The best psychological novels—when death appears better than life

Why am I passionate about this?

The inner world of people has always fascinated me, which is why I created the initiative “student for students” where people could just come and talk about what they are going through. In countless sensitive conversations, I got to know many people struggling with the question “to be or not to be”. Then, my sister took her life. I accepted her decision. However, many struggled to do the same. “How can she do this to us?”, “It was selfish of her”, “But she was intelligent.” etc. Countless statements showed that people could understand, but not comprehend what happened. Therefore, I want to create awareness for mental health topics.


I wrote...

Prison of Loneliness

By Yuki Carlsson,

Book cover of Prison of Loneliness

What is my book about?

Trapped in trauma, alone abroad, and loathing the covid lockdown. Japanese Kigaiko Wazawai, virtually accompanied by the Korean-American Jacob Isdadi, fights her way through a labyrinth of different approaches to escape her mental prison, until she has to compromise: not reaching her destination, or losing the man she loves. Will she find freedom?

Find out in this thought-provoking, melancholic, yet inspiring psychological literary fiction best-seller.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Sorrows of Young Werther

Yuki Carlsson Why did I love this book?

Goethe’s Werther is a classic from the 18th century with the quality of being timeless.

It tells the story of a love-sick young man getting infatuated with a person he could never have, and we can all relate to this situation. At least, I have been there before: being so love-sick that the world seemed to become meaningless without that person.

On top, the novel is crafted with mastery. There are three counter-stories within the novel, revealing different possible outcomes for a similar situation. I like this book from an author’s perspective because I can learn about how to create a literary masterpiece.

I recommend it to anybody who is into intense emotions, so strong they overwhelm our rationality, throw us into turmoil and influence our decision-making. 

By Johann Wolfgang von Goethe,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Sorrows of Young Werther as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

One of the world's first bestsellers, this tragic masterpiece attained an instant and lasting success upon its 1774 publication, catapulting the author to the forefront of the German literary movement known as Sturm und Drang. A burst of parodies, operas, poems, and plays based on The Sorrows of Young Werther rapidly ensued, along with the cultlike following of young romantics across Europe who affected the manner of the novel's passionate and self-destructive hero.
Young Werther bares his soul to readers in the form of alternately joyful and despairing letters about his unrequited love. His story marks the initial great achievement…


Book cover of Me Before You

Yuki Carlsson Why did I love this book?

This novel is also about love, but draws its intense emotions including suicidal ideation from a different matter: being bound to a wheelchair after an accident.

It is a lot deeper than a normal romance novel. It dives into the topic of physical disablement and by that creates awareness about something the average person is not shedding any thought to. I personally appreciate this aspect, because creating awareness is also one of my goals in writing.

Also, the novel is thought-provoking, because it poses the dilemma of selfishly wanting someone to stay alive vs. selflessly respecting their wish to die. The book has left a lasting impression on me because I’ve been confronted with this dilemma several times in my life and had countless discussions on the topic.

By Jojo Moyes,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Me Before You as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

THE MAJOR FILM AND THE NEW YORK TIMES NO.1 BESTSELLING NOVEL THAT IS LOVED AROUND THE WORLD, ME BEFORE YOU . . .

Will needed Lou as much as she needed him, but will her love be enough to save his life?

Lou Clark knows lots of things. She knows how many footsteps there are between the bus stop and home. She knows she likes working in The Buttered Bun teashop and she knows she might not love her boyfriend Patrick.

What Lou doesn't know is she's about to lose her job or that knowing what's coming is what keeps…


Book cover of Steppenwolf

Yuki Carlsson Why did I love this book?

A steppenwolf is a loner among the animals and Hesse projects his personal isolation and mental turmoil into this masterpiece of autofiction.

It’s timeless because anybody can relate to loneliness. And the book asks the question of how to live a fulfilling life. I personally relate to it so much, because I am familiar with both the involved emotions, as well as the aspect of drawing inspiration for my stories from my actual life experience.

It also gives me hope as a writer, because it tells me that an author does not need to please the broad masses, but can freely write what they carry inside. In the end, this make the more original pieces of art, in my opinion.

By Hermann Hesse, Basil Creighton (translator),

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Steppenwolf as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Harry Haller is a sad and lonely figure, a reclusive intellectual for whom life holds no joy. He struggles to reconcile the wild primeval wolf and the rational man within himself without surrendering to the bourgeois values he despises. His life changes dramatically when he meets a woman who is his opposite, the carefree and elusive Hermine. The tale of the Steppenwolf culminates in the surreal Magic Theater—for mad men only.

Steppenwolf is Hesse's best-known and most autobiographical work. With its blend of Eastern mysticism and Western culture, it is one of literature's most poetic evocations of the soul's journey…


Book cover of The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark

Yuki Carlsson Why did I love this book?

Best known for its famous quote “To be or not to be.” Shakespeare’s masterpiece Hamlet revolves around the struggles of life.

I find this piece inspiring —not because of the question of suicidal ideation but—because of how it is written. Shakespeare manages to put an entire existential crisis into such a concise statement. I wish I could write quotes like that. Also, Shakespeare’s 5 act structure, although from theatre, builds the backbone of my books.

The language is witty, stating so much in between the lines. What I find most inspiring about it as an author, though, is that Shakespeare managed to appeal to a broad mass by providing entertainment to the simpler folks while addressing sensitive political topics and philosophical questions for the intellectuals.

By William Shakespeare,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In recent years, ways of dealing with Shakespeare’s texts and with the interpretation of his plays have been undergoing significant change. The New Folger editions, while retaining many of the features that have always made the Folger Shakespeare so attractive to the general reader, at the same time reflects these current ways of thinking about Shakespeare.


Book cover of Fragments of Tess: A Shattered Mind Women's Fiction

Yuki Carlsson Why did I love this book?

This book by my author friend Marlene puts together the shards of colourful glass to reveal the beautiful mosaic of Tess, a self-made but shattered woman feeling closer to a stranger than to herself, recounting stories about Native Americans, Africans, and the farm life of the poor early settlers in Canada.

I like this book because it addresses multiple personality disorders. I think while it is easy for most to relate to physical illness, it can be tough to relate to mental illness. Speaking from experience, someone said uncomprehendingly after a suicide, “But she was intelligent,” as if mental disablement and mental illness were the same thing. We can also catch a cold without being physically disabled.

You might also like...

Transforming Pandora

By Carolyn Mathews,

Book cover of Transforming Pandora

Carolyn Mathews Author Of Transforming Pandora

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Creator Meditator Messenger Shopaholic

Carolyn's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

Transforming Pandora, women's fiction with a metaphysical undercurrent, is written with humour and a light touch. As the plot slips between two time frames, separated by more than thirty years, the reader explores her life and loves: her ups and downs.

In the opening chapter, Pandora is attempting to come to terms with her husband's death. At a friend's suggestion, she reluctantly attends an evening of clairvoyance, after which her life is transformed by a mysterious spirit who sets her on a new path.

Her romantic life is reignited when she encounters a new man, but complicated by the…

Transforming Pandora

By Carolyn Mathews,

What is this book about?

Pandora, 51, childless, and still beautiful, is attempting to come to terms with her husband's death. Having a history of being drawn to the esoteric, yet remaining a healthy sceptic, she reluctantly attends an evening of clairvoyance and raises a spirit who sets her on a new path...


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in the meaning of life, philosophy, and queens?

11,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about the meaning of life, philosophy, and queens.

The Meaning Of Life Explore 49 books about the meaning of life
Philosophy Explore 1,649 books about philosophy
Queens Explore 86 books about queens