Best Books for Microbiology -Textbooks and Paperbacks

We are here to review some of the best books for microbiology students! Microbiology explains the scientific study of tiny, microscopic life forms. A microbiology textbook is essential for any biology major, science lover, pre-vet student, or pre-med student. The following list contains a variety of microbiology textbooks that will be helpful to any student trying to learn about the subject of microbiology understandably.

Most college-level microbiology classes require you to take one-year introductory biology for majors and one-year college chemistry before enrolling in a microbiology class. You will need to grasp essential terms and concepts before jumping into a college-level microbiology class.

In addition, microbiology is at the forefront of the One Health movement. Moreover, many students enrolled in the Cornell University vet program are studying the One Health movement with plans for changing the world! Pick one of our books and get reading!

Clinical Microbiology Made Ridiculously Simple – Best Books for Microbiology

by Mark Gladwin and Bill Trattler

Clinical Microbiology Made Ridiculously Simple
  • Gladwin M.D., Mark T. (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 448 Pages - 09/15/2021 (Publication Date) - MedMaster (Publisher)

The book is so well organized after each section, you will feel like you have a strong grasp on the subject matter. The author uses Illustrations throughout the bookmaking learning easier on oneself. Meanwhile, the mnemonic devices help you retain what you learn in each paragraph; there’s also some witty writing which keeps you entertained until the end!

Read this book before you take any medical microbiology class, and you will have a firmer grasp of the material. You can also read this book to review your medical school board exams.

By reading this book, you will be able to gain a basic understanding of microbiology before you dive into an upper-level micro class.

Prescott’s Microbiology – Microbiology Textbook

by Joanne Willey, Kathleen Sandman, Dorothy Wood

Prescott's Microbiology
  • Hardcover Book
  • Willey, Joanne (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 1104 Pages - 01/02/2019 (Publication Date) - McGraw Hill (Publisher)

Prescott’s is one of the best textbooks for microbiology; even in my undergraduate class, this was our leading textbook. It will provide you with a good understanding of the essential topics you need to know in a microbiology class, regardless of whether you are a biology or microbiology major.

Like with many of the other best microbiology books, it goes through an introduction on the cell structure of microbes, then each chapter brings you into more advanced topics. Some of the chapters include microbial metabolism, microbial genetics, microbial diseases, and the last chapter even has a section on the microbiology of food.

Whether you plan on becoming a zoo veterinarian or working in a lab, microbiology is one of those topic you will need to master.

“The Subject of animal disease and the subject of human disease are, as we’ll see, strands of one braided cord”

David Quammen (Spillover)

Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic – Best Books for Microbiology

by  David Quammen 

Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic
  • Used Book in Good Condition
  • Quammen, David (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 592 Pages - 09/09/2013 (Publication Date) - W. W. Norton & Company (Publisher)

Read this book! Spillover is completely captivating, and it’s one of those science books you won’t want to put down. Throughout history, animals and humans have shared zoonotic infections. The Spillover book is right on point in light of the COVID-19 omicron surge we are experiencing right now. 

“Spillover” is one of those books that will blow your mind with its insight on new emerging pandemics and how some diseases go from being strictly zoonotic to becoming human pathogens. It also makes you think about what we need to do to proper surveillance against these new emerging diseases.

In addition, Spillover is excellent for anyone majoring in science or just a science lover. Everyone who wants to know more about pandemics and insights into stopping them from spreading will enjoy this book.

After reading this book, you fully understand all of the zoonosis diseases we face, like the AIDS epidemic, COVID-19, influenza, West Nile, Rabies, Lyme disease, and so many more. For example, when we deal with zoonotic infections, you will learn how they are much harder to control and eradicate because the pathogen can still incubate within other species and return as a mutation.

I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life

One of the Best Microbiology Books!

by Ed Yong

I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life
  • Yong, Ed (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 368 Pages - 01/16/2018 (Publication Date) - Ecco (Publisher)

We strongly recommend this book for any student wanting to learn about the world of microbiology. It’s hands down one of the best books for microbiology.

Accordingly, we find microbes in every animal, from humans to squids. They help us stay healthy and give our body parts their unique functions! This book takes you on a journey through the fantastic world of microbes with stories about how they impact people’s lives.

Ed Yong takes readers on a tour through the microbes that make up the human microbiome while introducing readership about scientists who study this field. Readers will discover the vastness of what the human microbiome entails and how it influences small and significant aspects of people’s lives.

Microbial diversity, genetic information, functions, and role in animal life are explained throughout this book with real-life examples that edify concepts for readers as they read along.

He also uses some fantastic figures to explain microbe diversity and function.

Brock Biology of Microorganisms

An Awesome Introduction to microbiology book!

by Thomas D. Brock, Michael T. Madigan, John M. Martinko

Brock Biology of Microorganisms (14th Edition)
  • Mastering Biology Access Code Included, Completely brand new.
  • Hardcover Book
  • Madigan, Michael T. (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 1032 Pages - 01/12/2014 (Publication Date) - Pearson (Publisher)

With this textbook, you will get all of the information you need to get an “A” in most undergrad microbiology classes. It’s definitely high on our list: Best Books for Microbiology! All of the authors have degrees in microbiology, and they all specialize in different areas of the subject.

We appreciate how thoroughly the book begins with many chapters on microbes, going through them in detail before moving on to medical implications. The book has excellent diagrams which complement the written word, allowing you to fully grasp and understand the concepts by looking at the photos.

microscope in a research microbiology lab

Sherris’ Medical Microbiology

One of the best Medical Microbiology Books!

Sherris Medical Microbiology, Seventh Edition
  • Ryan, Kenneth (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 1056 Pages - 01/04/2018 (Publication Date) - McGraw Hill / Medical (Publisher)

The parasitology section of this book is outstanding! We recommend getting it if you are interested in parasites and their life cycle. There are a few disadvantages of this little textbook. The most significant one is the lack of references and bibliography for additional reading, which is a significant fault.

Although limiting the book’s size was probably done to conserve space, this approach is highly uncommon in a scientific book. The failure to provide suggested readings also prevents interested readers from discovering additional reading sources.

However, we like how they separate the chapters into five parts: an introduction, pathogenic viruses, pathogenic bacteria, pathogenic fungi, and pathogenic parasites.

Overall the book is an excellent introduction to the many pathogens that a microbiology student will need to study, including many parasites.

Jawetz, Melnick, and Adelberg’s Medical Microbiology

Jawetz Melnick & Adelbergs Medical Microbiology 28 E
  • Riedel, Stefan (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 880 Pages - 08/30/2019 (Publication Date) - McGraw Hill / Medical (Publisher)

This medical microbiology is a comprehensive study guide for all of the main topics in medical and veterinary science. If you need to take the USMLE (the United States Medical Licensing Examination), this is a good microbiology textbook for your preparation. The USMLE generally follows this book closely when they put out the questions on the exam.

Remember that this is an advanced microbiology book, so before reading this book, it’s probably a good idea to read through one of the other undergrad microbiology textbooks.

The book starts with a short introduction before going into the different topics. It also includes a very comprehensive index that can come in handy when you’re stuck on one of the many microbiology exams.

Finally, we like the practical approach that this medical microbiology book takes as it goes through the major microbial pathogens and infections disease from beginning to end.

This book covers everything from going over bacterial structures and cell cycles to chapters on immunology and how the body responds when an infection occurs.

More importantly, the textbook contains specific examples of bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites. However, there are even whole chapters dedicated to common types of bacteria and treatment options for infections in humans and animals.

Lastly, this medical microbiology book gives you everything you need to get an excellent grade in your microbiology course. It is no surprise that many medical schools recommend this book to their students.

Review of Medical Microbiology and Immunology

by Warren Levinson, MD, PhD

Review of Medical Microbiology and Immunology, Sixteenth Edition
  • Levinson, Warren (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 864 Pages - 04/22/2020 (Publication Date) - McGraw Hill / Medical (Publisher)

One of the best books for microbiology because it discusses acute infectious diseases using an organ system approach. The book gives you everything you need to prepare for the USMLE exam and clinical aspects of bacteriology, virology, mycology, parasitology, and immunology. Lastly, be aware that this is a review book and not the complete textbook you would use for a class.

Additionally, this is the ideal reference for any physician, including those in training and those already working in clinical practice.

More importantly, we love the tables summarizing the need-to-know topics in the best microbiology textbook.


by Lansing M. Prescott, John P. Harley, Donald A. Klein

  • Hardcover Book
  • Prescott, Lansing M. (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 992 Pages - 03/02/2004 (Publication Date) - McGraw-Hill Science/Engineering/Math (Publisher)

A great introductory but comprehensive microbiology textbook. It starts with the basics and slowly builds upon itself to an advanced level of microbiology. If you’re reading this book, then it’s safe to say that you want to learn more about the world of microbes and how they affect your everyday life, which is why this book may be perfect for you!

This microbiology text has excellent reviews and high ratings by students worldwide on Goodreads.

This textbook is for introductory microbiology classes, and it also discusses the relationships of each microbe and disease. Additionally, it makes an excellent undergrad microbiology textbook.


by Nina Parker, Mark Schneegurt, Anh-Hue Thi Tu, Brian M. Forster, Philip Lister

Microbiology by OpenStax (Official Print Version, hardcover, full color)
  • Hardcover Book
  • Nina Parker (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 1315 Pages - 11/01/2016 (Publication Date) - XanEdu Publishing Inc (Publisher)

An excellent microbiology book for non-biology majors. Many nursing majors use this book for a single semester microbiology class. They also offer a free kindle version. Additionally having multiple case studies sprinkled throughout the book comparing and contrasting different kinds of bacteria/viruses/fungi is very helpful.

If you are not a microbiology major but studying animal behavior, check out our animal behavior textbooks list.

More importantly, the book covers all the main topics you will need to know for any college microbiology course. It also includes a separate section on global public health, microbial genetics, how pathogens cause diseases as well as many other infectious agents like bacterial and viral pathogens.

Can A Microbiologist Be Called A Doctor?

Yes, if a microbiologist gains a Bachelors’s degree, then a master’s degree, and finally a Doctoral degree. Microbiologists are medical doctors, too, if they go through medical school either before or after specializing in microbiology. To note often, a microbiologist is a doctor who works in a lab and specializes in studying microbes, bacteria, viruses, fungi, etc…

Can a microbiologist work as a doctor?

Yes! Many microbiologists are also medical doctors. Microbiologists are researching the spread of bacteria in hospitals, vaccines to protect against disease spreading, and much more! Although usually, they obtain a Masters’s or a PhD alongside their MD degree.

Can a microbiologist work as a lab technician?

Yes, most lab technicians need at least a bachelor’s degree, although many laboratories want you to have a Masters’s or Doctorate. To illustrate if you are a microbiologist, you will have all of the skills necessary for working in a lab. You may even be able to land an undergraduate position in your college’s laboratory.

What does a microbiologist do?

Microbiologists research tiny organisms such as bacteria, viruses, algae, fungi, and some types of parasites. A microbiologist also studies how these organisms interact with the environment and our bodies. There are many diseases associated with microorganisms, and a microbiologist may dedicate their career to the study of one specific microorganism like

Are viruses studied in microbiology?

Yes, the study of viruses is one of the main topics within microbiology study. All books for microbiology will cover viruses in depth.

How to become a veterinary microbiologist?

More info and application materials can be found here

Path 1

Step 1 is to graduate from veterinary school with a DVM degree.

Step 2 is to pass your national board exams – NAVLE.

Step 3 is to complete 104 weeks of training in a microbiology program.

Step 4 passes the General Microbiology Exam given through ACVM.

Path 2

Step 1 Graduate from a dual DVM PhD program with an emphasis in veterinary microbiology. Must receive a “B” or better in over 50% of the microbiology courses.

Step 2 Must pass the General Microbiology Exam given through ACVM.

Path 3

Step 1 The candidate must have a Master’s degree in veterinary microbiology.

Step 2 Must be in structured clinical training programs like a residency program in clinical veterinary microbiology. Or gain other experience relevant to veterinary microbiology, which equals or exceeds the experience of a candidate who has completed a Ph.D. degree.

Step 3 Must pass the General Microbiology Exam given through ACVM.

Path 4

Step 1 Earn a DVM or VMD degree

Step 2 Have sufficient professional experience in microbiology and have the same amount or more experience as someone who has a PhD.

Can I become a veterinarian after a BSc in microbiology?

Yes, you can! You will need a DVM degree to practice as a vet, which means you must attend veterinary school.

Why is microbiology essential to the dental assistant?

A dental assistant needs to understand how infectious diseases can spread via blood or saliva. Microbiology focuses on the microbes, bacteria, viruses, and other infectious agents that can cause illness.

For dental assistants to avoid spreading infections in the dental office and elsewhere, they must know how contagious diseases spread.  Most dental assistants are also responsible for disinfecting surfaces and sinks between patients.  Therefore, understanding microbiology concepts will allow a dental assistant to not contribute to the spreading of germs.

Do microbiologists work with animals?

Some microbiologists that are studying zoonotic diseases may work with animals. Some microbiologists may work with wild animals collecting samples of blood and saliva to research and test for microbes. In addition, some veterinary microbiologists will undergo an intensive training program to become certified in the field.

Is parasitology part of microbiology?

Yes, all of the best microbiology textbooks will have a few chapters on parasites. The different branches of microbiology include mycology, virology, microbial genetics, parasitology, and bacteriology.

10 Career Ideas for a Microbiologist

There are many different careers that a microbiologist can have. Some of these include:

1. Medical doctor – Research

2. Veterinarian – Research or Professor

3. Research scientist

4. Clinical laboratory scientist

5. Food scientist

6. Biomedical engineer

7. Geneticist

8. Microbiologist

9. Immunologist

10. Public health official

What Is A Best Book for Microbiology And Why You Should Read One

Since we live in a time where we are experiencing a global pandemic due to microbes, becoming more familiar with microbiology topics is essential. You can either get the best microbiology textbook or just a microbiology book, like “The Hot Zone” or “I Contain Multitudes.”

You must know the different kinds of pathogens causing diseases. Often, a microbiologist focuses on studying one specific microbe at a time and learning about its disease-causing potentials and metabolism.

By understanding microbiology topics, you will be more fit to prevent or fight infections occurring in your environment. However, you may be more prepared to face the next pandemic if you read a book like the one we recommended above: Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic.

The Different Types of Best Books for Microbiology

  • Microbiology textbooks for undergraduate students are the microbiology books students use in their undergraduate courses. However they are usually necessary and helpful when you are working through your course curriculum.
  • Microbiology textbooks for graduate students – These are the books that future scientists will likely use in their studies at a higher level of depth and detail than an undergrad book would cover.
  • Microbiology paperback books. Primarily many of these are by a scientist or journalist who has a particular interest in a topic, like the books Missing Microbes, Spillover, Rabid, and more.

4 Benefits Of Reading A Few Different Best Microbiology Books

  • You will be more prepared for your first microbiology class if you pick one of the books on our list and begin reading it a month before your first microbiology class.
  • Our “best microbiology books” list will help you become a better doctor if you plan to attend medical school.
  • You will become more intelligent and gain more knowledge of microbiology.
  • You are in graduate school for biology and need a few microbiology books as a reference.
  • As a journalist who finds themselves writing about the sciences, you will benefit from referencing one of the best microbiology books on our list.

5 Things That You Want in The Best Microbiology Book

  • Good clear photos.
  • Tables and charts.
  • The author has a knack for making the subject attractive.
  • The index is in alphabetical order, so you can easily find a topic.
  • The author has a degree in microbiology.

Final Thoughts on Best Books for Microbiology for 2022

Whether you are a student preparing for your first microbiology class or you are a journalist interested in writing about the sciences, there is the best microbiology book for you on our list. To illustrate each of these books offers something unique and exciting that will help you expand your knowledge on the topic of microbiology. So don’t wait any longer; pick up one of these books today and start reading!