Often, when we struggle with difficult mental health issues, it helps to help to read about them. We can learn how others deal with them, and at the very least we can learn that we’re not alone in our struggles.
The list contains fiction and nonfiction alike. While not an exhaustive list, it highlights a broad spectrum of issues and concerns.
1.Roddy Doyle: The Woman Who Walked into Doors
(Fiction) A moving, horrific but sometimes very funny book about a woman trapped in an abusive relationship, and her attempts to extricate herself from it.
2.Wayne Dwyer: Pulling Your Own Strings
(Nonfiction) A therapist’s discussion of such issues as assertiveness, refusing to be victimized, and establishing appropriate boundaries with others.
3.Carrie Fisher: The Best Awful
(Fiction) An actress’s autobiographical novel that concerns her bipolar disorder and substance abuse.
4.Viktor Frankl: Man’s Search for Meaning
(Nonfiction) A psychiatrist who survived Auschwitz describes his experiences there, and his efforts to find meaning amidst unspeakable conditions.
5.Hannah Green: I Never Promised You a Rose Garden
(Fiction) A classic novel—written in the 1970s but still relevant—about a young woman with schizophrenia.
6.Caroline Knapp: Drinking / A Love Story
(Nonfiction) A woman’s candid story of her alcoholism, her protracted denial of it, and her eventual recovery.
7.Harold Kushner: When Bad Things Happen to Good People
(Nonfiction) A rabbi’s deeply personal exploration of how we try to make sense of tragedies in our lives.
8.Steven Levenkron: The Best Little Girl in the World
(Fiction) A novelist who is also a psychotherapist writes about anorexia.
9.Deirdre N. McCloskey: Crossing / A Memoir
(Nonfiction) A professor’s account of her own transgender issues, which culminated in her sex-change operation
10.Tim O’Brien: In the Lake of the Woods.
(Fiction) O’Brien’s novel about a Vietnam veteran is a powerful picture of post traumatic stress disorder.
11.Doreen Orion: I Know you Really Love Me
(Nonfiction) A psychiatrist’s recounting of how a patient stalked her.
12.Sylvia Plath: The Bell Jar
(Fiction) Better known as a poet, Plath also wrote an autobiographical novel that gives an unflinching account of her own battles with depression.
13.William Styron: Darkness Made Visible
(Nonfiction) The novelist who wrote Sophie’s Choice, Styron also wrote this brief but eloquent book about his depression.
14.Preston L. Allen: All or Nothing
(Fiction) Allen writes about the world of a compulsive gambler with wit and empathy, capturing its hypnotic excitement as well as its disastrous pitfalls.
15.James Baldwin: Giovanni’s Room
(Fiction) Baldwin’s classic novel about homosexuality—written more than a generation ago, when the subject was still taboo—is as relevant and moving now as it was when first published.
16.Augusten Burroughs: Running with Scissors
(Nonfiction) Burroughs’s hilarious, at times heartbreaking story of living with his mother’s psychiatrist has got to be true; no novelist could dream up a family like this one.
17.Frances Itani: Deafening
(Fiction) The heroine of Itani’s absorbing novel, set in Canada in the early years of the twentieth century, demonstrates an extraordinary determination and perseverance in overcoming what might have been a life-ruining disability.
18.Jerold Kreisman, MD and Hal Straus: I Hate You—Don’t Leave Me
(Nonfiction) The authors provide a comprehensive, readable account of individuals with borderline personality disorder (among the hardest patients to treat and the most difficult people to deal with).
19.Nikita Lalwani: Gifted
(Fiction) This novel, dealing with the drawbacks as well as the advantages of genius, is also about finding one’s cultural identity: a brilliant young Indian woman grows up in England but feels neither Indian nor English.
20.Roxanna Robinson: Cost
(Fiction) Robinson tells a harrowing story of heroin addiction, and what it does to both the addict and his family.
21.Tobias Wolff: This Boy’s Life
(Nonfiction) A renowned essayist and novelist gives a candid, moving and often very funny account of growing up and having to deal with a stepfather who tries to dominate and stifle him in every way.
22.Irwin Yalom: Love’s Executioner
(Nonfiction) A prominent psychiatrist writes about his cases (identifying information has been changed), and captures the nature, possibilities and disappointments of intensive psychotherapy.