10 books like Heavy

By Kiese Laymon,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like Heavy. Shepherd is a community of 7,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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The Body Keeps the Score

By Bessel Van Der Kolk,

Book cover of The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma

In The Body Keeps the Score, van der Kolk explains the lifelong impact of trauma on the mind and body, then introduces various therapeutic approaches to help survivors carry the crushing weight of their past. This book is a lifeline for survivors, validating their fragmented memories and reassuring them that their trauma responses are biological necessities rather than personal failures. As a writer, I love that many of the therapeutic approaches described in the book harness the power of imagination to reprocess traumatic memories—a transformative process of healing that’s nothing short of magical.

The Body Keeps the Score

By Bessel Van Der Kolk,

Why should I read it?

9 authors picked The Body Keeps the Score as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

#1 New York Times bestseller

"Essential reading for anyone interested in understanding and treating traumatic stress and the scope of its impact on society." -Alexander McFarlane, Director of the Centre for Traumatic Stress Studies

A pioneering researcher transforms our understanding of trauma and offers a bold new paradigm for healing in this New York Times bestseller

Trauma is a fact of life. Veterans and their families deal with the painful aftermath of combat; one in five Americans has been molested; one in four grew up with alcoholics; one in three couples have engaged in physical violence. Dr. Bessel van der…


Crying in H Mart

By Michelle Zauner,

Book cover of Crying in H Mart: A Memoir

I loved Michelle Zauner’s essay by the same name when it came out in The New Yorker in 2018. I teach this essay in my Intro to Food Writing Class, and my students find it as moving and transporting as I do. Zauner’s new memoir—it came out in April—chronicles the decline of her mother's health and her own journey in finding her sense of self, often through the Korean dishes, ingredients, and flavors that connect her to her mom. The mother-daughter relationship is complex, full of love and pain, and the writing is gorgeous and sparkling.

Crying in H Mart

By Michelle Zauner,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Crying in H Mart as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

One of Barack Obama's Favorite Books of 2021

The New York Times bestseller from the Grammy-nominated indie rockstar Japanese Breakfast, an unflinching, deeply moving memoir about growing up mixed-race, Korean food, losing her Korean mother, and forging her own identity in the wake of her loss.

'As good as everyone says it is and, yes, it will have you in tears. An essential read for anybody who has lost a loved one, as well as those who haven't' - Marie-Claire

In this exquisite story of family, food, grief, and endurance, Michelle Zauner proves herself far more than a dazzling singer,…


Blood, Bones & Butter

By Gabrielle Hamilton,

Book cover of Blood, Bones & Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef

Gabrielle Hamilton isn’t just a ‘reluctant chef’ (in her own words), she’s also an absolutely exquisite writer (her MFA really paid off!). Her memoir traces her life and love of food from her New Jersey childhood, through her many professional ups and downs and international travels (I especially love the parts where she’s staying at her Italian mother-in-law’s home, describing the incredible produce she was able to get. Oh, the tomatoes!) Did I extra love this because she grew up in the same small town I was born in? Maybe, but it’s a wonderful book no matter where you’re from.

Blood, Bones & Butter

By Gabrielle Hamilton,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Blood, Bones & Butter as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Magnificent' Anthony Bourdain

A sharply crafted and unflinchingly honest memoir. This is a rollicking, passionate story of food, purpose and family.

Blood, Bones & Butter follows the chef Gabrielle Hamilton's extraordinary journey through the places she has inhabited over the years: the rural kitchen of her childhood, where her adored mother stood over the six-burner with wooden spoon in hand; the kitchens of France, Greece, and Turkey, where she was often fed by complete strangers and learned the essence of hospitality; and the kitchen of her beloved Italian mother-in-law, who serves as the link between Hamilton's idyllic past and her…


Kitchen Confidential

By Anthony Bourdain,

Book cover of Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly

This is a nonfiction book, but it’s the late Anthony Bourdain’s expose on what goes on in restaurants from the chef’s perspective. It was both fascinating and shocking to learn about the almost savage relationships between the members of the kitchen staff, from the chef to the line cooks to the dishwashers and servers. There is a tragic foreshadowing, since Bourdain is candid about his drinking and substance abuse during his time as a professional cook. After reading this book, I no longer used jarred garlic because I recall Anthony’s scathing criticism of those who don’t use the fresh kind. It definitely gave me a totally new appreciation for those involved in the restaurant business.

Kitchen Confidential

By Anthony Bourdain,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Kitchen Confidential as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

THE CLASSIC BESTSELLER: 'The greatest book about food ever written' 'A compelling book with its intriguing mix of clever writing and kitchen patois ... more horrifically gripping than a Stephen King novel' Sunday Times 'Extraordinary ... written with a clarity and a clear-eyed wit to put the professional food-writing fraternity to shame' Observer _____________________________ After twenty-five years of 'sex, drugs, bad behaviour and haute cuisine', chef and novelist Anthony Bourdain decided to tell all - and he meant all. From his first oyster in the Gironde to his lowly position as a dishwasher in a honky-tonk fish restaurant in Provincetown;…


Climbing the Mango Trees

By Madhur Jaffrey,

Book cover of Climbing the Mango Trees: A Memoir of a Childhood in India

Growing up, my mom was often cooking something from one of Jaffrey’s brilliant cookbooks. Jaffrey’s memoir about her childhood in Delhi and Kampur is just as delicious. It begins on the high mango trees, where the older cousins and siblings climbed to pick and slice the juicy fruits and the younger kids dipped them into salt, red chilies, and smoky cumin. Elaborate meals were served for a boisterous extended family, presided over by the benevolent but moody patriarch Babaji. Jaffrey writes with insightful precision about the Hindu, Muslim, and British influences that shaped her country, and the devastation of partition and its aftermath. When teenage Jaffrey leaves for acting school in London, her “palate had already recorded millions of flavors” from her home—and we’re so lucky it did.

Climbing the Mango Trees

By Madhur Jaffrey,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Climbing the Mango Trees as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'I was born in a sprawling house by the Yamuna River in Delhi. When I was a few minutes old, Grandmother welcomed me into the world by writing 'Om', which means 'I am' in Sanskrit, on my tongue with a little finger dipped in honey. When the family priest arrived to draw up my horoscope, he scribbled astrological symbols on a long scroll and set down a name for me, Indrani, or 'queen of the heavens'. My father ignored him completely and proclaimed my name was to be Madhur ('sweet as honey').' So begins Madhur Jaffrey's enchanting memoir of her…


The Collected Schizophrenias

By Esmé Weijun Wang,

Book cover of The Collected Schizophrenias: Essays

As you probably deduced from the title, this book focuses on schizophrenia, not bipolar disorder. But it is the best mental health memoir I’ve ever read. I keep multiple copies so I can hand them out to my friends. Esmé Weijun Wang is a beautiful writer, and the book contains deep, insightful reflections on the weight of stigma and the nature of a psychiatric diagnosis.

The Collected Schizophrenias

By Esmé Weijun Wang,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

An intimate, moving book written with the immediacy and directness of one who still struggles with the effects of mental and chronic illness, The Collected Schizophrenias cuts right to the core. Schizophrenia is not a single unifying diagnosis, and Esme Weijun Wang writes not just to her fellow members of the "collected schizophrenias" but to those who wish to understand it as well. Opening with the journey toward her diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder, Wang discusses the medical community's own disagreement about labels and procedures for diagnosing those with mental illness, and then follows an arc that examines the manifestations of…


The Noonday Demon

By Andrew Solomon,

Book cover of The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression

I am a superfan of Andrew Solomon’s and I urge you to read absolutely anything you can get your hands on, but this book is the actual Bible for understanding depression from the inside out. 

It seems uncommon that when your life is going well, when everything seems to be working out in your favor, that depression should descend and rob you of all your joy, but that’s exactly what happened to Andrew Solomon. The way he writes about depression is beyond comprehension because it’s beautiful and profound, exacting and sweeping. Reading this, or anything of his, is like getting your organs tattooed with the ink of his experience. This isn’t simply one man’s account of his uncompromising depression, rather it’s a survey and sociological account of depression. Inspired by a 1998 article Solomon wrote for The New Yorker, this book is a wild achievement. Yes, it’s long and…

The Noonday Demon

By Andrew Solomon,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

WITH A NEW EPILOGUE BY THE AUTHOR

Like Primo Levi's The Periodic Table, The Noonday Demon digs deep into personal history, as Andrew Solomon narrates, brilliantly and terrifyingly, his own agonising experience of depression.

Solomon also portrays the pain of others, in different cultures and societies whose lives have been shattered by depression and uncovers the historical, social, biological, chemical and medical implications of this crippling disease. He takes us through the halls of mental hospitals where some of his subjects have been imprisoned for decades; into the research labs; to the burdened and afflicted poor, rural and urban. He…


Why Has Nobody Told Me This Before?

By Julie Smith,

Book cover of Why Has Nobody Told Me This Before?

Confession: as of this writing I am only ⅓ of the way through this book, but I like it immensely and find it immensely soothing and validating. A cursory search on Dr. Julie Smith, a therapist, tells me that she is “TikTok famous” and remains very popular on social media. This is not how I came across her work, or this book. This book is an excellent primer for how to survive being human in this world, with vital inside information from decades of therapeutic practice on how to face daily challenges and become attuned to our mental health. Filled with insights, strategies, and explanations that are both practice and relatable, this is a great book to gift to people of all ages.

Why Has Nobody Told Me This Before?

By Julie Smith,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Why Has Nobody Told Me This Before? as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Sound wisdom, easy to gulp down. I'm sure this book is already helping lots of people. Great work, Dr Julie' MATT HAIG, bestselling author of REASONS TO STAY ALIVE

'Brilliant. Bite-size. Easy to understand. Easy to flick through. It's like a reference to how you feel' Phillip Schofield on ITV's THIS MORNING

THE NO. 1 SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLER

'Julie Smith is the psychology teacher you wish you'd had at school' EVENING STANDARD
'This book is a goldmine. I truly treat it like a handbook now' STYLIST
'It's real, it's authentic . . . Very practical and very, very helpful' LORRAINE…


I'm Not Supposed to Be Here

By Rachel Reiland,

Book cover of I'm Not Supposed to Be Here: My Recovery from Borderline Personality Disorder

This is a personal and very candid account of a woman's confronting a diagnosis of BPD, complicated by an eating disorder and other self-sabotaging behavior, and working with her psychiatrist and others to support her on a road to recovery. The author examines her disruptive childhood and the obstacles impairing her recovery. Her openness and courage are inspiring.

I'm Not Supposed to Be Here

By Rachel Reiland,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked I'm Not Supposed to Be Here as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

With astonishing honesty, this memoir reveals what mental illness looks and feels like from the inside, and how healing from borderline personality disorder is possible through intensive therapy and the support of loved ones.

With astonishing honesty, this memoir, Get Me Out of Here, reveals what mental illness looks and feels like from the inside, and how healing from borderline personality disorder is possible through intensive therapy and the support of loved ones. A mother, wife, and working professional, Reiland was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder at the age of 29--a diagnosis that finally explained her explosive anger, manipulative behaviors,…


The Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Workbook for Bulimia

By Ellen Astrachan-Fletcher, Michael Maslar,

Book cover of The Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Workbook for Bulimia: Using DBT to Break the Cycle and Regain Control of Your Life

Eating disorder behaviors often reflect a coping skills deficit and this workbook focuses on skills to manage emotions and address the issue of a need to be in control. This workbook offers new ways to overcome distress and negative body image beliefs that keep you stuck in a destructive cycle. This workbook uses multiple exercises to help you learn and practice skills rather than just understanding skills, which makes a difference. 

The Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Workbook for Bulimia

By Ellen Astrachan-Fletcher, Michael Maslar,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Workbook for Bulimia as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

At the root of bulimia is a need to feel in control. While purging is a strategy for controlling weight, bingeing is an attempt to calm depression, stress, shame, and even boredom. The Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Workbook for Bulimia offers new and healthy ways to overcome the distressing feelings and negative body-image beliefs that keep you trapped in this cycle.

In this powerful program used by therapists, you'll learn four key skill sets-mindfulness, distress tolerance, emotion regulation, and interpersonal effectiveness-and begin using them right away to manage bulimic urges. The book includes worksheets and exercises designed to help you…


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