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When you’re in medical school either studying to be a nurse or doctor, you’re going to be learning all about these complex organs and systems in everyone’s most favorite class — Anatomy & Physiology.

For a class that explores the ins and outs of the human body, you’re going to need a solid Anatomy & Physiology textbook – not just any old tome. You need the best one with the most detailed explanations and beautiful illustrations plus charts, graphs, diagnostic images, and more.

There are a lot of Anatomy books out there to choose from, so to save you some time, we researched all of the top-rated offerings that not only give you everything you’ll need for class, but that also give you some nice extras.

So here you go: The Top-Rated Anatomy & Physiology Textbooks And Atlases For Medical And Nursing School.


Anatomy And Physiology Books For Nurses


Human Anatomy & Physiology (11th Ed.)


This textbook is one of the best anatomy and physiology books for nurses, across the board.


Human Anatomy & Physiology 11th Edition


What makes it a great choice for every nursing student because even though it is very comprehensive, it is easy for everyone from new students to soon-to-be grads to understand. You get all the definitions, clinical scenarios, and explanations with the tools to help you develop your critical thinking skills.

What many nursing students liked about this textbook was that it is very well organized and easy to understand because it’s written in a conversational style. They include things like concept overviews, chapter roadmaps, figures, tables, and reviews that really help you form a good overall understanding of Anatomy & Physiology.

Cons: it’s a lot of written info, so if you learn by doing (kinesthetic learning) why not try the Netter’s Anatomy Coloring Book Updated Edition.


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Thieme’s Anatomy – An Essential Textbook


This Anatomy & Physiology textbook isn’t quite as comprehensive as one like Grey’s Anatomy, but it is just right for nursing students. It’s a lot easier to handle at about 500 pages and reads more like an in-depth review.


Thieme’s Anatomy - An Essential Textbook


You still get all the information you need for class with great illustrations. You get charts and diagrams plus Clinical Boxes throughout the book that put everything you’re learning into hands-on relevance to what you’re doing. Another plus is the USMLE questions.

All in all, it’s just the right size and coverage for nursing students with more than enough information to get you all the way to graduation at an affordable price.

Cons: if you prefer a book with beautiful artwork, try the Atlas of Human Anatomy, Professional Edition.


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Best Anatomy And Physiology Book For Medical Students


Gray’s Anatomy For Students


Possibly the best anatomy and physiology book available. Gray’s Anatomy For Students is one of the standards of Anatomy & Physiology textbooks. You get more than 1,000 pages of in-depth comprehensive knowledge, facts, and data from leading teachers and experts in the field.


Gray’s Anatomy For Students


The illustrations are meticulously drawn and very lifelike. One of the best features are the detailed case studies that really help to teach the finer points of understanding. You get charts, illustrations, diagrams, X-rays, CT-scans – the works.

All around, this textbook sets the standard for any Anatomy & Physiology class whether you’re studying to be a doctor or nurse.

Cons: there is a lot of information here, so if you need something more bite-sized, try Human Anatomy & Physiology (11th Ed.),


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Essentials of Anatomy and Physiology


This time-tested and updated A&P textbook is thorough, easy to read, has great illustrations, and written in a very student-friendly manner. What stands out is the clear and concise writing that simplifies the more complex concepts which makes it easier and faster to read.


Essentials of Anatomy and Physiology


With the quizzes and concept reviews at the end of each chapter, you’ll be able to ensure that you’ve fully grasped each of the systems and their relation to clinical practice.

Cons: if you want more of everything, go with the comprehensive Gray’s Anatomy For Students.


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Famous Anatomy Books


Atlas of Human Anatomy, Professional Edition


If you’re looking for famous anatomy books, try this one. An industry leader for Anatomy & Physiology, the Netter Atlas of Human Anatomy, Professional Edition is comprehensive, full of beautiful illustrations drawn by physicians, and has lots of extras.


Atlas of Human Anatomy Professional Edition


It is probably one of the best-selling textbooks in its class – with good reason. The author of the book, Dr. Frank Netter is world-renowned for his medical illustrations, but you’ll also get medical paintings from equally famous Dr. Carlos A. G. Machado.

Not only do you get hundreds of stunning medical illustrations, but you also get a downloadable image bank. All of the information is easy to go through as it’s grouped by region. Other tidbits include radiologic images, system overviews, and clinical tables.

This is a book you’re going to keep for the rest of your career if anything just to appreciate the art.

Cons: if you’re a more kinesthetic learner, while this does have great illustrations, have a look at The Anatomy Coloring Book.


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Moore’s Clinically Oriented Anatomy


Need a medical anatomy book or anatomy book for medical students? This is your pick.


Moore’s Clinically Oriented Anatomy


With a clinically-oriented approach, this Anatomy & Physiology textbook is another famous book used by medical students around the world.

Moore’s Clinically Oriented Anatomy gives you more of a clinical focus as it relates to the interpretation of diagnostic imaging and physical diagnosis. So the benefit you get is in how the anatomical information is applied in real-world practice. It also covers general surgery and emergency medicine.

What sets this textbook apart is the way it applies the knowledge it’s teaching you to actual practice and how you will be using the data in the real world.

Cons: has good illustrations, but if you want stunning medical illustrations, try the Atlas of Human Anatomy, Professional Edition.


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Best Anatomy Coloring Book


The Anatomy Coloring Book


If you like learning by doing, The Anatomy Coloring Book (4th Ed.) is the top-selling book on the market.


The Anatomy Coloring Book


Learning by doing, or kinesthetic learning is a great way to engage multiple parts of your brain to increase comprehension and improve memory formation. Plus, it’s a great way to de-stress from all of the studying.

You get 162 pages of intricate anatomical drawings to color, each grouped by body region. The color-key system is a clever addition that really helps you to make the associations in your head.

You have two options – paperback and spiral bound. But most people found that the spiral-bound was better because you could open it up better to get a flat surface to work with.

Cons: not a textbook or review guide, so if you need a more comprehensive textbook, go with the Essentials of Anatomy and Physiology.


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Netter’s Anatomy Coloring Book Updated Edition


Brought to you by the same award-winning medical illustrator Dr. Frank Netter, the Netter’s Anatomy Coloring Book lets you be the artist while learning about the body’s various systems. Just like our other anatomy coloring book, this is perfect for kinesthetic learners who learn best by doing.


Netter's Anatomy Coloring Book Updated Edition


The illustrations are detailed and precise. Each of the body systems are done in an overlay, so it’s like doing a virtual dissection as you color.

This is the perfect companion book to the Netter Anatomy & Physiology textbook. A great little addition is the quizzes at the end of each section to test your knowledge and the color-coded groupings.

Cons: it only comes in paperback, so if you’d prefer a spiral-bound option, try The Anatomy Coloring Book.


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Guidelines On Selecting The Best Anatomy Books


While every one of these Anatomy & Physiology books has everything you need for medical and nursing school, you still need to take a few things into consideration before buying.

Tips for buying your Anatomy & Physiology Textbook:


Determine Your Education Level

What do we mean by this? Well, if you’re in nursing school you won’t need an Anatomy & Physiology book that’s quite as in-depth as someone in medical school. You can choose one that’s written in easier to understand language and focuses more on the general concepts.

So in short, you don’t have to buy more textbooks than you need.


Choose An Author That Suits Your Learning Style

Some people learn by listening (auditory), some by doing (kinesthetic), or some by seeing (visual). If you know what learning style suits you best, you can choose a book that’ll really cater to the way you process information. For example, if you learn by doing, try one of the Anatomy & Physiology Coloring Books.


Ask For Anatomy Book Recommendations

Ask for a recommendation – it’s tried and true buying advice. If you know a doctor or nurse, ask them what they used, or you can just ask a senior student. It’s always best to talk to people who’ve used a product before you jump in and make the purchase.


Features To Look For In The Best Anatomy And Physiology Book


So what kind of features go into the best Anatomy & Physiology textbooks? Here’s what you should look for:

colleagues studying anatomy

Does It Have Photographic Images And Great Visual Experience And Vocabulary?

The visual aspect of Anatomy & Physiology books is probably the most important. Does it include intricately-detailed, rich color illustrations of each body part? Without that, the book is lacking

Many books offer interactive materials like photo libraries and quizzes you can either download or use online. That’s a definite plus too.


Is It Mainly Focused On Contextual And In-depth Study Material?

Some books really focus on the concepts with lots of written material, charts, and diagrams. Those are very helpful to the person who learns by reading.

But if you are more visual, consider an Anatomy & Physiology book that has more illustrations and artwork.


Does It Have Companion Products To Enhance Your Learning?

A few textbooks have companion materials like illustrated guides and flashcards. If you want to really add another dimension to your learning, a good recommendation is always a flashcard deck. You can carry them anywhere, have a quick review anytime and they help with memory building.


Frequently Asked Questions:


What Is The Best Way To Memorize Anatomy?


There is no best way because everyone learns differently. You may like taking notes or coloring a diagram of the heart. But one method that many people like to use, especially for medical school, is flashcards.


Is The Gray’s Anatomy Textbook Accurate?


Yes, in fact, the Gray’s Anatomy book is one of the most comprehensive A&P books out there.


Which Books Are Best For MBBS 1st Year?


You want a book that’s got all the information you’ll need from your first year to the last – Moore’s Clinically Oriented Anatomy will get it done.


What Are The Best Anatomy Flashcards?


Flashcards are an excellent way to learn and memorize complex subjects. You can try these anatomy and physiology flashcards.


Are Anatomy Coloring Books Helpful?


Yes, especially if you’re a kinesthetic learner – someone who learns by doing. Even if you learn better another way, they’re a great way to relieve stress and anxiety.




Anatomy and Physiology isn’t a course for the weak or lazy. There’s a lot to learn. The body is an amazingly complex collection of cells, organs, and systems. Learning how to identify them, learn how they function, and what happens when they’re not functioning correctly requires a textbook that’s going to break all that in-depth info into digestible bits.

But if you’re still unsure, you can’t go wrong with our top 3 picks:

To find the book that meets your needs whether you’re going to be a nurse or working toward your M.D. In the selection above you have stunning artwork, tons of clinical data, and all at a price that won’t cost you an arm, a leg (or circulatory system).

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