Textbooks of Medicine: A Detailed Comparison

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


In life of a medical student, who is going to become a doctor in future choosing right books to read during their course of study is very important. Not choosing right book could be troublesome for student, as it could be 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 adequate and right knowledge to treat the patient.

I am going to mention all available textbooks in India for subject internal medicine (both theory and practical part) and compare the with best of my knowledge and experience.

Theory Books

Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine, 18th 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 bible of medicine. It is updated with recent advances in 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.

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 in part time. Medicine is a subject which is combination of all the knowledge students have got from all their years of studies including pre-clinical subjects like Anatomy, Physiology and Biochemistry, 2nd 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 details 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 me 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 which gives pointwise details are better for this purpose.

Davidson’s Principles and Practice of Medicine International Edition, 22nd Edition by Brian Walker & Nicki R Colledge & Stuart Ralston & Ian Penman (2014).

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 a of Harrison’s ans is a good alternative. Also latest version of this book was release in year 2014 compared to 2011 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) 9th Edition by Author: Y. P. Munjal (2012)  (Recommended)

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. 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. Psychiatry part of book is also better compared to 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 18th Edition by Charles Wiener, Anthony S. Fauci, Eugene Braunwald and Dennis L. Kasper (2012)

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 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

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)

This is the best book for students who do not have enough time to prepare for the exams. 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 lack of time.

Practicals (Clinical Methods)

Hutchison’s Clinical Methods : An Integrated Approach to Clinical Practice 23rd Edition by Author: GLYNN.

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 from this book as it is excellently detailed.

Physical Diagnosis A Textbook Of Symptoms & Physical Signs by Rustom Jal Vakil, Aspi F Golwalla (HighlyRecommended)

I have read many books for clinical medicine and this book is unarguably the best book of the lot. Most detailed description of signs and symptoms given in any book. No book matches this for signs and symptoms part. Highly recommended of 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)

This is the book i used to read in my UG days. Very nice book, detailed and point-wise descriptions of topics.

Bedside Clinics In Medicine by Arup Kumar Kundu (Recommended)

An alternative to P J Mehta. Many seniors recommend it for differential diagnosis (DD). 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 best book for clinical medicine and practicals.

Manual of Practical Medicine 5th Edition by Author: ALAGAPPAN (2014) (Recommended)

This book is read by many students for practical medicine. It is easy to understands and detailed.  Indian students should prefer this book of foreign author ones.

Macleod’s Clinical Examination 13th Edition  by Fiona Nicol, Graham Douglas, Colin Robertson.

I have not read this book so it will be difficult to compare it with other alternatives. Students are advised to read few topics and compare it and see whether they like it.

Manipal Manual of Clinical Medicine by B. A. Shastry

This is preferred to many students as their primary book for practical exams.

Differential Diagnosis in Clinical Medicine by DEENADAYALAN

Clinical Examination: A Practical Guide In Medicine by Harmanjit Hira Singh

Short Cases in Clinical Medicine by Author: A. B. M. Abdullah

This book is for short cases and is helpful in ward exams and practicals where students have to present cases to the examiner.

If you have any recommended book which i have missed or want to add to points i have mentioned comment below.

You can visit Books section of our forum here for doubts and discussion.


    • Avatar
      Dr. Paresh Koli December 25, 2014

      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.

  1. Avatar
    Rimpal May 28, 2015

    Wat abt golwala medicine for students sir?

  2. Avatar
    suprita Chaudhary July 11, 2015
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    Sujit January 13, 2016

    Davidson is best for Medical student level. Students tend to get lost before exam with Harrison.
    My experience.

  4. Avatar
    Ashutosh Agarwal January 31, 2016

    I have a query..which book should I read for theory api or golwala…?

  5. Avatar
    dhinesh February 01, 2016

    medicine ug-davidson r kumar nd clarke?

    • Avatar
      Dr. Paresh Koli February 01, 2016

      API is better for Indian students but both books you mentioned are good. Davidson is more read than Kumar and Clarke in India.

      • Avatar
        Mohamed March 23, 2016

        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…

        • Avatar
          Dr. Paresh Koli March 23, 2016

          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.

          • Avatar
            Mohamed March 24, 2016

            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?

  6. Avatar
    Geetarani March 24, 2016

    Which book should I refer for UG “George Mathew or API”?

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    siddharth April 10, 2016

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

    • Avatar
      Dr. Paresh Koli April 10, 2016

      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.

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    KRISHNA April 14, 2016

    Sir. For pg students which text book is good.API or GOLDMAN CECIL

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    Jake May 30, 2016

    Sir! Which book do you think is better? Krishnadas or George Mathew?

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    Anurag June 01, 2016

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

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    Raj Jaiswal July 21, 2016

    Sir,for practicing which book is better for medicine.
    Plz rply sir.as soon as possible.

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