Welcome to another set of book reads for you. This time are the best books about mental health that deserves a spot in your reading list! ?
We just had lists for books that will make you cry and books about love.
This time, as per popular demand, is a list of books about mental health. In case you missed it, I listed down my best tips on how to fall in love with reading! They work for me and I know they do too to you!
This list is especially close to my heart. They have warmed me in my coldest nights and I cannot wait to share them with you.
Let’s dive in!
Fiction books about mental health
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
The Bell Jar is an impactful book written by Sylvia Plath. It’s all about this young woman named Esther Greenwood who’s dealing with a lot of emotional struggles and societal pressures in the 1950s. You get to dive deep into Esther’s thoughts and experiences as she battles depression and feels suffocated by the expectations around her.
It sheds light on how tough it was for women back then, with Esther’s story echoing the limitations and challenges they faced. The writing is beautifully poetic, and through Esther’s journey, you not only get a raw look at mental health struggles but also a timeless exploration of identity and the human mind.
It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini
It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini is a really relatable book. It’s about a teenager named Craig who’s dealing with a lot of pressure and stress. He ends up checking himself into a mental health facility, and the story follows his experiences there. It’s not all heavy stuff, though.
The book has moments of humor and realness that make it really engaging. It’s a touching exploration of mental health, especially in young people, and how seeking help is a sign of strength.
The author, Ned Vizzini, brings a lot of authenticity to the characters and their struggles, making it a book that you can connect with on a personal level.
All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven is a heartrending yet uplifting novel. It revolves around Violet and Finch, two teenagers who find solace and understanding in each other while dealing with their own personal struggles.
The book addresses sensitive topics like mental health, grief, and loss, but it also beautifully captures the moments of joy and connection that can arise even in the darkest times. Jennifer Niven’s writing brings out the complexities of these characters’ emotions and their journey of self-discovery. The novel serves as a reminder that even amidst pain, there is the potential for growth, love, and the profound impact of human connections.
Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
In Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman, we are introduced to the intriguing and complex Eleanor Oliphant. She leads a meticulously ordered life, marked by routine and isolation.
Eleanor’s past holds dark secrets, and she copes with her traumatic upbringing by maintaining distance from others. However, everything changes when she meets Raymond, a co-worker, and they save an elderly man named Sammy together.
As Eleanor’s life becomes intertwined with Raymond’s, her emotional walls start to crumble. Her journey towards healing is marked by self-discovery, compassion, and the power of friendship. Eleanor’s interactions with Raymond, her therapist, and others reveal her vulnerability and strength, leading her to confront her painful past and find a way to move forward.
Eleanor’s transformation is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit and the significance of small acts of kindness. Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine is a heartwarming exploration of the complexities of life, the importance of empathy, and the possibility of redemption.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky is a coming-of-age novel that intimately portrays the life of Charlie, an introspective and observant teenager. The story is told through Charlie’s letters to an anonymous friend, and it follows his experiences as he navigates high school, friendship, love, and the challenges of growing up.
Set in the early 1990s, the novel captures the raw emotions and complexities of adolescence. Charlie’s interactions with his friends Sam and Patrick, as well as his struggles with mental health and past trauma, form the heart of the narrative. Through these relationships, the book explores themes of identity, acceptance, and the profound impact of genuine connections.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a touching exploration of the transformative power of friendship, the resilience of the human spirit, and the journey toward self-discovery.
The Midnight Library by Matt Haig
This one is one of my faves of faves!
The Midnight Library by Matt Haig is a captivating novel that delves into the themes of regret, choices, and the pursuit of happiness. The story centers around Nora Seed, who finds herself in a mysterious library between life and death.
Each book in this library represents a different life she could have lived if she had made different decisions. As Nora explores these alternate lives, she grapples with her regrets and seeks to find the one life that brings her fulfillment and joy.
Matt Haig’s writing skillfully navigates the complexities of human emotions and the idea of second chances. Through Nora’s journey, the novel prompts readers to reflect on their own lives, choices, and the possibilities that lie ahead. The Midnight Library is an exploration of the impact of our decisions and the universal yearning for a life that feels truly meaningful.
A light and uplifting read.
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger is a seminal novel that follows the disillusioned teenager Holden Caulfield over a few days in his life.
Told in Holden’s distinct, unfiltered voice, the narrative is about teenage angst, alienation, and the search for authenticity in a world he perceives as inauthentic.
Holden’s disconnection from society, his interactions with various characters, and his internal struggles form the core of the novel. Through his reflections and encounters, the book dives into themes of innocence, identity, phoniness, and the challenges of transitioning to adulthood.
Salinger’s writing captures the internal monologue of a young mind grappling with a sense of isolation and the loss of innocence. The Catcher in the Rye has left me an enduring impact due to its portrayal of a relatable protagonist wrestling with universal themes, making it a timeless narrative about human experience and the complexities of growing up.
A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
Ah! So much love for this book.
A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara is a profound and emotionally intense novel that chronicles the lives of four friends—Jude, Willem, JB, and Malcolm—as they navigate the challenges of friendship, love, and their individual traumas over several decades.
The heart of the story lies in Jude’s journey. A brilliant lawyer, he carries the weight of a traumatic past that he’s reluctant to reveal.
Yanagihara’s writing delves deep into the characters’ emotions and relationships, painting a vivid picture of their intertwined lives. While the book grapples with heavy themes, it also underscores the power of friendship and the human capacity to support one another through unimaginable pain.
Yanagihara’s storytelling is both raw and tender, offering readers a moving and immersive experience into the lives of these characters.
Turtles All the Way Down by John Green
Turtles All the Way Down by John Green is a deeply introspective and honest novel that delves into the life of Aza Holmes, a teenage girl grappling with anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).
At the heart of the novel is Aza’s inner struggle with her own thoughts and fears, which often take control of her life. John Green’s writing skillfully captures the complexity of mental health issues, providing readers with a window into Aza’s challenges and triumphs.
The book examines the impact of mental illness on relationships, identity, and the pursuit of a meaningful life. Through Aza’s experiences, Turtles All the Way Down emphasizes the importance of empathy, understanding, and the power of seeking help.
Memoirs and Non-Fiction books about mental health
Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig
Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig is a candid and deeply personal memoir about his own battles with depression and anxiety.
In this book, Haig will take you on a journey through his darkest moments and offer insights into how he found reasons to continue living despite the overwhelming challenges of mental illness.
The memoir provides a raw and unfiltered look into the depths of depression, anxiety, and panic attacks. Haig shares his experiences, emotions, and coping strategies with a striking level of honesty. The book also reflects on the societal stigma surrounding mental health and the importance of seeking help and understanding.
An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness by Kay Redfield Jamison
An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness by Kay Redfield Jamison is a profound and illuminating account of the author’s personal journey with bipolar disorder. Drawing from her expertise as a clinical psychologist, Jamison provides a unique perspective on the experience of mental illness from both a personal and professional standpoint.
The memoir offers a window into the rollercoaster of emotions that come with bipolar disorder, chronicling Jamison’s highs and lows, as well as the challenges and triumphs of managing the condition. Her writing is marked by vulnerability as she candidly shares her struggles with mania and depression.
Beyond its personal narrative, “An Unquiet Mind” is a powerful exploration of the intersection between creativity, mental illness, and the pursuit of a meaningful life. Jamison’s insights shed light on the complexities of mood disorders and the importance of seeking treatment and support. The book’s impact extends beyond its genre, becoming a valuable resource for both those affected by mental health issues and those seeking a deeper understanding of the human psyche.
The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression by Andrew Solomon
The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression by Andrew Solomon is an expansive and insightful exploration of depression on both personal and global scales.
Solomon combines his own experiences with depression, as well as the stories of individuals he interviewed around the world, to create a multidimensional portrait of this complex mental health condition.
By shedding light on the diversity of experiences and treatments, he offers a message of hope and resilience to individuals living with depression and their loved ones. This profound and influential work serves as an essential resource for those seeking a comprehensive understanding of depression and its effects on individuals and society.
My Lovely Wife in the Psych Ward by Mark Lukach
My Lovely Wife in the Psych Ward by Mark Lukach is a poignant and intimate memoir that chronicles the author’s journey alongside his wife, Giulia, who battles with mental illness. The book offers a candid and unflinching look into the impact of mental illness on a relationship and a family.
Mark Lukach’s writing skillfully captures the complexities of love, commitment, and caregiving as he supports Giulia through her struggles with episodes of severe depression and psychosis. The memoir tells the challenges they face together, including the struggles surrounding mental health and the strain it places on their marriage.
Through the ups and downs, “My Lovely Wife in the Psych Ward” portrays the resilience and unwavering love that anchor Mark and Giulia’s relationship.
The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness by Elyn R. Saks
The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness by Elyn R. Saks is a compelling and courageous memoir that provides a firsthand account of living with schizophrenia. Elyn Saks, a legal scholar and professor, shares her personal experiences, from the earliest signs of mental illness to her eventual success in academia.
It runs around the inner workings of Saks’ mind, detailing her struggles with hallucinations, delusions, and hospitalizations. Through her narrative, she challenges stigmas surrounding mental illness and offers insights into the complex interplay between her professional achievements and her ongoing battle with schizophrenia.
Saks’ writing is both reflective and insightful, shedding light on the dualities of living with a severe mental disorder. The Center Cannot Hold provides a unique perspective on the resilience of the human spirit, the importance of support, and the potential for individuals with mental health challenges to lead fulfilling lives.
First, We Make the Beast Beautiful: A New Journey Through Anxiety by Sarah Wilson
First, We Make the Beast Beautiful: A New Journey Through Anxiety by Sarah Wilson is a deeply personal and thought-provoking exploration of anxiety. The book takes readers on a journey through the author’s own experiences with anxiety, blending memoir, research, and self-help.
Sarah Wilson’s writing is both relatable and intimate, as she candidly shares her struggles and insights. The title itself reflects the idea of embracing anxiety as a transformative force rather than something to be conquered.
Through her journey, Wilson provides practical tools and strategies for managing anxiety while also inviting readers to reframe their relationship with it.
Wilson’s narrative encourages readers to find acceptance and even beauty in their struggles, ultimately guiding them towards a more compassionate understanding of themselves and their mental health.
I’m Telling the Truth, but I’m Lying by Bassey Ikpi
I’m Telling the Truth, but I’m Lying by Bassey Ikpi is a powerful collection of essays that offers an intimate and unfiltered glimpse into the author’s experiences with mental health. Bassey Ikpi navigates the complexities of living with bipolar II disorder, depression, and anxiety.
The essays are marked by raw honesty, vulnerability, and a poetic sensibility. Ikpi reflects on her life, relationships, cultural identity, and the challenges of managing her mental health while pursuing her creative endeavors.
I’m Telling the Truth, but I’m Lying is a moving and illuminating work that resonates with anyone who has experienced mental health challenges or seeks to understand the complexities of the human mind. Bassey Ikpi’s voice is a testament to the power of storytelling as a means of destigmatizing mental illness and fostering empathy and connection.
Self-Help and Psychology books about mental health
The Anxiety and Worry Workbook: The Cognitive Behavioral Solution by David A. Clark and Aaron T. Beck
The Anxiety and Worry Workbook: The Cognitive Behavioral Solution by David A. Clark and Aaron T. Beck is a comprehensive and practical guide for individuals struggling with anxiety and worry. Rooted in the principles of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), the book offers readers a structured approach to understanding and managing their anxiety.
The workbook provides a step-by-step framework for identifying anxious thoughts and behaviors, as well as practical techniques to challenge and reframe these patterns. Through interactive exercises and worksheets, you will learn to develop coping strategies, relaxation techniques, and problem-solving skills.
David A. Clark and Aaron T. Beck’s expertise in CBT guides readers in creating a personalized plan to address their specific anxiety concerns. The workbook empowers individuals to take an active role in managing their anxiety and provides them with the tools to navigate anxious thoughts and situations.
The Anxiety and Worry Workbook is a valuable resource for those seeking practical strategies to overcome anxiety. It equips readers with skills that not only alleviate symptoms but also foster long-term resilience and well-being.
Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy by David D. Burns
Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy by David D. Burns is a self-help book that presents readers with cognitive-behavioral techniques to manage and alleviate depression and anxiety.
Dr. Burns, a psychiatrist, introduces the concept that our thoughts influence our emotions, and by changing negative thought patterns, individuals can experience improvements in mood.
The book provides you with practical tools to identify distorted thinking, challenge negative beliefs, and replace them with more balanced and realistic perspectives. Through relatable examples and exercises, Dr. Burns guides readers in building healthier mental habits.
Feeling Good empowers readers to take an active role in their mental well-being by teaching them how to recognize and address the cognitive patterns that contribute to their emotional distress. Dr. Burns’ compassionate approach and clinically proven strategies have made this book a widely recommended resource for individuals seeking to improve their mood and mental health.
The Happiness Trap: How to Stop Struggling and Start Living by Russ Harris
The Happiness Trap: How to Stop Struggling and Start Living by Russ Harris is a thought-provoking self-help book that challenges traditional notions of happiness and offers an alternative approach to finding contentment. Drawing from acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), Harris guides readers toward a more fulfilling life by emphasizing mindfulness and values-based living.
The book highlights the pitfalls of the “happiness myth” and explores how the constant pursuit of happiness can lead to dissatisfaction. Harris introduces the concept of “psychological flexibility,” which involves being open to all emotions and taking actions aligned with one’s core values.
Through relatable anecdotes and practical exercises, “The Happiness Trap” gives you tools to defuse negative thoughts, be present in the moment, and lead a more purposeful life.
The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma by Bessel van der Kolk
Drawing from years of research and clinical practice, van der Kolk examines how trauma shapes individuals’ experiences and behaviors.
The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma by Bessel van der Kolk sheds light on the physiological responses to trauma, emphasizing how it becomes stored in the body and affects mental and physical health.
Van der Kolk introduces various therapeutic approaches, such as neurofeedback, EMDR, and yoga, that can help individuals heal from trauma.
Through engaging case studies and personal stories, The Body Keeps the Score offers a comprehensive understanding of trauma’s far-reaching effects. Van der Kolk’s work advocates for a holistic approach to healing that integrates mind and body, encouraging readers to explore innovative treatments to address trauma’s impact on their lives.
Lost Connections: Uncovering the Real Causes of Depression – and the Unexpected Solutions by Johann Hari
Lost Connections: Uncovering the Real Causes of Depression – and the Unexpected Solutions by Johann Hari is a thought-provoking book that challenges prevailing notions of depression and anxiety. Hari investigates the root causes of these conditions beyond the traditional biochemical explanations, exploring social, psychological, and environmental factors.
The book delves into the impact of disconnection—from meaningful work, nature, and each other—as a contributing factor to depression.
Through personal stories, interviews, and research, Hari uncovers how societal changes have led to a sense of alienation and despair.
“Lost Connections” offers a more holistic approach to addressing depression, emphasizing the importance of reconnecting with community, purpose, and meaningful relationships.
Johann Hari presents a compelling argument for reimagining how we understand and treat mental health, providing readers with alternative perspectives and potential solutions for alleviating the underlying causes of depression and anxiety.
Remember that reading about mental health can provide insights and perspectives, but if you or someone you know is struggling with mental health issues, it’s important to seek professional help and support.