Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 18th Edition cover

In the life of a medical student, who is going to become a doctor in the future, choosing the right books to read during their course of study is very important. Not choosing the right book could be troublesome for the student, as it could be a matter of passing or failing an exam and for patients, it could be matter of life or death, if the future doctor does not have the adequate and right knowledge to treat the patient. I am going to mention all available textbooks in India for the subject internal medicine (both theory and practical part) and compare them with the best of my knowledge and experience.

Theory Books

Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine, 20th Edition by Dan L. Longo, Anthony S. Fauci, Dennis L. Kasper, and Stephen L. Hauser, 2011 (published by McGraw-Hill Education) (Recommended) Harrison’s has always been counted as the bible of medicine. It is updated with recent advances in the field of medicine and has contributors across the world. This is a highly recommended book for all Undergraduate (UG), MBBS, and Postgraduate (PG), MD medical students. (Buy from Amazon/ Flipkart)

The best time to read this book is when UG students are in 2nd year of their UG medical course and their clinical postings have started. Students are advised to read this book topic-wise as they are taught by seniors in the wards. But students should not skip their 2nd-year subjects like Pathology, Pharmacology, Microbiology and Forensic Medicine & Toxicology for reading this book and read this only part-time. Medicine is a subject which is a combination of all the knowledge students have gotten from all their years of studies including pre-clinical subjects like Anatomy, Physiology and Biochemistry, second-year subjects which are already mentioned above, and 3rd MBBS (Part 1 – 3rd Minor) subjects like PSM (Preventive and Social Medicine), ENT and Ophthalmology. A student who has read all these subjects in detail will have no difficulty in reading medicine textbooks because more than 75% of the things have already been covered by them in previous subjects. If a student is starting to read this book in final year MBBS, then he is advised to read it only if he has adequate time as this book is huge in content, and just concentrating on it will give him/her less time to prepare for other subjects, which could be disastrous in Final exams. Also, not all topics are needed to be read from this book, personally, I and my batchmates were advised to read-only major systems like CNS, CVS, GI tract, Kidney and Urinary tract, Endocrine system, Respiratory systems, and Hematology from this book by our seniors. Also, students should remember that this is not the book which they should use to revise the topics at the time of final exams unless they are comfortable with it. Books that give pointwise details are better for this purpose.

Davidson’s Principles and Practice of Medicine International Edition, 23rd Edition by Brian Walker, Nicki R Colledge, Stuart Ralston, & Ian Penman (2014). (Buy from Amazon/ Flipkart)
This is an alternative book for students who do not have time to read detailed Harrison’s and still want to read typical textbook-style medicine. This book is half the size of Harrison’s and is a good alternative. Also, the latest version of this book was released in the year 2014 compared to 2015 of Harrison’s. So, students can have a look at this book and read if they like the content.

API Textbook of Medicine (Set of 2 Volumes) 11th Edition by Author: Sandhya Kamath (2019) (Recommended) (Buy from Amazon/ Flipkart)
This is a very good book which entirely written by Indian authors and so is best for Indian students. Book also gives details of Indian health statistics which could be useful for students to answer MCQs. The book is concise compared to Harrison and is much easier to understand comparatively. It has enough details so that students won’t lose out on any information and concise enough to read quickly. The psychiatry part of the book is also better compared to the standard psychiatry textbook-like A Short Textbook of Psychiatry by Niraj Ahuja. By saying better, I mean it is easier to understand and read due to concise content.

Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine Self-Assessment and Board Review 19th Edition by Charles Wiener, Anthony S. Fauci, Eugene Braunwald and Dennis L. Kasper (2017) (Buy from Amazon/ Flipkart)
This is like a short version of Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine, especially for students who are preparing for exams. It has topics with a question-answer format which is very good for revision and time of exams and even PG medical entrance exams. But I would recommend books like George Mathew for exam time revision.

Harrison’s Manual of Medicine, 18th Edition by Dan Longo (Buy from Amazon/ Flipkart)
This is a shorter version of Harrison for students who do not have time to read the main textbook.

Medicine: Prep Manual for Undergraduates by K. George Mathews (Author), Praveen Aggarwal (Author) (Recommended) (Buy from Amazon/ Flipkart)
This is the best book for students who do not have enough time to prepare for the exams. The book is super concise, easy to reproduce in exams, and makes exams easy to pass, and even score. When the exam is about 3-4 months away students should start revising from this book. There is no alternative to this book and is a gift for students with a lack of time.

Kumar and Clark’s Clinical Medicine by Parveen Kumar, Michael L. Clark (Buy from Amazon/ Flipkart)
Another international book which is very similar to Davidson’s Medicine. Students can refer to this book if they like it. I had read a few chapters from it in my UG days and did not find anything great in it.

Practical (Clinical Methods)

Hutchison’s Clinical Methods: An Integrated Approach to Clinical Practice 23rd Edition by Author: GLYNN. (Buy from Amazon/ Flipkart)
This is usually a recommended book by professors as it matches international standards, but I personally would not prefer reading this book as it does not suit Indian exam patterns. Students can still refer to this book as it is excellently detailed.

Physical Diagnosis A Textbook of Symptoms & Physical Signs by Rustom Jal Vakil, Aspi F Golwalla (Highly Recommended) (Buy from Amazon/ Flipkart)
I have read many books on clinical medicine and this book is unarguably the best book of the lot. A most detailed description of signs and symptoms given in any book. No book matches this for the signs and symptoms part. Highly recommended for the students has enough time to read this extremely detailed book. A book cannot get better than this.

Practical Medicine by P.J. Mehta (Recommended) (Buy from Amazon/ Flipkart)
This is the book I used to read in my UG days. A very nice book, detailed and point-wise descriptions of topics.

Bedside Clinics in Medicine by Arup Kumar Kundu (Recommended) (Buy from Amazon/ Flipkart)
An alternative to P J Mehta. Many seniors recommend it for differential diagnosis (DD). The book is excellently detailed. Students should go through this book and P J Mehta to decide which one they like better. Many students prefer this over P J Mehta and call it the best book for clinical medicine and practical.

Manual of Practical Medicine 6th Edition by Author: Alagappan R (2018) (Recommended) (Buy from Amazon/ Flipkart)
This book is read by many students for the practical aspect of internal medicine. It is easy to understand and detailed.  Indian students should prefer this book by foreign author ones.

Macleod’s Clinical Examination 14th Edition by Fiona Nicol, Graham Douglas, Colin Robertson. (Buy from Amazon/ Flipkart)
I have not read this book so it will be difficult to compare it with other alternatives. Students are advised to read a few topics and compare them and see whether they like it.

Manipal Manual of Clinical Medicine by B. A. Shastry (Buy from Amazon/ Flipkart)
This is preferred by many students as their primary book for practical exams.

Differential Diagnosis in Clinical Medicine by DEENADAYALAN (Buy from Amazon/ Flipkart)

Clinical Examination: A Practical Guide in Medicine by Harmanjit Hira Singh (Buy from Amazon/ Flipkart)

Short Cases in Clinical Medicine by Author: A. B. M. Abdullah (Buy from Amazon/ Flipkart)
This book is for short cases and is helpful in the ward exams and practical where students have to present cases to the examiner.

MCQs in Internal Medicine by Arup Kumar Kundu (Buy from Amazon/ Flipkart)

Pearls in Medicine for Students (Mysteries Behind Diagnosis) by Arup Kumar Kundu (Buy from Amazon/ Flipkart)

If you have any recommended book which I have missed or want to add to points I have mentioned comment below. You can visit the Books section of our forum here for doubts and discussion.

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Updated on 07-11-2020

41 thoughts on “Textbooks of Medicine: A Detailed Comparison

    • Dr. Paresh Koli says:

      A good book, similar to Davidson. I haven’t read it completely but had gone through it and it was a decent book. IN my UG days i remember only 1 of my seniors reading it and rest all used to read Harrison, Davidson or George Mathew.

    • Dr. Paresh Koli says:

      As I have mentioned in the above article “Physical Diagnosis A Textbook Of Symptoms & Physical Signs by Rustom Jal Vakil, Aspi F Golwalla” is highly recommended book. I have not came across a book better than this for signs and symptoms.

      • Mohamed says:

        Dear sir, I am from INDIA (Tamilnadu)…I am a final year mbbs student..can I use API TEXTBOOK OF MEDICINE for my theory exam preparation? U told it’s concise book.. u mentioned 9th edition (pages >2000)..now 10th edition(pages >3000) available…which edition is better?,,I am not intelligent… also I am a Tamil medium Student….all my frds read DAVIDSON Principles &Practice medicine book..I see this book..it’s fully essay format texture… Difficulty in reading, for me…also I had planned,George Mathew for reading in exam time…it’s Q&A format…it’s enough for me.

        u told API is easy understanding book…
        Plz, advice me…which is better easy book for me? also mention edition 9th or 10th edition..1000 pages increased in 10th edition..also I am afraid of that more than 3000 pages(set of 2 vols)… Can I use for my exam?

        Please, reply..as soon as possible.

        THANK YOU…

        • Dr. Paresh Koli says:

          Always go for the latest edition of any textbook. Read only topics which are important from API, do not read each and every thing. And for final exam you can refer to George Mathew only.

          • Mohamed says:

            Thank you for ur reply,Sir…Is API TEXT BOOK better than or like Davidson?..my frds read davidson bcz of seniors advice…but, this book.. content fully essay format texture…difficulty in reading&understanding for me…can I read API over davidson…without any difficulty in future?

            One more Question,Sir…which book can I use for practical exam,presenting cases(long&short cases) in ward, case discussion?
            I saw alagappan book sir…I thing this book also for theory..not for cases… Can I use Manipal manual and Abdullah long cases..prefer any easy understanding book?

  1. siddharth says:

    Hello sir, whether reading API book will be helpful for entrance?
    Please reply sir as soon as possible…..

    • Dr. Paresh Koli says:

      For entrance exams Textbooks should not be your primary reference. MCQ books should be. But in UG exams if you read API, it will definitely help you in future entrance exams.

    • Abcdef says:

      Goldman Cecil plus Washington manual of medical therapeutics plus tintinallis or Rosen’s emergency medicine plus UPTODATE

  2. Anurag says:

    Harissons vs Cecil ? Which one would be better in the long run for an Indian student appearing for AIPGMT ?

    • Abcdef says:

      Goldman Cecil is better than Harrison if one wants to understand….Harrison is a book loaded with information without any sequence.n rhythm.. That makes Harrison dry book …… Goldman Cecil has both information and understanding… U read both n u will know difference.

      Read Washington manual of medical therapeutics side by side…U don’t need to make notes then…

      And for emergency medicine…. One should read tintinallis emergency medicine

  3. Rajesh Prasad says:

    Hello sir Can You Suggest Best Physiology Book Either A k Jain or Guyton For indian from Delhi
    And Also best Medicine Book For Practising Apart From Standard treatment Guidline By sangeeta sharma

  4. Hardik Patel says:

    Hello Sir, Please tell me which book is better for exam preparation in Medicine- Ramdas Nayak(Jaypee) or Matthew or Review book like Mudit Khanna???

    Also tell me if any of these exam prep manual can be read during NEET preparation or would you need standard textbook for NEET??

    I am confused, please guide me…

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