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When Books Are Your Person: 5 Must-Reads for Grey’s Anatomy Fans

by  | March 10
Medical Doctors Celebrating

If you’re like me, you’ve been watching Grey’s Anatomy religiously for ages. From the moment Meredith Grey ran into Seattle Grace Hospital in the first episode of the first season, I knew I was hooked. Since then, I’ve researched every other medical oddity that has appeared and the show and—SPOILER ALERT— you bet I cried when McDreamy died. When I realized I was up-to-date with the newest season, I started thinking about what books would best complement this award-winning medical drama. 

Here is a hodgepodge of books that I think tie into this show. From medical history nonfiction to a YA novel, all of these hold the same sense of humanity and science as Grey’s Anatomy.

Happy reading in between Grey’s bingeing!

The Emperor of All Maladies

The Emperor of All Maladies

by Siddhartha Mukherjee

When I was in college, I read this Pulitzer Prize–winning book for a cancer biology class. The professor, laudably, wanted to incorporate a bit of literature into all the science. When I first looked at this 600-page book, I thought I would never finish it, but this illuminating read will draw you into the details of cancer, both from a physician’s perspective and a historical one, as it explores how doctors throughout the ages have tackled the disease. Most of all, you will memorably follow Mukherjee’s experience with his leukemia patient Carla. We all remember Izzie’s cancer, Amelia’s brain tumor, and Maggie’s mom’s breast cancer on the show. All in all, I believe this is a book worth reading to understand how cancer has been encountered both in the past, and in today’s day and age.

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The Gene

The Gene

by Siddhartha Mukherjee

Okay, okay, I know I just recommended a Siddhartha Mukherjee book, but I could not resist including this one on my list too. Miranda Bailey advocated for genome mapping on the show, and Maggie Pierce backed her up, but it’s worth repeating, gene therapy is probably the medical future. The Gene is part personal family journey, part medical history, and part science. In it, Mukherjee confronts his own family’s relationship with mental illness, while also striving to bridge the gap between the human experience and the science of genetics that occurs in a laboratory. Of all the characters in Grey’s, Miranda Bailey would probably have this book on her nightstand. She struggled with OCD, and throughout the series, she has valued the innovations of mapping the human genome.

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Close to the Sun

Close to the Sun

by Stuart Jamieson

Some amazing fictional heart surgeons have been featured on Grey’s, from Cristina Yang to Maggie Pierce, and even Nathan Riggs. Which is why I thought it was important to include a memoir that tells the story of over 40,000 real-life heart surgeries conducted by Stuart Jamieson. Born to British ex-pats in colonial Africa, he spent his childhood exploring the African bush. Then, in the chaotic 1960s, he went to London to study medicine, choosing to become a pioneer in the new field of open-heart surgery. After moving to America in 1978, Jamieson worked on a revolutionary heart transplant anti-rejection drug, and stepped into the role of teacher for the next generation of heart surgeons. An autobiography that centers on heart surgery is an all-time must-read for this list.

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Playing God

Playing God

by Anthony Youn, M.D.

The voice-overs that introduce a lot of the Grey’s episodes deal with this topic: Are surgeons playing God? It’s one thing to graduate medical school, and it’s a whole other thing to have people’s actual lives in your hands. In this page-turning memoir, Dr. Anthony Youn describes the transition that occurs when you go from student to doctor, and I could not help but think of our baby 007 interns in the first episode of the show. As Youn recounts in his memoir, it is only through the experience of fighting to save patients that you learn how to be a true physician in the operating room. As with the show, this memoir asks you to think profoundly about what it means to be a doctor. This nonfiction book is the perfect companion to Grey’s world of surgery, hospitals, and coming of age as a doctor in our contemporary world.

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You'll Miss Me When I'm Gone

You'll Miss Me When I'm Gone

by Rachel Lynn Solomon

This compelling YA book’s storyline centers around a diagnosis of Huntington’s disease—and one of the most impactful episodes of Grey’s Anatomy (Season 7, Episode 4) deals with Meredith’s relationship with Lila, a patient of hers who was also diagnosed with the hereditary degenerative disease. The novel’s intense plot feels like something out of the show. Twin sisters Adina and Tovah are trying to navigate their Jewish identity as well as love and life when a genetic test reveals that one of them has inherited their mother’s Huntington’s disease, while the other has not. As they grapple with their opposite test results, both of them wrestle with their feelings of grief, guilt, and the important bond between sisters.

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Estefania Acquaviva is currently an MFA-Fiction student at Columbia University. She recently graduated from Villanova University with a bachelor’s degree in English and Spanish Literature, with minors in Creative Writing and Business. Although she was born in Quito, Ecuador, she moved to the United States when she was in second grade. Away from her home country, she began to write stories to blend her Spanish and English lingo. Though she left Ecuador at a relatively early age, she never stopped loving the culture of her roots. The more she read, the more she wanted to share her own writing, book reviews, and book suggestions. You can find more of her work at www.estefania-acquaviva.com.