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10 Books Every Nurse Should Read for Inspiration

10 Books Every Nurse Should Read for Inspiration

As nurses, sometimes the job feels overwhelming and we are left feeling burned-out, uninspired, and flat-out ready to quit the profession all together. Because nursing is high-demand, it’s important to reignite that spark of why we became nurses in the first place as often as necessary.

A great and easy way to refresh and re-charge is with a little “me time.” While there are a ton of fabulous ways to unwind, reading an inspiring book about nursing might be just the ticket! We’ve gathered ten books every nurse should read for inspiration to help get you started.

Let’s count them down- in no particular order of course! Go with the one that speaks to your soul and what you need in this moment.

10 Books Every Nurse Should Read for Inspiration

10. I Wasn’t Strong Like This When I Started Out: True Stories of Becoming a Nurse

No doubt, this book is one to inspire; it is a collection of nurses telling stories of their “firsts” – sticks, deaths, saves, births, etc. We can all relate to sitting around with a bunch of colleagues and swapping stories. Check this one out for a light read that is sure to have you reminiscing on your own “firsts”.

9. Chicken Soup for the Soul: Inspiration for Nurses OR
Chicken Soup for the Nurse’s Soul: Stories to Celebrate, Honor, and Inspire the Nursing Profession

Chicken Soup for the Soul is one of those classics that is perfect for inspiration. For this series, there are two options to pick from, but both involve stories told by nurses for nurses. Inside you’ll find inspiring patients, mentors, and events. Read one or read both;  whichever you choose, it might just inspire you to fall in love with your career all over again.

8. The Shift: One Nurse, Twelve Hours, Four Patients’ Lives 1st Edition

The Shift tells the story of everything that happens in one twelve hour shift on a cancer ward. From life altering treatment decisions to lives lost and saved, this book will show you just how big of a role nurses play during people’s darkest times.

7. The Nurses: A Year of Secrets, Drama, and Miracles with the Heroes of the Hospital

Unlike some of the other titles on our list, The Nurses is written by an award winning journalist who went behind the scenes and shadowed real nurses in real hospitals. She tells the story of the down and dirty side of nursing, while also shining light on the heroism that happens daily. This book is sure to be a page turner that might just give you a new perspective.

6. Bedlam Among the Bedpans

Bedlam Among the Bedpans is actually a collection of stories from many different authors that span over the last couple of decades. This book was put together by an academic librarian and guarantees good entertainment. Did we mention it has illustrations and cartoons mixed in? Perfect for reconnecting to the profession.

5. Who Moved My Cheese? An Amazing Way to Deal with Change in Your Work and in Your Life

Who Moved My Cheese is a bit different than the rest of the books on this list for one reason: it’s not specifically about nursing! However, nursing is ever-changing from the big stuff like policy to the interaction between each patient. This book teaches you how to embrace change and apply it to work for your benefit. What better way to get inspired than to learn new personal development techniques!

4. Notes on Nursing: What It Is, and What It Is Not

In nursing school, we all learn about Florence Nightingale; after all, she was an early pioneer in the nursing field. Not many schools require students to read any of her teachings, but if you do read this book, you’ll find more than just a recount of history. This book inspires a holistic view of patient care and can bring much needed inspiration to the mundane routine we sometimes find ourselves in.

3. Woman of Valor: Clara Barton and the Civil War

Woman of Valor tells the story of Clara Barton who became a nurse for the Union in the Civil War. Barton’s journey towards healing the soldiers and battling the worst conditions could inspire anyone to make the best of their own situation. Clara Barton is best known for founding the Red Cross, but read her story and you’ll find out she did a lot more than that!

2. We Band of Angels: The Untold Story of American Women Trapped on Bataan

We Band of Angels is the book everyone needs to inspire them to be a better comrade on the unit. This book tells the story of American nurses at war in the Philippines surviving only because of each other. We can all relate to that!

1. Inspired Nurse

The title of this book says it all! Inspired Nurse is thought-provoking and even doubles as a workbook as it walks you through a journey back to discovering why you chose healthcare in the first place.

What about you; do you have an inspiring book to recommend? Let us know in the comments below!
Katelyn Johnson

Katelyn Johnson


Katelyn has a Master’s in Healthcare Administration and five years of clinical experience. She has made the shift to full-time freelance writing and enjoys covering topics on nursing careers, lifestyle, and community. Her goal is to help start a conversation and spread awareness around the many ups and downs of the healthcare field.


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