A lot of people are surprised by the fact that the material in medical school is not much harder than it was in undergrad, the difference is only the quantity. I was the kind of student that read textbooks from cover to cover in undergrad, but when I got to medical school I discovered that I simply did not have time to devote so much time to a single topic. I have become wholly dependent on the lecture notes and I think I have forced myself to become much more efficient as a result. So, should you buy the textbooks?
The short answer is of course, “It depends,” but the long answer is, “It depends on whether or not you are a sucker.” Just kidding—well, kind of.
I joke because I definitely am that sucker. I bought all of the textbooks that were required, and just about every single one that was only “recommended.” I figured I would rather be prepared, but as it turned out, I didn’t even open most of them. There were only 4 textbooks I actually used on a regular basis and they were 1) Clinically Oriented Anatomy, Moore, 2) Netter’s Atlas of Human Anatomy, 3) a health systems science textbook (my professor regularly assigned readings), and 4) an embryology textbook which I used only at the beginning and could have easily been replaced with an online counterpart. These books were helpful, but in a large part, I used them because I had them, not necessarily because they were indispensable. Before you spend hundreds of dollars on textbooks I would encourage you to check Access Medicine, a repository of free, online medical textbooks that your school will most likely give you access too, and to ask the upperclassmen at your school what you actually will need.