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Welcome to 97-hour weeks. Welcome to life and death decisions. Welcome to a constant tsunami of bodily fluids. Welcome to earning less than the hospital parking meter. Wave goodbye to your friends and relationships . . .


Welcome to the life of a junior doctor.


Scribbled in secret after endless days, sleepless nights and missed weekends, comedian and former junior doctor Adam Kay’s This is Going to Hurt provides a no-holds-barred account of his time on the NHS front line. Hilarious, horrifying and heartbreaking by turns, these diaries are everything you wanted to know – and more than a few things you didn’t – about life on and off the hospital ward. And yes, it may leave a scar.

Sat here in my unicorn onesie, after a hard day shelving books at the library, I can honestly say I couldn’t really relate to most of this book. But I think that was the point. It shocked, surprised and kind of grossed me out at times. The most I could relate to this book was the conclusion that people do surprising (and sometimes stupid) things.

This book was written for a reason – to show the nature of what being a junior doctor is like, in a personal, this-job-is-ruining-my-life diary. And I can honestly say it did its job. There has been lots of this kind of literature before, but the one thing that made it stand out to me was that it was also funny. Although dealing with blood, gross bodily fluids and injuries – Adam Kay managed to make me laugh. I just hope that doesn’t say something about me more than this book.

I’m not sure that I can say that I enjoyed reading it though, in the same way that I don’t think I could say iI enjoyed reading The Diary of Anne Frank or When Breathe Becomes Air – it wasn’t exactly a cosy read – but I’m so so glad I read them.  So glad that I’ve gained the knowledge and experiences of that certain person that I would otherwise have no idea about.

The diary format made it feel like you were really getting to know Adam and his life, even though all the names etc were changed. I would have loved a follow-up, more information about the foreboding aftermath of that pinnacle moment, the way he got his life back on track, the re-build after the choices he made.

I love it when a book creeps up on you and unexpectedly changes your viewpoint or opinion and This is Going to Hurt (a great name I may add) is one of those books.

A librarian’s list of recommendations:

When Breathe Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

The Man that Mistook his Wife for a Hat by Oliver Sacks

Fragile Lives: A Heart Surgeon’s Stories of Life and Death on the Operating Table by Stephen Westaby