20 Books Nurses Should Read

picture of a stack of books that nuses should read
Written by
Nursa Admin
August 15, 2022

There are tons of articles out there sharing the importance of self-care for nurses. As self-care can mean a lot of things to different people, we wanted to promote one of the most beneficial practices that can help positively attune your mind, body, and soul: reading. 

There are so many wonderful benefits to reading, many of which can greatly add to your health, including “improving memory, stress levels, and personal confidence.” In fact, one 2009 study by Sussex University found that reading may reduce stress by as much as 68%.

As nurses are in continual need of these health benefits working in fast paced and high-stress environments, we curated a list of 20 books nurses should read to help create a sense of relaxed escape.

Which Book Do You Fancy?

Books are unique curations as people have their own preferences regarding what makes them want to read on for hours. For some it’s romance, for others it's thrillers, and for some it’s all about cracking open a good ol’ nonfiction. Therefore, we put together a dynamic list of books for nurses to read based on varied interests, and we hope you find one that strikes your book-reading fancy.

Let’s take a look!

A Book for Your First Year into Nursing

1. The Real Doctor Will See You Shortly: A Physician's First Year

If you are looking for a good book that mirrors your own nursing experience in the first year, read this extremely honest memoir of a New York Hospital intern. Join the main character, McCarthy, on his adventures through schooling, conferences, interactions with patients, and more. Throughout the book, you will personally connect with the main character who will help you feel less alone on your own journey.

2. RN Bound: A Guide To Becoming A Successful Nurse

Sometimes we think jobs are going to be a certain way, but we are rudely awakened once we are deep in them. To help prospective nursing students gauge what nursing school will be like and whether it's a good fit for them, clinical nurse Yalanda Comeauxto wrote RN Bound: A Guide to Becoming a Successful Nurse. As a nurse educator, she gracefully and honestly writes about the nursing student’s experience and gives advice on how to best manage the rigor that is required to graduate. Consider this a “nursing school survival guide” from one of the industry's top teachers.

3. Self-Care Handbook for the Student Nurse

Speaking of a guide through the stresses of nursing school, the Self-Care for New and Student Nurses guide is a great self-care book to give yourself if you need some added support. Through its pages, students will learn tips and tricks for better management with proven nursing school and mental health strategies.

A Book for Thrill Seekers

4. The Good Nurse: A True Story of Medicine, Madness, and Murder

Skip Netflix documentaries and hop into a good murder book! The New York Times bestseller The Good Nurse provides a creep look into RN Charles Cullen's serial killings and the dramatic investigation that ensued. With brilliant storytelling that makes this a page turner, this book will cause you to look into the eyes of a murderer all while looking into corporate boardrooms of America’s private hospitals.

5. Trust No One: A Thriller

If blood is not your thing — which as a nurse you might have a problem if it's not —Trust No One is an outstanding psychological thriller about a famous crime writer, Jerry, who struggles to differentiate between his own reality and the stories in the thriller books he writes. As his medical condition worsens, the lines between fiction and reality blur to reveal that maybe he is the main character of his own stories… Ekk!

6. A Farewell to Arms

Want to read a brave story about war, love, and devotion? Pick up a copy of this classic novel written by Ernest Hemmingway. A Farewell to Arms is an autobiographical story of an American ambulance driver during WWII and his incredible love story with an English nurse. Painting vivid pictures of love and war and everything in between, this book will check the box for thrill seekers and romance novel enthusiasts.

A Book for the Historian

7. Witches, Midwives, and Nurses: A History of Women Healers

We had you at “witch”, right? Witches, Midwives, and Nurses takes a deep look into the grueling history of women as societal medical healers and how many times… it did not work well for them (Ahem, witch hunts and fires). As many women were demonized for practicing medicine throughout history, this is an interesting take on medical history, alternative medicine, and women’s rights.

8. Woman of Valor: Clara Barton and the Civil War 

Clara Barton is no stranger to healthcare professionals as she is one of the “founders” of modern nursing, but this book takes you beyond the “well-known” facts. Take a deeper look into her impact on the industry and learn about her experience as a war nurse and more in this insightful historical recollection.

9. We Band of Angels: The Untold Story of American Nurses Trapped on Bataan 

Being a prisoner of war is one of the most traumatic experiences you can go through and this book beautifully portrays gripping interviews of nurses imprisoned during the Japanese invasion of the Philippines during WWII. Sure to inspire, this book will have you diving into history like never before.

10. Extraordinary Nurses Throughout History: In Honor of Florence Nightingale

Are you a medical history buff? This book is for you! There is no doubt that there have been numerous healthcare professionals who have shaped the industry, and this book goes deep into their stories in honor of Florence Nightingale's 200th birthday. Meet familiar and new faces and learn how the field of nursing has changed because of their impact.

A Book for Inspiration

11. The Language of Kindness 

The core of this heart-felt book? Kindness and small actions can make a big impact on your life and the lives of others. This book shares the memoir of Christie Watson, a 20-year seasoned nurse, and her incredible story of healing an interesting lineup of patients and the lessons they taught her.

12. A Healing Touch: True Stories of Life, Death, and Hospice

Hospice is an emotionally draining place for many, but this heart-felt book shares the unique and powerful stories of those working with the terminally ill. 

Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Richard Russo and five other Maine authors “prove that the close of life need not be filled with darkness” when hospice help is at hand. By reading its pages, nurses can feel a deep reconnect to their shared human experience with patients and the impact this work can have.

13. The Power and Pain of Nursing: Self-Care Practices to Protect and Replenish Compassion

As a nurse, your ability to alleviate suffering can be inspiring, but it can also easily transform into fatigue and overwhelm that affects your entire life. 

In collaboration with Dominic O. Vachon MDiv, PhD and MJ Murray Vachon, LCSW, CMFT, Beth Cavenaugh, RN, BSN, CHPN offers nurses practical steps to live a more compassionate, patient, and full life. Providing readers with a hands-on 30-day guide, the book offers readers steps to build daily mental health strategies.

14. Joyful: The Surprising Power of Ordinary Things to Create Extraordinary Happiness

This book has the power to change everything when you feel you are working a mundane job. As nurses are surrounded by uninspiring workplaces full of white sterile walls, Joyful uses neuroscience and psychology to help readers identify what causes stress, overstimulation, or subduing feelings pertaining to their surroundings. By channeling your “space” with meaningful strategies, you can live a more full, controlled, and happy life!

A Book for Referenced Learning

15. What Doctors Feel: How Emotions Affect the Practice of Medicine

Healthcare professionals, like nurses, need to learn how to control and manage emotions to ensure longevity when caring for others. In this fascinating journey “into the heart and mind of a physician,” readers will take a hard look at how emotions can positively or negatively affect medical care. Author Dr. Danielle Ofri shares real-life studies and stories that can help nurses understand the connection between emotion and better doctor-patient connection.

16. Patients Come Second: Leading Change by Changing the Way You Lead

There is a debate happening across the country on the quality of America's healthcare as Americans feel the industry has taken a turn for the worse in various capacities. As the healthcare industry is looking for new solutions for leadership, retention, service, and tech integration, Patients Come Second shares a refreshing look into hospital management and what the future can look like.

As the employee experience greatly affects the financial and organizational success of facilities, these new programs can greatly empower employees to feel fulfilled at work as well as improve the services they provide. 

17. Human-Centered Leadership in Healthcare: Evolution of a Revolution

As we learned from the pandemic, things need to change when it comes to healthcare management. Human-Centered Leadership in Healthcare is a new leadership model based on the theory of complex systems, which addresses the requirement for healthcare organizations to develop environments that produce market leading outcomes. As the healthcare industry is run by humans, success is led by those who can intentionally lead and have proper work-life balance.

A Book for the Funny Bone

18. Bedlam Among the Bedpans: Humor in Nursing

Ever heard “you had to be there”? Well, author Amy Young creatively writes about nurses’ shared experiences, which are wild, messy, crazy, and just downright funny. As everyone needs a mental check out during long workdays, this book can replace scrolling through funny Tik Tok videos and give you the chuckle you need.

19. Stuck Up! 100 Objects Inserted and Ingested in Places They Shouldn’t Be 

If you haven’t heard of the Hulu series “Sex Sent Me to the E.R,” this book should pretty much cover it. Sharing a very funny collection of 100 X-ray images showing foreign objects ingested or inserted into human bodies (accidentally or on purpose), this book paints the age-old question many medical professionals ask: Why?

This book may not be the most “uplifting” one, but it surely will add some comic relief to your stressful workday! 

20. This Won't Hurt a Bit: (And Other White Lies): My Education in Medicine and Motherhood

With 1.1 million working mothers being registered nurses, this book shows a fun connection every “nurse-mom” will appreciate.

Author Michelle Au started medical school with all the dreams and excitement of  "helping people," but, as many nurses know, nursing gets “real” real fast. This Won't Hurt a Bit is the story of how she became a “mom-doctor.” Sharing a glimpse into the real-life struggles of working moms, this book can be a delight for moms who might need someone to look up to; after reading this book, they will say, “If she can do it, I can too!”

Ready, Set, Read! A Book Perfect for You

We hope this book list inspired you to slow down and take advantage of the magic reading can bring to your life. Remember, reading not only serves as a perfect pastime and self-care tactic — it can also reap tons of additional health benefits!

Speaking of reading and benefits, at Nursa, we provide healthcare professionals all types of reading material to benefit their lives from understanding licensing to tips on how to better balance their home and work life.
Take a look at our digital library for endless readings to add to your career!

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Blog published on:
August 15, 2022

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