Public Health Reading List

This reading list is intended as a supplement to more official public health module reading recommendations.

The original list has been improved significantly thanks to a number of generous twitter contributors and my thanks go out to Harry Rutter, Mark Petticrew, Ash Paul, Piers Simey and Anne Murphy for getting involved.

If readers of this list have any other titles that they think might be suitable additions then I would encourage you to let me know via twitter (@benjanefitness) or by email (

(update...4/11/16...thanks to all of those that RT'd this tweet and further thanks to the following people that also contributed to this list...@rkfmiller @jonny1990 @C_rouzell and @sridhartweet. Check out Sridhar's complementary list here as well) (further updated June, 2018)

The List*

Antanovsky, A. (1987). Unravelling the Mystery of Health. Jossey-Boss

Boseley, S. (2014). The Shape We're in: How Junk Food and Diets are Shortening Our Lives. Faber & Faber.

Carson, R. (2002). Silent spring. Penguin Classics

Cederström, C., & Spicer, A. (2015). The Wellness Syndrome. John Wiley & Sons.

Colgrove, J. (2011). Epidemic City: The Politics of Public Health in New York. Russell Sage Foundation.

Dorling, D. (2015). Injustice: Why social inequality still persists. Policy Press.

Farmer, P. (2004). Pathologies of power: Health, human rights, and the new war on the poor. Univ of California Press.

Freudenberg, N. (2014). Lethal but legal: corporations, consumption, and protecting public health. Oxford University Press

Garrett, L. (2003). Betrayal of trust: the collapse of global public health. Oxford University Press

Goldacre, B. (2010). Bad science: quacks, hacks, and big pharma flacks. McClelland & Stewart.

Halpern, D. (2015). Inside the Nudge Unit: How small changes can make a big difference. Random House.

Johnson, S. (2006). The ghost map: The story of London's most terrifying epidemic--and how it changed science, cities, and the modern world. Penguin.

Keshavjee, M. S. (2014). Blind spot: how neoliberalism infiltrated global health. Univ of California Press.

Kessler, D. A. (2001). A question of intent: A great American battle with a deadly industry. Public Affairs.

Kidder, T. (2003). Mountains beyond mountains: healing the world: the quest of Dr. Paul Farmer. Random House

Marmot, M. (2004). Status Syndrome: How Your Social Standing Directly Affects Your Health and Life Expectancy. Bloomsbury

Marmot, M. (2015). The health gap: the challenge of an unequal world. Bloomsbury Publishing.

Meadows, D. (2012). Thinking in systems: a primer. Chelsea Green Publishing Co

McCartney, M. (2016) The State of Medicine: Keeping the Promise of the NHS. Pinter & Martin

Moss, M. (2013). Salt, sugar, fat: how the food giants hooked us. Random House.

Nestle, M. (2015). Soda politics: taking on big soda (and winning). Oxford University Press, USA.

Oreskes, N., & Conway, E. M. (2015). Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming. London: Bloomsbury

Palmer, G. (2009). The politics of breastfeeding: when breasts are bad for business. Pinter & Martin Publishers.

Pinker, S. (2014). The village effect: Why face-to-face contact matters. Atlantic Books Ltd.

Pisani, E. (2010). The wisdom of whores: Bureaucrats, brothels and the business of AIDS. Granta Books.

Quinones, S. (2015). Dreamland: the true tale of America's opiate epidemic. Bloomsbury Publishing USA.

Rayner, G., & Lang, T. (2012). Ecological public health: reshaping the conditions for good health. Routledge.

Rhodes, J. (2013). The end of plagues: the global battle against infectious disease. Macmillan.

Roberts, I., & Edwards, P. (2010). The energy glut: the politics of fatness in an overheating world. Zed Books Limited.

Scheidel, W. (2017). The great leveler: Violence and the history of inequality from the stone age to the twenty-first century. Princeton University Press.

Schrecker, T., & Bambra, C. (2015). How politics makes us sick: Neoliberal epidemics. Springer.

Shilts, R. (2007). And the band played on: Politics, people, and the AIDS epidemic, 20th-anniversary edition. Macmillan.

Stephens-Davidowitz, S. (2017). Everybody lies: big data, new data, and what the internet can tell us about who we really are. HarperLuxe.

Thompson, M (2016) Enough Said: What's gone wrong with the language of politics? Bodley Head

Thaler, R. H., & Sunstein, C. R. (2008) Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness. Penguin

Wilkinson, R., & Pickett, K. (2010). The spirit level: why equality is better for everyone. Penguin UK.

Wilkinson, R., & Pickett, K. (2018). The Inner Level: How More Equal Societies Reduce Stress, Restore Sanity and Improve Everyone’s Wellbeing Allen Lane

* There are plenty of good textbooks around and my institutional reading lists include many of these. This list is intended to be a list of affordable, readable titles that can inform and educate across a range of public health sub-disciplines.

* Many of the titles on the list are relevant and contemporary yet there are a few older titles that have earned their place by being recommended or repeatedly cited as being important in the field.

* I haven't read all of them, part of the purpose of creating this list was to build my own reading wishlist. I hope you find it useful, too.

Popular Public Health Books on goodreads

Original Post date: 02-Nov-2016