Physiology being a very vast subject has always been a hurdle for first-year medical students.

But as physiology is a basis for most of the understanding of the working of the human body whether you are approaching a clinical situation, or attempting to analyze a complex pathological presentation, the overall physiology of the systems within the human body is incredibly important as a base and foundation for understanding. It becomes really important to try to learn and understand physiology better.

Now with the availability of a plethora of textbooks for physiology, it becomes really difficult for a student to decide which books to use. Even I faced the same problem during my first year, that is why I have decided to make this post to jot down all the advantages and disadvantages of various books.

Here is the list of best books according to me:

  1. Guyton and Hall Textbook of Medical Physiology 13th Edition
  2. Ganong’s Review of Medical Physiology
  3. Textbook of Physiology by A.K. Jain
  4. Comprehensive Textbook of Physiology by G.K. Pal
  5. BRS Physiology by Costanzo
  6. Physiology by Sembulingam
  7. Preparation manual for Physiology by Vijaya Joshi

Best books for Physiology

I have divided all the books according to there usefulness and various needs

Best books for learning concepts:

1. Guyton and Hall Textbook of Medical Physiology

I believe it is the best book out there for understanding concepts. It follows the essay format and hence makes it easy to understand physiology in the form of a story.

Pros:

  • Essay format – Good for making concepts
  • Lots of images for visualization
  • Sufficient amount of flowcharts
  • Considered as the ultimate resource in case of doubts
  • Must use for reading CVS

Cons:

  • Not in the pointwise format
  • According to some people not that good as the international edition due to a lack of experimental content.
  • Must read IF you have enough time
  • Difficult for writing in exams
  • Difficult for revising multiple times

2. Ganong’s Review of Medical Physiology

Pros:

  • Great book for detailed study, and for some confusing topics.
  • Used mostly as a reference book because of its vast and detailed content.
  • Little to no mistakes.

Cons:

  • Might be too cumbersome for first-time readers.

3. AK Jain and GK Pal

These books are used and referred by a lot of medical colleges in India.

Pros:

  • Easy language
  • Pointwise format of text
  • Content-focused for India
  • Good quality images
  • Quick revision possible
  • Good for writing in Exams

Cons:

  • Different books have some inconsistencies in data
  • Not that good for concept building

Best books for University Exams

1. AK Jain and GK Pal

Because of the point wise content these books are really useful while studying for university exams.

Subheadings for all the different topics makes it easier to find and study specific questions.

2. Sembulingam

One of the most loved books by students, and most hated books by teachers

Pros:

  • Really concise content
  • Defined pointwise format
  • Good for one day before exam reading XD
  • Sufficient content for exams

Cons:

  • Not good for concept building
  • Lacks some important topics

3. Prep Manual by Vijaya Joshi

I find the question and answer format of this book really intriguing and helpful for exams.

Pros:

  • Question and answer based format
  • Based on Guyton, so feels familiar to those who have used Guyton as the main textbook

Cons:

  • Very few images and diagrams
  • Lack of flowcharts

4. Uniquest Physiology

Pros:

  • This was a new book launched by Jaypee in 2019
  • It is based on questions asked in University Exams
  • A lot of my friends found this book very useful
  • Answers to most of the questions are very informative and helpful

Cons:

  • Not good for chapter wise study.
  • Lack of resources in some questions.

Best books for Revision for NExt and USMLE

An important requirement of subjects in MBBS is revision, and due to the vast syllabus in subsequent years, it is not possible to read entire textbooks again.

Therefore there are books available which are concise, containing all important points for competitive exams and very easy to read. I have listed some of the best ones for both NExt and USMLE below:

1. Review of Physiology by Soumen Manna

I used this book for revising physiology and found it very useful

Content is very organised and summarized.

Practice questions after every chapter for NExT preparation

2. BRS Physiology

This book is considered as the very best book for revising physiology for USMLE, and also in general.

The content is very organised.

A chapter can be finished in just a few hours.

Though lacks some topics according to Indian epidemiology.


Guys, I have shared all the important books for physiology that I felt were useful.

If you feel you know of any book which is good or might be helpful to others, do share it in the comments section below and I will try to include it in the post as well. 🙂

There are also other resources available, such as Marrow, Prepladder, and Kaplan notes which might be useful if you are using their videos as well.

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