Friday, February 10, 2017

Blogger's Desk# 11- Microbiology Textbooks

In a recent blog post, I had written about my picks of microbiology blogs of interest (Link). The post gained a lot of hits. I got a few communication suggesting other blogs that were good. The post was written in response to many readers asking what blogs out there I like and read. In similar lines, a question that I have encountered from a long list of students (who are just freshers into the medical microbiology), is what textbooks are recommended? Simplest answer, there is no universally recommended book.

There is no lack of microbiology texts available in print and Ebook. Each book have their own positives and drawbacks. There are also specialised textbooks that focus elaborately on a single topic. So it is unfair for me to give a graded list of 10 books that I consider as a must read. Considering a broad range of topics, and based on my experience of reading from multiple texts, I have compiled a list. I dont endorse any publisher or company and hence the list is my independent opinion. For the same reason I will not provide any links to publisher site or other sites selling the books. You know how to find if you want one.

1. General Microbiology
Key Author- Roger Y. Stanier

The first thing that you study when starting with microbiology is understanding the general concepts. I have strongly noted, especially among my students that the basic understanding of core microbiology concepts are very weak since a lot of medical microbiology texts dont have the luxury of going through basics, especially in detail. This books has excellent chapters on bacterial classification, structure and metabolism. 

Positives: The best part of this book is the  details of explanation and the range of details of covered.
Negatives: The down part is the book hasn't been updated in ages. It has been atleast 3 decades since this book has undergone revision. If you want to understand the classic microbiology, this is the go to book.

2. Prescott's Microbiology
Key Authors: Linda Sherwood, Joanne Willey, Christopher J. Woolverton

The book is an alternative for Stanier's microbiology and introduces the reader to basic concepts of microbiology. The book is well balanced with sufficient discussion and illustration alloted to basic topics. The book is considered by many as the "Bible of basic Microbiology". 

Positives: Excllent readability and ease of language. Everything that you need to know is covered.
Negative: Nothing that I can highlight.

3. Ananthanarayan and Paniker's Textbook of Microbiology
Key Authors: R. Ananthanarayan, Ananthanarayan And Paniker

This is a classic textbook of microbiology that most students (especially south east asian students) are most familiar with. The book has basically an excellent introduction to medical microbiology concepts. Though titled as Medical Microbiology, this book covers bacteriology and virology related to medical science. The book is basically a boiled down and extracted notes of medical microbiology. The matter cannot be reduced any further.

Positives: This book is inidispensable for first time learners of medical microbiology. You get all the basics in the simplest format.
Negative: Detailed explanation is lacking for a huge number of topics. The newer editions claim that the book has been revised thourougly, but in essence newer editions are simply old wine in new bottle.

4. Principles and Practice of Infectious diseases
Key Authors: John E. Bennett, Raphael Dolin & Martin J. Blaser

No other textbook in my view comes close to this book when you want to undersatnd Infectious diseases as a whole. The book has extremely elaborate details of everything you want to know about infectious disease and is the ultimate reference book for practising infectious disease specialist. Book comes as a two volume set. The editions are frequently updated and no information is out of date. 

Positives: Depth of literature and discussion.
Negatives: The book is so extensive and elaborate and is not the one of choice for very beginers. This is a book of choice for people who have some basic understanding of medical microbiology and what to get into details.

5. Parasitic Diseases
Key authors: Dickson D. Despommier. Daniel O. Griffin. Robert W. Gwadz

The book focusses on specially Parasitic diseases. In simplest words the book is concise, accurate and student friendly. Parasitology is not well discussed in a lot of microbiology book and hence this book is illuminating. The book doesnt get into any hefty details but gives sufficient understanding  of the concepts. Another reason to read this book is, its latest edition is available online for free download legally.

Positives: Excellent explanation and fanastic readability. Illustration of life cycle are simply excellent
Negatives: Nothing that I can highlight especially since its a free to read book.

6. Antimicrobial Susceptibility Testing Protocols
Editors: Richard Schwalbe, Lynn Steele-Moore, Avery C. Goodwin

I wouldnt want to highlight a specialised textbook, focussing on a single topic in this post since such books are bound to be detailed and carefully crafted. I want to make an exception in this case, since this is the only literature that I have ever found to give a detailed explanation of antibiotic testing protocols that is easy to read, understand and execute.

Positives: Point to point explanation.
Negatives: A book that focusess on Antibiotic testing protocols should have had atleast one small chapter on antibiotic basics.

7. Fundamental Medical Mycology
Key Authors: Errol Reiss, H. Jean Shadomy, G. Marshall Lyon

Quoting from a review by Thomas G. Mitchell "This complementary team has produced a highly readable and comprehensive book, which they intend to be a text for medical and graduate students, a resource for microbiology technologists, and a reference for physicians and researchers."

Positives: Carefull organisation and clarity of discussion
Negatives: Graphical appeal of the book needs improvement.

8. Koneman's Color Atlas and Textbook of Diagnostic Microbiology
Key Authors: by Washington C. Winn, Stephen D. Allen, Stephen Allen, William M Janda, Elmer W. Koneman, Paul C. Schreckenberger, Gary W. Procop, Gail L. Woods.

Understadning microbiology concepts is one side of the story, while the second being working in a Clinical diagnostic laboratory. This book is long considered as the definitive work in its microbiology dignostics field in all aspects of clinical microbiology- Bacteriology, Mycology, Parasitology, and Virology. The book is a reference for all the diagnostic procedure in Clinical microbiology and a must read book.

Positives: The best in diagnostic microbiology procedures
Negatives: Nothing that I can highlight.

9. Mackie & Mccartney Practical Medical Microbiology
Key Author: J G Collee

A classical book in diagnotic microbiology, is a microbiology text similar to Koneman's but not as elaborate but yet discusses the subject in detail. The book forms a preliminary read if you are getting into diagnostic microbiology. Most concepts are well explained.

Positives: Easy to understand concise discussion of diagnotic workup.
Negative: The book hasn't been revised or updated since 1980's.

10. Principles of Virology
Key Authors: Jane Flint, Vincent Racaniello, Glenn Rall, Anna Marie Skalka.

Virology is a field that is quite different from other and they are radically different. The concepts governing viruses is totally different and hence a good virology book helps a lot. I relied on Fields Virology, for a long time (and still do). In contrast, this book has a different approach to talk about virology and descriptions are with reference to modern molecular understanding. The clarity and simplicty of the book is very appealing.

Positives: Simplicity and ease to understand
Negatives: Nothing that I can highlight.