|These are a good read and can give you a bit of an insight into what medicine is like as a career:
Trust Me, I'm a (Junior) Doctor
 (Max Pemberton, Hodder Paperbacks)
Vertigo.0012 : In my opinion, quite possibly the best book ever written. If you are applying for medicine (and even if not), read this book - it will open your eyes to the life of a foundation year one doctor. The blurb says that it "reads like Scrubs: the blog" and this is certainly true - the writing flows from page to page with incredible wit. I cannot recommend it enough - a harrowing, humorous account of what it'll be like as a brand new doctor.
Where Does it Hurt?: What the Junior Doctor Did Next
 (Max Pemberton, Hodder & Stoughton)
Vertigo.0012 : Follows on from the first book, as the Jnr Dr goes on to work as part of a drug outreach programme, dealing mostly with homeless people. Another superb book from the junior doctor, describing an area of medicine that few know about. While less relevant to applicants, if you enjoyed the first book then you'll enjoy this one too.
In Stitches: The Highs and Lows of Life as an AandE Doctor
 (Nick Edwards, The Friday Project Ltd)
Vertigo.0012 : An entertaining read from a practising emergency doctor. Gives an amusing insight into the working life of an A and E department, complete with the patients that come with it. Very much like "Trust Me, I'm a Junior Doctor". Also provides a glimpse into how the NHS works, which is no bad thing! One thing I would mention, as is mentioned in the book, is to take what is written with a pinch of salt - the author only writes "when angry" as stress relief, so much of the book is very negative! There are also good days in A and E....some times.
The House of God
 (Samuel Shem, Black Swan)
I think it was more enjoyable to read than actually useful. If you were planning on applying to America it would be useful, as the book is about one medical student's time as an intern. Also if you watch and enjoy scrubs, you will definitely see some similarities between the book and the show, (two friends, sleeping with nurses, the "mentor" figure etc.) apparently the show actually has some basing in the book. During my work experience I asked one of the doctors if he'd read it, and if it was at all realistic. He said it was generally hyperbolic, but the general message- that all you'll be doing is treating old people who never die and for whom your treatment does next to nothing, whilst you'll have to live through young people dieing all the time. The book is sort of a black comedy, essentially discussing how depressing it is to be doctor, but in a pretty funny way.
So if you want a humorous, interesting but not exactly useful read then go for it.
Suckers: How alternative medicine makes fools of us all
 (Rose Shapiro, Vintage)
A rather strong account highlighting the lack of proof or scientific grounding for many alternative practices, showing some of the dangers of the use of these and a very pro-evidence based medicine argument. A very interesting and eye-opening read, and I would certainly recommend it to any aspiring medic.
The Private Life of the Brain
 (Susan Greenfield, Penguin)
Some very interesting concepts on the way that we think, and how conciousness is built up and even altered, written from a Neuroscience perspective and is certainly accessible for the lay reader. Sometimes a little heavily conceptual, but perservere and you'll certainly enjoy discovering many things about the mind and what happens within it from a highly innovative perspective.
 (Aleksandr Isaevich Solzhenitsyn, Vintage)
A true classic, and something of a must-read for medics and pretty much any body else with an interest in Literature. Set in the time of the Soviet Union, Solzhenitsyn's novel has many parallels with the soviet union and is a strong attack against it. Also an emotional journey following patients suffering cancer's of all types and stages, and a real personal insight into the terminally ill. It's also interesting to compare the hospital wards of yesteryear with medical advances of today. Beautifully written and something you'll remember.
Blood, Sweat and Tea: Real Life Adventures in an Inner-city Ambulance
 (Tom Reynolds, The Friday Project Ltd)
A collection of blog posts from a Ambulance paramedic/EMT whose witty and often cynical take on random events during the course of working life offer a real insight into the world of emergency care. Quite useful for understanding the process a patient may go through to get to an A&E ward and it shows the importance of other roles within the healthcare sector.
 (Ben Goldacre, Harper Pernnial)
Vertigo.0012 : Written by a practising doctor, this is a book about all you need to know on pseudo-science: the branch of often ridiculous science claiming to be "normal" science. The author debunks many claims in this book including homeopathy, false trials, and Gillian McKeith. It also covers how the media use science in news and other publications. The book is written humorously and in such a way that it avoids any complex scientific theory - it is very much a popular science book. Highly recommended to anyone with any interest in scientific matters.
Already a classic of the popular science genre, this book is a must read. Dr Ben Goldacre launches a passionate (and extremely well informed) attack on the "Bad Science" which pollutes todays media. He rips apart everything from complementary therapies and homeopathy to the more polished lies of the Big Pharma, all with a wonderful lucidity and wit which makes the book a real pleasure to read. The book can be shocking at times and will definitely make you a more astute reader of science reporting. The book should be read by all applicants but is particularly useful for Oxbridge hopefuls.
The Discovery of the Germ
 (John Waller, Icon Books Ltd)
I found it really useful and a decent read at the same time. It's about, surprisingly, the discovery of the germ. But it goes into alot of detail about the development of vaccines, the start of sterilisation techniques in hospitals (Semmelweis) and alot of detail on Louis Pasteur and Robert Koch as they were engaged in their races to find new diseases and vaccines for the diseases (Koch's postulates and Pasteur's flasks). It is also written in a way that engages you, it's like a story, you want to find out what was discovered next, what disease had a vaccine created for it etc. There's also quite alot on the abolition of the Spontaneous Generation theories. I managed to read it twice, once quite a while before any of my interviews, then again before my first interview, and both times I was just as interested which is a testament to how well the book is written.
So a must read for anyone interested in the creation of modern medicine (and therefore pretty much every applicant!)
The Emperor of All Maladies
 (Siddhartha Mukherjee, Fourth Estate)
A large book with very heavy reading and sometimes confusingly complex chronology, The Emperor of All Maladies - self described as "a biography of cancer" - is nevertheless designed for reading by laymen. Running the history of the development of many of today's most-used cancer treatments in parallel with the author's own experiences as an oncologist, this book explores the multifaceted history one of modern-day society's leading killers, going into extraordinary detail while remaining accessible and eloquently human in style. Topics range from a focus on several of Mukherjee's own patients to the exploits and innovations of individuals such as Sidney Farber and William Stewart Halsted, describing each aspect of oncology's history in turn. The book is long and the content jumps very quickly between topics, but the accessibility of language, range and depth of focus and gripping writing style - sometimes reading more like an epic than a book about medicine - The Emperor of All Maladies is an ideal choice for a would-be medic as a gateway to more complex medical ideas in a still layman-friendly manner. I was recommended it by a neurologist I was shadowing whose career focused on a distinctly non-oncological aspect of neurology, so I do believe respect for it as a book runs deep in the medical world far beyond its cancer origins; a very impressive piece of literature, assumedly, especially to bring up in a personal statement or an interview.
 (Prof. Allyson Pollock)
Although quite dry, this book is extremely interesting and the one that most shaped my understanding of the NHS. The book examines how the NHS has gradually become more and more politicalised and privatised since it's inception in 1948. Pollock applies remorseless logic to provide an almost irresistible argument about how rotten the core of the NHS actually is. A must read in my eyes - I found myself bringing it up numerous times in interview.
Confessions of a GP: A Year of Life, Death and Earwax
 (Benjamin Daniels, The Friday Project)
An interesting book that can be funny at times. Writing doesn't seem to come as naturally to this author as Max Pemberton, and the book doesn't read too well; missing commas and full stops and patient name changes halfway through paragraphs can get annoying. However, it is still a fascinating insight to a life of a GP, and presents you with the moral and ethical dilemmas faced by the NHS and today's doctors.