Welcome to your anesthesiology training!
As you have already figured out, there are an endless number of anesthesia books available to you. Your program may have required books, recommended books, or just recommended a list of books to choose from.
Where do you begin?
What is the difference between “Miller,” “Baby Miller,” and “Miller Light”? Why can’t you find “Hall,” “Morgan and Mikhail” and “Barash”? Which “Clinical Anesthesia” book should you get?
Even if you have a list of recommended books from your training program, which ones will be the most helpful?
I place fundamental anesthesiology books into four categories:
1) Introductory Anesthesia Books — These help you build your foundation in anesthesiology.
2) Basic Anesthesia Books — These are used for daily reading and your “go to” book for reading.
3) Anesthesia Reference Book — These are the heavy books that you reference when you want to do some in-depth reading on a specific topic.
4) Anesthesia Question Books — These help you test your knowledge of anesthesia to prepare you for your anesthesia exams.
Below, you will find my recommendations from each category. Choose one book from each category and you will be well on your way to building a robust anesthesiology library.
Introductory Anesthesia Books
Try out Anesthesia Made Easy. Of course this selection is biased, as I authored the book and this website. Anesthesia Made Easy was written because the basic anesthesia books (listed below) are just too big and have too much information for the new anesthesia trainee. Being one part textbook and one part survival guide, it is a high yield book that will get you started on your career in anesthesiology.
Basic Anesthesia Books
The book called Morgan and Mikhail’s Clinical Anesthesiology is my favorite basic anesthesia book. It is well written, and easy to pickup and read when you have some down time. I used M&M during my anesthesia training to learn the basics and to prepare for my In-Training Exam (ITE) and my boards. It makes it easy to look up information you need quickly and can be read for long periods of time. As one Amazon reviewer stated “ … the (new) authors clearly and concisely present the material in an easily digestible format.” This book is available in paperback and on Kindle.
Called “Baby Miller” or “Miller Light,” Basics of Anesthesia has been a staple for anesthesia trainees for generations. I read the 4th edition cover to cover my senior year of medical school. While is it named Basics of Anesthesia, it certainly has expanded over the years. It is laid out a little differently than “Clinical Anesthesia,” but it is a basic anesthesia book that will serve you well. It truly is a classic. Basics of Anesthesia is available as a hardback, and on Kindle.
[Editor’s note: Since the release of this article, Barash released Clinical Anesthesia Fundamentals. Now you have 3 basic books to choose from which you can read about in the article here. So I guess our 7 books have grown to 8]
Reference Anesthesia Books
Clinical Anesthesia, commonly called “Barash,” is the book I used for reference when I was a resident/fellow and one that I use today as a faculty member. Clinical Anesthesia by Barash is easy to read and gives you an in-depth discussion of the many facets of anesthesiology. Many find it a little easier to read Miller’s Anesthesia, but make no mistake, Barash is a beast of a book. Clinical Anesthesia by Barash is available as a hardcover or on Kindle.
Miller’s Anesthesia, commonly called “Miller” or “Miller Heavy,” is a two volume set that has been the authority on anesthesiology for generations. Miller is meant to be read as a reference guide and, on the whole, it tends to get more into the bench studies of anesthesia that form the foundations of anesthesia than Barash does. This is probably why some find it a little difficult to read through. I like to think of Miller as being the “Harrison’s” for anesthesia. Miller’s Anesthesia is available in hardcover.
Anesthesia Question Books
Question books will help you in two ways:
1) you still learn about anesthesia while giving yourself a break from reading
2) they provide you much needed practice for taking written boards.
You can read all you want, but if you want to crush your training exams and pass your boards, you need to do practice questions — tons of them. The military saying “Train like you will fight, because you will fight like you trained,” holds true here.
Anesthesia: A Comprehensive Review, commonly called “The Hall Question Book” is one of the question books I used to prepare for my boards. With 1000 practice questions, it gives you a big bang for your buck. If you have to get just one question book, get this one. Not only does it give you the questions and answers, it also gives you a thorough explanation as to why the answer is correct and why the others are not. This really helps to reinforce your reading. Anesthesia: A Comprehensive Review comes as paperback and on Kindle.
Anesthesiology: A Comprehensive Board Review for Primary and Maintenance of Certification is another option for an anesthesia question book. I don’t have as much experience with this book, but it does seem to get good reviews on Amazon. Matthes question book provides a detailed explanation of the correct answer, bullet-point key facts and a high-yield synopsis of the topic being tested. I wish this book had been around during my board review. The Matthes question book is available as a paperback and as an e-textbook.
Take your pick of one book from each of the four categories and order them today. If you have a limited budget, start with Anesthesia Made Easy, and then pick either Morgan and Mikhail’s Clinical Anesthesiology or Basics of Anesthesia (Baby Miller) to start building your anesthesiology resource library. You can always add the others later.
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Check out some of our other articles learn more about anesthesia.