The Best Books for Medical School: Basic Sciences – 2023


The Best Books for Basic Sciences in Medical School:

2023 Edition



Much like our other post The Best Books for Your Clinical Rotations, this will highlight some of the best books for basic sciences in medical school – updated for 2023!


For the best medical student discounts – check out our page full of 25% or more off codes for your favorite study resources! No more searching the web for expired promo codes – now they are now  all in one place! 


How to Study:

Honestly, I almost failed anatomy during my first semester of medical school – then a very wise professor told me the secret to studying in medical school. I never came close to failing again! The right books, the right plan, and loads of practice questions make up my guide on “How to Study in Medical School.”

The short version is I recommend one dedicated resource book to read and take notes from, and then choose 1-2 question bank options. For an actual question bank book, I have always liked Pre-Test but check out our online question bank partners for big discounts.


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 quick memorization prior to tests.

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

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 Neuroanatomy – 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.




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. The usual recommended ones are:

BRS Cell Biology and Histology

Pre-Test Anatomy, Histology, and Cell Biology  – This is the same book as for anatomy, but it does include some decent histology questions.



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

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

Pre-Test Biochemistry and Genetics – A 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 ever 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 really 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.

– Check out Amazon Student (big discount if in college) or Amazon Prime for great deals and free two-day shipping.  I am an junky, and order something at least once a week. Sign up below!


Join Prime Student FREE Two-Day Shipping for College Students


Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial


Disclaimer: Each of these is linked through the Amazon affiliate program, and at no cost to you, #LifeofaMedStudent receives a small referral fee if you purchase through these links. We greatly thank you for your support!

The Best Books for Medical School 2021
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

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *