100 books like Mad in America

By Robert Whitaker,

Here are 100 books that Mad in America fans have personally recommended if you like Mad in America. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Far from the Tree: Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity

Joanna Faber and Julie King Author Of How to Talk When Kids Won't Listen: Whining, Fighting, Meltdowns, Defiance, and Other Challenges of Childhood

From my list on to create strong connections in their families.

Who are we?

Joanna Faber is the daughter of Adele Faber, a pioneer of the internationally acclaimed best-selling How To Talk series that has helped millions of parents worldwide. Joanna joined forces with her childhood friend Julie King to provide support for parents and educators of the 21st century. Each draws on her own experiences – Joanna as a bilingual teacher in West Harlem, Julie as a specialist in helping parents of children on the autism spectrum – to lead workshops and speak to parent groups, teachers, doctors, and librarians worldwide, including online sessions to support parents during Covid lockdowns and afterwards. Together, Joanna and Julie have written two best-selling How To Talk books

Joanna and Julie's book list on to create strong connections in their families

Joanna Faber and Julie King Why did Joanna and Julie love this book?

Instead of starting with the question, "How can I change my child's behavior?" Andrew Solomon starts by asking, "How does my child experience the world?"

He tells the stories of parents who have struggled to accept that their children are profoundly different from them and offers a deeply optimistic view of relationships and family. This book takes a fascinating dive into different ways of being human – among them, deafness, dwarfism, transgenderism, autism – and inspires us to look at our children through new eyes.

By Andrew Solomon,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Far from the Tree as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award, a Books for a Better Life Award, and one of The New York Times Book Review’s Ten Best Books of 2012, this masterpiece by the National Book Award–winning author of The Noonday Demon features stories of parents who not only learn to deal with their exceptional children, but also find profound meaning in doing so—“a brave, beautiful book that will expand your humanity” (People).

Solomon’s startling proposition in Far from the Tree is that being exceptional is at the core of the human condition—that difference is what unites us. He writes about…


Book cover of Hidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of an American Family

Stephen Trimble Author Of The Mike File: A Story of Grief and Hope

From my list on families struggling with mental health.

Who am I?

I’d been writing for forty years before I could write about the biggest story in my life. My 25 non-fiction books about the American West—landscape, Native peoples, conservation—are a joy to research, photograph, and create. But I had unfinished emotional business: my mentally ill brother who left home when I was six, never to return. After everyone in my family was gone, it was finally safe. I began to recreate my brother’s life, reveling in research. I know how to do that. Opening myself emotionally to the heart of my family story took far longer. Empathy is a choice, and I’ve made my choice.

Stephen's book list on families struggling with mental health

Stephen Trimble Why did Stephen love this book?

In many ways, my book is a prologue to Robert Kolker’s extraordinary book. When Mike left our home, he moved to the Colorado State Hospital, in 1957, just a few years before the Galvin brothers began to rotate through the same wards. My mother dealt with the guilt and shame, stigma and chaos of one child with schizophrenia. The Galvins had ten boys and two girls, and six of the boys were diagnosed with schizophrenia. Unimaginable. I feel especially close to their story because I went to college in Colorado Springs. I rode my bike near the Galvin home on Hidden Valley Road. Even the brain research ending Kolker’s book on a note of hope happens in Denver at the University of Colorado. Like mine, this is a Colorado story. 

By Robert Kolker,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • OPRAH’S BOOK CLUB PICK • ONE OF GQ's TOP 50 BOOKS OF LITERARY JOURNALISM IN THE 21st CENTURY • The heartrending story of a midcentury American family with twelve children, six of them diagnosed with schizophrenia, that became science's great hope in the quest to understand the disease.

"Reads like a medical detective journey and sheds light on a topic so many of us face: mental illness." —Oprah Winfrey

Don and Mimi Galvin seemed to be living the American dream. After World War II, Don's work with the Air Force brought them to Colorado,…


Book cover of No One Cares about Crazy People: My Family and the Heartbreak of Mental Illness in America

JoEllen Notte Author Of In It Together: Navigating Depression with Partners, Friends, and Family

From my list on helping you talk about mental health.

Who am I?

According to my mother, my first words were, “what’s that?” and I believe that’s indicative of the level of curiosity with which I try to approach life. That curiosity led me to write books about how we can better love ourselves and each other when depression is gumming up the works. Talking about mental illness is hard, and I aim to make it easier. I’m not a doctor or therapist. I am best described as a “sex writer with a theatre degree” and I like to say my work focuses on sex, mental health, and how none of us are broken.  

JoEllen's book list on helping you talk about mental health

JoEllen Notte Why did JoEllen love this book?

It can be incredibly frustrating to try to talk about how broken the mental healthcare system is (especially in the United States). Most people have no frame of reference for it.

Similarly the impact mental illness can have on family and loved ones is, for many, uncharted territory. Enter No One Care About Crazy People.

Powers expertly weaves the history of mental healthcare in America together with the story of his family’s battles with schizophrenia. The result is a heartbreaking and beautiful and horrifying and eye-opening book that leaves you better equipped to have those frustrating conversations. 

I’m not going to lie to you, this is a hard one to read. It hurts. That said, it is one of my all-time favorite books.

By Ron Powers,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked No One Cares about Crazy People as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"Extraordinary and courageous . . . No doubt if everyone were to read this book, the world would change."---New York Times Book Review

New York Times-bestselling author Ron Powers' critically acclaimed narrative of the social history of mental illness in America paired with the deeply personal story of his two sons' battles with schizophrenia.

From the centuries of torture of "lunatiks" at Bedlam Asylum to the infamous eugenics era to the follies of the anti-psychiatry movement to the current landscape in which too many families struggle alone to manage afflicted love ones, Powers limns our fears and myths about mental…


Book cover of Singermann

Stephen Trimble Author Of The Mike File: A Story of Grief and Hope

From my list on families struggling with mental health.

Who am I?

I’d been writing for forty years before I could write about the biggest story in my life. My 25 non-fiction books about the American West—landscape, Native peoples, conservation—are a joy to research, photograph, and create. But I had unfinished emotional business: my mentally ill brother who left home when I was six, never to return. After everyone in my family was gone, it was finally safe. I began to recreate my brother’s life, reveling in research. I know how to do that. Opening myself emotionally to the heart of my family story took far longer. Empathy is a choice, and I’ve made my choice.

Stephen's book list on families struggling with mental health

Stephen Trimble Why did Stephen love this book?

When I began my book, I wanted to know who my mother was at 22, when she left a brief disaster of a first marriage with an infant—my brother, Mike. Mom grew up in Montana, embedded in immigrant Jewish life. My great-uncle, Myron Brinig, wrote about that life and our family in Singermann, his first book (now, alas, an obscure classic available mostly in libraries). In early drafts of my book, I included far too much family history, with Myron as my guide. I loved the detail; my early readers did not. So my published book stays close to the core emotional story. And yet Singermann opens a window not just on our family but others with complicated immigration stories, dark secrets, and intergenerational mental illness.

By Myron Brinig,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

hardback no jacket


Book cover of The Memory Palace

Karen Harmon Author Of Where Is My Happy Ending?: A Journey of No Regrets

From my list on mental health, addiction, and families.

Who am I?

I have the expertise for this topic because I was raised in a loving home with a mother who struggled with bipolar disorder. At times my life was hilariously adventurous or heart-wrenchingly sad. Given little direction, I married an alcoholic and then went on to work at a Drug and Alcohol Treatment Center. I have fallen on hard times, but at the age of thirty-two, as a single mother collecting welfare, I managed to grief, heal and dig myself out, creating a rewarding life. I am optimistic, and I try to find humour in all things, especially after the tears and healing have subsided. My writing has brought me tremendous healing and joy.

Karen's book list on mental health, addiction, and families

Karen Harmon Why did Karen love this book?

A harrowing and beautiful tale of two sisters growing up with a paranoid schizophrenic mother. The author describes a fine line between gentle artistic creativity and debilitating mental illness. The reader will come away with a better understanding of how deeply children are affected growing up in a dysfunctional and traumatic environment. A mother's love and a journey to forgiveness teach us the complex meaning of love.

By Mira Bartok,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In the tradition of The Glass Castle, two sisters confront schizophrenia in this New York Times bestselling poignant memoir about family and mental illness. Through stunning prose and original art, The Memory Palace captures the love between mother and daughter, the complex meaning of truth, and one family’s capacity for forgiveness.

*A Washington Post Best Book of the Year *
*The National Book Critics Circle Award Winner for Best Autobiography*

“People have abandoned their loved ones for much less than you’ve been through,” Mira Bartók is told at her mother’s memorial service. It is a poignant observation about the relationship…


Book cover of Outside Mental Health: Voices and Visions of Madness

Bruce E. Levine Author Of A Profession Without Reason: The Crisis of Contemporary Psychiatry―Untangled and Solved by Spinoza, Freethinking, and Radical Enlightenment

From my list on psychiatry for freethinkers.

Who am I?

I am a practicing clinical psychologist, often at odds with the mainstream of my mental health profession. I have a strong interest in how society, culture, politics, philosophy, and psychology intersect, and my previous books about depression, activism, and anti-authoritarianism reflect that. The late historian Howard Zinn described me this way: “It is always refreshing to find someone who stands at the edge of his profession and dissects its failures with a critical eye, refusing to be deceived by its pretensions. Bruce Levine condemns the cold, technological approach to mental health and, to our benefit, looks for deeper solutions.”

Bruce's book list on psychiatry for freethinkers

Bruce E. Levine Why did Bruce love this book?

“What does it mean to be called crazy in a crazy world?” asks Will Hall, the host of Madness Radio. Hall is one of the most gifted media hosts whom I have ever been interviewed by, as he is especially talented in drawing out his subjects. Hall is unique in that he is also a therapist who was once diagnosed with schizophrenia. Outside Mental Health is a collection of his interviews with more than 60 scientists, journalists, doctors, activist ex-psychiatric patients, and artists who provide alternative visions to psychiatry’s medical model—a paradigm that has been nonproductive and counterproductive for many people.

By Will Hall,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Outside Mental Health: Voices and Visions of Madness reveals the human side of mental illness. In this remarkable collection of interviews and essays, therapist, Madness Radio host, and schizophrenia survivor Will Hall asks, "What does it mean to be called crazy in a crazy world?" More than 60 voices of psychiatric patients, scientists, journalists, doctors, activists, and artists create a vital new conversation about empowering the human spirit by transforming society. "This book is required reading for anyone who cares deeply about mental health and its discontents." -Jonathan Metzl, MD, author of The Protest Psychosis: Schizophrenia and Black Politics "Bold,…


Book cover of Eight Key Brain Areas of Mental Health and Illness

Sharon L. Cohen Author Of Disaster Mental Health Community Planning: A Manual for Trauma-Informed Collaboration

From my list on helping individuals respond to traumatic events.

Who am I?

Sometimes you need to search for the next roads to take in your life; other times these roads approach you. I was looking for new ways to use my long-term communication and mental health advocacy skills and then, sadly, the Sandy Hook shooting occurred. I immediately wanted to help community members ease their pain and assist cities nationwide to greatly improve their disaster mental health response. I never expected a pandemic would arrive only two months after I published, making my book all the more important. Now climate change is exacerbating our already stressful times, and we must act to stem mental health issues before they become out of hand.  

Sharon's book list on helping individuals respond to traumatic events

Sharon L. Cohen Why did Sharon love this book?

We are continually learning how the brain works through the work of neuroscientists. Dr. Sweeton uses her knowledge in the field to give readers a view into our brain and what we know at the present time about its functioning, how it is affected by mental illness, and what changes can occur through brain-based therapy. We have made great strides in helping individuals with such illnesses as schizophrenia and bipolar and learning how disorders such as PTSD occur and impact the brain. The book’s information is reader-friendly. The more we know about this fascinating area of the body, the better treatments that can be developed to help those who suffer from trauma-impacting events become more resilient and whole. 

By Jennifer Sweeton,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Eight Key Brain Areas of Mental Health and Illness as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Recent advances in affective neuroscience reveal long-held secrets of mental health and illness in the brain. However, the gap between brain science and clinical practice is wide, and many clinicians find neuroscience to be tedious, overly technical and laborious to learn. Eight Key Brain Areas of Mental Health and Illness bridges this gap, providing key information about the neuroscience of mental illness so clinicians can apply it in their work.

In this handbook, clinical psychologist and best-selling author Jennifer Sweeton details the eight main areas of the brain affected by mental illness, how brain changes show up in the therapy…


Book cover of The Collected Schizophrenias: Essays

Kathleen Founds Author Of Bipolar Bear and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Health Insurance: A Fable for Grownups

From my list on your bipolar bookshelf.

Who am I?

I’m a writer and illustrator based in coastal California. I have bipolar disorder, and my writing reflects my preoccupation with the mysteries of mental health. I wrote a novel-in-stories about an idealistic young teacher struggling with bipolar disorder, and my latest book is a graphic novel about a bipolar bear who gets trapped in the labyrinth of health insurance claims. I’m also the creator of a website designed to encourage people who are fighting off depression’s Voice of Doom. 

Kathleen's book list on your bipolar bookshelf

Kathleen Founds Why did Kathleen love this book?

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.

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…


Book cover of When Elephants Fly

Traci L. Jones Author Of Silhouetted by the Blue

From my list on shedding a light on mental illness.

Who am I?

One of the reasons I wanted to write about and explore mental health was because I was always fascinated by how the mind works and how it can turn on you without provocation. How and why some people can power through dark times, while others struggle is a topic that, within the African American community, isn't frequently discussed.  Often the advice given to someone about how to get through depression or anxiety is to pray or just dig deep and power through. It is the idea that because our ancestors suffered so much, those of us living in "easier" times should have nothing to be sad about that seems to prevent us from asking for help or getting therapy. 

Traci's book list on shedding a light on mental illness

Traci L. Jones Why did Traci love this book?

Lily’s mom has schizophrenia and Lily is terrified that she might get it too. Lily gets personally involved in a story at her newspaper internship about an abandoned elephant calf. Feeling a kinship with the elephant, Lily goes through extraordinary lengths to make sure the calf finds a safe home, while at the same time, realizing that she has begun to show signs of mental illness. Fischer combines mental illness, family, friendship, and animal welfare into a riveting, thought-provoking book. I loved how she showed the reader how a character can live with the early stages of schizophrenia without losing her sense of self and purpose. 

By Nancy Richardson Fischer,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked When Elephants Fly as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

"Nancy Richardson Fischer deserves high praise for her well-researched and endearing novel. Her imagination, craft, and effort has resulted in her writing a piece of fiction that is worthy of winning a prize. This really is an outstanding piece of fiction that cannot be recommended enough.” –New York Journal of Books

A Parade Most Anticipated Book of Fall 2018!
A YA Books Central Buzzworthy Books of Fall 2018!
A Publishers Lunch Fall Buzz Book!

Don’t miss one of the most heartwarming young adult novels of the year. Perfect for fans of Water for Elephants, Wonder and All the Bright Places,…


Book cover of Valis

Jeff Hopp Author Of Legend of the Mind

From my list on science fiction written by Philip K. Dick.

Who am I?

I am a professional artist and musician, and I owe a huge debt to Philip K. Dick. I started to read his works at a very young age (I believe I’ve read most everything he’s written at least twice), and my love of his work has continued throughout my life and he has been the greatest inspiration to my music, writing, and art. I felt so influenced and indebted that a created a comic book to honor him and to tell my stories and ideas that have populated my imagination as a result of his books.

Jeff's book list on science fiction written by Philip K. Dick

Jeff Hopp Why did Jeff love this book?

I consider myself a very spiritual person and I believe that it is a person’s responsibility to question what it means to be spiritual in order to better understand one’s own faith.

As I am, Philip K. Dick was obviously obsessed with wanting spiritual answers. Valis is very entertaining, but it also made me question all that I believe in a way that expanded and made my spirituality stronger.

By Philip K. Dick,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

It began with a blinding light, a divine revelation from a mysterious intelligence that called itself VALIS (Vast Active Living Intelligence System). And with that, the fabric of reality was torn apart and laid bare so that anything seemed possible, but nothing seemed quite right.

It was madness, pure and simple. But what if it were true?


5 book lists we think you will like!

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