The best books featuring strong female leads (and one male!) with mental illness or neurodiversity

Who am I?

Mental illness has been such a huge part of my life for so long now that it has become second nature for me to incorporate it into my work. After suffering postnatal depression, anxiety, and panic attacks, I’ve been on anti-depressants for 11 years and regularly see a wonderful psychologist. Recently, I added a psychiatrist into the mix who diagnosed me with ADHD, so now I’m learning to juggle ADHD meds alongside the antidepressants. I’ve always been passionate about talking and writing openly and honestly about my own personal experiences because if there is any chance that I can help someone else with my words, then I’m going to take it.

I wrote...

You Need To Know

By Nicola Moriarty,

Book cover of You Need To Know

What is my book about?

Jill's three grown-up sons mean everything to her.

She would do anything for her boys - protect them, lie for them, even die for them. Then one day she receives an email with the subject line: 'You Need To Know.' Jill doesn't want to know. She leaves the warning unread. But some truths you can't hide from. Soon Jill will start to wonder if she knows her sons at all...

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The books I picked & why

Other People's Houses

By Kelli Hawkins,

Book cover of Other People's Houses

Why did I love this book?

The thing I love about this book is that the reader is hooked from the start by a thrilling mystery as Kate starts investigating the secrets hidden within a seemingly perfect family; but at the same time, you’re also drawn into Kate’s struggles with her past. As you discover the unspeakable tragedy that Kate is attempting to shut out through alcoholism and by spending her weekends taking voyeuristic visits through open homes for sale – which she has no intention of buying; you slowly realise that you’re experiencing an unreliable view of the world, which means you start to doubt everything you read, in the same way that Kate is doubting everything she sees.

By Kelli Hawkins,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Other People's Houses as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'A dark, twisting tale of guilt and obsession which will leave you gasping' Petronella McGovern, author of Six Minutes

The stunningly tense, page-turning top 10 bestseller for all fans of The Woman in the Window and The Girl on the Train.

The perfect house. The perfect family. Too good to be true.

Kate Webb still grieves over the loss of her young son. Ten years on, she spends her weekends hungover, attending open houses on Sydney's wealthy north shore and imagining the lives of the people who live there.

Then Kate visits the Harding house - the perfect house with,…

The Good Sister

By Sally Hepworth,

Book cover of The Good Sister

Why did I love this book?

As someone who has only recently discovered my own neurodiversity (having been diagnosed late in life with ADHD), I’m drawn to books with neurodiverse characters as I try to navigate my new understanding of myself and my world. In The Good Sister, Fern, who is on the autism spectrum, works hard to keep her life carefully structured. When her sister Rose can’t fall pregnant, Fern sees an opportunity to pay her sister back for everything Rose has done for her. But as the book delves into the sisters’ past, it becomes clear that there is a dark history between these sisters, and with plenty of clever twists it makes for a truly compelling read.

By Sally Hepworth,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Good Sister as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


"A stunningly clever thriller made doubly suspenseful by not one, but two unreliable narrators." — People

Sally Hepworth, the author of The Mother-In-Law delivers a knock-out of a novel about the lies that bind two sisters in The Good Sister.

There's only been one time that Rose couldn't stop me from doing the wrong thing and that was a mistake that will haunt me for the rest of my life.

Fern Castle works in her local library. She has dinner with her twin sister Rose three nights a week. And she avoids crowds, bright…

Grace Under Pressure

By Tori Haschka,

Book cover of Grace Under Pressure

Why did I love this book?

I absolutely love being a mother – but becoming a mum wasn’t the simple experience I thought it would be. I suffered from post-natal depression after the birth of both of my daughters and it was a shock for me to discover that motherhood wasn’t as easy and natural as I’d imagined. That’s why I loved reading Grace Under Pressure – it perfectly captures the ups and downs of motherhood and the terrifying loneliness, while simultaneously incorporating humour, heart, and comradery between women.

By Tori Haschka,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Grace Under Pressure as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Ignore everything you think you’re meant to be doing, and bunker down with this.’ Better Reading

Big Little Lies meets Marian Keyes with a dash of Donna Hay; a deliciously hilarious, honest and heartfelt portrayal of modern-day motherhood and the saving grace of female friendship.

Grace Harkness looks like she has it all – two beautiful children, four cookbooks under her belt and an idyllic beachside home #blessed. But add another baby on the way (oops), a spouse that is nowhere to be seen and a relentless list of things she ‘should’ be doing, and Grace is starting to unravel.…

Book cover of The Mystery of Mercy Close

Why did I love this book?

I adore every single word written by Marian Keyes, but the reason I’m including this book in this particular list is because the story centers around Helen Walsh, a private investigator who is severely depressed – and yet the book is not at all depressing to read. It’s clever, funny, and warm. So many of Helen’s thoughts and experiences rang true for me, which made it such a satisfying and validating read.

By Marian Keyes,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Mystery of Mercy Close as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A compelling tale of mystery, romance, and the irrepressible Walsh family from the internationally bestselling author Marian Keyes

Helen Walsh doesn't believe in fear-it's just something men invented to get all the money-and yet she's sinking. Her private investigator business has dried up, her flat has been repossessed, and now some old demons are resurfacing. Chief among them is her charming but dodgy ex-boyfriend Jay Parker, who offers Helen a lucrative missing-persons case. Wayne Diffney from boyband Laddz vanished from his house in Mercy Close-and the Laddz have a sellout comeback gig in five days.
Helen has a new boyfriend,…


By Mark Watson,

Book cover of Contacts

Why did I love this book?

The concept for this book had me intrigued from the moment I saw the front cover. James Chiltern sends a message to all 158 contacts on his phone, telling them he plans to end his life in the morning. Then he switches his phone to flight mode and sets off on an overnight train journey. While I have had dark times and moments where I was close to the edge throughout my life, I’ve never reached the point where I had actually made a plan to end things. So to read a story where the main character has made that heart-wrenching decision and to see the differing perspectives of all the people in his life waking up to that message was both heart-breaking and riveting.

By Mark Watson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Contacts as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

One man's last journey. One hundred and fifty-eight chances to save his life.

The unforgettable new book from award-winning writer and comedian Mark Watson!

'Mark Watson is one of my favourite writers and Contacts is by far his best book yet' Adam Kay
'Witty, emotional and beautifully written' Jill Mansell
'It made me laugh, cry, reflect and want to check in on all my friends' Emma Gannon
'This is such a great book, funny and serious and daring and humane' Richard Curtis
'Funny, heartwrenching, beautifully written'
Jane Fallon

At five to midnight in Euston station, James Chiltern sends one text…

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