Books For First-Year MBBS: The Ultimate Guide

So, my friend, this is your first year at medical college. When I was one (which was not long ago), I was so confused and had no idea about what was going on. It was tough to figure medicine out in the first year. So, here am I to help you out on which books you should read in your first year of MBBS.

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The subjects of first-year MBBS course

According to the curriculum put forward by National Medical Commission (NMC), in India, we have anatomy, physiology, and biochemistry in the course syllabus of first year MBBS.

We have a competency-based educational pattern, which focuses on creating highly efficient medical graduates for future India.

The new syllabus consists of vertical and horizontal integration of subjects and some innovative study patterns. It will help students get out of the textbook-based learning into a more practical oriented one.

The right choice of textbooks in your first-year MBBS can really improve your subsequent medical life.

Let’s get down into the specifics.


Anatomy is the study of the structure of the human body. Here we learn about the bones, muscles, locations, organs, complex systems, and all. This is what we call the ‘gross anatomy.’

We also see all the vital nerves, blood vessels, and their course and distribution in detail. Don’t panic! We all learn these things eventually. At first, it will be difficult, but once we are into anatomy for some time, things get easier.

Along with the gross anatomy, we also have to study histology, embryology, neuroanatomy, and genetics.

Histology is the study of normal tissues at a microscopic level. We see and try to identify different types of cells in various tissues in our bodies. The slides of all the structures are already prepared, and they are available in the histology labs of medical colleges.

Embryology is the study of the development of a structure in the embryological period of a human’s lifetime.

Here we learn about the development of various organs and organ systems and their histological and anatomical aspects.

Neuroanatomy is where we study the brain, spinal cord, and all the nerves in the body. The brain is subdivided into various parts, and we learn all of them here. For example, we study the cerebrum, cerebellum, brainstem, thalamus, etc.

Genetics– aah, the good old genetics. This basically includes karyotyping, gametogenesis, chromosomes, mitosis, meiosis, and the disorders associated with them.
Nothing too complicated.


Then we come to physiology, where we learn about the functions of the organs and systems we’ve seen in anatomy. We study it under different organ systems.

For instance, there is a gastrointestinal system where we learn everything gut-associated. There is hematology which is blood-related, and so on.

Physiology is the basis of medicine, so it’s essential to learn this subject thoroughly for the proper foundation.


Biochemistry is a subject in most students opinion which is the least important of all the three first-year subjects. Although it is not that simple.

Here we learn the functions of cells at the molecular level. This requires a strong foundation in basic biology and chemistry, mainly organic chemistry.

The key to mastering biochemistry is repeated revisions, as it is a very volatile topic. It’s easy to master the concept, but don’t be too confident about it.


Textbooks for first-year MBBS: the complete guide

For every subject, a lot of textbooks from different authors are available. All of these medical books can be broadly divided into 2 categories: the standard books that are internationally accepted and books from local authors that are easier to read.

In 1sr year MBBS, standard books are hard to follow, but they are packed with concepts. The local textbooks are easy to read, but they lack clarity and concept most of the time and won’t help you for post-graduate studies.

I wouldn’t suggest picking only one local books. Instead, a combination of the two is the best.

First, start off with some local authors and once you are some distance into the subject, try the standard books. It will help you immensely with further studies.

Never stick to one textbook alone! This is the worst mistake you can make during your student life.

In medical college, we learn stuff as topics, not as textbooks.

You should be aware that there is no spoon-feeding you like higher secondary school or NEET entrance coaching.

So you should make sure that you are studying everything related to the topic, that too as much as you can.

Make sure that you are getting the latest editions of the required books.

Here are some books that I found helpful for first-year MBBS medical students:

Textbooks for Anatomy in MBBS

Gross Anatomy

The standard textbook for gross anatomy is the one and only Gray’s anatomy.

It has a student edition too. This textbook is the Bible of anatomy.

(It’s going to be a bit hard to follow Gray’s anatomy as a 1st year student)

Although this is a reference textbook for first-year MBBS students, you can follow it if you are interested.

For dissection, the textbook that is accepted by every professor ever there is Cunningham’s manual of practical anatomy. This book is packed with accurate images and dissection guides which will help you learn anatomy faster and better.

The local textbook for anatomy, which I would suggest, is Textbook of Anatomy by Vishram Singh. It has more illustrations that are simple to understand and study. The text is easy to comprehend too.

It’s latest edition has 3 volumes- upper limb and thorax, abdomen and lower limb, and head, neck and brain.

Although B D Chaurasia’s human anatomy is an equal choice for first-year MBBS students.

General anatomy

It’s simple and not a lot of topics, so a textbook from B D Chaurasia or Vishram Singh is enough.


The local textbook I would recommend is Inderbir Singh’s textbook of human histology. It has all the essential information a first-year medical student needs. An atlas is also included in the newer editions.
For references, you can check out these books:


The most simple version is the Textbook of Clinical Embryology by Vishram Singh, which presents all the critical points in straightforward language as the local edition. But the standard textbook that’s good to read is Langman’s medical embryology.

Halim’s Surface anatomy and radiology

This is a tiny topic included in all the textbooks, but you can keep this book for reference if you want.


Textbooks for Physiology in MBBS

Textbook of Medical physiology by Indu Khurana

This is the textbook that is well suited for exams. Every topic is explained under headings, which makes it easier to read and make notes.

Textbook of Physiology by N Geetha

This is another book that is also simple but packed with concepts. This book is ideal for an exam-oriented prep.

Ganong’s Review of Medical Physiology

This is the standard book that I would suggest for reference. You should read this one if you want to master the concept.

For practical physiology, you can follow a simple book from Ghai.

Textbooks for Biochemistry in MBBS

Lippincott’s Illustrated Review: Biochemistry

Lippincott’s is an excellent book, but I have only read minimal topics from it. My friends say that it is packed with lots of information.

Textbook of Biochemistry for Medical students by D M Vasudevan

For all Indian students, this is the book I would suggest for biochemistry. This is simple but elegant. All topics are CBME updated.

Biochemistry was never a stronghold of mine, so this book had immensely helped me pass the exams.
You can check out another simple textbook here.

That’s it! I have listed the essential books for MBBS 1st year medical students. Please keep in mind that these are just my personal suggestions. You can follow any advice that seems fit for you!

Oh, and please don’t forget to share this post 😇.

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