100 books like Touched With Fire

By Kay Redfield Jamison,

Here are 100 books that Touched With Fire fans have personally recommended if you like Touched With Fire. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of When Breath Becomes Air

Mahala Yates Stripling Author Of Bioethics and Medical Issues in Literature

From my list on medical/scientific stories that show what it means to be human.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an independent scholar who read Mortal Lessons, Richard Selzer’s book of essays about our common human condition - mortality. I began writing the biography of this Yale surgeon who influenced the literature-and-medicine movement, ushering in patient-centered care. I read everything by and about him, gaining a background in the medical humanities. In the middle of this project, I was asked to write Bioethics and Medical Issues in Literature. The first edition came out in 2005; subsequently I updated and published a second paperback edition in 2013, accessible by the general public and used as a complete curriculum. Clearly, reading literature helps us explore what makes us human.

Mahala's book list on medical/scientific stories that show what it means to be human

Mahala Yates Stripling Why did Mahala love this book?

Dr. Kalanithi’s memoir is surprisingly uplifting. A non-smoker, he was diagnosed with stage IV metastatic lung cancer in 2013. He was an American neurosurgeon, and his wife Lucy, an internal medicine doctor, is now a Clinical Professor of Medicine at Stanford.

I find it brave that they decided to have a child in the midst of Paul’s treatment. Cady was eight months old when her father died in 2015 at the age of 37. His jargon-free writings from a doctor-patient point of view show they lived intentionally, finding joy and meaning, regardless of a terminal diagnosis. Medical training is based on empirical science; however, Paul’s despair caused him to return to the devout Christianity of his youth. He found its language better suited to grasping hope and love in human life. 

By Paul Kalanithi,

Why should I read it?

12 authors picked When Breath Becomes Air as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

**THE MILLION COPY BESTSELLER**

'Rattling. Heartbreaking. Beautiful.' Atul Gawande, bestselling author of Being Mortal

What makes life worth living in the face of death?

At the age of thirty-six, on the verge of completing a decade's training as a neurosurgeon, Paul Kalanithi was diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer. One day he was a doctor treating the dying, the next he was a patient struggling to live.

When Breath Becomes Air chronicles Kalanithi's transformation from a medical student asking what makes a virtuous and meaningful life into a neurosurgeon working in the core of human identity - the brain - and…


Book cover of Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts.

Elias Aboujaoude Author Of A Leader's Destiny: Why Psychology, Personality, and Character Make All the Difference

From my list on the psychological quest for meaning.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a psychiatry professor, researcher, and author at Stanford University. Besides OCD, my research has focused on the interface between technology and psychology, both in its negative manifestations (e.g., video game addiction, online narcissism, cyberbullying) and positive applications (e.g., telemedicine, virtual reality therapy, AI digital therapeutics). My reading tastes and non-scientific writing topics reflect the same interests—deep and highly personal psychological explorations of individuals on a quest for meaning or facing seemingly insurmountable obstacles, symptoms, or character tests.  

Elias' book list on the psychological quest for meaning

Elias Aboujaoude Why did Elias love this book?

How-to books are typically far from my favorites. They are often reductive and play fast and loose with psychology–pretending, for example, that personality traits are easily moldable—so I typically stay away.

Still, it was hard to resist the uplifting pull of a book that turns courage into a set of seemingly teachable and achievable skills, ultimately encouraging people to break through their inhibitions and step up and lead. 

By Brené Brown,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • Brené Brown has taught us what it means to dare greatly, rise strong, and brave the wilderness. Now, based on new research conducted with leaders, change makers, and culture shifters, she’s showing us how to put those ideas into practice so we can step up and lead.

Don’t miss the five-part HBO Max docuseries Brené Brown: Atlas of the Heart!

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY BLOOMBERG

Leadership is not about titles, status, and wielding power. A leader is anyone who takes responsibility for recognizing the potential in people and…


Book cover of On the Move: A Life

Elias Aboujaoude Author Of A Leader's Destiny: Why Psychology, Personality, and Character Make All the Difference

From my list on the psychological quest for meaning.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a psychiatry professor, researcher, and author at Stanford University. Besides OCD, my research has focused on the interface between technology and psychology, both in its negative manifestations (e.g., video game addiction, online narcissism, cyberbullying) and positive applications (e.g., telemedicine, virtual reality therapy, AI digital therapeutics). My reading tastes and non-scientific writing topics reflect the same interests—deep and highly personal psychological explorations of individuals on a quest for meaning or facing seemingly insurmountable obstacles, symptoms, or character tests.  

Elias' book list on the psychological quest for meaning

Elias Aboujaoude Why did Elias love this book?

What happens when a master of externalized psychological profiles turns his attention inward?

I found this to be a restless account of his journey through medicine, addiction, love, and his own inner brain’s workings. This book proves that Sacks’ ultimate and most interesting subject may have been the man himself.

By Oliver Sacks,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

NATIONAL BESTSELLER • A “wonderful memoir” (Los Angeles Times) about a brilliantly unconventional physician and writer, a man who has illuminated the many ways that the brain makes us human. • “Intimate.... Brim[s] with life and affection.” —The New York Times

When Oliver Sacks was twelve years old, a perceptive schoolmaster wrote: “Sacks will go far, if he does not go too far.” It is now abundantly clear that Sacks has never stopped going. With unbridled honesty and humor, Sacks writes about the passions that have driven his life—from motorcycles and weight lifting to neurology and poetry. He writes about…


Book cover of The Spinoza Problem

Elias Aboujaoude Author Of A Leader's Destiny: Why Psychology, Personality, and Character Make All the Difference

From my list on the psychological quest for meaning.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a psychiatry professor, researcher, and author at Stanford University. Besides OCD, my research has focused on the interface between technology and psychology, both in its negative manifestations (e.g., video game addiction, online narcissism, cyberbullying) and positive applications (e.g., telemedicine, virtual reality therapy, AI digital therapeutics). My reading tastes and non-scientific writing topics reflect the same interests—deep and highly personal psychological explorations of individuals on a quest for meaning or facing seemingly insurmountable obstacles, symptoms, or character tests.  

Elias' book list on the psychological quest for meaning

Elias Aboujaoude Why did Elias love this book?

I loved the thrilling interweaving of historical fact with creative fiction, psychology with politics, and high Golden Age Amsterdam culture with Nazi Germany depravity.

Irv Yalom reimagines the inner lives of two men who couldn’t be more different, and whose individual and unique fates history still somehow found a way to unite. 

By Irvin Yalom,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A haunting portrait of Arthur Rosenberg, one of Nazism's chief architects, and his obsession with one of history's most influential Jewish thinkers

In The Spinoza Problem, Irvin Yalom spins fact and fiction into an unforgettable psycho-philosophical drama. Yalom tells the story of the seventeenth-century thinker Baruch Spinoza, whose philosophy led to his own excommunication from the Jewish community, alongside that of the rise and fall of the Nazi ideologue Alfred Rosenberg, who two hundred years later during World War II ordered his task force to plunder Spinoza's ancient library in an effort to deal with the Nazis' "Spinoza Problem."

Seamlessly…


Book cover of An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness

Sherman Alexie Author Of You Don't Have to Say You Love Me: A Memoir

From my list on understanding bipolar disorder.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm an enrolled member of the Spokane Tribe of Indians. I grew up in Wellpinit, Washington, on the Spokane Indian Reservation. In 2010, I was diagnosed with Bipolar 2 Disorder but I now believe that I’ve struggled with the disorder since childhood. I'm a novelist, poet, short fiction writer, and filmmaker. I've won the National Book Award for Young People's Literature and the PEN Faulkner Award for Fiction.

Sherman's book list on understanding bipolar disorder

Sherman Alexie Why did Sherman love this book?

Jamison writes about bipolar disorder as a professor of psychiatry and as a person who suffers from the illness. This dual vision allows us to see the disorder in multifaceted ways. Jamison is particularly adept at explaining why bipolar sufferers are so tragically prone to attempt and commit suicide. I suffer from Bipolar 2 Disorder with mixed features, meaning that I can be depressed and manic at the same time. This is a dangerous combination. A depressed person is more likely to have suicidal ideation and a manic person has enough energy to make suicidal plans and carry them out. Jamison's book is vital for me to understand and manage my suicidal ideation.

By Kay Redfield Jamison,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

An Unquiet Mind is a definitive examination of manic depression from both sides: doctor and patient, the healer and the healed. A classic memoir of enormous candour and courage, it teems with the wit and wisdom of its writer, Dr Kay Redfield Jamison.

With an introduction by Andrew Solomon, writer and lecturer on psychology and culture.

'It stands alone in the literature of manic depression for its bravery, brilliance and beauty.' - Oliver Sacks

I was used to my mind being my best friend. Now, all of a sudden, my mind had turned on me: it mocked me for my…


Book cover of Madness: A Bipolar Life

Trisha Cull Author Of The Death of Small Creatures

From my list on revealing the truth about mental illness.

Why am I passionate about this?

In addition to my lived experience as someone who has struggled with mental health and addiction since adolescence, I'm passionate about social justice issues related to mental illness and substance use. In June 2021, I completed a post-graduate program in Mental Health & Addictions. Throughout my studies I was able to gain a deeper understanding of how my own struggles developed and what they have come to mean to me from both a personal and clinical perspective. Now, I endeavor to pursue future writing projects in various genres that illuminate mental health issues as a relevant and timely topic of interest. I also hope to work with disenfranchised populations while pursuing my creative writing.   

Trisha's book list on revealing the truth about mental illness

Trisha Cull Why did Trisha love this book?

Hornbacher details her experience of living with bipolar disorder—the psychological escapades, the unimaginable highs, and devastating lows. These transcendent highs and crippling lows are mirrored in the strange delights and perils of the physical world. She is the life of parties, dressed provocatively in silky red dresses and matching ruby lipstick. But she is also capable of breaking ties with reality, hopping in a car with a boyfriend and travelling across the state for no reason in particular, an adventure in which the pleasure of the high becomes too much, too dangerous to be reckoned with. 

I too recall waking up at 2 am, writing for 18 hours straight, (without a water or pee break), and creating a beautiful essay in one draft which was later published. I once spent two days and nights in a blinding fury of elation that was simultaneously beautiful and terrifying. I too remember in…

By Marya Hornbacher,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Pulitzer Prize–nominated author of Wasted, Marya Hornbacher's astonishing New York Times best-selling memoir from the belly of bipolar disorder.

Marya Hornbacher tells the story that until recently she had no idea was hers to tell: that of her life with Type I ultra-rapid-cycle bipolar disorder, the most severe form of bipolar disease.

In Madness, Hornbacher relates that bipolar can spawn eating disorders, substance abuse, promiscuity, and self-mutilation, and that for too long these symptoms have masked, for many of the three million people in America with bipolar, their underlying illness. Hornbacher’s fiercely self-aware portrait of bipolar, starting as early as…


Book cover of Free to Fly: A Story of Manic Depression

Mahala Yates Stripling Author Of Bioethics and Medical Issues in Literature

From my list on medical/scientific stories that show what it means to be human.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an independent scholar who read Mortal Lessons, Richard Selzer’s book of essays about our common human condition - mortality. I began writing the biography of this Yale surgeon who influenced the literature-and-medicine movement, ushering in patient-centered care. I read everything by and about him, gaining a background in the medical humanities. In the middle of this project, I was asked to write Bioethics and Medical Issues in Literature. The first edition came out in 2005; subsequently I updated and published a second paperback edition in 2013, accessible by the general public and used as a complete curriculum. Clearly, reading literature helps us explore what makes us human.

Mahala's book list on medical/scientific stories that show what it means to be human

Mahala Yates Stripling Why did Mahala love this book?

I like Caroline’s bravery. When her manic-depression surfaced, she was in Richard Selzer’s Yale summer writing class. I witnessed her ensuing years being obsessed with him as he tried to keep her stable, although she lived in Toronto and he in New Haven.

A vulnerable Chinese immigrant in a foreign land, she holds nothing back when describing her bipolar condition, confinement, and recovery. Selzer stabilized her, she said, because he listened to her non-judgmentally while encouraging her to write.

I find her to be inspirational, expressing practical therapeutic steps to recovery with a new hope on the horizon. She lectures worldwide, giving others the courage to fly.    

By Caroline Fei-Yeng Kwok,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Free to Fly is a harrowing and heavenly narrative. Its author courageously describes scenes from hell and then dramatizes scenes from heaven. It shows that with hope and persistence men and women have the chance to search and find the freedom to grow wings. John Robert Colombo There are so many wonderful lessons in this book: The inner world of someone with bipolar disorder, stigmas associated with mental disorders, strengths and weaknesses of our mental health care system, and importance of cultural factors in mental health. All of these are told in a vivid, poignant, insightful, and inspirational manner. FREE…


Book cover of Lincoln's Melancholy: How Depression Challenged a President and Fueled His Greatness

Sam Rawlins Author Of Young Lincoln of New Salem

From my list on fascinating information about Abraham Lincoln.

Why am I passionate about this?

From the age of ten, I became enthralled with Abraham Lincoln. The story of his life captured my imagination. I had to know more about him. Through the decades I searched out little-known stories, eyewitness accounts, and letters thought lost. Becoming fascinated how he went from an almost illiterate young man to becoming the person we know from history; I went to the Lincoln Presidential Library in Springfield Illinois and to where he lived in New Salem to do additional research. After that, I started writing a three-year labor of love: my own Lincoln book, primarily focusing on one key period of his life. 

Sam's book list on fascinating information about Abraham Lincoln

Sam Rawlins Why did Sam love this book?

This is an insightful examination of Lincoln’s struggles with depression and thoughts of suicide. The author has done a masterful job of exploring Lincoln’s bouts of sadness, which began in his childhood and continued throughout his life, often closing in on him. My own research revealed much the same: from a cruel father with no real understanding of his son to the tragic loss of those he loved. It was always in the back of his mind, eating at him.

The National Mental Health Association and others have praised this book. If you want to get inside Lincoln, read this wonderful study of the man.

By Joshua Wolf Shenk,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A nuanced psychological portrait of Abraham Lincoln that finds his legendary political strengths rooted in his most personal struggles.

Giving shape to the deep depression that pervaded Lincoln's adult life, Joshua Wolf Shenk’s Lincoln’s Melancholy reveals how this illness influenced both the President’s character and his leadership. Mired in personal suffering as a young man, Lincoln forged a hard path toward mental health. Shenk draws on seven years of research from historical record, interviews with Lincoln scholars, and contemporary research on depression to understand the nature of Lincoln’s unhappiness. In the process, Shenk discovers that the President’s coping strategies—among them,…


Book cover of Rosie Colored Glasses

Ericka Clay Author Of A Violent Hope

From my list on female protagonists from dysfunctional families.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a female writer, I love digging into the minds of women characters, especially in light of their family circumstances. I think we can sometimes underestimate the importance of a strong, loving family unit in terms of personal development. But what’s amazing is how a person’s story can be redeemed even if they were raised in a less-than-ideal environment. Even though I got pretty lucky in the parent department, I know not a lot of people have. And I love showing others through fiction that despite hardships they’ve had to face along the way, they are still loved and still wanted by a God who knows them better than anyone.

Ericka's book list on female protagonists from dysfunctional families

Ericka Clay Why did Ericka love this book?

I’m recommending this book because it made me cry, and I don’t cry. The warped triangle between two divorced parents and their daughter is tragic enough, but what really stirred me was the way Willow so fiercely wants to live life with her “fun” mom, not really understanding that not everything in life is as it seems.

By Brianna Wolfson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Little Miss Sunshine meets About a Boy in this piercingly bittersweet novel which shows how the most meaningful love can last a lifetime.

Willow's mother Rosie isn't like the other mums. She's wears every colour of the rainbow, has midnight feasts, and sends Willow to school covered in paint.

Meanwhile, Rex is the sort of father who checks Willow's homework, has a rule for everything, and would never dream of playing in the dirt.

Now Rosie and Rex live in different places, Willow knows her mum needs her even more. But Rosie's multi-coloured way of looking at the world can…


Book cover of 72 Hour Hold

Bobi Gentry Goodwin Author Of Revelation: A Novel

From my list on getting your heart, mind, and spirit inspired.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been a reader since childhood and books have simply become a part of my life’s tapestry. They have comforted me in times of stress. They have provided me with ripples of joy. And simply kept me up almost all night. The books that I have recommended underscore the changing cultures of the human condition all centered around three universal themes, faith, mental illness, and family. When drafting my first novel I dived into simply capturing aspects of the human condition. As a mental health clinician I see the many tides of life and how the human condition has many times been couched within family dynamics. 

Bobi's book list on getting your heart, mind, and spirit inspired

Bobi Gentry Goodwin Why did Bobi love this book?

This novel changed the way I looked a mental illness. Campbell was a tremendous author and her prose is clearly highlighted in this heart-wrenching novel about how mental illness not only impacts the sufferer but ricochets and touches everyone around them. 72 Hour Hold is an important timeless work that helps to uncover what many have suspected or even known about what their family members fight behaviorally and in the shadows of their minds. Depression, bipolar disorder, and anxiety are real and so are the families they impact. What families experience and what we openly discuss are sometimes two separate realities. Pick up this book and see why Campbell attempts to pull the covers off of mental illness and discover just why mental health matters. As a mental health clinician and author sometimes seeing what the issue looks like can dive deeper that any label. 

By Bebe Moore Campbell,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked 72 Hour Hold as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • "A tightly woven, well-written story about mothers and daughters, highs and lows, ex-husbands and boyfriends.... Universally touching." —San Francisco Chronicle

Trina is eighteen and suffers from bi-polar disorder, making her paranoid, wild, and violent. Frightened by her own child, Keri searches for help, quickly learning that the mental health community can only offer her a seventy-two hour hold. After these three days Trina is off on her own again.

Fed up with the bureaucracy and determined to save her daughter by any means necessary, Keri signs on for an illegal intervention known as The Program,…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in bipolar disorder, mental health, and authors?

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