Finishing a good book is highly satisfying. Books have incredible power; they can make us empathise with a character, explore different perspectives on life, experience different emotions, and ultimately become wiser. Books can be a source of knowledge, inspiration and relaxation. A well written novel can transport you to another world. As junior doctors, you will have a lot of new and possibly confronting experiences. Here are five (non-medical) medical books that may assist you to integrate and understand those experiences. Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad When restraints are removed, we discover new aspects of our own personality. This is a story that captures the darkest part of our psyche. Via the protagonist, this novel explores the workings of consciousness and has the reader questioning their nature and values – and those of society. As a doctor, you may at times question your own – or your patients – values, morals and ideals. You may also react differently to what you might expect under stressful circumstances. The aim is not to judge – yourself or others. Frankenstein – Mary Shelley One of the most famous novels of all time, it is also credited with being the first science fiction ever written. This novel explores the pursuit of ‘dangerous’ knowledge and going beyond human limits, guarding the secrets of science and how power can be misused to ‘create a monster’. Success and ambition have the potential to cloud better judgement, and although these traits are not negative, they can overshadow higher values. Frankenstein paid dearly for toying with life. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Arthur Conan Doyle The medical TV series, House, was based on Sherlock Holmes. The stories from both Sherlock Holmes and House remind us to investigate all avenues. Sometimes symptoms can be like puzzles and the solution may not be immediately apparent – you might need more time, or to look at the situation from a different angle. As a rule, question everything: “once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.” The Sunset Limited – Cormac McCarthy Thought not technically a novel, this play (and movie) explores the characters of ‘Black’, an ex-convict and evangelical Christian and ‘White’, an atheist and professor. They debate the meaning of human suffering, the existence of God, and the propriety of White’s attempted suicide. Throughout your medical career you will experience a wide range of world views, many that are in conflict with your own values. Being able to acknowledge, respect and work with ideas and opinions that differ to your own is essential. The Call of Cthulhu – H. P. Lovecraft What is the connection between nightmarish creatures from another dimension and helping someone in need? This novel explores the terrifying feeling of powerlessness. Doctors will inevitably experience moments of feeling powerless to help someone and as a result may question their actions or decisions. Some things cannot be changed or challenged – for example, terminal diseases, orders from your superiors or medical protocols. Feeling powerless at times is inevitable in the medical profession and it’s important not to allow that feeling to cause long-term negative impact.