5 Best microbiology books for medical students (reviewed)

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Microbiology is one of the necessary pre-clinical courses, which is all about the different human infectious agents and the diseases they cause. 

A good textbook can come in handy to help you get a good grasp on the subject.

I used both Murray’s medical microbiology and Lippincott’s microbiology during my studies and I highly recommend them (links to Amazon). Murrays are the most extensive of the two, but both cover all you need for your average medical microbiology course.

Continue below to read my full review of both books, as well as other popular options.

Before we get started, remember that the subject is thought differently between universities. Thus, you should consult your university’s book recommendations. Even so, the books listed here should cover everything required for the average medical microbiology course.

If you want to know more about the process I used to evaluate these books. Read my article about evaluating medical textbooks.

Murray medical microbiology

Considered by many medical students to be the best medical microbiology textbook on the market. This book covers everything you need for your microbiology course in a detailed manner.

Although it may be a little detail-heavy for quick revision, students generally praise its in-depth information. This makes it a great reference textbook to use in addition to lecture material.

In addition to its level of detail, the book is known for its comprehensive tables and frequent use of high-quality pictures and illustrations. These are available to download for use in presentations and/or notes from its online picture bank.

You can gain access by using the student consult package which is included when purchasing the book. This package also features a question bank to use for easy repetition (USMLE).

It does not include immunology in the same way as the Lange book. However, it separates itself from both Lippincott and Lange by having more information about laboratory microbiology.

This includes laboratory testing, cultivation, and diagnosis. This is helpful as it is included in most microbiology courses. The book is now printing in its 8th edition and is sure to serve any med student well during their microbiology studies.

Be sure to check it out yourself by clicking this link to go to Amazon. Here you can get a preview of the book as well as check out its current pricing.

Lange: Review of medical microbiology and immunology

Like Lippincotts, it is branded as a review book. The reality is that it is an extensive textbook spanning 800 pages. Also, it covers both medical microbiology and immunology.

The majority of the material is about medical microbiology. This section has everything you need to know about the general and clinical aspects of human infectious agents.

The section on immunology is shorter but gives you a high yield summary for your immunology course.

The book’s presentation of extensive amounts of material in a high-yield fashion makes this a great resource for your class.

When combined with lecture material, it should be more than enough to enable to you get a thorough understanding of the subject.

Although the presentation is high yield, the text can be a little lengthy for last-minute USMLE memorization.

For this, you can consult the book’s concise, high-yield summaries in the back of the book. This section includes helpful vignettes and diagnostic tables as well as USMLE practice questions.

The book is a part of the Lange textbook series, published by renowned medical publisher McGraw Hill. It is available in its 15th edition and is worth considering when getting a microbiology book for med school.

To help you decide, click this link to get a preview of the book as well as see its current price on Amazon.

Clinical Microbiology Made Ridiculously Simple

This book from the made ridiculously simple book series is one of the most popular review books for medical microbiology.

Despite being a review book, many students refer to it as a hybrid between review-book and a textbook. Some even use it as their sole textbook, combined with lectures and other course material.

The book has a straight-to-the-point presentation, and students praise the way the material is broken down to make it easier to understand.

Also, it uses amusing, cartoonish illustrations and funny mnemonics to make the material lighter and more enjoyable to study.

Despite being geared towards the board exam, students also use it to study for the USMLE Step 1.

Although I never used it myself, it comes highly recommended by med students all across the globe. It is currently being printed in its 7th edition in book stores and online.

Click this link to get a first-hand look into the book as well as check out its current price on Amazon. Here you can also read many reviews from tons of satisfied students.

Lippincotts Microbiology

Although branded as a review book, it is actually a pretty extensive textbook. It covers everything you need to know on over 400 pages.

This includes general concepts, as well as most of the human infectious agents (bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites).

The material is well written and presented methodically. In this way, it covers all you need to know about the microbe being presented. The typical presentation is as follows:

  • Species
  • Characteristics
  • Clinical relevance
  • Treatment and prevention

It also employs neat color coding to help you distinguish between the different microbes.

The book comes from the Lippincott’s illustrated reviews book series and is now in its 3rd edition. I think this book provides everything you need to excel in this subject.

In combination with lecture material, it was my go-to source during my microbiology course. Which was rather extensive, being actively taught over 2 semesters.

My opinion is that this book should be one of your options when getting a textbook for your medical microbiology class.

You don’t have to take my word for it. You check it out yourself by clicking this link to go to Amazon. Here you can get a preview of the book and see its current pricing.

Sherris Medical microbiology

If you enjoy using large, heavy textbooks when studying, Sherris medical microbiology is right for you.

This extensive book is an in-depth presentation covering all aspects of medical microbiology needed for a med-school course.

It is hard to make an all-inclusive book in such a broad field readable. However, Sherris does a pretty good job. For this reason, many students find it to be very helpful as a go-to reference textbook.

A great thing about this book is that it has a methodical way of presenting the topics. Most topics are presented in the following fashion

  • Pathogen list
  • Overview
  • Marginal notes
  • Think and apply
  • Key conclusions

This template is actually highlighted in the beginning of the book to help guide you on how to use the book most efficiently.

You can check it out yourself by clicking this link to head over to Amazon. Here you can get a preview of the book as well as check out the current pricing.


I firmly believe that you only need 1 textbook, along with the lecture material to crush microbiology in med-school.

To help you make the right choice for you, make a shortlist with your options. Then take a little time to evaluate them and go with the one you think will suit you the best.

I hope this article helped you on your quest for finding the microbiology book that is right for you. If you found this article helpful, or if you have any other suggestions, comments, or inquiries you can let me know by sending an email which can be found on our about page.