As I said in my last post, I had to spend about $1000 on books last summer, but they will be used for both years of nursing school. There were some optional books on that list that I didn't purchase, like workbooks that go along with some of the textbooks. Some people might find those beneficial, but there are only so many hours in the day that a person can devote to studying, especially with a husband, kids, and a house to take care of. I haven't found that there is enough time to read all of the required material for school, then put in more time doing exercises in a workbook. I'd rather spend the time watching a Youtube video about a specific skill than answer questions about it.
There are some extra books that I have purchased and found useful. The NCLEX is the exam that a graduate nurse will take to become an RN, and throughout nursing school, a lot of the exams that we take contain NCLEX-style questions. Most of the NCLEX study books that you can purchase have questions divided up by body system, so I have found it helpful to answer some of the questions from my review books that go along with the same thing that we are studying in lecture. Most of the books will come with a CD that contains questions that you can go through and answer. After you answer the question, it will give you the correct answer and rationale. I have purchased the Saunders book (recommended by my school), HESI (we take HESI exams almost every semester), and Hurst. I think Hurst is my favorite, because of the plain language that she uses in her book. If you have the opportunity to take a Hurst review course, I have heard they are wonderful.
In addition to NCLEX books, I have purchased several drug guides. They are all arranged differently, and some of them come with a CD, which is helpful when writing care plans. The reason I bought several was that none of them were Mac-compatible, and I was trying to find one I could use with my computer. The drug guide that I have ended up using the most is the one in the Nursing Central application from Unbound Medicine. I won a year's subscription on Twitter a few months back ($159/year), and have really found it helpful. I can use it on my iPhone, and that is one less book that I have to haul to clinical. It also has the Taber's medical dictionary on it, which is useful, too.
I had a hard time with writing care plans in the beginning, especially with the pathophysiology of the diseases. I bought a pathophysiology reference book that I really like; I went to Borders and looked through all of them before deciding on one. I also bought a care plan book, but haven't used it a whole lot since the first semester.
Fluid and Electrolytes was the hardest unit for most of us in my class, and a lot of students found this book to be helpful. I did, but didn't have a whole lot of time to look it over once I finally broke down and bought it. I had more time to look at it during Nursing 2, and it did help to explain things a lot simpler than my med/surg textbook did.
I took pharmacology online last spring, and our teacher simply forgot about us for weeks at a time. We had lots of notes and quizzes at the beginning of the semester, and then time would go by where there was nothing posted for the class. I didn't care much for the textbook, and there was no posted phone number to get in touch with the instructor. I made an A in the class, but came out of it feeling like I knew nothing. Pharmacology is an important concept that is going to be revisited all through nursing school, so make sure you have a better instructor than I did. My clinical instructor from Nursing 1 teaches pharmacology at the school where I go now, and I really wish I had taken her class. Anyway, here is the pharmacology book that I ended up buying, but have not spent a whole lot of time looking it over. Yesterday, I checked out the textbook that my current school uses for pharmacology from the public library, and I've started looking it over in the hopes that I will be better prepared this fall.
If you have any other supplemental books that you use for school, please post them in the comments. It's always nice to have additional reference sources when there is a difficult subject being taught.