If you haven’t read Adam Kay’s first memoir, This is going to hurt, I would implore you to read, or even better listen to the audiobook (read by him!), during your lifetime.

This mini-memoir is a series of experiences as a junior doctor over Christmases between 2004 and 2009, which is equally as jolly as his first book – but not in the way you may think!

T’was the Nightshift Before Christmas is Kay’s festive hospital diaries from working the UK’s ever busy NHS, many of which he worked on Christmas Day. Even though this can probably be read during your lunch hour, it is packed with anecdotes, sarcasm and witty humour from his time of working to the wire, sacrificing family time, his own and a social life.

Whilst Kay evokes dry wit and backhanded comments about past patients and the overall treatment of the underfunded NHS, he perfectly balances this with the sensitive subjects of his time working in gynaecology.

I don’t want to get too political, but we see on the news often enough at how overwhelmed, understaffed and underfunded the NHS is. Yes, public sector workers receive decent pensions, but that isn’t without their cut of you, long hours, nasty patients and very uncompassionate bureaucratic heads. Whilst I cannot relate to working in the NHS, I can relate to working in a dated, bureaucratic organization (work experience), yet I cannot begin to imagine actually working on the front line of the NHS.

But why do they stay if it’s so stressful? you may ask. As well as sharing stories of patients getting mars bar wrappers, Christmas lights and whatever else stuck up their whatsits, Kay reveals people do it because they care. It’s what they train for. It is a talented, specialised profession – but it’s just that: workers are then not qualified for much else.

It is a great book. A fantastic memoir and an eye-opener into our brilliant NHS, something I don’t think any of us will ever realise how lucky we are to have.

We must give credit, share our thanks and enjoy time with loved ones. Don’t think of someone being a ‘flaky friend’ if they need to cancel because their job could mean helping someone between life and death.

Working in such jobs means NHS workers barely have time “to have a sandwich or shit” (honestly, this tickled me so much when I read it, how childish).

In the hour or so I consumed this mini-memoir, I loved every second of it.

As other reviewers like The Times, The Sun, Daily Mail, The Independent and more have said, I quite simply agree it is:


Praise for Adam Kay.

Rating – 5/5

Genre – humour, biography

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