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After passing the second year of medical school I thought I would write a review on the textbooks and MY opinion of them. I don’t know about Harvard, but here in Sulaymanyiah Medical School we have the following subjects in the curriculum of the second year and here are the textbooks that we use.

1) Anatomy
Clinical Anatomy by Regions - Richard S. Sneela- Clinical Anatomy by Regions – Richard S. Snell
Overall it is a great book but the figures are very disappointing. You read the text and it refers you to a figure to illustrate it more but most of the times the figures don’t contain what you are looking for and that is why you need to get an additional atlas. I would say a better textbook would be Gray’s Anatomy for Students.


Grant's Atlas of Anatomyb- Grant’s Atlas of Anatomy – Anne M.R. Agur and Arthur F. Dalley
It is a very amazing atlas, especially the latest edition (edition 12 at the time of writing of this post). It contains very great illustrations and tables to help you understand the anatomy better. Another one of my favorites is Netter’s Atlas of Anatomy.


2) Biochemistry
Mark's Basic Medical Biochemistry: A Clinical ApproachMarks’ Basic Medical Biochemistry: A Clinical Approach – Colleen M. Smith, Allan D. Marks and Michael A. Lieberman
Although you may have heard that it is a great book, I have to tell you that it is one of the worst books I have ever seen. The language in which it is written is very complex. When you try to understand a concept better, it only makes it worse. It is extremely long and gives you a headache when you try to get quick answers. On the other hand Lippincott’s Illustrated Review of Biochemistry is a very great and easy-to-understand resource to be used instead.

3) Embryology
Langman's Medical EmbryologyLangman’s Medical Embryology – Thomas W. Sadler
Not to sound very dramatic but this book just makes you hate embryology even more than you do now. The text is written for someone who already has a good understanding of embryology not someone who is just beginning to learn it. The images and figures couldn’t be any worse. Embryology is all about imagining the 3D shape of the embryo but this only contains very rusty, old 2D images which are not good. A great textbook to understand embryology better and which has the best images, is Moore’s The Developing Human or its shorter version Before We Are Born.

4) Histology
Basic Histology, Text and AtlasBasic Histology: Text & Atlas (Junqueira’s) – Luiz Junqueira and Jose Carneiro
As for histology, most students don’t consider reading a book because the handouts are too long themselves. But sometimes you need the image for a certain section to understand and this book contains rather outstanding illustrations and the overall text is fine. For the practical sessions I used DiFiore’s Atlas of Histology and that is one great book too.

5) Physiology
Guyton's Textbook of Medical PhysiologyGuyton’s Medical Physiology – Arthur C. Guyton and John E. Hall
This is the best and most famous physiology book around, but for someone getting a Master’s degree, not a medical student. It can help you understand the most complex aspects of physiology in very simple and easily understood sentences. The diagrams, figures and illustrations rock! But the level of detail in this book just gives you depression. It just goes on and on and on. When you start reading, it takes you hours to read the small-font, two column pages untill you forget what it was you were trying to understand in the first place. Unfortunately I don’t have a substitute for this one. Sometimes I used Anatomy and Physiology in Health and Illness.

Leave a comment and let me know what YOU think.

Chicken or EggThis is the question which intrigued mankind from the earliest of times. The answer is tricky because according to our experience a chicken always comes from an egg and an egg always comes from a chicken. It is like saying “Which came first, X that can’t come without Y, or Y that can’t come without X?“. Philosophers like Aristotle thought that “both the bird and egg must have always existed“. Evolutionary biologists came up with the egg as the answer saying that “The zygote cell is the only place where DNA mutations could produce a new animal, and the zygote cell is housed in the chicken’s egg. So, the egg must have come first“. Recently British scientists from Sheffield and Warwick universities, discovered that formation of eggs is only possible in the presence of a protein found in chicken’s ovaries. This protein, called ovocledidin-17 (OC-17), speeds up the development of the egg’s hard shell. That is to say that the chicken came first.