Last week, we shared a list of movies with themes involving mental health. Thank you for the comments and suggestions received!
Some nights, though, we may not be in the mood for a movie but want the old-fashioned entertainment or sensation of picking up a book, opening the cover and curling up for a good read. There’s something about turning pages and starting a new chapter that can be one of life’s simple pleasures. And, during this COVID-19 stay-at-home order, some of us may be turning to books because we have a little more time to spare.
Here are some books you might consider reading if you are interested in mental health personal stories and subjects. Some of these books are very true to life and profound in their depiction of the struggles of those who have mental health problems and life traumas. Some of these titles also offer hope and resilience in the face of great personal difficulties.
When we began to research the topic of books on the theme of mental illness we found there was an abundance of books on this theme. Our list is only a small sampling. Take a look and know that these are only some of our favorite reads that involve mental health issues. What books do you recommend?
Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan.
This is a very compelling true life account of the experience of Cahalan who suffered severe psychosis and many challenges as a young adult related to undiagnosed encephalitis. This book has been made into a movie.
Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb.
Lori Gottlieb is a well-known therapist. She writes the weekly “Dear Therapist” column in The Atlantic. This book is funny and insightful. She writes about some of the people she sees as a therapist, and also about her own therapy sessions, where she is trying to cope with aging and loss. While it deals with serious topics and sad situations, the book is upbeat, interesting and hard to put down.
Crazy: A Father’s Search through America’s Mental Health Madness by Pete Earley.
Relating his first-hand experience with two sons who struggle with mental health challenges, Earley chronicles some of the reasons why the mental health system in the United States is so flawed and offers inspiration on how to make it better.
Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple.
This book became quite popular, and a movie based on the book was released last year. The main character is agoraphobic, and, in a timely twist in this age of virtual-everything, her virtual personal assistant turns out to be Russian hacker. While the main character’s behavior is often challenging to accept, the love of her daughter and husband are redemptive.
A Common Struggle, by Patrick Kennedy and Stephen Fried.
While the personal story of addiction is powerful, the strength of this book is its description of how mental health fits into the discussion of health care policy. For those interested in political sausage-making, this is a fascinating read.
I Know This Much Is True by Wally Lamb.
This is a powerful novel in which twin brothers each struggle with mental health issues. Thomas deals with paranoid schizophrenia and Dominick shows symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. At about 900 pages, this is a big book packed with family dynamics, trauma and inspiration.
The Science of Breakable Things by Tae Keller.
Natalie is in seventh grade, and her mother is depressed. Natalie does not really understand, but she cares, and she enters an egg drop contest in the hope of winning money to take her mother to see a Cobalt Blue Orchid flower, which she hopes will help her mother get out of her depression. This is a warm novel, aimed at young adults but enjoyable for all. “Maybe sometimes the strongest thing of all is knowing that one day you’ll be all right again, and waiting and waiting until you can come into the sun.”