My Favorite Books About Mental Illness and Recovery

April 6, 2021 Megan Griffith

Reading has always been a great source of comfort for me, and throughout my healing journey, I've read many books about mental illness and recovery. Some were boring, others just didn't feel aligned with me and my struggle, but some were absolutely amazing. Today I want to highlight those amazing books in the hopes that they can also help guide you through your recovery.

4 Incredible Books About Mental Illness and Recovery

  1. The Body Keeps the Score by Dr. Bessel van der Kolk -- This book is the primary book about trauma, so if trauma plays a role in your mental health, I cannot recommend this book enough. It's scientific and research-based, but it's also heartfelt and human. You will see yourself in the pages of The Body Keeps the Score, making you feel seen in a way that you maybe never have been before. The only potential drawbacks of this book are that it's decently long, which could be tricky for flighty attention spans, and it can be very triggering, as it discusses various forms of trauma in detail.
  2. Shame Is An Ocean I Swim Across by Mary Lambert -- If you're looking for something a little artsier, then my first recommendation has to be Shame Is An Ocean I Swim Across. This book is a collection of poems all about shame and suffering, but also about healing and simply being human. I underlined half of the lines in this book because each one spoke to me on some deep, barely knowable level. I think it will speak to you too.
  3. The Wisdom of Anxiety by Sheryl Paul -- If you're like me and you tend to look for answers to existential questions about yourself in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), then you need to read The Wisdom of Anxiety. This book about mental illness and recovery is all about learning how to see anxiety as a reasonable reaction to the world around us rather than a pathology. It isn't saying anxiety is "normal" or "not real," it just argues that maybe your anxiety makes some sense, and maybe shaming yourself for being anxious isn't the best way to handle it. I found it confusing and frustrating but also enlightening and empowering.
  4. Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh -- This is a book of comics, some of which are silly, but some of which deal with heavy topics like depression, attachment, shame-based motivation, and more, all with bright colors and a sharp wit. I highly recommend this book for people who are at the beginning of their recovery journey because it makes these very complicated topics accessible to everyone.

What books about mental illness and recovery have you read? Do any of these sound like a good fit for you? Let's talk about it in the comments.

APA Reference
Griffith, M. (2021, April 6). My Favorite Books About Mental Illness and Recovery, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 21 from

Author: Megan Griffith

Find Megan on Facebook, Tumblr and her personal blog.

Lizanne Corbit
April, 6 2021 at 7:05 pm

Books can be such fantastic resources for us to tap into! This is an excellent list. Thank you for sharing in this space.

April, 7 2021 at 3:30 pm

I'm so glad you like the list I've put together! I was aiming to provide several different types of books for different types of readers, from comics and poetry to science and philosophy.

Leave a reply