5 Books About Mental Illness You Should Read (in my opinion)

I just recently read Sophie Kinsella’s Finding Audrey, which is about a girl who struggles with anxiety and depression and it made me think of how interested I am in books like that. Now, by mental illness, I’m referring to depression (+ suicide-related books), anxiety, autism, and others. These are books that I have read, and I know that there are so many more out there that I haven’t read/heard of, so if you have any recommendations, let me know!

1 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon

  • Main character’s (Christopher) illness: Asperger’s Syndrome
  • I really, really, really love this book. Christopher is such an amazingly complex character, with his infatuation with prime numbers and math, and his story will probably stay with me forever. This book allows the reader to be inside his head and see how his brain works, which is really interesting to me.
  • This book is also a play (on Broadway!!) and it is so incredible. I opened up my copy to the bookmark, which was my ticket, and I got a showering of confetti in my lap that reminded me how the show did the book justice.

2 Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella

  • Main character’s (Audrey) illness: Anxiety, Depression
  • The book that inspired this post! Audrey’s story is really inspiring, her struggle with anxiety and crowds is something that a lot of people have problems with, and I loved the idea of her “graph” described in the book. Her therapist tells her the line of the graph is up and down, but still going up, while Audrey wants it to be a straight up line. It’s realistic, and her struggle was super heartwarming.

3 The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

  • Main character’s (Charlie) illness: PTSD, Anxiety, Depression
  • Charlie’s life is really hard in this story, so it’s led him to become very anxious and nervous, among other things. I don’t want to spoil this for those of you who haven’t read the book, but the big cause of his PTSD is a big one and is the reason for a lot of his stress.

4 All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

  • Main characters’ (Finch and Violet) illnesses: Depression, Bipolar (Finch) Depression (Violet)
  • There is so much hype surrounding this book (there’s going to be a movie???) and although I love it, I can’t really remember what happened. Oops. It’ll probably break your heart, I can tell you that. Violet and Finch meet when they both consider jumping off a bell tower to their death, and they both try to fix each other and overcome their problems. I wasn’t able to really connect with the characters, however, so I wouldn’t really recommend this if you’re looking for a serious book about mental illness. :/

5 Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

  • Main character’s (Hannah) illness: Depression
  • This is pretty much a hit or miss with most people, but I really enjoyed it and how it dealt with the aftermath of someone committing suicide.All the factors of Hannah’s decision come together in the end to really break my heart, and I now want to re-read it, even though I know it will hurt.

Do you have any recommendations of good books that feature a character who struggles with a mental illness? What do you think about my choices? Let me know!

Julia 🙂

4 Replies to “5 Books About Mental Illness You Should Read (in my opinion)”

  1. I love that you put this list together, Julia…this is an issue that is very close to my heart! I am currently reading Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman, about a teen coping with anxiety, paranoia, and the onset of schizophrenia. It’s initially confusing due to parallel storylines (one inside and one outside Caden’s mind), but I think this is intentional. You might consider reading it and adding it to your list!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Julia, just thought of another one that I really liked that fits your list–Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer. Check that one out, too!


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