6 Top Summer Reading Recommendations for Healthcare Professionals

nurse relaxing by the water reading a book during summer
Written by
Jenna Elizabeth
July 17, 2023

A summer bookworm and a nurse go together like two peas in a pod. That’s because books offer a diverse range of knowledge and experiences, making them an excellent choice for nurses looking for a fresh perspective. In fact, research shows the more you read, the better your brain functions. And since being a healthcare professional requires an individual to have a sharp and agile mind, all nurses can benefit from a little summer reading. 

Similarly, reading awakens the imagination and can help a nurse unwind and relax after a long shift. With all this in mind, if you are a nurse or a healthcare professional looking for some great summer reading recommendations, below are the best reads for the summer of 2023:

Top Six Summer Reading Recommendations for Nurses

From summer reading classics to guides on continuing education for nurses, this summer is a chance for both nurses and nursing students alike to explore a few books that will inspire personal and professional growth. Here are our top six picks for summer reads for nurses:

1. “The Shift: One Nurse, Twelve Hours, Four Patients’ Lives” by Theresa Brown

Some of the most popular genres for summer reading for nurses involve first-hand perspectives from nurses working on the floor. That’s why “The Shift: One Nurse, Twelve Hours, Four Patients’ Lives” by Theresa Brown serves as a captivating memoir that offers an inside look at the experiences of a nurse working in oncology. This book is as thought-provoking as it is fascinating and offers its readers the opportunity to experience the immense ups and downs of death, survival, and life-changing decisions that occur in just twelve hours. In this heartbreaking but touching medical memoir, Theresa Brown gives an unprecedented view of how life can change in an instant. Even more, she explores in this touching memoir the role that hope and healing (and even humor) can play for both patients and nurses in critical care circumstances. 

2. “Chicken Soup for the Nurses’ Soul: Stories to Celebrate, Honor, and Inspire the Nursing Profession” by Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, and Nancy Mitchell-Autio 

Summer reading classics, such as the Chicken Soup for the Soul series, share timeless stories that continue to inspire and delight their readers. For these reasons, “Chicken Soup for the Nurse’s Soul: Stories to Celebrate, Honor, and Inspire the Nursing Profession” remains a classic in the eyes of seasoned nurses. From heartwarming stories to heartbreaking and sentimental experiences, Chicken Soup for the Nurse’s Soul is an authentic collection of the sacrifices and contributions nurses make every day. This book is a perfect summer read for nurses who are looking to rejoice and cry alongside other nurses whose personal stories bring to light what it truly means to work in the healthcare industry. 

3. “When Breath Becomes Air” by Paul Kalanithi

A New York Times bestseller and a Pulitzer prize finalist, “When Breath Becomes Air” by Paul Kalanithi is an inspiring memoir that tells the story of a neurosurgeon who is diagnosed with terminal cancer and turns his professional skills toward analyzing the meaning and value of life. Throughout the book, neurosurgeon Paul Kalanithi offers an insightful and moving perspective on death, loss, and the human experience.

For nurses who work directly with patients and families in times of illness, “When Breath Becomes Air” can help foster a better understanding of end-of-life situations. This book can be especially moving for nurses who work in hospice care and witness the physical and mental repercussions of grief every day. And while Paul Kalanithi dies while working on his book, his words and affirmations about “what life means when you have faced your own mortality” live on.  Consequently, Kalinthi’s memoir may offer comforting guidance for nurses who want to redefine their relationship with suffering and the ultimate departure from life. 

4. “The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma” by Bessel van der Kolk

In this informative and eye-opening read, “The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma,” author Bessel van der Kolk shows how the impacts of trauma can rewire the body and brain. Additionally, Kolk offers insight into the physiological, emotional, and cognitive aspects of trauma and their impact on health and healing. He also presents strategies for healing from trauma using therapeutic techniques such as Yoga, meditation, sports, and neurofeedback. 

For nurses who often encounter patients with a history of trauma, “The Body Keeps the Score” may help nurses better understand their patients’ experiences with trauma. Moreover, by understanding the role trauma plays in a person’s body, a nurse may gain insight into how to provide more effective and holistic care for their patients. 

5. “Becoming” by Michelle Obama

In this moving memoir, “Becoming,” former First Lady Michelle Obama recounts her life from her childhood in the South Side of Chicago to her time in the White House. Michelle Obama offers relatable stories of her past and portrays how a woman can overcome obstacles by being strong, resilient, and compassionate. Obama also shares how she worked tirelessly to serve her community and was known for her advocacy work in girls’ education and healthy eating. 

This powerful memoir illustrates Obama’s steadfast commitment to making change and never giving up. Thus, “Becoming” can be a motivating and empowering read for nurses who are involved in leadership, advocacy, and public services roles within the healthcare industry. Likewise, for nurse leaders and patient advocates, Obama’s memoir can serve as a guide to stand up and fight for change.

6. “RN Bound: A Guide to Becoming a Successful Nurse” by Yalanda Comeauxto

Some of the best summer reads are also reserved for aspiring nurses who are interested in topics related to continuing education for nurses. As it turns out, “RN Bound: A Guide to Becoming a Successful Nurse” by Yalanda Comeauxto is a comprehensive guide for aspiring nurses that provides detailed information on the education and training required to become a successful nurse in the healthcare field. As a clinical nurse and nurse educator with a master’s of science in nursing (MSN), author Yalanda Comeauxto covers essential topics like nursing education programs, licensing, certification, and career paths, offering actionable advice and tips for success.

The guide also includes practical resources such as study tips, test-taking strategies, and job-search advice. At the same time, Comeauxto brings her aspiring nurse readers through an honest journey about the realities of nursing. For some, she explains, nursing may not be the right fit, and that’s okay. Either way, with its emphasis on both professional skills and personal development, “RN Bound” is a great resource for any individual who is a nurse or would like to pursue a career in nursing. 

Why All Nurses Should Read This Summer

There are some things in this world that can never be replaced, and one of them happens to be a good book that takes a person on a heartfelt journey. For nurses, reading may specifically help enhance critical thinking and problem-solving skills, which are crucial for nursing practice. 

Furthermore, reading can be sort of like a “vacation” or “mini escape” for a nurse who is looking for a healthy way to relieve stress. Ultimately, a great summer read can help a nurse unwind, learn, and explore their own passions and interests one chapter at a time!

Blog published on:
July 17, 2023

Meet Jenna, a contributing copywriter at Nursa who writes about healthcare news and updates, empathy and compassion for nurses, how to show staff appreciation and increase retention, and guides that help nurses navigate career pathways.

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