15 Must-Read Nursing Books

As a nurse, you have probably done your fair share of reading throughout your career. Whether it is medical texts, physical reports, or study material, you may be at a point where reading in your off time is not even a consideration. However, there is a lot to be gained from these 15 nursing books. Some books provide useful technical information, while others focus on sharing deeply personal nursing experiences. No matter what you are looking for, this nursing book list is full of enriching reads that will deepen your understanding of nursing as a whole.

How to Survive and Maybe Even Love Your Life As A Nurse by Kelli S. Dunham and Staci J Smith

Personally and professionally, a lot will be asked from you from the moment you enroll in a nursing program. Equal parts insightful and humorous, this nursing book covers important topics such as managing stress, dealing with tricky patients and communicating with the people around you, among other things. Dunham and Smith use their own experiences to guide you through a nurse’s professional journey and towards fulfilling nursing career and life. This is a great nursing book for beginners trying to get their footing in the nursing business.

Leave No Nurse Behind: Nurses Working with disAbilities by Donna Maheady

According to research, nurses with disabilities leave the business out of fear of discrimination or fear of risking patient safety. It is a sad reality that certain employers will not consider your application if you have such handicaps. Maheady’s nursing book equips nurses with the knowledge needed to navigate these unique challenges. It goes over all you need to know about existing disability laws and shares several inspiring stories of disable HCPs who still found success for themselves, in this industry.

Critical Thinking, Clinical Reasoning, and Clinical Judgment by by Rosalinda Alfaro-Lefevre

Nursing knowledge and skills in a vacuum benefits no one. Truly great nurses know how to analyze the situation in front of them, in order to find the best solution within that context. Alfaro-Lefevre’s extensive guide teaches nurses how to apply critical thinking and decision making to resolve complex clinical problems. Along with practical advice, the guide also provides illustrative examples and interesting learning activities that will help you become an adaptable and quick-thinking nurse.

Something for the Pain: Compassion and Burnout in the ER by Paul Austin

Burnout has been a long-standing problem in the demanding healthcare industry. This is as true in 2022 as it was in 2009, when this essential nursing book was published. In his accounts, Austin shares to the reader how the brutal hours and mentally-taxing labor of the ER room broke him and turned him into a bitter man. It is past this pain that he eventually finds clarity and redemption. If you cannot stomach such heavy reading, then it may be for the best to skip this book. If you can stomach it however, you will find a truly harrowing yet hopeful read that is arguably more relevant in the present day.

Notes on Nursing: What it is and What It Is Not by Florence Nightingale

It is fair to say that nursing has changed a great deal between 2022 and 1859, when the great Florence Nightingale published this book. Although some of the technical content can be considered “outdated,” it still espouses timeless powerful truths about the nursing profession. Its reflections on patient nurse relationships, women in nursing and what the profession entails laid the foundation for modern nursing as we know it today.

I Wasn’t Strong Like This When I Started Out: True Stories of Becoming a Nurse by Lee Gutkind

Of all the nursing books on this list, this one is among the more unique. This anthology runs through the highs and lows of nursing across HCPs in various different departments and positions in their careers. You will read stories of a nurse’s first patient death, their first birth, how they contend with the exhaustion of long and grueling shifts and more. One chapter will cover a nursing home manager while the next will follow the struggles of a nurse-in-training. All these stories show nurses at their most vulnerable, while celebrating their strength as they push through physical and emotional adversity.

Portable RN: The All-in-One Nursing Reference (LWW, Portable RN) 4th Edition by various

If you are looking for a comprehensive guide to registered nursing, this is as good as you are going to get in text form. Portable RN covers all an RN’s expected duties in excruciating detail. From patient-care documentation, to pre/post-operative care, end-of-life care, basic wound-treatment, contagion precautions and more. The 4th edition adds more recent AHA guidelines for CPR and obstructed-airway measures, updated ventilator modes and a host of new developments in the field of patient care. Whether you are looking for nursing books for beginners or you are a veteran RNs looking for a reminder, it is hard to do better than this guide.

Bed Number Ten by Sue Baier and Mary Zimmeth Schomaker

Guillain-Barre syndrome is a rare nerve disease that leaves you paralized from head to toe. Bed Number Ten is a real life account of a victim’s eleven month hospital and the physical and emotional toll that takes on them. While not a traditional nursing book, it is still a compelling read that can help you build empathy and understanding for the patients you work with. It can be stressful dealing with patients at times, but at the end of the day they are still vulnerable individuals who have placed their lives in your hands.

A Manual of Laboratory and Diagnostic Tests 9th Edition by Frances Fischbach and Marshall B. Dunning

This essential nursing book for students covers the various laboratory and diagnostic tests you will be expected to carry out. It covers vital information, including differentials for abnormal blood work, nuclear scans, the latest advances in CT scans and more. The book will teach you the correct step by step procedure, how to interpret results, preparing your patient and how to provide aftercare. Best practices are always changing to adapt to the constant shifts of the healthcare industry, and this text is one of the best ways to stay updated.

Neonatal Nursing Care Handbook, Second Edition: An Evidence-Based Approach to Conditions and Procedures by Carole Kenner and Judy Lott

Neonatal nursing is one of the most well-paying specializations, but it is also one of the most fast and unforgiving work environments in the industry. This neonatal nursing pocket guide is a quick reference guide that contains necessary and up to date information on neonatal nursing. Formatted to be accessible and easy to use, it is a great resource for an ever-changing but rewarding career path.

RNotes: Nurse’s Clinical Pocket Guide by Ehren Myers

Nurses are expected to process a lot of knowledge, but it is almost impossible to perfectly retain it all. Whether you are a nursing student or a 6 year veteran, this nursing book may provide you with the refresher or guidance that you need. CPR techniques, laboratory procedures and a host of NCLEX tips are just some of the valuable content covered in an easy to process package.

Chicken Soup for the Nurse’s Soul: Stories to Celebrate, Honor and Inspire the Nursing Profession (Chicken Soup for the Soul) by Mark Victor Hansen, Jack Canfield and Nancy Mitchell-Autio

Chicken Soup for the Soul has inspired generations of people since 1993, and this new entry is no exception. This collection of true stories range from heartwarming, to tragic, to even hilarious. Through the ups and downs, it celebrates the efforts and sacrifices made by nurses, on a daily basis, in order to make a difference for those they care about. It is a true testament to the spirit of nursing, and a great read for any HCP.

Saunders Comprehensive Review For The NCLEX-RN Examination by Linda Silvestri

Among a host of different NCLEX review books available to you, the Saunders guide is one of the more complete. This 75-question review guide goes over many common NCLEX items. Not only does it provide answers, it also goes in depth behind the reasoning of each answer. This way you truly internalize the information, as opposed to mere rote memorization. In addition, you get a free access code to the Evolve website. This is an additional resource with thousands of practice questions to help you further prepare for the test at hand. As far as books for nursing students go, this one is practically essential.

Critical Care: A New Nurse Faces Death, Life and Everything in Between by Theresa Brown

Many beginner nurses “know” the stakes of their work, but very few are truly prepared for their first confrontation with sadness and loss in the workplace. In this nursing book, author Theresa Brown reflects on her first year as an oncology nurse and how it forced her to confront the pain of loss and the meaning of life. For new nurses struggling with these thoughts, it is a powerful reminder that you are not alone and that solidarity is crucial for workers to flourish in these challenging environments.