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Everyday Heroes: If You Like Adam Kay, You'll Love These Professional Memoirs

Posted on 7th July 2020 by Mark Skinner

From medics to teachers, and firefighters to the police, we are becoming increasingly fascinated by memoirs of professional and public life, with their insights into unique working environments and often hilarious, sometimes profoundly moving anecdotes. We have pulled together a broad range of books covering diverse occupations, perfect for fans of Adam Kay's This is Going to Hurt or the Secret Barrister.     

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This is Going to Hurt was the sleeper smash of last year and now medic and comic Adam Kay returns with more jet-black anecdotes about life on the wards. Mordantly hilarious and occasionally heart-breaking, Twas the Nightshift Before Christmas is a celebration of the hard-working heroes of the NHS and their wonderful gallows humour.
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Former Waterstones Book of the Year-shortlisted The Secret Barrister unmasked the corruption and deficiencies of a broken British legal system, and now Fake Law exposes the lies and misinformation spread by those who would seek to keep the general public in ignorance of their rights.
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Interrogating perceptions of ageing and theories of medical progress, Being Mortal is both a touching medical memoir and an eye-opening history of our ever-changing relationship with death.
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Taking the reader through ten of the most contentious crimes in contemporary society, Sutherland reveals what really goes on in police stations and on the beat up and down the country. Presenting a side of the police force that many never get to see, Crossing the Line is a riveting document of law enforcement.

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Clarke’s former career as television journalist ensures that this blistering polemic about the state of the NHS and the treatment of junior doctors is written in powerful, pitch-perfect prose. A searing indictment of the way successive governments have treated their frontline medical staff, Your Life in My Hands excels in finely-wrought testimony and cogent argument.
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With gripping vividness and heartfelt compassion, Critical explores the daily reality of those working at the frontiers of healthcare. Dr Matt Morgan’s perceptive account of his experiences as an intense care unit doctor is a resounding reminder of the fragility and value of life, filled with moving stories of survival, loss and hope.
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Compelling and inspiring, Nazir Afzal’s memoir charts the life of one of Britain’s foremost criminal prosecutors – from his youth in 1960s Birmingham to a remarkable career bringing justice to the victims of heinous crimes.

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Former nurse Christie Watson draws back the bedside curtain on 20 years of care in this masterfully written memoir born both of love for the profession and concern at society's attitude to those who need it most. From agonising sorrow to empathetic camaraderie, it's an account that's both immersive and humbling.
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From Afghanistan to Libya, Sierra Leone to Haiti, surgeon David Nott stood amidst trauma and bloodied chaos to deliver extraordinary care, often at astonishing personal risk. By turns vivid, haunting and humbling, this is personal storytelling at its most visceral; offering a reasoned, angry, undaunted view of a world in conflict in stark contrast to one man’s exemplary courage and compassion.
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A thoroughly humbling, eye-opening account of the unimaginably difficult decisions that fire-fighters need to make on a daily basis, under the most unforgiving circumstances. Cohen-Hatton, who has worked in the fire service for eighteen years, explores the responsibility of choosing the strategy for confronting the blaze and who will carry it out.
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A fascinating, heart-warming and frequently hilarious memoir of life as an NHS general practitioner, Khan’s riveting account of patient consultations is a profoundly revealing portrait of healthcare in twenty-first century Britain. Perfect for fans of Adam Kay and Joanna Canon, The Doctor Will See You Now is non-fiction in the rudest of health.
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Laying bare the emotional and physical toll of the medical profession Joanna Cannon’s heart-rending memoir of life as a junior doctor is a shocking and disturbing read. Balancing the compassion and commitment of those who work in the NHS with the appalling overwork and disillusionment that has become their reality, Breaking and Mending is an urgent, powerful read.
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A polemic against the narrow-minded, objective-driven goals of current teaching - and the hurdles engaged children face in a system rigged for the average - Clanchy's award-winning book possesses an almost missionary zeal to embolden state school children toward greatness.
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Deeply fascinating, ethically profound and elegantly written, Do No Harm charts Henry Marsh’s career as one of the world’s leading brain surgeons, and the issues and experiences that have informed his professional development. A classic of the medical memoir genre, Do No Harm is a compelling glimpse inside the mind of an extraordinary individual.
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A fascinating, detailed and humane exploration of the lessons the dead can teach us, All That Remains crackles with mordant wit and bracing wisdom. Penned by a leading professor of anatomy and forensic anthropology, this is a rich, utterly absorbing window on an astonishing world.
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Following in the footsteps of Adam Kay and The Secret Barrister, Pettigrew documents a world of obnoxious neighbours and damaged individuals in an entertaining and informative account of his career as a much-harassed anti-social behaviour officer.
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By turns moving, astonishing and life-affirming, Leah Hazard’s insightful memoir offers key insights into the highs, lows and labour pains of modern midwifery. Anyone who has watched an episode of Call the Midwife will know that it’s not a job for the faint-hearted and Hazard’s account brings home how much more taxing it has become in an era of NHS cuts and stretched resources. An important and h
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As engrossing as any fictional whodunit, this uniquely powerful account of the life of a forensic pathologist puts the mystery of unexplained death front and centre. Through notorious and neglected cases that he has worked on, Shepherd reveals the methods of his trade, the emotional toll of his work and the crucial importance of his calling.
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One of the most recognisable faces on television news, Maitlis proves a delightfully witty and engaging navigator through the twists and turns of the broadcast media game. Brimming with behind the scenes gossip and fascinating TV trivia, Airhead is an addictive, one-sitting read.
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Amidst a growing catalogue of medical memoirs, Seven Signs of Life stands out as a brave, luminously written testament of personal experience and deeply affecting wisdom, gleaned from the life-and-death frontier of Intensive Care. Insightful, moving and never less than human, as a senior clinician writing in the Irish Times puts it, ‘if [Aoife Abbey] is representative of an emerging generation of
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One of the most poignant meditations on mortality and terminal illness ever written, When Breath Becomes Air is the record of the last 22 months of neurosurgeon Kalanithi’s life. Deftly identifying universal truths amidst emotional devastation, this is a profoundly rewarding read and a medical memoir to savour.
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