5 great reads to ring in the new year, according to physicians

By Naveed Saleh, MD, MS | Fact-checked by Barbara Bekiesz
Published December 27, 2023

Key Takeaways

Most physicians would likely be characterized as avid readers—if they had much spare time to devote to literature, that is. The reality is that with the rigors of serving patients, many doctors find little time to curl up with a good book.

But we're here to help! We asked MDLinx medical advisory board members and medical writers about the best books they read in 2023. Take a look at their recommendations, and happy reading!

Thinking, Fast and Slow, by Daniel Kahneman

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In this New York Times bestseller, Kahneman explains the two systems that underlie the way we think: fast and slow. System 1 is fast, intuitive, and emotional, while System 2 is deliberate and logical. The author looks at how these systems balance to shape our worldview  and decision-making.

“This book breaks down the way we think about decisions, and how to better discover our biases and work to improve on them. This book is useful to anybody, not just doctors, who wants to improve their decision-making. Kahneman, actually won the 2002 Nobel Prize in Economics with some of the work that is in the book,” says Joaquin Villegas, MD, MPH (MDLinx medical writer).

Read Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

The Power of Habit, by Charles Duhigg

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Using scientific discoveries as a springboard, New York Times business reporter Duhigg explains the origin of habits and how they can be changed, refining vast amounts of information to render enthralling narratives.

The author explains why some people (and companies) are prone to change, while others have difficulties even after years of trying. The argument made is that the key to maintaining positive habits, such as exercising regularly, losing weight, and increasing productivity (or even revolutionizing a business) is an understanding of how habits work.

The Power of Habit was a good reminder that so much of what we do every day is automatic. Habits are deeply ingrained, and it takes a concerted effort to change them. In most cases, effectively improving daily habits has the biggest impact on health,” explains Anastasia Climan, RDN, CD-N (MDLinx medical writer).

Read The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

Diagnosis: Solving the Most Baffling Medical Mysteries, by Lisa Sanders, MD

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In Diagnosis, Yale School of Medicine internist Dr. Sanders regales the reader with complex symptomatology and feats of deductive reasoning that can evade even the most seasoned physician. An advisor for the smash television show House M.D., Dr. Sanders pens a column, also titled Diagnosis, for the New York Times Magazine.

“It’s a book of medical mysteries in short story form. It highlights how fascinating the human body is and reminds me that the profession is meant to be both fun and challenging at the same time. Currently, my wife, who is not a medical professional, is reading it, and she’s loving it because of how informative it is. It’s a great read for all,” says Shamard Charles, MD, MPH (MDLinx medical advisor).

Read Diagnosis by Lisa Sanders, MD

Walk Through Fire: The Train Disaster, by Yasmine S. Ali, MD

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For Dr. Ali, the choice of a good read is easy. In February 2023, her bestselling book Walk Through Fire was released to much fanfare. The book recounts the Waverly Train Disaster of 1978, and how her parents helped manage the tragedy as on-call physicians in her hometown of Waverly, TN. 

Hailed by critics as a “fitting tribute to first responders,” the book intimately recounts the stories of first responders and other healthcare workers who helped save lives on the day of the disaster. 

“I also detail quite a lot of the history of medicine in the 1970s, and follow the creation of the rural hospital system throughout the South in the mid-20th century, and through the closure of so many rural hospitals in the present day. I believe it is a good read for all physicians and first responders, as well as the general public,” says Dr. Ali.

Read Walk Through Fire by Yasmine S. Ali, MD, MSCI, FACC, FACP (MDLinx medial writer)

The White Coat Investor: A Doctor's Guide to Personal Finance and Investing, by James M. Dahle, MD

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With higher levels of income—as well as staggering levels of student debt—finance for physicians is different. Dr. Dahle is an emergency physician who knows what it takes for medical students, residents, and attendings to succeed financially, build wealth for their family, and avoid smarmy finance professionals.

Finance expert Altelisha “Lisha” Taylor, MD, MPH (MDLinx medical writer), personally vouches for this book. “I know the author,” she says. “He’s one of the smartest personal finance doctors I know.”

Read The White Coat Investor by James M. Dahle, MD

Read Next: 4 nonmedical books every doctor should read

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