15 Best Books for Nurses (in 2019)

In this article, we’re going to look at some of the best books for nurses to read. Some of the books we picked are inspirational books, others are informative, and the rest are just plain funny books.

We’re going to give you a brief rundown of each book and give you a couple reasons why we think they might be a good read.

*disclosure: this post may contain affiliate links. If you click and make a purchase, I may receive a commission. Please see my disclaimer

Table of Contents

Quick Look (One of the…)

Best Books for New Nurses:Your First Year as a Nurse” -by Donna Cardillo
(this book provides insight into those “firsts” that a new nurse is going to encounter)

Best Books for Nursing Students: How to Survive and Maybe Even Love Your Life as a Nurse” -by Kelli S. Dunham and Staci J. Smith
(A look into what your life as a nurse could look like)

Best Inspirational Books for Nurses:Chicken Soup for the Nurse’s Soul: Stories to Celebrate, Honor and Inspire the Nursing Profession” -by Jack Canfield, LeAnn Thieman, Mark Victor Hansen, and Nancy Mitchell-Autio
(Another inspirational book by the “Chick Soup series” this time tailored towards nurses and the nursing profession)

Best Funny Books for Nurses: Bedlam Among the Bedpans: Humor in Nursing” -by Amy Y. Young
(Funny stories about everyday nursing)

Best Novels for Nurses: Notes on Nursing: What It Is and What It Is Not” -by Florence Nightingale
(One of the best works from the person many consider to be the founder of modern-day nursing)

Best Leadership Books for Nurses:The Nurse Manager’s Guide to Hiring, Firing & Inspiring” -by Vicki Hess
(A book to inspire nurse managers. Some of the tips in the book include hiring, firing, and tips on improving employee morale)

Best Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) Books for Nurses: Neonatal Nursing Care Handbook, Second Edition: An Evidence-Based Approach to Conditions and Procedures” -by Carole Kenner and Judy Lott
(A quick reference guide was written by neonatal practitioners to help make this fast-paced area of nursing more accessible.)

Best Books for Nurses

1. “Inspired Nurse Too” -by Rich Bluni, RN

What “Inspired Nurse Too” is about.

This sequel is filled with stories on how sometimes nurses focus so much on their patients, they forget to take time for themselves. They recollect the day in and day out routines but impress upon how nurses can take a step back and see and appreciate their treasures in life.

Each story ties an experience with daily living, inspiring you to rebuild your spirits on particularly hard days and be grateful for all you do for others.

The primary directive of this book is to help you be thankful for what you have, so you can be the best nurse you can for your patients each day.

Why you should read it:

  • Great relatable stories to a nurse’s past, present, and future daily lives.
  • Includes Action Pages to help you collect and rekindle experiences.
  • Readers LOVE the inspiration that comes from the stories.
  • The book reminds nurses why they do what they do.
  • Reading these stores helps keep you grateful for what you can provide to your patients and families.
  • Laugh, Cry, Smile and Reconnect with those with similar experiences

Check out the other reviews for “Inspired Nurse Too” on Amazon.com.

While we’re at it if you haven’t read the original “Inspired Nurse” book, also by Rich Bluni go ahead and check it out also.

The original books was about helping nurses to sustain the passion and energy that got them into the nursing profession in the first place.

2. “Bedlam Among the Bedpans: Humor in Nursing” 1st Edition -by Amy Y. Young

What “Bedlam Among the Bedpans: Humor in Nursing” is about.

On the lighter side to the life of nursing, this book is filled with funny stories and everyday situations that you have or might have engaged.

These humorous stories are meant to bring the stresses of a nurse’s day back into a relaxing, “You survived!” type atmosphere and inspire you to laugh at what might have been a terrible day otherwise.

From front to back lies over 100 moments to giggle too. Some may even make you think, “I’m glad that didn’t happen to me!”

Why you should read it.

  • A humorous side of a nurse’s daily work-life.
  • Over 100 stories based on real experiences and related situations.
  • Prompts you to step back from the stresses of nursing to laugh at situations.
  • Cartoons and illustrations to accent the stories.
  • Funny perspective to a typically solemn profession.

See the reviews for “Bedlam Among the Bedpans: Humor in Nursing” on Amazon.

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

What “I Wasn’t Strong Like This When I Started Out: True Stories of Becoming a Nurse” is about.

Remember your first day during nursing clinicals? The first time you took someone’s blood or even checked their charts?

Others do too, and this book recalls many memories, good and bad, that help remind you, you aren’t the only one out there handling a crazy situation.

From amazing firsts to the saddest days of your career, there is a story to relate to in this book. Not only hospital facilities, but nursing homes and home care stations are included.

These true stories bring tears and memories but serve to remind you why you stick with it and go back each day to take care of that stubborn patient, or that wonderfully clever older woman who won’t remember you tomorrow.

Why you should read it.

  • A reminder that even the worst days are worth it.
  • Helps every nurse who reads these true stories know they are not alone.
  • Each story provides a sense of connection to people you have never even met and may never meet.
  • Other readers couldn’t put it down.

See what other nurses are saying about “I Wasn’t Strong Like This When I Started Out: True Stories of Becoming a Nurse” on Amazon.

4. “Oh Sh*t, I Almost Killed You! A Little Book of Big Things Nursing School Forgot to Teach You” -by Sonja M. Schwartzbach, BSN, RN, CCRN

What “Oh Sh*t, I Almost Killed You! A Little Book of Big Things Nursing School Forgot to Teach You Paperback” is about.

This read, packed with a combination of how-to steps and past experiences, is meant to teach you things that can only learn on the job.

The humor is intentional, so laugh, cry, and maybe jot down some notes while you read, so you can recall it later when you’re having a bad night on the job.

As you flip pages, you will likely have those “ah-ha” moments or think to yourself, “where was that in my lectures,” but take it all in, enjoy it and take a piece of this book with you when you put your scrubs on in the morning.

Why you should read it.

  • A great How-to guide for new nurses and vets alike.
  • Connections made between reader and writer in a way only nurses can relate.
  • Funny little excerpts to keep the mood light and remind you that even the worst days are worth it.
  • Other readers received a pleasant surprise during their read when they bumped into a new concept.

See what other nurses are saying about “Oh Sh*t, I Almost Killed You! A Little Book of Big Things Nursing School Forgot to Teach You” on Amazon.

5. “Woman of Valor: Clara Barton and the Civil War” by Stephen B. Oates

What “Woman of Valor: Clara Barton and the Civil War” is about.

Stephen focuses on the life of Clara Barton during the war, not so much on the war itself, so if you aren’t a history buff, fear not.

This book is still based mainly on Clara’s will to survive and help those in need of her medical attention AND affection.

She didn’t enlist for any reason other than to impact the lives of those who needed it most, and isn’t that why you stepped into the nursing field in the first place too?

This biography helps to put in perspective why you go back “to the trenches” day after day. Clara becomes the best part of every one of her patients during each war as she lives on, inspiring, loving, healing, and helping them more than just physically.

Why you should read it.

  • Once you start reading, it is impossible to stop getting sucked into the life of this woman!
  • The experiences are written to put in perspective the life of a nurse today versus so many years ago.
  • It is a little history lesson in a very passionate field.
  • Other readers couldn’t put it down.
  • The story is real, relatable and heart-warming to nurses everywhere.

See what other readers are saying about “Woman of Valor: Clara Barton and the Civil War

6. “Notes on Nursing: What It Is, and What It Is Not” by Florence Nightingale

What “Notes on Nursing: What It Is, and What It Is Not” is about.

Being as this book was written in 1969, the manner of writing style is very different than what we are used to today. Florence wrote this book in her natural manner and personality.

She is to the point, informative, and professional. The novel turns the focus on what a nurse is responsible for outside of the typical medical duties. Caring for the atmosphere, tools used, the body in the bed AND the bed and bedding included.

The author focuses on the patient obstacles that might have been overlooked back in her nursing days. It is real. It is abrasive. It is passion for the people and the environment you work in every day.

Why you should read it.

  • Serves as a reminder that the little things matter just as much, if not more than the surgeries and stitches.
  • It is to the point and written directly from one of the first nurses in the field.
  • Opens the eyes to what lies between the patient and the nurse.
  • Not just for nurses! Anyone caring for ill or feeble loved ones MUST READ.
  • Readers are both impressed and surprised by the writing styles of Miss Nightingale.

Check out what the other readers are saying about “Notes on Nursing: What It Is, and What It Is Not” on Amazon.com.

7. “Stuck Up! 100 Objects Inserted and Ingested in Places They Shouldn’t Be” by Rich E. Dreben, Murdoc Knight, and Marty A. Sindhian

What “Stuck Up! 100 Objects Inserted and Ingested in Places They Shouldn’t Be” is about.

Chock-full of funnies, these authors pieced together the antics of what keeps a nurse’s job interesting. If not for the creative patients who stick things up their bum, what fun stories would you have to tell at Christmas?

The motive behind the publishing of this work is humor and an attempt to look at the daily life of nursing. It’s a reminder to everyone that, although a serious situation, some things we can laugh at in the end.

As you turn the pages from image to image, you find yourself wondering how in the world those things fit, and then as a nurse, you remember how the body works.

The descriptions attached to the photos add to the shaking head syndrome that is sure to come by that end of the read.

Why you should read it.

  • It is a funny twist to a severe patient problem
  • Even though quick to complete, readers couldn’t put it down
  • Short reads- funny pictures

See the reviews of “Stuck Up!: 100 Objects Inserted and Ingested in Places They Shouldn’t Be” on Amazon.

8. “The Nerdy Nurse’s Guide to Technology”-by Brittney Wilson, RN, BSN

What “The Nerdy Nurse’s Guide to Technology” is about.

Brittney’s book takes you by the hand and leads you into one of two alleyways: down the dark and scary lane of “new to technology” or adding something new to the “already tech-savvy” technology users.

She does this is such a creative yet low key method. The book comes at you in a calm, inviting manner.

For those who are leery of jumping off the clipboard and into the tablet of information storing, the pages course you out of your comfort zone with methods to ease into switching from paper to technology.

Those of you who already live in the fast-paced online world of typing and touchscreens, the author also shares some tips and tricks you might not have thought to include in your bed check routines or information storing.

Why you should read it.

  • Get the best tech-savvy hacks you might have missed getting set up with patients
  • Ease into the world of technology to make your life as efficient as possible
  • These tips might earn you an extra 5-10 minutes to breathe or relax

See the reviews for “The Nerdy Nurse’s Guide to Technology” on Amazon.

9. “The Everything New Nurse Book” -by Kathy Quan

What “The Everything New Nurse Book” is about.

“Everything” could not be a more perfect fitting word for this book. Not only does the author help new nurses work through the newest days on the job, but she also gets deep into how to manage all aspects of your life.

Some tips include scheduling work/life balance, avoiding the seemingly inevitable burnout, and covering topics or tips you might not have learned in class.

The contents of this book focus on new to the nursing field readers, but anyone who picks up this book will find benefits.

Why you should read it.

  • Get a handle on being a new nurse and the chaos that comes with it.
  • Learn how to take a deep breath and remember you need to take care of yourself also.
  • Tips and Advice!
  • As a new nurse, you worry about forgetting something. This book reminds you that you don’t need to memorize, you need to know where to find the answers.
  • Previous readers even note the benefit of this book PRIOR to enrolling in nursing school for some insight.

See the reviews for “The Everything New Nurse Book” on Amazon.

10. “When Nurses Hurt Nurses: Recognizing and Overcoming the Cycle of Bullying” -by Cheryl Dellasega

What “When Nurses Hurt Nurses: Recognizing and Overcoming the Cycle of Bullying” is about.

In 2011, Cheryl wrote this book to bring attention and understanding to a controversial situation concerning nurses: bullying. It highlights the growing problem that only recently became a discussed subject, and backs theories with real-life happenings.

The book brings to life a problem in the nursing field with an effort to bring the issues to its knees.

The fact that bullying has been crawling around hospitals, home care, and nursing homes for centuries, brings the importance of this book into the homes of all who read it. There are also samples within the text to help readers in similar situations.

Why you should read it.

  • Great tips and real-life scenarios to help avoid bullying for nurses.
  • Brings to light a long-lived concern for those in the nursing field.
  • Readers feel a sense of kindship, knowing they aren’t alone.
  • The tips are a great way to help yourself and help others!

See the other reviews of “When Nurses Hurt Nurses” on Amazon.

11. “How Doctors Think” -by Jerome Groopman

What “How Doctors Think” is about.

Are you a fast talker? Can you get to the point quickly while sitting in the doctor’s office? After reading this book, you may want to better prepare for your next exam.

Author Jerome dissects the thought process of doctors on average during the initial consultation visit, sometimes deciding the cause of your illness as fast as 18 seconds into the conversation!

As you peruse this book, you will uncover myths, hard lessons learned, and methods that can improve your visit for both you and your doctor. It breaks down quick judgments, managing empathy, and even the effects technologies can play into mistakes.

Why you should read it.

  • An eye-opening look into the world of doctor decisions
  • Things to look out for before your next appointment
  • A guide to asking the right questions as a patient to keep the doctor on track
  • Patient or doctor- you will gain insight from this book!
  • Can give you some insight into dealing with doctors as a nurse.

Check out the reviews of “How Doctors Think” on Amazon.com.

12. “Your 1st Year as a Nurse” -by Donna Cardillo

What “Your 1st Year as a Nurse” is about.

These pages are filled with knowledge from veteran nurses who had to learn the hard way about the life of a nurse.

It is an excellent volume of experiences to help you successfully survive the first year of your nursing job, fresh out of school. You will learn all about the difficulties, and how to overcome them, how to schedule your life and daily reminders on why you started in the first place.

Even though starting something new is scary, and can sometimes feel lonely, this book puts all of those fears into smaller apprehensions, helping you cope one by one with each.

Common sense collides with a few new tips between these pages so you as a new nurse can stride down the hallways feeling positive and confident about your day!

Why you should read it.

  • Provides excellent insight into those scary “firsts” every nurse encounters.
  • Advice that acts as your assistant when you become unsure of yourself.
  • A great prep book before nursing school graduation!
  • Readers have found tips and tricks to build relationships with colleagues before the job.

Check out the other reviews for “Your 1st Year as a Nurse” on Amazon.

13. “How to Survive and Maybe Even Love Your Life as a Nurse” -by Kelli S. Dunham and Staci J. Smith

What “How to Survive and Maybe Even Love Your Life as a Nurse” is about.

A follow up from her previous book, How to Survive and Maybe Even Love Nursing School, digs further into what your life as a nurse might look like.

Kelli and Staci open up the doors to expectations and lessons learned by including pieces of advice or experiences from over 300 nurses already “been there, done that” in your field.

The book starts you off at graduation and continues to flow like your life would as your career continues with workflow and life balance, burnout, and legal issues that may arise.

Why you should read it.

  • A great read to prepare you for loving your career.
  • Includes tools to get you through clinicals, new co-worker relationships, and anxiety.
  • One reader says there will be no returning the copy she borrowed!
  • Scheduling help set in a week, month, yearly aspects of the job
  • Stress management help and advice

Read the reviews for “How to Survive and Maybe Even Love Your Life as a Nurse” on Amazon.com.

14. “Saving Lives: Why the Media’s Portrayal of Nurses Puts Us All At Risk” -by Harry Jacobs Summers and Sandy Summers

What “Saving Lives: Why the Media’s Portrayal of Nurses Puts Us All At Risk” is about.

If you are NOT a nurse, read this book to understand better what your nurses do for you! This book hits the heart of what a nurse is responsible for, even behind the scenes or in the privacy of a home care patient.

If you are a nurse reading this book, you are likely to be shaking your head in agreement with some of the TV references and laughing with some of the humor tucked away between chapters.

The pages are filled with myth busters regarding the media and its view put on nursing, along with providing helpful tips to all nurse readers to get through these types of situations.

It is full of passion and respect for what you do each day.

Why you should read it.

  • It sheds some light on what the media isn’t telling you.
  • This book is like a shoulder to lean on, cry on, or scoff with when uncovering hard misconceptions.
  • Includes steps and tips to help you get around obstacles.
  • A great reminder of ALL that you do and what goes underappreciated.
  • It is the pat on the back needed on those particularly aggressive days.

See the other reviews for “Saving Lives: Why the Media’s Portrayal of Nurses Puts Us All at Risk” on Amazon.

15. “Bring Back the Art of Nursing” -by Elizabeth Scala, RN, MBA

What “Bring Back the Art of Nursing” is about.

Only 33 pages this book is jam-packed with ways to reconnect with the inner you! As a nurse, you may have started your school with the best intentions, but as you quickly excel in your career, you might have bumped up against some legal, financial, and regulated walls.

The book is easy to keep in your bag and great to pull out whenever you might forget why you started this path.

It is a beautiful little reminder to pull your passion back into your work and that you do this to help others and make yourself feel amazing while doing it.

Why you should read it.

  • To remember why you started nursing in the first place.
  • It is like a little ray of sunshine in an otherwise grey and medicinal world.
  • Provides three methods to help you rekindle the flame of why you got started.
  • Readers keep it close for those “rainy day blues.”

See what other nurses are saying about “Bring BAck the ART of Nursing.”

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

What “Chicken Soup for the Nurse’s Soul: Stories to Celebrate, Honor and Inspire the Nursing Profession” is about.

Any Chicken Soup book is going to be filled with inspiration and relatable stories, and this one is no different, EXCEPT it focuses entirely on the nursing field.

These short stories, poems, pictures, and recollections will have you laughing, cringing, crying, and sighing through each page you turn.

It is written intentionally to inspire and provide relatable material for nurses in every situation. If you read a story and it hasn’t happened to you, tab the page and reread it when it does.

Why you should read it.

  • Stories full of inspiration.
  • A different perspective of your everyday life.
  • Relatable real-life tales of laughs and tears
  • A great book to keep handy for tough days.
  • It can be read one story a day or in one sitting and still be useful to read again!

Check out the other reviews for “Chicken Soup for the Nurse’s Soul” on Amazon.

17. “Cooked: An Inner City Nursing Memoir” -by Carol Karels

What “Cooked: An Inner City Nursing Memoir” is about.

We all know nurses do not have the most glamorous of jobs, but someone must do it, right? Good, bad and ugly comes with the job, and a faithful nurse is going to understand that going into school.

Even the most terrible of hospitals have patients who need tending to, and Cook County’s is no different. The author recollects the days of which were likely the worst in the area, and what the team of classmates had to endure there.

Swatting flies, possible contamination, and more surrounded them each day, but sick patients needed their help, and help they did!

Why you should read it.

  • Puts into perspective the dedication and love you have for patients
  • Not everything the news reports is true! Get it firsthand from those who were there!
  • A memoir to open your eyes to the dark side and come out appreciating your fellow nurses even more

See the other reviews of “Cooked: An Inner City Nursing Memoir” on Amazon.

Reading Accessories

Below are some of the reading accessories I use when I’m going to read a good book.

1. Kindle E-Reader

If you’re a big book reader or if you’re in the habit of reading multiple books at the same time then you know how frustrating it can be to carry around so many books.

Books might not weigh that much by themselves but together they can, not to mention the space they take up.

To combat this I’ve grown very attached to my Kindle e-reader by Amazon.

If you haven’t heard of them they are an electronic device that allows you to get the convenience of technology without the typical eye strain you would get if you’re reading from your phone or a traditional tablet.

Check out this video.

In all seriousness, there are some advantages the Kindle e-reader has over a traditional book.

The Kindle version mentioned in the video is the Kindle Oasis which is Amazon’s more premium version.

You can get the cheaper Kindle Paperwhite version also, which is still really good.

The one I have (and really like) is the Kindle Voyage which is also kinda pricey but really good. I don’t buy physical books anymore if I can help it.

The other nice thing about buying digital books is with the Kindle app I can read the books on my Galaxy phone.


If you’re a fan of traditional books then a bookmark is probably something good to have.

You can always tear out a piece of paper or fold the corner of the page to mark your spot but I’ve always found having a nice bookmark was better. You can check out some of the personalized bookmark options on Etsy.

To help you out I’ve picked out one.

bookmark sitting on a book for nurses
Source: NowThatsPersonal on Etsy.com

You can check out this particular bookmark on Etsy.com.

Don’t forget to check out the other personalized bookmarks available on Etsy.


books for nurses to read

We hope you found our list of books helpful. If you have any thoughts or comments let us know in the comment sections below.

If there’s a book you’ve read that you think other nurses should read and we haven’t mentioned it let us know in the comments section.

Don’t forget to please share the article on your favorite social media.

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