Home Reviews & Recommendations This Is Going To Hurt Review : A Painfully Good Read

This Is Going To Hurt Review : A Painfully Good Read

by InvisiblyMe
Photograph of the book to the left, and a blue stripe on the right, with a black box and white text to read "Read & reviewed, 5 stars, a painfully good book'

There has been quite a lot of hype about This Is Going To Hurt, but at first I wasn’t sure that I wanted to read it. Firstly, things rarely live up to the hype. Secondly, I feel I’ve had enough of doctors, the NHS and hospitals to last me a lifetime. Of course, curiosity eventually got the better of me, and I’m glad it did because I loved it! It’s not easy for a book to make me laugh but this really tested by bladder control.

What’s It About?

This Is Going To Hurt : Diaries of a Junior Doctor – by Adam Kay

Adam Kay spent 6 years in training and 6 years on wards in NHS hospitals, with some private work to supplement his shifts on occasion. This book makes use of notes he made in his log journal, which is something that doctors are advised to complete as part of their ‘reflective practice’. What you get in this book are basically diary entries over a few years of his works in NHS hospitals.

We’re taken through his journey as a House Officer, his three posts as Senior House Officer, the four posts as Registrar, then Senior Registrar, and finally the “aftermath” as he hangs up his stethoscope.

When he became an SHO (Senior House Officer) he decided to specialise in obstetrics and gynaecology. This is where the bulk of the book is focused.

The layout of the book is noteworthy. As he recounts his tales on the ward, he uses an asterisk here and there throughout the book, so you’ll find a tiny star or two on most pages. At the bottom he elaborates or explains the point.

The cover of This Is Going To Hurt.

The author makes note of a few pertinent things around that time (2010 and the years prior) that affected the NHS, like the European Working Time Directive. He mentions the Health Secretary (with a clear tone of distaste that I also share) but no names. Of course, more recent events happening in the NHS are not covered and the use of technology is rather outdated when you read this because, as noted, this reflects working practices typically 10 years or more ago. Nonetheless, it’s still very relevant now and I imagine a lot hasn’t changed all that much, or has changed for the worse, where junior doctors are concerned.

He covers, in less detail, some aspects of his personal life outside of the hospital, so we also learn a little of how the job impacted his social life and relationships.

This Is Going To Hurt : Review & General Thoughts

Kay writes intelligently, confidently and concisely, making this an absolute joy to read. It’s easy to keep turning the pages, even when you’re cringing, crying with laughter, or horrified by the gross parts.

The layout of the book is distinctive, and I like the use of asterisks to provide further explanation, an anecdote or a punchline to the story. I tended to read the text at the bottom as soon as I spotted the asterisk, but some might find it easier to read it at the end of the page rather than have to search for where you left off afterwards. The format is memorable and works really well without resulting in disjointed momentum as you read.

His observations and comments are abrasive, cutting and insightful. You learn a lot so by the end of the book I felt more educated in the working of both gynae and the NHS. I like that Kay doesn’t hold back; he’s honest and open, even when it’s politically incorrect and a little risqué. It’s eye-opening and thought-provoking, but it’s not too angering. I thought I might end up more enraged with every page, but the humour off-sets this very well.

We learn more about the working patterns, shift hours, expectations put on doctors, wages. We discover the myriad of conditions patients present with. We read of how things can go very wrong, how things can go miraculously well, and everything in between.

Thankfully, Adam doesn’t reflect the experience I, and many of us, have had with doctors and surgeons. He actually sounds like a very efficient, thorough and compassionate doctor. It gives us hope there are indeed good ones out there!

His insights as to how the role impacted his life and how the demands of a being a junior doctor also affects the lives of the patients were both eye-opening and distressing. Yes, there are enviable and sometimes eye-watering pay rates for some Senior Registras and various other specialists, but is it worth what doctors have to go through in the years prior? It’s not surprising many staff walk before they get there. These are things that need to be said and appreciated. I hope the NHS trusts and bosses and all the highly paid staff in suits who make the decisions without having to live the consequences read this book.

A photo I've taken of the book This Is Going To Hurt against my swallow-patterned duvet cover.

He’s sharp as a scalpel with his humour. I was so surprised by this, partly because I didn’t anticipate it being a funny book, and partly because I very rarely find books funny when others do. I don’t want to cover any examples here as I don’t want to ruin anything.

It’s smart, sarcastic and serious, all rolled into one. There was a laugh on most pages, so be warned if you have a weak bladder.

I’ve also included this in my gift guide for book recommendations.

About The Author

Adam first worked for several years as a junior doctor, then went on to becoming a writer for film and TV. With this debut bestselling book he’s also made himself into a comedian, and he has taken to doing live talks in the UK this year.


It’s perhaps unsurprising that this has won various awards, including a triple winner of the Specsavers National Book Awards 2018. It was a Sunday Times Number 1 Bestseller for a record breaking and impressive 42 weeks. Apparently there’s also talk of the BBC making this book into a comedy-drama.

There’s also a heck of a lot of praise, and various quotes can be found within the first few pages of the book, including :

“Revolting, uplifting… but also devastating” – Daily Telegraph

“Hilariously gruesome” – Sunday Times (Humour Book of the Year)

“So funny and important it should be given out on prescription” – Guardian

I’d absolutely agree with it being a gruesome, hilarious and important read. It really is one I think you need to read for yourself to fully appreciate its impact.

Find It

Who’s the book for? I would be inclined to say anyone and everyone of an adult age, but those with ‘white coat syndrome’ (aka severe fear & hate of all things medical and hospitals) may not be able to stomach it too well. It’s a great gift idea, too; I’ve bought this for two people and they’ve absolutely loved it. It’s surprising in the best possible way.

Would I recommend? Absolutely! ★★★★★

This is available as a Kindle ebook, audiobook, hardback & paperback.

Available on Amazon UK / Amazon US / The Book Depository (free worldwide delivery)

Have you read This Is Going To Hurt? Is it on your TBR? I’d love to know what you think!

Caz  ♥

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Elaine August 31, 2019 - 4:14 pm

John and Catherine have read this book and enjoyed it, we also got Johns son a copy as he was just completing his final year of becoming a doctor ????

InvisiblyMe September 1, 2019 - 5:12 pm

Glad John & Catherine enjoyed it, but John’s son may be horrified of his career path when he reads it! ???? Have you read it yourself? xx

Ashley August 31, 2019 - 4:32 pm

Sounds like a very refreshing book!

InvisiblyMe September 1, 2019 - 5:25 pm

That is definitely is indeed! x

Marilyn Long August 31, 2019 - 5:59 pm

Hi Caz,
Love your review – it’s spot on the money!
My husband & I had seen Adam Kay in Dictionary Corner of 8 out of 10 cats DC a couple of times and so knew something of what to expect. Absolutely did not disappoint. Despite being an Eng Lit grad (including Masters) my illnesses have caused me to be unable to read for many years. This book I read to my husband (it’s a ‘tradition’ we’ve arrived at to read to each other after lunch) and it gave me so much confidence. That’s real medicine. I would prescribe this book if I had the power. ????‍⚕️
Gave the book to our elder son to read and would totally recommend it to anyone. Should come with a health warning though as a few diary entries are definitely not for the faint-hearted. ????

InvisiblyMe September 2, 2019 - 3:51 pm

Oh wow, do you mean you saw that live? I’m sorry you had been unable to read; reading for me is like a sanctuary and respite, so I can imagine it being saddening (understatement) to have had that taken away too. It’s great you & your husband enjoyed this, and hopefully your son will love it just as much. Is really is such a breath of fresh air, isn’t it? You’re right about needing that warning ????Thank you for the great comment! xx

Sandee August 31, 2019 - 6:55 pm

Great review.

Have a fabulous weekend. ♥

InvisiblyMe September 2, 2019 - 3:52 pm

Thanks, Sandee! I hope you have a great week ahead, and a great September, too! Where’d the time go? ???? xx

Terri, Reclaiming HOPE August 31, 2019 - 9:29 pm

This sounds interesting Caz! I may have to give it a read if I ever finish my continuing ed reading…. Thanks for giving me another book to add to my TBR list!

InvisiblyMe September 2, 2019 - 3:56 pm

It’s definitely interesting, and even though I wasn’t really sure what to expect, this still came as a complete surprise. Sorry for adding to that growing TBR list! I hope you’re getting on okay with the continuing ed reading, and that you’re keeping as well as possible, Terri  ♥ xx

jorja August 31, 2019 - 11:57 pm

I heard about this book awhile ago and thought it sounded funny, but then couldn’t remember what it was called! – it sounds like my kind of read, ‘politically incorrect and a little risqué.’ haha! great review –

InvisiblyMe September 2, 2019 - 4:18 pm

I’ve done that too many times, thinking about trying/reading/watching something then totally forgetting what it was called! It’s definitely a refreshing book & one I’d highly recommend. Totally not what I’d expected. I hope you love it if you check it out too! Thanks for the comment – have a lovely week! ????

Darnell September 1, 2019 - 12:55 am

He sounds like one of the good ones which is a rare find. Great review Caz.

InvisiblyMe September 2, 2019 - 4:26 pm

Absolutely, a rare find indeed. How’re you doing, Darnell? I hope this week is a good one for you! ???? x

Michelle September 1, 2019 - 1:05 am

This sounds like a really good book!! I’ll have to check it out. My mom would really enjoy this, too. Great review!!!

InvisiblyMe September 2, 2019 - 4:53 pm

It really is brilliant, and such a pleasant surprise! I hope you love it too if you check it out, and your mom. Thanks, Michelle – I hope you have a lovely week ahead  ♥ xx

Debbie Jones September 1, 2019 - 1:17 am

I remember hearing Adam interviewed on the radio about this book, & thought it sounded great. Good to know it is independently! Thank you, Caz..I must put it on my “to read” list!

InvisiblyMe September 2, 2019 - 5:37 pm

I can imagine that being an interesting interview. Even though I wasn’t really sure what to expect exactly, it still surprised me – I’m so glad I read it. I’ve honestly never read anything as funny in my life, but it’s also poignant & insightful so it’s an engaging mix throughout. I hope you love it if you read it too, Debbie! Have a lovely week ???? xx

wendi September 1, 2019 - 5:53 am

thank you Caz, for another enjoyable review! I so enjoy reading every review you do!

InvisiblyMe September 2, 2019 - 5:37 pm

Aw I’m so glad you like my reviews, that means a lot – thanks, Wendi! I hope you have a good week ahead, and I also hope that September is a good month for you too!  ♥ xx

Sherry September 1, 2019 - 7:33 am

I preordered it on Amazon US. Love your review.

InvisiblyMe September 2, 2019 - 5:39 pm

I’m really pleased you liked the review, thank you, Sherry! It’s great (and quite rare) when you find something so good that you can’t wait to share it – I hope you love it too when you get to read it! Have a good week ahead  ♥ xx

Louise September 1, 2019 - 9:19 am

I knew the author name sounded familiar, it’s the same guy who wrote and sang a couple of parody songs back in 2005, as well as some songs criticising the medical profession! (Quite funny, but also quite edgy and rude!) I didn’t realise he’d written a book too, sounds interesting 🙂

InvisiblyMe September 3, 2019 - 3:27 pm

Ooo I didn’t realise that! I’ll have to Google it and see what I can find. It’ll probably be the case that I’ve heard one of the songs before but never knew it was him. How interesting, thanks! The book is brilliant, I’ve honestly not laughed so much in absolutely ages. I hope you’re having a good week, Louise, and that Merlin is behaving himself! ????

Louise September 5, 2019 - 8:48 am

You’re welcome, you may have heard them, I think they were quite popular at the time 🙂 I could do with a funny book, and since I have to read autobiography for university anyway I think this’ll be the perfect place to start, so thanks for recommending it 🙂
Merlin’s such a mischief, his latest thing is hiding in carrier bags ^^”
Hope your week is going well too! xx

Janet Gogerty September 1, 2019 - 12:27 pm

I would certainly like to read this, we have four medical people in our family though no surgeons. I still remember the Australian ( dishy ) doctor who did my first caesarean; I also had a little audience of students. In hospital we have no choice but to trust the hands we find ourselves in and fortunately most of the time all goes well, but from tonsils out to babies; there is always a nasty nurse on the ward amongst the wonderful staff!

InvisiblyMe September 3, 2019 - 3:32 pm

I hadn’t realised you had so many medical folk in your family, Janet, I wonder what they’d think of this book? You’re right about having to trust the hands we find ourselves in when it’s crunch time, and you’re absolutely right that there’s always at least one nasty nurse among the staff! I’ve seen the ‘nightmare nurse’ on the wards of my local hospital a couple of times now after A&E admissions; she comes across all smiley and I’ve honestly never seen anyone so phoney baloney, she’s a horror! ???? As for the book, I can honestly say I’ve not laughed so much in a long time, so I hope you enjoy it if you do give it a go! Thanks for the great comment lovely xx

Jenny September 1, 2019 - 3:11 pm

Such a good review!! I remember my Dad (retired GP) saying he was keen to read this, but I don’t know if he has yet. I’ll tell him to hotfoot it and then borrow it after him! As an ex-NHS worker, I am unfortunately aware of the downsides. I love the idea of the humour in this book too 🙂

InvisiblyMe September 3, 2019 - 3:54 pm

It would be interesting to know what he makes of it as a previous GP. I think you’ll love it Jen, it really does give the chuckle muscles a workout! ???? I hope you have a good week lovely xx

Nyxie September 1, 2019 - 3:15 pm

I’ve been wanting to read this for a while now and keep seeing it in Lidl every time I’m in. You have no changed my mind about that and I’m afraid I’ll need to go on a book hunt!

InvisiblyMe September 3, 2019 - 4:36 pm

I had no idea Lidl sold books! I thought the Amazon & Book Depository prices were pretty good, I wonder how the price compares with Lidl? I’m so glad I gave in and read it because it really was brilliant, I don’t think I’ve laughed that much in ages! I hope you love it too if/when you give it a go. Have a good rest of your week lovely ????xx

Kymber Hawke September 1, 2019 - 6:11 pm

This is a great review! I hope you’re having a wonderful weekend, Caz. xo

InvisiblyMe September 3, 2019 - 4:39 pm

Aw thanks, Kymber! I quite enjoy doing reviews, especially when it’s something I’ve tried/read and literally can’t wait to share it! I hope you have a good week lovely ???? xx

Kim September 2, 2019 - 4:56 am

Terrific review! I believe this is my most favorite to date. I’m going to HAVE to get this book. Eventually. Lord, I have five on my nightstand calling out to me… ????

InvisiblyMe September 3, 2019 - 4:41 pm

That’s made my day, thanks, Kim! Really glad you liked the review, I enjoyed writing it as I couldn’t wait to share more about the book. I think (hope) you’ll love it too, it definitely gives the chuckle muscles a workout! Sorry for adding to your ever-growing book pile ???? xx

Jo September 2, 2019 - 3:45 pm

Sounds interesting. Great review.

InvisiblyMe September 4, 2019 - 2:54 pm

It really is, it’s certainly a pleasant surprise! Thanks, Jo. I hope you’re having a good week so far x

Gemma Orton September 2, 2019 - 3:54 pm

I enjoyed this read too! It made me consider the ‘other side’ of being in hospital. The stress, the hours, the sadness. As you say, it also makes you realise there are great doctors out there. Maybe there would be more if they had the time to get to know us.

InvisiblyMe September 4, 2019 - 3:02 pm

Getting that other perspective is important, and you’re right, maybe if they weren’t so stressed and exhausted there would be more doctors. There are also too many that appear to be in the wrong profession, like nurses who don’t like people and surgeons who only care about money not patient safety, but that happens in all walks of life and career paths. Thanks for the comment, Gemma, glad you liked the book too! ???? xx

Jo Moss September 2, 2019 - 4:08 pm

Great review. I loved this book too, much more than I expected to.

InvisiblyMe September 4, 2019 - 3:03 pm

It’s definitely one of those pleasant surprises when you read it, especially if you’re not sure what to expect. Glad you liked it too! I hope the week is treating you kindly so far, Jo xx

Rosie September 2, 2019 - 10:17 pm

I absolutely LOVED this book! It had me in hysterics, but it also brought home the pressures that junior doctors – and, I would imagine, any staff on the front line of the NHS – face on a daily basis. Glad you enjoyed it, Caz! There’s a sequel coming out later this year (October, I think), and I’m looking forward to getting my hands on a copy!

InvisiblyMe September 4, 2019 - 3:06 pm

Woohooo, another fan! It really is brilliant, isn’t it? And yes, I spotted that there was going to be a sequel – how exciting! That gives us both something to look forward to ???? Have a great rest of your week, Rosie xx

Michele Anderson September 2, 2019 - 11:18 pm

Sounds like a great book. Thank you Caz 🙂

InvisiblyMe September 4, 2019 - 3:42 pm

It really is, I’m so glad I read it as I honestly don’t remember the last time I’d laughed so much! It’s great when you find something you can’t wait to share so I hope others can enjoy it, too. Is it one you’d want to check out, Michele? Thank you for the comment & I hope you have a lovely rest of your week ???? xx

Alice September 3, 2019 - 1:47 pm

I’ve seen the book but haven’t read it. Thanks for the review on it and it’s kind of nice to see another side of medical that people normally don’t see.

InvisiblyMe September 4, 2019 - 3:48 pm

I’d seen it around a lot too and eventually curiosity got the better of me, which is a good thing as it turned out to be brilliant. Definitely gives your chuckle muscles a work out ????Do you think you’d want to check it out? I hope you love it too if ever you do! xx

Despite Pain September 3, 2019 - 2:32 pm

Great review, Caz. I think I’d enjoy this book. I was an NHS employee for 10 years before retiring. Would be good to read the ‘behind the scenes’ views from the author.

InvisiblyMe September 4, 2019 - 3:51 pm

I think there will probably be points in his observations you could agree with from your own experience, and if nothing else it’s an incredibly funny book to give your chuckle muscles a thorough workout! I hope you love it too if you do decide to check it out at any point, I was pleasantly surprised by it. Have a lovely rest of your week, Liz, and thank you for the comment ???? xx

Chocoviv September 4, 2019 - 11:23 pm

Sounds great!

InvisiblyMe September 5, 2019 - 3:02 pm

It really was, sounds like there are already quite a few people here who’ve read it and agree, too! Thanks lovely, have a good rest of your week ????

Rachel, The Invisible Hypothyroidism September 5, 2019 - 11:39 am

I’ve had this in my ‘to-read’ list for ages, so maybe I’ll get around to actually reading now! Thanks for the review. I didn’t expect it to be funny either, so that’s good to know.

InvisiblyMe September 5, 2019 - 3:04 pm

Same here – I don’t really know what I expected as I knew so little about it, but I’d still say it’s nothing like what I’d expected. Such a good read, I hope you give into the curiosity too, I think you’ll like it, Rachel! It gives the chuckle muscles a workout ???? xx

Brigid Gallagher September 5, 2019 - 2:19 pm

Sounds like a very interesting read Caz. I really enjoyed your review. I will look out for it.

InvisiblyMe September 5, 2019 - 3:07 pm

I’m glad you liked the review, thanks, Brigid. It’s a surprising read, so I hope you love it too if you decide to check it out in future! ???? xx

Holly September 5, 2019 - 8:15 pm

You always write the most brilliant reviews! You leave us on the edge of our seats, hanging on to your every word. Have you ever thought of writing a book yourself? 🙂 You should! It’d be a best seller I do believe.

This sounds like a really interesting read, for sure. When it comes to the medical community, there is never a shortage of stories to be told. Some glorious. Some disastrous. (To be honest, especially by those of us who have been on the patient side!)

Once again, you knocked it out of the park. Keep shining brilliantly, dear Caz ♥ You’re awesome

~ Holly xoxo

InvisiblyMe September 14, 2019 - 3:01 pm

Aw thanks, Holly, I’m so glad you liked the review! I’ve wanted to write a book since I was much younger, but never have I got further than the thought of it, so it’ll be one of those dying dreams I think ????You’re absolutely right, there’s a never ending supply of stories in the medical world, and I think this has spurred quite a few other medics to do their own take on this book.. will be interesting to see what else hits the bookshelves. Thanks so much for the wonderfully kind comment! I hope you’re keeping as well as possible & having a restful weekend  ♥ xx

Susie September 6, 2019 - 2:09 am

Oh I haven’t heard of this book! It sounds like a good read! Thank you for sharing your thoughts – I am going to check it out now 🙂

InvisiblyMe September 14, 2019 - 2:58 pm

It’s definitely one that I’m so glad I read so I hope you love it if you check it out too! Thanks for the comment, Susie, have a lovely weekend ????

Priscilla Bettis September 6, 2019 - 10:58 am

I have heard of this book but didn’t know what it was about. Smart-funny is my fave kind of funny. It keeps your brain interested.:-) It sounds like it’s emotionally tough in places, too. Great review!

InvisiblyMe September 14, 2019 - 2:57 pm

Absolutely, smart funny is definitely a winner in a book. Like you, even though I’d heard of this book I I hadn’t a clue what to expect from it so it was a very pleasant surprise! So glad you liked the review, and thank you for the comment! ????x

da-AL September 6, 2019 - 10:30 pm

tx for the heads up. are you on goodreads?

InvisiblyMe September 14, 2019 - 2:56 pm

I hope you love it if ever you get to check it out, too. I think I do have an old Goodreads account actually… I’ve never used it though!! xx

Alyssa September 9, 2019 - 3:46 am

Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this book. I love reading a good book and value your opinion.

InvisiblyMe September 14, 2019 - 2:55 pm

Aw you’re welcome, I really enjoy finding something so good I can’t wait to share it with others! Hope you’re managing okay this week lovely xx

Stacey Chapman September 11, 2019 - 1:04 pm

Thanks Caz!! Great review, I’m going to order this now. I love to read, but always have difficulty finding good books.

InvisiblyMe September 14, 2019 - 2:53 pm

I love finding a good book & being able to share, so I realllllly hope you like this one if you do check it out! ???? xx

The Bookish Romantic September 16, 2019 - 5:16 am

Sounds like a good read. Glad you enjoyed it. Great review!

InvisiblyMe September 17, 2019 - 8:06 am

Definitely a good read, surprisingly so! Have you ever come across it before? It’s one of those where a lot of people (myself included) hear about it but don’t have a clue what it’s really like until you give it a go. Very glad I did. Thanks for the lovely comment – I hope you’re having a good week so far! xx

Marian Allen September 25, 2019 - 12:01 pm

You wicked, wicked woman! BOUGHT!!! He has a new one, still in hardback, which I’ll look for when it comes out in paper: ‘TWAS THE NIGHT SHIFT BEFORE CHRISTMAS http://bookshow.me/1529018587 (That link will take you to the Amazon store of your country.) Thanks for the recommendation. 🙂

InvisiblyMe September 25, 2019 - 4:55 pm

I hope you love it as much as I did, and apparently so many other readers have, too! Thanks for the read & comment, Marian, and for the link to the new book – I’ll be picking that one up in paperback, too. Looking forward to seeing what else he has up his sleeve! I hope you have a lovely rest of your week ???? xx

carol hannah September 27, 2019 - 1:19 am

Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this one. I absolutely loved this book and there certainly is much more going on behind the scenes. I was a Mental Health nurse/manager in a busy London Borough and because I’ve kept fifteen years diaries which are full of nursing tales. I’m writing my blog at the moment but would dearly love to turn it into a book. Any advice is welcome. Carol 🙂

InvisiblyMe November 9, 2019 - 4:30 pm

Oh wow, that would be incredible – while I’m obviously not telling you what to do, do it! ????You write intelligently while being down to earth and approachable, so I think you could do a brilliant job turning your experience into something that can be shared with the world. I’m not sure I have any advice; I’m one of those always-wanted-to-write-a-book kind of people who’ve never written a thing. Would you want it to be comical, like Kay’s offering, or more informative? You already have your first advanced-booking reader – Me! xx

Annika Perry November 9, 2019 - 6:47 am

I was given this book last Christmas and at first wary. A book like no other. Your thoughts capture the essence of the book perfectly. The humour off-setting the serious subject matter. I came away heartened by the courage of the staff on the ‘frontline’ of the NHS, doing so well, in spite of the lack of support from above. The relentless nature of the job, learning and leading as you go was an eye-opener, as was his stint in obstetrics! I’m just glad I’d had my son before reading this. At one stage I was in tears!

InvisiblyMe November 9, 2019 - 4:25 pm

Tears of laughter or horror, Annika? ????Glad you thought my review covered the essence of this rather weird and wonderful book. It really does blend reality and insight with humour so well, doesn’t it? Thank you for your comment! xx


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