Thursday, May 21, 2020

Discussion: What To Read For Mental Health Awareness Month

May is Mental Health Awareness Month in the US. This is appropriate because everyone in the world is currently living through a stressful situation. When you’re living in isolation, it’s super important to pay attention to your mental health and get help if you need it. One in five people will develop a mental illness at some point in their life, so you’re definitely not alone.

If you want to learn more about what it’s like to live with a mental illness, I have book recommendations for you! I’ve had depression for most of my life. These ten books made me go, “Wow, this author really gets it.”

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What To Read For Mental Health Awareness Month


It’s Kind Of A Funny Story by Ned Vizzini

Ambitious New York City teenager Craig Gilner is determined to succeed at life—which means getting into the right high school to get into the right job. But once Craig aces his way into Manhattan's Executive Pre-Professional High School, the pressure becomes unbearable. He stops eating and sleeping until, one night, he nearly kills himself.

Craig's suicidal episode gets him checked into a mental hospital, where his new neighbors include a transsexual sex addict, a girl who has scarred her own face with scissors, and the self-elected President Armelio. There, Craig is finally able to confront the sources of his anxiety.

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

Meet Eleanor Oliphant: she struggles with appropriate social skills and tends to say exactly what she’s thinking. Nothing is missing in her carefully timetabled life of avoiding unnecessary human contact, where weekends are punctuated by frozen pizza, vodka, and phone chats with Mummy.

But everything changes when Eleanor meets Raymond, the bumbling and deeply unhygienic IT guy from her office. When she and Raymond together save Sammy, an elderly gentleman who has fallen, the three rescue one another from the lives of isolation that they had been living. Ultimately, it is Raymond’s big heart that will help Eleanor find the way to repair her own profoundly damaged one. If she does, she'll learn that she, too, is capable of finding friendship—and even love—after all.

Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman

Caden Bosch is on a ship that's headed for the deepest point on Earth: Challenger Deep, the southern part of the Marianas Trench.

Caden Bosch is a brilliant high school student whose friends are starting to notice his odd behaviour.

Caden Bosch is designated the ship's artist in residence to document the journey with images.

Caden Bosch pretends to join the school track team but spends his days walking for miles, absorbed by the thoughts in his head.

Caden Bosch is split between his allegiance to the captain and the allure of mutiny.

Caden Bosch is torn.
Caden Bosch is on a ship that's headed for the deepest point on Earth: Challenger Deep, the southern part of the Marianas Trench.

Caden Bosch is a brilliant high school student whose friends are starting to notice his odd behavior.

Caden Bosch is designated the ship's artist in residence to document the journey with images.

Caden Bosch pretends to join the school track team but spends his days walking for miles, absorbed by the thoughts in his head.

Caden Bosch is split between his allegiance to the captain and the allure of mutiny.

Caden Bosch is torn.

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

Meet Ove. He's a curmudgeon, the kind of man who points at people he dislikes as if they were burglars caught outside his bedroom window. He has staunch principles, strict routines, and a short fuse. People call him the bitter neighbor from hell, but must Ove be bitter just because he doesn't walk around with a smile plastered to his face all the time?

Behind the cranky exterior there is a story and a sadness. So when one November morning a chatty young couple with two chatty young daughters move in next door and accidentally flatten Ove's mailbox, it is the lead-in to a comical and heartwarming tale of unkempt cats, unexpected friendship, and the ancient art of backing up a U-Haul. All of which will change one cranky old man and a local residents' association to their very foundations.

This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki & Jillian Tamaki

Every summer, Rose goes with her mom and dad to a lake house in Awago Beach. It's their getaway, their refuge. Rosie's friend Windy is always there, too, like the little sister she never had. But this summer is different. Rose's mom and dad won't stop fighting, and when Rose and Windy seek a distraction from the drama, they find themselves with a whole new set of problems. It's a summer of secrets and sorrow and growing up, and it's a good thing Rose and Windy have each other.

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

Esther Greenwood is brilliant, beautiful, enormously talented, and successful, but slowly going under—maybe for the last time. In her acclaimed and enduring masterwork, Sylvia Plath brilliantly draws the reader into Esther's breakdown with such intensity that her insanity becomes palpably real, even rational—as accessible an experience as going to the movies. A deep penetration into the darkest and most harrowing corners of the human psyche, The Bell Jar is an extraordinary accomplishment and a haunting American classic.

Eliza And Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia

In the real world, Eliza Mirk is shy, weird, and friendless. Online, she’s LadyConstellation, the anonymous creator of the wildly popular webcomic Monstrous Sea. Eliza can’t imagine enjoying the real world as much as she loves the online one, and she has no desire to try.

Then Wallace Warland, Monstrous Sea’s biggest fanfiction writer, transfers to her school. Wallace thinks Eliza is just another fan, and as he draws her out of her shell, she begins to wonder if a life offline might be worthwhile.

But when Eliza’s secret is accidentally shared with the world, everything she’s built—her story, her relationship with Wallace, and even her sanity—begins to fall apart.

A List Of Cages by Robin Roe

When Adam Blake lands the best elective ever in his senior year, serving as an aide to the school psychologist, he thinks he's got it made. Sure, it means a lot of sitting around, which isn't easy for a guy with ADHD, but he can't complain, since he gets to spend the period texting all his friends. Then the doctor asks him to track down the troubled freshman who keeps dodging her, and Adam discovers that the boy is Julian—the foster brother he hasn't seen in five years. Adam is ecstatic to be reunited. At first, Julian seems like the boy he once knew. He's still kind hearted. He still writes stories and loves picture books meant for little kids. But as they spend more time together, Adam realizes that Julian is keeping secrets, like where he hides during the middle of the day, and what's really going on inside his house. Adam is determined to help him, but his involvement could cost both boys their lives.


So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson

For the past three years, Jon Ronson has travelled the world meeting recipients of high-profile public shamings. The shamed are people like us—people who, say, made a joke on social media that came out badly, or made a mistake at work. Once their transgression is revealed, collective outrage circles with the force of a hurricane and the next thing they know they're being torn apart by an angry mob, jeered at, demonized, sometimes even fired from their job.
A great renaissance of public shaming is sweeping our land. Justice has been democratized. The silent majority are getting a voice. But what are we doing with our voice? We are mercilessly finding people's faults. We are defining the boundaries of normality by ruining the lives of those outside it. We are using shame as a form of social control.
Simultaneously powerful and hilarious in the way only Jon Ronson can be, So You've Been Publicly Shamed is a deeply honest book about modern life, full of eye-opening truths about the escalating war on human flaws—and the very scary part we all play in it.

Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things by Jenny Lawson

In Furiously Happy, a humor memoir tinged with just enough tragedy and pathos to make it worthwhile, Jenny Lawson examines her own experience with severe depression and a host of other conditions, and explains how it has led her to live life to the fullest:

"I've often thought that people with severe depression have developed such a well for experiencing extreme emotion that they might be able to experience extreme joy in a way that ‘normal people' also might never understand. And that's what Furiously Happy is all about."

Do you have any books to add to my list?


  1. I really loved It's Kind of a Funny Story and So You've Been Publicly Shamed. I really want to read A List of Cages and Eliza and Her Monsters.


  2. Thanks for sharing these books! I loved ELIZA AND HER MONSTERS and THE BELL JAR. CHALLENGER DEEP is on my TBR.

  3. I've read Ove for a book club and we had some very different ideas about the book. One friend that he was just a cranky old man, but I kind of liked his journey.

    I've heard great things about Furiously Happy!

  4. Amazing post! Several of those are on my TBR as well :) I've been struggling with my mental health for several years now (depression, social anxiety, etc. etc...) and having representation is SO IMPORTANT! Not only for me to feel less alone but also to fight the stigma and help other people understand us. One of my favourite books about mental health is The Art Of Escaping by Erin Callahan -- it's about a girl struggling with social anxiety and it's glorious!

  5. I read It's Kind of a Funny Story after Vizzini's death, so it was bittersweet. The way he wrote about the inpatient program was dead on, and the story was hopeful. Yeah, I was sad he lost that battle.

  6. Challenger Deep sounds like a really interesting book!

  7. All of the ones I've read of these, I've really loved. I especially think Challenger Deep was an amazingly unique read!

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

  8. Madness: A Bipolar Life by Marya Hornbacher is really good and I've heard the Collected Schizophrenias by Esmé Weijun Wang is great - it's on my TBR.

  9. Several of these are on my list! Challenger Deep, Eliza and Her Monsters, and Furiously Happy! I'm really looking forward to reading them. I recently finished Breath Like Water which deals with Bipolar disorder, and I thought the author handled it very well. It was informative, realistic, and didn't overtake the story itself.

    Lindsi @ Do You Dog-ear? 💬

  10. A List of Cages 🥺afjdskald I loved that one so much and it fully broke me. I am way overdue for a reread, same with Challenger Deep! It's Kind Of a Funny Story makes me so inexplicably sad now though, knowing about the author. 💔it's such good rep though.

  11. I have only read The Bell Jar - a hauntingly memorable book. But I love the sound of A Man Called Ove. Thank you so much for sharing all of these books - I am also intrigued by You've Been Publically Shamed.

  12. This is a great list; thanks for compiling it! I've seen or heard of or been meaning to read some and others are new-to-me. Mental health is such an important subject, but it holds personal meaning to me and my family as well. Thanks again!

  13. I have read a handful of these. Eleanor Oliphant was a great book. I also enjoyed A Man Called Ove and A List of Cages.

  14. Great list! I LOVED Challenger Deep, Eliza was great, and there are a few others I am definitely needing to get to soon. You are right about how important it is to pay attention to mental health, especially now! Thank you for sharing these!