world based on what they were taught versus what might actually be.

Some perspective on the world of others who live a challenging life.  These two fit both into the general life and medicine categories.

  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chobsky.  I didn’t like this book very much and I know it doesn’t set a fantastic example to all the kids out there, but at the same time, I think it does address a lot of what high school is like for a lot of kids and what people can get in to and struggle with.  We do need to address this stuff more.
  • The Fault In Our Stars by John Green.  It give a pretty good perspective (from what I can tell) on illness and death as a teen and how these experiences can be very alientating and yet offer big growth.

Now, for the medical folks out there, here are some reads I think everyone should have to fit in.

  • The House of God by Samuel Shem.  It is rude and crude, but it is also eerily real.  Sure, conditions are better these days, but some of the cardinal rules still apply and you can’t change medicine completely.  This is a great book to read about what not to do, laugh about what you actually do and reflect on what life is like in the hospital today.
  • The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.  The HeLa cells have influenced so much of everything we do in medicine, so I think it is only fair to know the history behind them and the person and her family.
  • The Emperor of All Maladies by Siddhartha Mukherjee.  This may not be fully required if you aren’t in to oncology, but I feel like cancer touches so many of us, it is still important.  This is a great overview of, well, the history of cancer as we know it that intertwines the personal with the scientific.
  • Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder.  This is the story of Dr. Paul Farmer, the man who set out to try to cure TB around the world, but with many efforts focused in Haiti.  It is a motivating read and will have you wanting to set out and save the world too!

There are a ton of medically related and non-medical books out there that are fantastic to read to grow your knowledge or make you think.  It would be great if some of them could be added in to schools.

What are some of your picks for required readings?


16 thoughts on “Top Ten Books That Should Be Required Readings

  1. I like that you added medical books as well based on your experience! And I too really appreciate a good historic novel and how it can connect you with the time period; I still need to read The Help!

  2. I love your list! I think The Emperor of All Maladies should be read by all medical students. It doesn’t matter what you’re going to specialise in – if at all – you will STILL encounter cancer. The other thing is that while the book supposedly focuses on cancer, it has so many other important aspects of research and ethics.
    I’d never heard of the House of God – will definitely try to locate that one.

  3. Great list! I’ve just finished reading Henrietta Lacks for a medical spouses book club and I was blown away. It’s great when someone can write science in a way that is interesting and understandable for us non-science people. I love that it also touches on social issues and medical ethics as well as telling Henrietta’s story.

  4. I like how you included medical school books as well based off of your experience. And I agree that a good historical novel can really connect you with the people in the time period; I still need to read The Help!

  5. My favourite of your above required reading is “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks”!

    Here are a few other suggestions:

    For medical required reading:
    “Complications” and “Better” by Atul Gawande – both incredible reads about medicine and its inherent challenges, accomplishments and flaws.
    “Hope in Hell: Inside the world of doctors without borders” by Dan Bortolotti – for anyone interested in global health issues.

    For non-medical required reading:
    “Dispatches from the Poverty Line” by Pat Capponi – this is a glimpse into overwhelming poverty and mental illness.
    “The Glass Castle” by Jeanette Walls – also about poverty and overcoming it.

    Recommended recent favourites (not necessarily required reading):
    “Unsaid” by Neil Abramson
    Any of Kate Morton’s books

    *It drives me nuts that I can’t properly italicize the book titles in the comments section.

    • I share your italics angst.

      I haven’t read your medical suggestions… I will have to check them out!

      I love “The Glass Castle” by Jeanette Walls. Great pick! To add to that, I would also suggest her other book “Half Broke Horses.” I need to pick up her latest book one of these days.

  6. Thanks for linking this post up with Medical Mondays. I love many of your suggestions, too. Right now on my night stand is Anna Karenina and it may be my new favorite book of all time. The writing is intoxicating. I may have to put the Book Thief on my list. Which brings me to People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks – mystery, history, wonderful storytelling. I heart books!

    • I keep meaning to pick up Anna Karenina. I now have it on my Kobo, it is just a matter of actually reading it. I keep hearing that people love it, so hopefully I will get around to it sooner rather than later.
      Thanks for stopping by!

  7. Pingback: Top Ten Tuesday’s: Required Reading | A World of Books

  8. Loved “The Help”. I haven’t any others on the list, but am going to pick up “Henrietta Lacks”. I’ve heard so much about that one!
    Thanks for linking up !

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