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AAMC Summer Reading List

Check out these popular science titles recommended by the American Association of Medical Colleges, all available through Penn Libraries!

Stack of books featured in AAMC summer reading lists

Summer is finally here! And with it, you can hopefully take a break from BoardVitals for some pleasure reading out in the sun. But what to pick up instead?

Thankfully, every year the American Association of Medical Colleges releases a summer reading list for aspiring physicians. Explore personal accounts, the history of medicine, and current trends in healthcare, all via easy to read, popular science titles.

Check out this Guide to see all of the AAMC-recommended books available through Penn Libraries, and continue reading below for some top picks from us here in the Holman Biotech Commons!

Cover of graphic memoir Rx by Rachel Lindsay. It features a cartoon version of Lindsay in a hospital gown, arms crossed, standing in a pile of pills


Rx is a graphic memoir (think autobiographical comic book) by Rachel Lindsay. In her early 20s, Rachel is diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and to receive health insurance to cover treatment, she takes a job in advertising. Ironically, working on an anti-depressant ad campaign leads her into a manic spiral, ultimately resulting in hospitalization. Rx chronicles Rachel’s experiences on both sides of the mental healthcare industry, and serves as a great introduction to the emerging mode of healthcare writing known as Graphic Medicine, which utilizes the medium of comics and graphic novels to share health stories with greater expression, humanity, and oftentimes humor.


Cover of the book Legacy: A Black Physician Reckons With Racism in Medicine, which features the graphic of a stethoscope made up of a collage of colors and textures


After following in their mother’s footsteps, Dr. Uché Blackstock and her twin sister, Oni, became the first Black mother-daughter legacies of Harvard Medical School. However, once Uché enters the field, she is struck by the ways the current healthcare system harms both Black patients and Black physicians. Part family memoir, part call to action, Legacy is a powerful and heartfelt look at racism in medicine and how we can all advocate for a better future.

Cover of the book The Butchering Art by Lindsey Fitzharris, featuring the painting "The Gross Clinic" by Thomas Eakins, depicting a surgery in a Victorian operating theater

The Butchering Art

Philadelphia is proudly the birthplace of American medicine, but early medicine was oftentimes not a pretty sight. The Butchering Art chronicles the gruesome surgical practices of Victorian operating theaters, as well as Joseph Leister’s pioneering work to change the practice via antiseptic medicine. Explore the development of germ theory through this narrative history, but be warned! This one is definitely not for the squeamish.

Cover of the book We the Scientists by Amy Dockser Marcus, depicting a graphic of a green leaf sliced and segmented, yet recognizable as a whole

We the Scientists

When their children are diagnosed with a rare and fatal genetic disorder, a group of parents team up with doctors and researchers to find for an effective treatment, democratizing the scientific practice in the process.  Written by Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Amy Dockser Marcus, We the Scientists tells an inspiring true story about the power of patient advocacy.