The Best Books for Medical School: Basic Sciences

The Best books for Medical School: Basic Sciences

Much like our other post The Best Books for Your Clinical Rotations, this will highlight the some of the best books by subject for your basic science years.


Best books for medical school

Anatomy Books:

Netter’s Atlas of Human Anatomy – Every medical student needs a go to Atlas, and this is the gold standard!

Netter’s Human Anatomy Flash Cards – Helpful for studying as you go and memorization prior to tests.

BRS Gross Anatomy – Concise bullet style review with (most importantly) review questions at the end of each section.

Pre-Test Anatomy, Histology, and Cell Biology – Hundreds of multiple choice, board style, questions to practice. Must have! .


High Yield Embryology

BRS Embryology – if you generally like the BRS products, you’ll find this sufficient.



High-Yield Neuroanatomy – High Yield Series, good review. 

BRS Neuroantaomy – another good review option.

Neuroanatomy in Clinical Context: An Atlas of Structures, Sections, Systems, and Syndromes – if you want a more extensive option and detailed atlas.

Histology: .


BRS Physiology (Board Review Series) – This book by Costanzo is pretty much the gold standard for physio.

Pre-Test Physiology – Always a fan of a dedicated question book and this is what I used.



My medical school used a small book and then was mostly professor driven with slides. Usual recommend ones are:

Histology: A Text and Atlas: With Correlated Cell and Molecular Biology

BRS Cell Biology and Histology

Pre-Test Anatomy, Histology, and Cell Biology  – same book as for anatomy, but does have some decent histology questions.



Lippincott’s Review of Biochemistry – More in-depth and extensive plus with built-in review questions – 200 in the book, and another 500 available with purchase online.

Lange Biochemistry and Genetics Flash Cards – Flash cards and clinical vignettes, fairly high yield.

Pre-Test Biochemistry and Genetics – Good combo option for your genetics class as well.



(many schools may not require a dedicated textbook)

How the Immune System Works (The How it Works Series)  – not very detailed but very good overview and easy read for beginning knowledge.

Clinical Microbiology Made Ridiculously Simple – gold standard book for micro.

Immunology Made Ridiculously Simple – very similar style to the above.

A lot of people especially like the microbiology section of the Sketchy Medical series (

Pre-Test Microbiology



Robbins & Cotran Pathologic Basis of Disease – the “big” book – very long and detailed, but everything you’d need as a reference resource.

Robbins and Cotran Review of Pathology – the “review” version – it’s essentially 1000+ review questions with very detailed explanations. Some say this is all you need.

Robbins and Cotran Pathology Flash Cards – flashcards for the above.

Rapid Review Pathology – Goljan pathology, the other big name in pathology textbooks.

Pre-Test Pathology – I am always a fan of Pre-Test, as it was my go to question bank.

Not a textbook, but Pathoma is another popular product.

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The Best Books for Anatomy
The Best Books for Pathology
The Best Books for Physiology
The Best Book for Histology
The Best Books for Biochemistry
The Best Books for Immunology
The Best Books for Microbiology

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