National Public Health Week

National Public Health Week takes place on the first full week of April. This booklist includes excellent books on a wide variety of health topics.

March 29, 2023

National Public Health Week is April 3-9 this year! Here’s what the American Public Health Association has to say about health in our communities:

Our cultures have always shaped our health. We learn from the communities we’re born in and that we build together. For this NPHW, we look to community leaders as our health leaders. We celebrate the unique and joyful ways different cultures focus on health. And we look to how we can learn from each other, with humility and openness.

For this booklist, we’ve gathered together books on the following health topics:



Silent Invasion by Deborah Birx

Silent Invasion
The Untold Story Of The Trump Administration, COVID-19, And Preventing The Next Pandemic Before It’s Too Late

Deborah Birx

Silent Invasion is the story of what she witnessed and lived for the next year–an eye-opening, inside account, detailed here for the first time, of the Trump Administration’s response to the greatest public health crisis in modern times.

The Desperate Hours by Marie Brenner

The Desperate Hours
One Hospital’s Fight To Save A City On The Pandemic’s Front Lines

Marie Brenner

Granted unprecedented 18-month access to the entire New York-Presbyterian hospital system, an award-winning journalist, drawing on more than 200 interviews, takes us to the front lines to tell the story of the early days of the COVID pandemic.

How To Prevent The Next Pandemic by Bill Gates

How To Prevent The Next Pandemic

Bill Gates

The technologist, business leader and philanthropist who founded Microsoft explains the science of fighting pandemics, discusses the lessons learned from COVID-19 and provides a path forward to preventing another pandemic from taking millions of lives.

The Premonition by Michael Lewis

The Premonition
A Pandemic Story

Michael Lewis

The #1 best-selling author’s nonfiction narrative pits a band of medical visionaries against the wall of ignorance that was the official response of the Trump administration to the outbreak of COVID-19.

Preventable by Andy Slavitt

The Inside Story Of How Leadership Failures, Politics, And Selfishness Doomed The Us Coronavirus Response

Andy Slavitt

The former head of Obamacare presents an inside account of the US’s failed response to the Coronavirus pandemic, chronicling what he saw and how much could have been prevented, and investigating the cultural, political, and economic drivers that led to unnecessary loss of life.

The Plague Year by Lawrence Wright

The Plague Year
America In The Time Of COVID

Lawrence Wright

Honoring to the medical professionals around the country who’ve risked their lives to fight the virus, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author provides essential information–and fascinating historical parallels–examining the medical, economic, political, andsocial ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pandemics of the Past

The Great Influenza by John M Barry

The Great Influenza
The Epic Story Of The Deadliest Plague In History

John M Barry

An account of the deadly influenza epidemic of 1918, which took the lives of millions of people around the world, examines its causes, its impact on early twentieth-century society, and the lasting implications of the crisis.

The Plague by Albert Camus

The Plague

Albert Camus

Chaos prevails when the bubonic plague strikes the Algerian coastal city of Oran. A haunting tale of human resilience in the face of unrelieved horror, Camus’ novel about a bubonic plague ravaging the people of a North African coastal town is a classic of twentieth-century literature.

How To Survive A Plague by David France

How To Survive A Plague
The Inside Story Of How Citizens And Science Tamed Aids

David France

A definitive history of the successful battle to halt the AIDS epidemic, written by the creator of and inspired by the seminal documentary of the same name, also shares the poignant stories of gay activists who resolved to make their life battles purposeful.

It Was Vulgar & It Was Beautiful by Jack Lowery

It Was Vulgar & It Was Beautiful
How Aids Activists Used Art To Fight A Pandemic

Jack Lowery

Examines Gran Fury, a collective formed out of the group ACT UP in the late 1980s, offering a complex, moving portrait of a group that expressed through art the profound trauma of surviving the AIDS crisis and formed essential solidarities between gays and lesbians in the activist community.

Environmental Impact on Health

Exposure by Robert Bilott

Poisoned Water, Corporate Greed, And One Lawyer’s Twenty-Year Battle Against Dupont

Robert Bilott

In a true story that is the inspiration for a forthcoming film, the lawyer-author chronicles how he built a case against DuPont for its use of the hazardous, chemical PFOA, uncovering a history of worldwide environmental contamination.

Silent Spring by Rachel Carson

Silent Spring

Rachel Carson

First published in 1962, this book alerted a large audience to the environmental and human dangers of indiscriminate use of pesticides. The outcry that followed its publication forced the banning of DDT and spurred revolutionary changes in the laws affecting our air, land, and water.

The Poisoned City by Anna Clark

The Poisoned City
Flint’s Water And The American Urban Tragedy

Anna Clark

Documents the 2014 poisoning of the residents of Flint, Michigan, by contaminated water, and the ensuing eighteen-month activism case in which the state admitted its complicity after twelve people died and many others suffered permanent injuries.

Tales of two planets by John Freeman

Tales Of Two Planets
Stories of Climate Change And Inequality In A Divided World

John Freeman

Building from his acclaimed anthology Tales of Two Americas, beloved writer and editor John Freeman draws together a group of our greatest writers from around the world to help us see how the environmental crisis is hitting some of the most vulnerable communities where they live.

Children And Environmental Toxins by Philip J Landrigan, Mary M Landrigan

Children And Environmental Toxins
What Everyone Needs To Know

Philip J Landrigan, Mary M Landrigan

More than 80,000 new chemicals have been developed and released into the global environment during the last four decades. Today the World Health Organization attributes more than one-third of all childhood deaths to environmental causes, and as rates of childhood disease skyrocket — autism, asthma, ADHD, obesity, diabetes, and even birth defects — it raises serious, difficult questions around how the chemical environment is impacting children’s health.

Food and Health

Food Fix by Mark Hyman

Food Fix
How To Save Our Health, Our Economy, Our Communities, And Our Planet-One Bite At A Time

Mark Hyman

The best-selling author of The Blood Sugar Solution explains how today’s agricultural policies have been compromised by corrupt influences, sharing insights into how everyday food choices shape chronic disease, climate change, poverty and other global crises.

The Reducetarian Solution by Brian Kateman

The Reducetarian Solution
How The Surprisingly Simple Act Of Reducing The Amount Of Meat In Your Diet Can Transform Your Health And The Planet

Brian Kateman

Presents a collection of essays by influential scientists, physicians, and nutritionists about the health advantages of reducing meat in the diet and the impact this can also have on Earth’s future viability.

In Defense Of Food by Michael Pollan

In Defense Of Food
An Eater’s Manifesto

Michael Pollan

Cites the reasons why people have become so confused about their dietary choices and discusses the importance of enjoyable moderate eating of mostly traditional plant foods.

The Case Against Sugar by Gary Taubes

The Case Against Sugar

Gary Taubes

Outlines compelling arguments about the health dangers of sugar, identifying the powerful lobbies behind its overuse while citing its role in a range of challenges from obesity to nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.

Gun Violence

Bloodbath Nation by Paul Auster

Bloodbath Nation

Paul Auster

Traces centuries of America’s use and abuse of guns, exploring the bitter divide between our gun control and anti-gun control camps and how gun violence has become so prevalent and out of proportion to the rest of the world.

Children Under Fire by John Woodrow Cox

Children Under Fire
An American Crisis

John Woodrow Cox

Based on the Pulitzer-finalist series on the effects of gun violence on children, a urgent call to action investigates the effectiveness of gun safety reforms and the ongoing realities of traumatized survivors of community and campus shootings.

Stop The Killing by Katherine Schweit

Stop The Killing
How To End The Mass Shooting Crisis

Katherine Schweit

Stop the Killing offers insight into what we can do to end the active shooter crisis plaguing America. The book is packed with training and sensible advice that takes readers through the latest research and best practices, making it a must read for every security-minded citizen and professional.

Health Equity

Unwell Women by Elinor Cleghorn

Unwell Women
Misdiagnosis And Myth In A Man-Made World

Elinor Cleghorn

This groundbreaking examination of the relationship between women, illness, and medicine is filled with character studies and case histories of women who have suffered, challenged and rewritten medical orthodoxy and the men who controlled their fate.

The Emergency by Thomas Fisher

The Emergency
A Year Of Healing And Heartbreak In A Chicago Er

Thomas Fisher

From a renowned emergency room doctor and healthcare policy expert comes the riveting story of a year in the life of an emergency room on the South Side of Chicago during a pandemic.

The Sum Of Us by Heather McGhee

The Sum Of Us
What Racism Costs Everyone And How We Can Prosper Together

Heather McGhee

One of today’s most insightful and influential thinkers offers a powerful exploration of inequality and the lesson that generations of Americans have failed to learn: Racism has a cost for everyone–not just for people of color.

Inflamed by Rupa Marya, Raj Patel

Deep Medicine And The Anatomy Of Injustice

Rupa Marya, Raj Patel

Raj Patel, the New York Times bestselling author of The Value of Nothing, teams up with physician, activist, and co-founder of the Do No Harm Coalition Rupa Marya to reveal the links between health and structural injustices–and to offer a new deep medicine that can heal our bodies and our world.

The Broken Ladder by Keith Payne

The Broken Ladder
How Inequality Affects The Way We Think, Live, And Die

Keith Payne

A leading social scientist examines the physical, psychological, and moral effects of inequality that explains how inequality is attributed to factors identified by both conservatives and progressives and has a profound impact on health and value systems.

No Apparent Distress by Rachel Pearson

No Apparent Distress
A Doctor’s Coming-Of-Age On The Front Lines Of American Medicine

Rachel Pearson

Based on the author’s viral essay, a fifth-generation Texan, humanities expert and Seattle Children’s Hospital pediatrician presents a brutally frank memoir about the realities of America’s medical system and how it subjects the underprivileged to high risks.

Under The Skin by Linda Villarosa

Under The Skin
The Hidden Toll Of Racism On American Lives And The Health Of A Nation

Linda Villarosa

The first book to tell the full story of race and health in America today, showing the toll racism takes on individuals and the health of our nation, by a groundbreaking journalist at the New York Times Magazine.

The Healthcare System

The Hospital by Brian Alexander

The Hospital
Life, Death, And Dollars In A Small American Town

Brian Alexander

An intimate, heart wrenching portrait of one small hospital that reveals the magnitude of America’s health care crises. By following the struggle for survival of one small-town hospital, and the patients who walk, or are carried, through its doors, The Hospital takes readers into the world of the American medical industry in a way no book has done before.

Never Pay The First Bill by Marshall Allen

Never Pay The First Bill
And Other Ways To Fight The Health Care System And Win

Marshall Allen

Drawing on 15 years of investigating the health care industry, an award-winning ProPublica reporter, in this guerilla guide to health care the American people and employers need, reveals how companies and individuals have managed to force medical providers to play fair, and shows how you can, too.

America's Bitter Pill by Steven Brill

America’s Bitter Pill
Money, Politics, Backroom Deals, And The Fight To Fix Our Broken Healthcare System

Steven Brill

Relates the story of the fight to pass and implement the Affordable Care Act, discussing the healthcare industry abuses it was intended to change and how it has succeeded or failed to do so.

Where Does It Hurt? by Jonathan Bush

Where Does It Hurt?
An Entrepreneur’s Guide To Fixing Health Care

Jonathan Bush

The CEO of Athenahealth reflects on his journey from ambulance driver to CEO and outlines a blueprint for improving the current health-care system through innovation, less regulation, and a wider range of customer choices.

The Ten Year War by Jonathan Cohn

The Ten Year War
Obamacare And The Unfinished Crusade For Universal Coverage

Jonathan Cohn

This definite account of the history of Obamacare examines the battle to pass the most sweeping and consequential law in modern American history and the dangerous shifts it has caused in American politics.

Reinventing American Health Care by Ezekiel J Emanuel

Reinventing American Health Care
How The Affordable Care Act Will Improve Our Terribly Complex, Blatantly Unjust, Outrageously Expensive, Grossly Inefficient, Error Prone System

Ezekiel J Emanuel

A health policy expert explains the American health care system and five problems that work against any attempts to reform it, and discusses how the Affordable Care Act was passed and how it will positively affect future health care.

Old And Sick In America by Muriel R Gillick

Old And Sick In America
The Journey Through The Health Care System

Muriel R Gillick

A scholar who has practiced medicine for over thirty years, Gillick offers readers an informed and straightforward view of health care from the ground up, revealing that many crucial medical decisions are based not on what is best for the patient but rather on outside forces, sometimes to the detriment of patient health and quality of life. Gillick suggests a broadly imagined patient-centered reform of the health care system with Medicare as the engine of change, a transformation that would be mediated through accountability, cost-effectiveness, and culture change.

How To Be A Patient by Sana Goldberg

How To Be A Patient
The Essential Guide To Navigating The World Of Modern Medicine

Sana Goldberg

From registered nurse and public health advocate Sana Goldberg, a timely, accessible, and comprehensive handbook to navigating common medical situations. From the routine to the unexpected, How to Be a Patient is your ultimate guide to better healthcare.

Catastrophic Care by David Goldhill

Catastrophic Care
How American Health Care Killed My Father–And How We Can Fix It

David Goldhill

An investigation into America’s failing health-care industry shares the story of the author’s tragic experience of losing his father to hospital-acquired infections, arguing against the expansion of insurance coverage while recommending a comprehensive, patient-empowering approach that renders health care transparent, affordable and effective.

Priceless by John C Goodman

Curing The Healthcare Crisis

John C Goodman

In the groundbreaking book Priceless, renowned healthcare economist John Goodman reveals how patients, healthcare providers, employers, and employees are all trapped in a dysfunctional, bureaucratic, healthcare system fraught with perverse incentives that raise costs, reduce quality, and make care less accessible.

The Slippery Slope Of Healthcare by Steven Z Kussin

The Slippery Slope Of Healthcare
Why Bad Things Happen To Healthy Patients And How To Avoid Them

Steven Z Kussin

A slippery slope describes how events progress from an initially innocent step to a cascade of subsequent misfortunes that are increasingly inevitable, difficult to stop, and more harmful than the last. In the attempt to improve what is already just fine, patients can unknowingly find themselves on this slope. This book shows them how to avoid it.

The Price We Pay by Marty Makary

The Price We Pay
What Broke American Health Care–And How To Fix It

Marty Makary

The best-selling author of Accountable presents an urgent critique of America’s broken health-care system that provides compelling examples that explain why health care has become a financial crisis, counseling readers and business leaders on how to secure better deals.

Unaccountable by Marty Makary

What Hospitals Won’t Tell You And How Transparency Can Revolutionize Health Care

Marty Makary

A co-developer of the medical care list outlined in Atul Gawande’s best-selling The Checklist Manifesto presents an urgent call for action that advocates more transparent, democratic and safer healthcare practices to keep patients better informed and hold poor-performing doctors and flawed systems accountable.

Prepare To Defend Yourself by Matthew Minson

Prepare To Defend Yourself
How To Navigate The Healthcare System And Escape With Your Life

Matthew Minson

Matthew Minson, a physician and disaster medicine and healthcare policy expert, pulls back the examination room curtain on the healthcare system, empowering patients and their families to become proactive and knowledgeable users of medical services.

Get What's Yours For Healthcare by Philip Moeller

Get What’s Yours For Healthcare
How To Get The Best Care At The Right Price

Philip Moeller

An authoritative, unbiased reference by the award-winning Ask Phil columnist shares concise information about how to communicate with doctors, hospitals and health-care providers to get access to quality care, minimize medical bills and contest denied insurance claims.

Get What's Yours For Medicare by Philip Moeller

Get What’s Yours For Medicare
Maximize Your Coverage, Minimize Your Costs

Philip Moeller

The co-author of the best-selling social security entry in the Get What’s Yours series shares advice for saving money and maximizing health coverage through Medicare, explaining the essentials of signing up, understanding what it costs and selecting which plans are most appropriate.

The People's Hospital by Ricardo Nuila

The People’s Hospital
Hope And Peril In American Medicine

Ricardo Nuila

Recounting the stories of five individuals denied access to health insurance, a physician, who emphasizes people over payments, interweaves their dramas into a singular narrative that contradicts the established idea that the only way to receive good healthcare is with good insurance.

Prescription For The People by Fran Quigley

Prescription For The People
An Activist’s Guide To Making Medicine Affordable For All

Fran Quigley

In Prescription for the People, Fran Quigley diagnoses our inability to get medicines to the people who need them and then prescribes the cure. He delivers a clear and convincing argument for a complete shift in the global and U.S. approach to developing and providing essential medicines–and a primer on how to make that change happen. Globally…

An American Sickness by Elisabeth Rosenthal

An American Sickness
How Healthcare Became Big Business And How You Can Take It Back

Elisabeth Rosenthal

An award-winning New York Times reporter reveals expensive dysfunctions in America’s healthcare system, outlining practical guidelines for recognizing misleading information and obtaining the care and pharmaceuticals needed to safeguard family health interests.

The American Health Care Paradox by Elizabeth H Bradley, Lauren A Taylor

The American Health Care Paradox
Why Spending More Is Getting Us Less

Elizabeth H Bradley, Lauren A Taylor

Considers the issues in the United States health care system and identifies lack of social services, outdated care allocations, and a resistance to government programs as the root causes of the problems.

The Price Of Health by Michael Kinch, Lori Weiman

The Price Of Health
The Modern Pharmaceutical Enterprise And The Betrayal Of A History Of Care

Michael Kinch, Lori Weiman

The Price of Health reveals the story of how the pharmaceutical enterprise took shape and led to the present crisis. The reputation of the pharmaceutical industry is suffering from self-inflicted wounds and its continued viability, indeed survival, is increasingly questioned. Yet the drug makers do not shoulder all the blame or responsibility for the current price crisis. Deeply researched, The Price of Heatlh gives us hope as to how we can still right the ship, even amidst the roiling storm of a globalpandemic.

Lifelines by Leana Wen

A Doctor’s Journey In The Fight For Public Health

Leana Wen

Public health expert Leana Wen gives an insider’s account of public health and its crucial role-from opioid addiction to global pandemic-and tells an inspiring story of her journey from homeless immigrant to being named one of Time’s 100 Most Influential People.

Mental Health

From Survive To Thrive by Margaret S Chisolm

From Survive To Thrive
Living Your Best Life With Mental Illness

Margaret S Chisolm

This upbeat guide is the first to detail evidence-based principles for improving well-being in those with mental illness.

You Are Not Alone by Ken Duckworth

You Are Not Alone
The Nami Guide To Navigating Mental Health–With Advice From Experts And Wisdom From Real People And Families

Ken Duckworth

This first-and-only book fully supported by the National Alliance on Mental Illness provides practical guidance on dealing with mental health conditions and navigating care, research-based evidence on what treatments and approaches work, insight and advice from renowned clinical experts and practitioners and real-life stories.

Logged In And Stressed Out by Paula Durlofsky

Logged In And Stressed Out
How Social Media Is Affecting Your Mental Health And What You Can Do About It

Paula Durlofsky

Logged In and Stressed Out teaches readers to feel happier and more confident by examining the ways in which social media is negatively affecting their lives and determining how they can develop healthier online habits.

How Not To Fall Apart by Maggy van Eijk

How Not To Fall Apart
Lessons Learned On The Road From Self-Harm To Self-Care

Maggy van Eijk

This is a book about what it’s like to live with anxiety and depression, panic attacks, self-harm and self-loathing–and it’s also a hopeful roadmap written by someone who’s been there and is still finding her way.

The Unspeakable Mind by Shaili Jain

The Unspeakable Mind
Stories Of Trauma And Healing From The Frontlines Of Ptsd Science

Shaili Jain

A Stanford professor and Post-traumatic Stress Disorder specialist presents an informative assessment of PTSD that examines the current scientific research and clinical advances that are shaping how the disorder is understood and treated.

No One Cares About Crazy People by Ron Powers

No One Cares About Crazy People
The Chaos And Heartbreak Of Mental Health In America

Ron Powers

Offers a carefully researched narrative of the social history of mental illness in the United States, focusing specifically on schizophrenia, the taboos that compromise mental health care, and the way the disease has devastated the author’s own family.

Surviving Schizophrenia by E Fuller Torrey

Surviving Schizophrenia
A Family Manual

E Fuller Torrey

Describes the symptoms, causes, and treatment of schizophrenia, tells those concerned how to take care of a schizophrenic, and discusses legal and ethical problems related to the mental illness.

Misinformation Impacting Health

The Menopause Manifesto by Jen Gunter

The Menopause Manifesto
Own Your Health With Facts And Feminism

Jen Gunter

An internationally best-selling author, obstetrician and gynecologist and author of The Vagina Bible, empowers readers through knowledge by countering myths and misunderstandings about menopause with hard facts and real science.

Hype by Nina Shapiro

A Doctor’s Guide To Medical Myths, Exaggerated Claims And Bad Advice – How To Tell What’s Real And What’s Not

Nina Shapiro

An award-winning Otolaryngologist examines the actual science behind our collective health beliefs, dispelling misinformation and myths including the idea that sugar is toxic and the importance of drinking 8 glasses of water a day.

The Opioid Crisis

The Hard Sell by Evan Hughes

The Hard Sell
Crime And Punishment At An Opioid Startup

Evan Hughes

The inside story of a band of entrepreneurial upstarts who made millions selling painkillers—until their scheme unraveled, putting them at the center of a landmark criminal trial.

Raising Lazarus by Beth Macy

Raising Lazarus
Hope, Justice, And The Future Of America’s Overdose Crisis

Beth Macy

In this complex story of public health, big pharma, dark money, politics, race and class, the New York Times best-selling author of Dopesick takes us to the forefront of the opioid crisis where we meet the everyday heroes fighting to stem the tide of drug overdose

American Overdose by Chris McGreal

American Overdose
The Opioid Tragedy In Three Acts

Chris McGreal

A reporter for The Guardian describes how the current opioid crisis was driven by greed, incompetence and indifference and exposes Big Pharma’s control of the health care system and the how the FDA was duped into pushing painkillers.

Undoing Drugs by Maia Szalavitz

Undoing Drugs
The Untold Story Of Harm Reduction And The Future Of Addiction

Maia Szalavitz

Offering a new path forward, the author tells the story of how a small group of committed people changed the world with an idea that has revolutionized not only the treatment of addiction, but also our treatment of behavioral and societal issues.

Other Topics in Health and Healthcare

The Truth About Cancer by Ty M Bollinger

The Truth About Cancer
What You Need To Know About Cancer’s History, Treatment, And Prevention

Ty M Bollinger

Draws on the history of medicine and cutting-edge research to lay out methods that can be used to prevent and treat cancer beyond conventional means.

The Undying by Anne Boyer

The Undying
Pain, Vulnerability, Mortality, Medicine, Art, Time, Dreams, Data, Exhaustion, Cancer, And Care

Anne Boyer

The award-winning author of Garments Against Women presents a meditation on pain and economics that draws on her experiences as a single parent with a catastrophic illness to explore emerging ideas about mortality and the gendered politics of healthcare.

Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder

Mountains Beyond Mountains

Tracy Kidder

A thought-provoking portrait of world-renowned infectious disease expert Dr. Paul Farmer follows the efforts of this unconventional Harvard genius to understand the world’s great health, economic, and social problems and to bring healing to humankind.

Deadliest Enemy by Michael T Osterholm, Mark Olshaker

Deadliest Enemy
Our War Against Killer Germs

Michael T Osterholm, Mark Olshaker

An epidemiologist describes what can be done to protect ourselves against fast-moving infectious diseases that can challenge world order, separating scientific fact from panic and fear and detailing the plans and resources that must be put into place before the next pandemic strikes.

The Invisible Kingdom by Meghan O'Rourke

The Invisible Kingdom
Reimagining Chronic Illness

Meghan O’Rourke

Drawing on her own medical experiences as well as a decade of interviews with doctors, patients, researchers, and public health experts, the author offers a revelatory investigation into the rise of chronic illness and autoimmune diseases that resist easy description or simple cures.

The Demon In The Freezer by Richard Preston

The Demon In The Freezer
A True Story

Richard Preston

In a chilling new look at the world of bioterrorism, the best-selling author of The Hot Zone explores the return of smallpox, eradicated in 1979 but now returning in a deadlier, genetically engineered form, and the crusade of three doctors to not only uncover the mastermind of the 2001 anthrax attacks but also prepare for future bioterrorist actions.

No Visible Bruises by Rachel Louise Snyder

No Visible Bruises
What We Don’t Know About Domestic Violence Can Kill Us

Rachel Louise Snyder

An award-winning journalist and expert guest explores America’s epidemic of domestic violence and how it has been misunderstood, sharing insights into what domestic violence portends about other types of violence and what countermeasures are needed today.