69 books like W-3

By Bette Howland,

Here are 69 books that W-3 fans have personally recommended if you like W-3. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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

Book cover of The Bell Jar

TP Wood Author Of 77° North

From my list on stirring your heart and imagination.

Who am I?

It’s Saturday, 5 p.m. If you could peer back in time to the late ’60s, you’d find me plunked in front of our new colour RCA Victor, a Swanson TV dinner steaming before me, and the theme…da-da-DAAA-da-da-da-da-DAAAA, announcing my favourite show: Star Trek. I absorbed the logic of Mr. Spock, the passion of Dr. McCoy, and the fantastical world of Klingons, wormholes, and warp drives. Add to that a degree in history and English, and it set the stage for my passion to read and write in genres of science fiction and magical realism. I hope you find these books as stimulating and thought-provoking as I did.  

TP's book list on stirring your heart and imagination

TP Wood Why did TP love this book?

In The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath unscrews the top of her skull and invites us to peek inside. This is one of my favourite first-person narratives.

Considering Plath’s struggle with depression and her ultimate suicide, the book portrays the tribulations of a tortured artist in New York’s beatnik fifties. Plath’s lyrical language infuses the prose which appeals to my love of poetry.

By Sylvia Plath,

Why should I read it?

11 authors picked The Bell Jar as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

I was supposed to be having the time of my life.

When Esther Greenwood wins an internship on a New York fashion magazine in 1953, she is elated, believing she will finally realise her dream to become a writer. But in between the cocktail parties and piles of manuscripts, Esther's life begins to slide out of control. She finds herself spiralling into depression and eventually a suicide attempt, as she grapples with difficult relationships and a society which refuses to take women's aspirations seriously.

The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath's only novel, was originally published in 1963 under the pseudonym Victoria…


Book cover of I Never Promised You a Rose Garden

Mikita Brottman Author Of Couple Found Slain: After a Family Murder

From my list on psychiatric hospital by women who spent time there.

Who am I?

In addition to being an author, I’m a literature professor and a psychoanalyst; I have worked in prisons and psychiatric hospitals. I have also been a psychiatric patient. I’m fascinated by narrative, and by the way we use language to make sense of our own experiences and to connect with other people.

Mikita's book list on psychiatric hospital by women who spent time there

Mikita Brottman Why did Mikita love this book?

Originally published in 1964 under the pen name Hannah Green, I Never Promised You a Rose Garden is a bleak but beautifully-written book that has recently been reissued after some time out of print. It tells the story of Deborah Blau, 16, incarcerated in a psychiatric hospital after being diagnosed with schizophrenia. The book is a thinly-disguised autobiographical account; Greenberg spent years at Maryland’s Chestnut Lodge, where she was helped in her recovery by the understanding and unconventional therapy provided by Freida Fromm-Reichman (Dr. Fried in the book). Much of the time, Deborah retreats into her own world, with its own language, gods, and history. The book helped me to understand why a person might elect to live in their own mind, where their world, although dark, is at least within their control.

By Joanne Greenberg,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked I Never Promised You a Rose Garden as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The multimillion-copy bestselling modern classic of autobiographical fiction about a young woman’s struggle with mental health, featuring a new foreword by Esmé Weijun Wang, the New York Times bestselling author of The Collected Schizophrenias, and a new afterword by the author

A Penguin Classic

After making an attempt on her own life, sixteen-year-old Deborah Blau is diagnosed with schizophrenia. With the reluctant and fearful consent of her parents, she enters a psychiatric hospital many hours from her home in suburban Chicago. Here she will spend the next three years, trying, with the help of a gifted psychiatrist, to find a…


Book cover of Faces in the Water

Mikita Brottman Author Of Couple Found Slain: After a Family Murder

From my list on psychiatric hospital by women who spent time there.

Who am I?

In addition to being an author, I’m a literature professor and a psychoanalyst; I have worked in prisons and psychiatric hospitals. I have also been a psychiatric patient. I’m fascinated by narrative, and by the way we use language to make sense of our own experiences and to connect with other people.

Mikita's book list on psychiatric hospital by women who spent time there

Mikita Brottman Why did Mikita love this book?

Faces in the Water was first published in 1961, though it received far less attention and acclaim. The “story,” such as it is, is narrated by Istina Mavet, a shy, introverted young woman (again, based closely on the author) who, like the author, spends ten years in a New Zealand psychiatric hospital. Faces in the Water recounts long, dull years of cruelty and suffering. But don’t let this put you off—Frame’s style is marvelously poetic. The narrative is abstract in places and was at first difficult for me to get into, but once I began to see things from Istina’s perspective, the story came to life, and I found it brutally beautiful. 

By Janet Frame,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

I was now an established citizen with little hope of returning across the frontier; I was in the crazy world, separated now by more than locked doors and barred windows from the people who called themselves sane.'

When Janet Frame's doctor suggested that she write about her traumatic experiences in mental institutions in order to free herself from them, the result was Faces in the Water, a powerful and poignant novel.

Istina Mavet descends through increasingly desolate wards, with the threat of leucotomy ever present. As she observes her fellow patients, long dismissed by hospital staff, with humour and compassion,…


Book cover of The Snake Pit

Mikita Brottman Author Of Couple Found Slain: After a Family Murder

From my list on psychiatric hospital by women who spent time there.

Who am I?

In addition to being an author, I’m a literature professor and a psychoanalyst; I have worked in prisons and psychiatric hospitals. I have also been a psychiatric patient. I’m fascinated by narrative, and by the way we use language to make sense of our own experiences and to connect with other people.

Mikita's book list on psychiatric hospital by women who spent time there

Mikita Brottman Why did Mikita love this book?

This is the 75th anniversary edition of a book first published in 1946, a best-seller at the time, and the impetus for changes in the treatment of psychiatric patients. The narrator, novelist Victoria Cunningham, finds herself incarcerated in a corrupt and badly-run hospital with little memory of how she got there; I was disturbed by the way she had to navigate through an obscure, nonsensical bureaucracy that seems more insane than any of the hospital’s patients. Virginia is supported by her loving and loyal husband, but at times she loses track of her memories and forgets who he is. The book is frightening—especially given that it’s based on the author’s own experiences at Bellevue Hospital in New York—but also intimate and moving.

By Mary Jane Ward,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Vintage book


Book cover of Ten Days in a Mad-House

Jerry Mitchell Author Of Race Against Time: A Reporter Reopens the Unsolved Murder Cases of the Civil Rights Era

From my list on learning about investigative reporting.

Who am I?

The stories of investigative reporter Jerry Mitchell have helped put four Klansmen and a serial killer behind bars. His stories have also helped get two people off Death Row. The author of Race Against Time, Mitchell is a Pulitzer Prize finalist and a winner of more than 30 other national awards, including a $500,000 MacArthur “genius” grant. After working for three decades for the statewide Clarion-Ledger, Mitchell left in 2019 and founded the Mississippi Center for Investigative Reporting, a nonprofit that exposes corruption and injustices, investigates cold cases, gives voice to the voiceless, and raises up the next generation of investigative reporters.

Jerry's book list on learning about investigative reporting

Jerry Mitchell Why did Jerry love this book?

Nellie Bly was one of the great muckraking reporters in American history. She pretends to be insane and is admitted to the “mad house.” Along the way, she exposes the horrible treatment of those suffering from mental illness, but of her treatment in a boarding home, where spoiled beef was served.

Many at the Women’s Lunatic Asylum on Roosevelt Island suffered no mental illness; they simply didn’t know how to speak English, she wrote. “I left the insane ward with pleasure and regret—pleasure that I was once more able to enjoy the free breath of heaven; regret that I could not have brought with me some of the unfortunate women who lived and suffered with me, and who, I am convinced, are just as sane as I was and am now myself.”

Her reporting led to a grand jury investigation and reforms inside the asylum.

By Nellie Bly,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Ten Days in a Mad-House as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Ten Days in a Mad-House (1887) is a book by American investigative journalist Nellie Bly. For her first assignment for Joseph Pulitzer's famed New York World newspaper, Bly went undercover as a patient at a notorious insane asylum on Blackwell's Island. Spending ten days there, she recorded the abuses and neglect she witnessed, turning her research into a sensational two-part story for the New York World later published as Ten Days in a Mad-House.

Checking into a New York boardinghouse under a false identity, Bly began acting in a disturbed, unsettling manner, prompting the police to be summoned. In a…


Book cover of Alice

E.B. Moore Author Of Loose in the Bright Fantastic

From my list on humor about surviving family and dementia.

Who am I?

Throughout my life I found the trick to getting through rough patches meant isolating dark thoughts. I got them out by creating something (artworks, poems, stories), and looked forward to new horizons, though these works could easily be misinterpreted by those around me. When I was fifteen, after my father died and we were forced off the farm, I created a series of disturbing drawings that won the school's art prize and were displayed at graduation. A friend of my mother saw the exhibit and said, “Oh Dorothy, I’m so sorry.” It gave us a laugh later when Mother realized this method of cleansing beat finding a psychiatrist, and the cost couldn’t be beat.

E.B.'s book list on humor about surviving family and dementia

E.B. Moore Why did E.B. love this book?

This story is a twist on a familiar Lewis Carroll tale.

It is unsettling in a dementia-like way, spinning the reader from the known into the unknown with just enough of the old story to keep them from tipping completely off balance, hope and dark humor always alive. 

This book helped me with the twisting of fact and fiction in my own books, where I used many of my own family incidents (and fears), but gave them to fictional characters with their own generational slant.

By Christina Henry,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In a warren of crumbling buildings and desperate people called the Old City, there stands a hospital with cinderblock walls which echo with the screams of the poor souls inside.In the hospital, there is a woman. Her hair, once blonde, hangs in tangles down her back. She doesn't remember why she's in such a terrible place-just a tea party long ago, and long ears, and blood...Then, one night, a fire at the hospital gives the woman a chance to escape, tumbling out of the hole that imprisoned her, leaving her free to uncover the truth about what happened to her…


Book cover of Wildthorn

Rosie Garland Author Of Vixen

From my list on positive LGBTQ+ characters.

Who am I?

It’s no surprise to hear I’m drawn to stories featuring outsiders, people who don’t / won’t conform and are fed up trying to force themselves into the narrow roles society offers. Folk who slide under the radar, and never make it into history books (which is all of us, right?). This springs from being an outsider myself, the weird kid who didn’t fit. I’ve chosen novels where the LGBTQ+ characters strive and struggle but do not die tragically. Put simply, they are real people, complete with flaws and strengths. These books are your very own Time Machines: wonderful stories to transport you into the past.

Rosie's book list on positive LGBTQ+ characters

Rosie Garland Why did Rosie love this book?

Set in 19th century England, this novel is aimed at Young Adult readers and is a reminder that a good read is simply good, whatever age bracket it’s aimed at. It resonated with my own teenage struggles to break free of restrictive expectations – even though mine were trifling compared to what the heroine Louisa has to go through! She resists the restrictions of Victorian society and the limited choices available to women, and is locked up in an asylum. It prompted me to read more about the era and discovered the shocking truth of how this really happened to women who stepped out of line…

By Jane Eagland,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Wildthorn as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 14, 15, 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

Seventeen-year-old Louisa Cosgrove has never enjoyed the life of the pampered, protected life girls of wealth were expected to follow in nineteenth century England. It was too confining. She would have much rather been like her older brother, allowed to play marbles, go to school, become a doctor. But little does she know how far her family would go to kill her dreams and desires. Until one day she finds herself locked away in an insane asylum and everyone--the doctors and nurses--insist on calling her Lucy Childs, not Louisa Cosgrove.
Surely this is a mistake. Surely her family will rescue…


Book cover of The Last Warner Woman

Renita D'Silva Author Of The Girl in the Painting: A heartbreaking historical novel of family secrets, betrayal and love

From my list on featuring multicultural characters and themes.

Who am I?

I grew up in a small village in India. The nearest library was in the next town, two bus rides and a long walk away and comprised of one bookshelf, half full, the books with several pages missing. I read and reread those books, making up my own narratives for the missing pages. I suppose this was the crucial first step in my journey to author. I write stories featuring diverse protagonists. In my books, I explore themes of displacement and belonging, how people brought up in different cultures and during different times respond to challenges, how their interactions and reactions are informed by their different upbringings and values.

Renita's book list on featuring multicultural characters and themes

Renita D'Silva Why did Renita love this book?

Oh, this book was just magical. And the ending – wow! Everything comes together and how. The writing is just beautiful and the story is enchanting. This book transported me and wowed me - truly I wasn’t expecting to love it as much as I did. I cried so much while reading this book – the language is so poetic and lyrical. It is a story about stories and it is a masterpiece in my opinion. 

By Kei Miller,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"Miller is a name to watch." The Independent

"This is magical, lyrical, spellbinding writing." Granta

Adamine Bustamante is born in one of Jamaica's last leper colonies. When Adamine grows up, she discovers she has the gift of "warning": the power to protect, inspire, and terrify. But when she is sent to live in England, her prophecies of impending disaster are met with a different kind of fear people think she is insane and lock her away in a mental hospital.

Now an older woman, the spirited Adamine wants to tell her story. But she must wrestle for the truth with…


Book cover of Girl, Interrupted

Trisha Cull Author Of The Death of Small Creatures

From my list on revealing the truth about mental illness.

Who am I?

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?

The prose style in the memoir, Girl, Interrupted, is clean, concise, and unembellished. The spare writing leaves no room for self-pity, yet still tells a vivid story of mental unraveling and convalescence concurrently. Kaysen meets a cast of vulnerable characters during her nearly year-long commitment in a psychiatric hospital. They form unlikely friendships, and we get to know all of their various neuroses in a stifling environment that is at once a cage and a path to self-discovery and health. 

I was reminded of my own two commitments to psychiatric hospitals, how strange and austere the world became in those weeks, how time became irrelevant with the breakfast, lunch and dinner announcements, medication time, nightly bed checks, and the ironic “fresh air breaks,” on the back steps of the ward where I and my own unlikely cast of characters smoked cigarettes and commiserated about our unique predicaments. 

I was…

By Susanna Kaysen,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Futaro Uesugi is a second-year in high school, scraping to get by and pay off his family's debt. The only thing he can do is study, so when Futaro receives a part-time job offer to tutor the five daughters of a wealthy businessman, he can't pass it up. Little does he know, these five beautiful sisters are quintuplets, but the only thing they have in common is that they're all terrible at studying! At this rate, the sisters can't graduate, and Futaro must think of a plan that suits each of them - which feels hopeless when five-out-of-five of these…


Book cover of The Revisionaries

Scotto Moore Author Of Wild Massive

From my list on SFF that take an improbable premise and go nuts.

Who am I?

I’m a former playwright, current novelist, future designation unclear but maybe something like really committing to being the person that always carries one of every kind of charging cable, just in case. I’m old enough to be properly jaded about our media landscape, not simply to “fit in” with “people” who are “theoretically out there somewhere” but because I’ve genuinely seen so much and I’m just like, I mean, whatever. But sometimes a novel forges a new path across the imagination with such an unexpected angle on worldbuilding or a blatant assault on the propriety of common plot structure that I literally swoon with excitement. I’m about to tell you about some of those novels.

Scotto's book list on SFF that take an improbable premise and go nuts

Scotto Moore Why did Scotto love this book?

My new book features the classic “book within a book” trope as a key plot mechanic, but I think Moxon is going for the gold medal in the category of “books within books within books,” with multiple competing characters claiming to be authors and demonstrating unnatural control over their domains, while bemused but frequently baffled readers attempt to decipher what nested reality is foregrounded and what the hell it all means regardless.

It starts off as a spiritual quest for inner-city redemption, starring the inmates of a forgotten asylum and the local parish that tries to tend to them; then an inmate reveals a deeper story of solipsistic villainy that blows away their current problems, and then at least one if not multiple authors involved throws all the cards up in the air and reshuffles them into a multiverse-spanning road movie.

All this, plus the prose is dense and thoughtful…

By A.R. Moxon,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"A modern-day classic."—Ron Charles, Washington Post
 
“A spectacular invention.”—The New York Times
 
"Compulsively readable."—NPR
 
 
Things do not bode well for Father Julius. . . A street preacher decked out in denim robes and running shoes, Julius is a source of inspiration for a community that knows nothing of his scandalous origins.
 
But when a nearby mental hospital releases its patients to run amok in his neighborhood, his trusted if bedraggled flock turns expectantly to Julius to find out what’s going on. Amid the descending chaos,
 
Julius encounters a hospital escapee who babbles prophecies of doom, and the growing palpable sense…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in psychiatric hospitals, Chicago, and hospitals?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about psychiatric hospitals, Chicago, and hospitals.

Psychiatric Hospitals Explore 38 books about psychiatric hospitals
Chicago Explore 363 books about Chicago
Hospitals Explore 21 books about hospitals