75 Must-Read Books Concerning Mental Illness

75 Must-Read Books Concerning Mental Illness

That's right, Thirteen Reasons Why was a book before it was a TV series.


Mental illness is more talked about now then ever before, however we often still dance around the subject in order not to delve too deep into it. While there are often portrayals of characters with mental health issues in movies and TV shows and many celebrities discuss it in the media, this does not typically put the viewer in the shoes of someone with a mental illness. Books are typically the best way to feel fully immersed in the life of someone else, so in order to fully understand a mental illness if you don't have one--or to feel understood if you do--reading a book about them is the best option.

1. Awakening Kali by T. S. Ghosh

2. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

3. Beloved by Toni Morrison

4. Bleeding Violet by Dia Reeves

5. By The Time You Read This, I'll Be Dead by Julie Ann Peters

6. The Color Purple by Alice Walker

7. Crazy by Han Nolan

8. Darkness Visible by William Styron

9. Dragonfish by Vu Tran

10. Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone

11. The Evil Hours: A Biography of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder by David J. Morris

12. Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

13. Find You In The Dark by A. Meredith Walters

14. Flowers From the Storm by Laura Kinsale

15. Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson

16. Girl In Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow

17. Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen

18. Haldol and Hyacinths: A Bipolar Life

19. The Hours by Michael Cunningham

20. Imagine Me Gone by Adam Haslett

21. Impulse by Ellen Hopkins

22. It's Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini

23. The Last Time We Said Goodbye by Cynthia Hand

24. Lead Me Not by A. Meredith Walters

25. Let the Tornado Come by Rita Zoey Chin

26. A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

27. Look Straight Ahead by Elaine M. Will

28. Looking for Alaska by John Green

29. Loud in the House of Myself: Memoir of a Strange Girl by Stacy Pershall

30. Made You Up by Francesca Zappia

31. The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie by Jennifer Ashley

32. Manic: A Memoir by Terri Cheney

The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides

34. The Memory of Light by Francisco X. Stork

35. Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf

36. More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera

37. The Museum of Intangible Things by Wendy Wunder

38. My Heart and Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga

39. The Nest by Kenneth Oppel

40. Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami

41. A Note of Madness by Tabitha Suzuma

42. Out of Her Mind: Women Writing on Mental Illness edited by Rebecca Shannonhouse

43. Paperweight by Meg Haston

44. Polarity by Max Bemis

45. Prozac Nation by Elizabeth Wurtzel

46. Psychiatric Tales: Eleven Graphic Stories about Mental Illness by Daryl Cunningham

47. The Quiet Room: A Journey Out of the Torment of Madness by Lori Schiller

48. Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig

49. The Round House by Louise Erdrich

50. The Salt Eaters by Toni Cade Bambara

51. She's Come Undone by Wally Lamb

52. The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick

53. Skinny by Donna Cooner

54. Sparks Off You by Anita Felicelli

55. Stop Pretending: What Happened When My Big Sister Went Crazy by Sonya Sones

56. Stranger by Rachel Manija Brown and Sherwood Smith

57. The Surrendered by Chang-rae Lee

58. Swallow Me Whole by Nate Powell

59. A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki

60. Ten Ways Not to Commit Suicide by Darryl McDaniels

61. Therapy by Kathryn Perez

62. Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

63. The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B by Teresa Toten

64. An Unquiet Mind by Kay Redfield Jamison

65. The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides

66. Your Voice is All I Hear by Leah Scheier

67. Waster: A Memoir of Anorexia and Bulimia by Marya Hornbacher

68. When Reason Breaks by Cindy L. Rodriguez

69. When We Collided by Emery Lord

70. White Oleander by Janet Finch

71. Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys

72. Willow by Julia Hoban

73. Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson

74. The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins

75. The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

Popular Right Now

To The Person Who Feels Suicidal But Doesn't Want To Die

Suicidal thoughts are not black and white.

Everyone assumes that if you have suicidal thoughts that means you want to die.

From an outside perspective, suicidal thoughts are rarely looked into deeper than the surface level. Either you have suicidal thoughts and you want to die, or you don't have suicidal thoughts and you want to live. What most people don't understand is that people live in between those two statements, I for one am one of them.

I've had suicidal thoughts since I was a kid.

My first recollection of it was when I came home after school one day and got in trouble, and while I was just sitting in the dining room I kept thinking, “I wonder what it would be like to take a knife from the kitchen and just shove it into my stomach." I didn't want to die, or even hurt myself for that matter. But those thoughts haven't stopped since.

I've thought about going into the bathroom and taking every single pill I could find and just drifting to sleep and never waking back up, I've thought about hurting myself to take the pain away, just a few days ago on my way to work I thought about driving my car straight into a tree. But I didn't. Why? Because even though that urge was so strong, I didn't want to die. I still don't, I don't want my life to end.

I don't think I've ever told anyone about these feelings. I don't want others to worry because the first thing anyone thinks when you tell them you have thoughts about hurting or killing yourself is that you're absolutely going to do it and they begin to panic. Yes, I have suicidal thoughts, but I don't want to die.

It's a confusing feeling, it's a scary feeling.

When the depression takes over you feel like you aren't in control. It's like you're drowning.

Every bad memory, every single thing that hurt you, every bad thing you've ever done comes back and grabs you by the ankle and drags you back under the water just as you're about the reach the surface. It's suffocating and not being able to do anything about it.

The hardest part is you never know when these thoughts are going to come. Some days you're just so happy and can't believe how good your life is, and the very next day you could be alone in a dark room unable to see because of the tears welling up in your eyes and thinking you'd be better off dead.

You feel alone, you feel like a burden to everyone around you, you feel like the world would be better off without you. I wish it was something I could just turn off but I can't, no matter how hard I try.

These feelings come in waves.

It feels like you're swimming and the sun is shining and you're having a great time until a wave comes and sucks you under into the darkness of the water. No matter how hard you try to reach the surface again a new wave comes and hits you back under again, and again, and again.

And then it just stops.

But you never know when the next wave is going to come. You never know when you're going to be sucked back under.

I always wondered if I was the only one like this.

It didn't make any sense to me, how did I think about suicide so often but not want to die? But I was thinking about it in black and white, I thought I wasn't allowed to have those feelings since I wasn't going to act on them. But then I read articles much like this one and I realized I'm not the only one. Suicidal thoughts aren't black and white, and my feelings are valid.

To everyone who feels this way, you aren't alone.

I thought I was for the longest time, I thought I was the only one who felt this way and I didn't understand how I could feel this way. But please, I implore you to talk to someone, anyone, about the way you're feeling, whether it be a family member, significant other, a friend, a therapist.

My biggest mistake all these years was never telling anyone how I feel in fear that they would either brush me off because “who could be suicidal but not want to die?" or panic and try to commit me to a hospital or something. Writing this article has been the greatest feeling of relief I've felt in a long time, talking about it helps. I know it's scary to tell people how you're feeling, but you're not alone and you don't have to go through this alone.

Suicidal thoughts aren't black and white, your feelings are valid, and there are people here for you. You are not alone.

If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline — 1-800-273-8255

Cover Image Credit: BengaliClicker

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

The Worst Book Covers Ever Made

I have a bone to pick with the people at "Wordsworth Classics".


Generally, once an author has been dead for over 70 years, his or her work becomes public domain. You might think about it like a sitcom getting syndication. When a book becomes public domain, it may be sold by any publishing house in need of some extra cash. This is why, for example, you can find a copy of the Great Gatsby from Penguin, Random House, and Harper Collins, even though it was originally published through Scribner.

This has lead to an enormous amount of creative freedom cover-wise. We've had more than a few mishaps.

I mean, what the hell even is that? This looks like a "Big Eyes" painting if it got left in the sun for too long.

Of all the sins I've witnessed in the name of literacy, I never thought I'd stumble upon something so laughably God-awful, so lazily slapped together as this:

If you're thinking, "something's off here," you're not alone. Say hello to "Wordsworth Classics", a division of a minor British publishing house whose main goal seems to be getting the original authors to roll over in their graves (70+ years on). I've compiled the worst of their collection for your viewing (dis)pleasure.

This is bad. I mean, I don't know what they were going for here, but thank God for that conveniently placed smoke.

I have a hard time believing Tom's Disney channel haircut was all too common back in the 1800s.

Man. 300 looks worse than I remember.


Everything about this is bad. The borderline copyright infringement Cheshire Cat, Alice's "Victorian" getup, not to mention the Mad Hatter, who is clearly the first man in Wonderland to receive a face transplant via photoshop.

Ah, yes. Moby Dick. Origin of the proverbial "White Whale", who apparently, was not actually white.

Why does "Dorian Gray" look like he's about to lecture me on how to brew the perfect IPA?

Robinson Cru-NO! This looks more like a bad porno than classic english lit...

Little known fact: when this book cover was sent into the publishers, Notre Dame spontaneously burst into flames.

This is not Dracula. Clearly, this is a photo of Oscar Wilde, who, after smoking an enormous quantity of marijuana at a Halloween party, believes that he is Dracula.

Even Harlequin Romance wouldn't sink to this level. Look how they're leaning against the fence! Is that even physically possible?

Related Content

Facebook Comments