77 books like Writing as a Way of Healing

By Louise Desalvo,

Here are 77 books that Writing as a Way of Healing fans have personally recommended if you like Writing as a Way of Healing. 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 Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence--From Domestic Abuse to Political Terror

Donna Jenson Author Of Healing My Life: from Incest to Joy

From my list on pathways to healing from sexual abuse.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a writer and advocate for survivors of sexual abuse. Since 1998, I have encouraged them to find their voice and use it through my organization, Time To Tell. Being isolated is foundational to our experience, and our culture perpetuates the isolation by often refusing to address it, acknowledge it, or expose it, as well as not listening tonor believing–survivors. This forces us to remain silent. I am certain that telling is healing. I lead writing circles for survivors to experience community and get support and encouragement. I recommend all these books not only for the wisdom offered but also the direct experience of not being alone in the reading.

Donna's book list on pathways to healing from sexual abuse

Donna Jenson Why did Donna love this book?

This was by far the most essential book in supporting my healing. Reading it at age 45, eight years into my recovery, so many times Herman described the exact thing I was either going through or had to go through to recover.

Explaining that being abused in a family was like being a prisoner of war blew my mind. Like a POW, seven-year-old me couldn’t escape. She helped explain so much of my trauma, my reactions, and my struggle and gave me a mountain of hope to climb!

By Judith Lewis Herman,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

When Trauma and Recovery was first published in 1992, it was hailed as a ground-breaking work. In the intervening years, Herman's volume has changed the way we think about and treat traumatic events and trauma victims. In a new afterword, Herman chronicles the incredible response the book has elicited and explains how the issues surrounding the topic have shifted within the clinical community and the culture at large. Trauma and Recovery brings a new level of understanding to a set of problems usually considered individually. Herman draws on her own cutting-edge research in domestic violence as well as on the…


Book cover of Wild Hope: Healing Words to Find Light on Dark Days

Donna Jenson Author Of Healing My Life: from Incest to Joy

From my list on pathways to healing from sexual abuse.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a writer and advocate for survivors of sexual abuse. Since 1998, I have encouraged them to find their voice and use it through my organization, Time To Tell. Being isolated is foundational to our experience, and our culture perpetuates the isolation by often refusing to address it, acknowledge it, or expose it, as well as not listening tonor believing–survivors. This forces us to remain silent. I am certain that telling is healing. I lead writing circles for survivors to experience community and get support and encouragement. I recommend all these books not only for the wisdom offered but also the direct experience of not being alone in the reading.

Donna's book list on pathways to healing from sexual abuse

Donna Jenson Why did Donna love this book?

Doing the work to heal from the trauma of sexual abuse is arduous and definitely not linear. We go in and out, up and down, finding and retracing our feelings, remembering’s, beliefs, and judgment.

This book is a fantastic antidote to the poison we’re purging. More than half the page's top corners are turned down, so I can quickly go anywhere in Ashworth’s uplifting offerings and get a dose of light and even laughter, like her poem titled, Rest Here Awhile. Just reading that phrase helps me take a deep breath.  

By Donna Ashworth,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Find Hope and Solace in Inspirational Poetry from Scotland’s Poet Sensation and Sunday Times Bestselling Author

“Beautiful and uplifting” —Davina McCall
“So inspiring, so heartfelt ... the way Donna writes is beyond beautiful.” —Lisa Snowdon

#1 Best Seller in Love Poetry, Poetry by Women, and Emotional Self Help

Wild Hope is Donna Ashworth’s powerful new collection of wisdom to help us find comfort, hope, peace, self-acceptance, and inspiration when we feel worn down, helpless, or sad.

Find solace in Ashworth's eloquent verse. Through contemporary poetry, Donna explores the human condition. This inspiring poetry collection brings comfort and guidance, offering a…


Book cover of Soaring Above the Ashes: Thriving Beyond Childhood Sexual Abuse

Donna Jenson Author Of Healing My Life: from Incest to Joy

From my list on pathways to healing from sexual abuse.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a writer and advocate for survivors of sexual abuse. Since 1998, I have encouraged them to find their voice and use it through my organization, Time To Tell. Being isolated is foundational to our experience, and our culture perpetuates the isolation by often refusing to address it, acknowledge it, or expose it, as well as not listening tonor believing–survivors. This forces us to remain silent. I am certain that telling is healing. I lead writing circles for survivors to experience community and get support and encouragement. I recommend all these books not only for the wisdom offered but also the direct experience of not being alone in the reading.

Donna's book list on pathways to healing from sexual abuse

Donna Jenson Why did Donna love this book?

I love this book because every chapter is about a survivor, with a large black and white photo of them. Seeing real faces put to their stories was so helpful and encouraging, showing me I am not alone.

In between the survivor stories, the author reveals both her own survivor story AND her wisdom as a therapist working with survivors. Thank you to Dr. Samuelson for all the survival strategies she affirmed and understood. I don't know a lot of therapists who have disclosed they're survivors–this one does, and with great clarity.

By Emily Samuelson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

It is Possible to Heal from Sexual Abuse

A diverse group of extraordinary survivors of sexual abuse tell their stories in their own voices. In Soaring Above the Ashes they give their names, share their stories, and show their faces in arresting black and white portraits, defying the perpetrators who can no longer shame or threaten them into silence.

These men and women are proud of who they have become. They describe the journey from helplessness to empowerment, from isolation to connection, from grief to joy. Together they create a virtual support group that you are invited to join. Moreover,…


Book cover of Beginning to Heal: A First Book for Men and Women Who Were Sexually Abused as Children

Donna Jenson Author Of Healing My Life: from Incest to Joy

From my list on pathways to healing from sexual abuse.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a writer and advocate for survivors of sexual abuse. Since 1998, I have encouraged them to find their voice and use it through my organization, Time To Tell. Being isolated is foundational to our experience, and our culture perpetuates the isolation by often refusing to address it, acknowledge it, or expose it, as well as not listening tonor believing–survivors. This forces us to remain silent. I am certain that telling is healing. I lead writing circles for survivors to experience community and get support and encouragement. I recommend all these books not only for the wisdom offered but also the direct experience of not being alone in the reading.

Donna's book list on pathways to healing from sexual abuse

Donna Jenson Why did Donna love this book?

It wasn't until I believed healing was possible that I started to heal. It's a huge step, and this little book was perfect for helping me to start believing. It's very short but packed full of wonderful ideas, exercises, and tips. I love their list of things to do to express your anger.

Reading it gave me the first glimpse that I had a right to my anger—what a gift! The second part has stories from other survivors and how they got to healing, which are very inspiring. 

By Ellen Bass, Laura Davis,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

There's nothing as wonderful as starting to heal, waking up in the morning and knowing that nobody can hurt you if you don't let them.

Beginning to Heal offers hope and guidance for all survivors starting the healing journey. No matter how great your pain today, you can not only heal but thrive. Based on the authors' bestseller The Courage to Heal, this Revised Edition of Beginning to Heal takes you through the key stages of the healing process, from crisis times to breaking the silence, grief, and anger, to resolution and moving on. It includes inspirational highlights, clear explanations,…


Book cover of Georgie, All Along

Ali Rosen Author Of Recipe for Second Chances

From my list on romances with complicated heroines.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a contemporary romance author who loves to feature my own messy heroines – mostly because they are the type of women I read! So my favorite books often feature women who are complex and even stereotypically unlikeable. I love seeing my expectations subverted and a more winding, emotional way to a happy ending. 

Ali's book list on romances with complicated heroines

Ali Rosen Why did Ali love this book?

I’d read anything Kate Clayborn writes but Georgie is truly special.

She’s a searching soul, who can’t seem to find her place and will do anything to jumpstart her life. When she accidentally ends up staying at home with a family friend, Levi Fanning, they start to put each others’ pieces back together. This book is so emotional and beautiful and really doesn’t give easy answers where other books would. I love it if you need a tender, internal book. 

By Kate Clayborn,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

“Perfect for Emily Henry fans. [This] is the love story that proves you can go home again…It’s so rich and wonderful.” – Julia Quinn on The TODAY Show

“A sweet novel that reminds you going back is sometimes the best path forward . . . and that planning is never as rewarding as doing.” —Jodi Picoult, New York Times bestselling author

“Magnetic, witty, and expansive. The world is going to fall hard for this deliciously whimsical and captivating story, and I cannot wait to see it!” —Ali Hazelwood, New York Times bestselling author of The Love Hypothesis

“Outright perfection!”—Christina Lauren,…


Book cover of A Writer's Diary: Being Extracts from the Diary of Virginia Woolf

Samantha Silva Author Of Love and Fury: A Novel of Mary Wollstonecraft

From my list on Wollstonecraft.

Why am I passionate about this?

After 15 years as a screenwriter (and some heartbreaking near misses with the big screen), I turned my pen to novel writing, with an adaptation of a script I’d sold four times. My new book, Love and Fury: A Novel of Mary Wollstonecraft, is hot off the press this year and tells the story of one of the great writers and thinkers of the late 18th century, mother of Mary Shelley, and widely regarded as the mother of feminism. I’m drawn to larger-than-life, brilliant, charismatic, complicated figures whose own trajectories have altered our own. I’m now at work on a collection of short stories and an adaptation of Mr. Dickens and His Carol for the stage.

Samantha's book list on Wollstonecraft

Samantha Silva Why did Samantha love this book?

This book became a kind of hymnal for me during the writing of Love and Fury. It was Virginia Woolf who in 1929 resurrected Mary Wollstonecraft’s reputation and legacy, buried for a century because a tell-all memoir written by her widower, William Godwin, scandalized the world. It seemed natural to turn to Woolf, who found inspiration in Wollstonecraft’s “experiments in living”. I read a section of the diary every day before I started to write. Woolf’s profound creative visions, her anguish, and passions, her voice, helped me locate Wollstonecraft and my own voice in hers. 

By Virginia Woolf,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked A Writer's Diary as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An invaluable guide to the art and mind of Virginia Woolf, drawn from the personal record she kept over a period of twenty-seven years.

Included are entries that refer to her own writing, and those that are relevant to the raw material of her work, and, finally, comments on the books she was reading. The first entry included here is dated 1918 and the last, three weeks before her death in 1941. Between these points of time unfolds the private world—the anguish, the triumph, the creative vision—of one of the great writers of the twentieth century.

“A Writer’s Diary .…


Book cover of Who's In, Who's Out: The Journals of Kenneth Rose: Volume One 1944-1979

Richard Vinen Author Of National Service: A Generation in Uniform 1945-1963

From my list on political diaries (United Kingdom).

Why am I passionate about this?

Richard Vinen is a Professor of History at King's College, London, and the author of a number of major books on 20th century Europe. He won the Wolfson Prize for History for his last book, National Service. Vinen is a specialist in 20th-century European history, particularly of Britain and France.

Richard's book list on political diaries (United Kingdom)

Richard Vinen Why did Richard love this book?

Rose wrote the Albany column in The Sunday Telegraph and it is tempting to dismiss him as a gossip columnist who spread amusing and implausible stories about the bons mots of Princess Margaret. In fact, Rose was a more substantial person. He was interested in the British establishment but aware of himself as an outsider (partly because he was of Jewish origin). He was also, particularly during the early part of his career, an odd kind of modernizer – close to Tony Benn, whom he had known at university.

By Kenneth Rose,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'The most detailed, amusing and accurate account ever of the post-war world of the English Establishment' William Shawcross, Daily Telegraph
'Extremely entertaining' Jane Ridley, Literary Review

Kenneth Rose was one of the most astute observers of the establishment for over seventy years. The wry and amusing journals of the royal biographer and historian made objective observation a sculpted craft.

His impeccable social placement located him within the beating heart of the national elite for decades. He was capable of writing substantial history, such as his priceless material on the abdication crisis from conversations with both the Duke of Windsor and…


Book cover of How My Journal Became a Bestseller

Leila Sales Author Of The Museum of Lost and Found

From my list on kids doing things only grown-ups could do.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m the author of a number of books for kids and teens, many of which imagine young characters having more influence than you might expect. My book The Museum of Lost and Found is about an 11-year-old girl who secretly curates a museum. The Campaign is about a 12-year-old who runs her babysitter’s campaign to become mayor of their town. And This Song Will Save Your Life is about a 16-year-old who secretly becomes an underground DJ. These characters have realistic and relatable kid problems, emotions, and relationships—but they also get to have responsibilities and power well beyond their years. 

Leila's book list on kids doing things only grown-ups could do

Leila Sales Why did Leila love this book?

I wrote my first book and started submitting it to publishers when I was eleven years old. I dreamed of publishing a book before I graduated from high school.

Ultimately, that didn’t happen—I was 25 by the time I sold my first book. So you can see why I loved a story about a character who lived my dream; a 14-year-old girl who becomes a bestselling author. Most people didn’t believe that kids can be authors, but seeing another kid do it—even if her story is fictional—makes it feel possible.

By Julia DeVillers,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked How My Journal Became a Bestseller as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 10, 11, 12, and 13.

What is this book about?

Jamie longs to be popular, but she never dreams of the fame that is suddenly hers after a private journal entry accidentally finds its way to her teacher, then a publisher, and her career as a bestselling author is kicked into motion. In no time at all she is caught in a swirl of book signings, power lunches, and photo ops. And the hottest guy in school finally knows her name! Could it get any better than this?

Girls who love wish-fulfillment fantasies like The Princess Diarieswill relish Jamie's foray into a world of glamour and glitz, which she ultimately…


Book cover of The Folded Clock: A Diary

Kate Doyle Author Of I Meant It Once

From my list on making sense of your life by writing about it.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m the author of the short story collection I Meant It Once. I often say it’s a book about being a mess in your twenties, but to speak more personally, writing it was a necessity, a way to make sense of both the intensity and mundanity of my own experiences. I love a book where you can palpably feel the author working to make sense of their own life, through language—and, in turn, sorting out what it is for any of us to be a person. Books like these are essential reading when life feels thorny, beautiful, and impossible to make sense of, and all you can do is try to write it down.  

Kate's book list on making sense of your life by writing about it

Kate Doyle Why did Kate love this book?

I don’t set much store by orderly chronology, in life or writing—as might be clear from my book, where old memories live vividly alongside the present moment!

More interesting to me is how memory accumulates and morphs over time, and how stories live in our minds. Needless to say I adore Julavits’s non-chronological diary The Folded Clock (and what a title)! In gorgeously detailed individual sections, she immerses us in her life without regard for the precise sequence of events. We’re left with a beautiful jumble, which is surely truer than how life is anyway. 

By Heidi Julavits,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A New York Times Notable Book

Rereading her childhood diaries, Heidi Julavits hoped to find incontrovertible proof that she was always destined to be a writer. Instead, they “revealed me to possess the mind of a phobic tax auditor.” Thus was born a desire to try again, to chronicle her daily life—now as a forty-something woman, wife, mother, and writer. A meditation on time and self, youth and aging, friendship and romance, faith and fate, and art and ambition, in The Folded Clock one of the most gifted prose stylists in American letters explodes the typically confessional diary form with…


Book cover of Go Ask Alice

Anna Esaki-Smith Author Of Make College Your Superpower: It's Not Where You Go, It's What You Know

From my list on books for teenagers about stuff parents don’t—or can’t—discuss.

Why am I passionate about this?

I understand how stressful it is to be a teenager today. And we’re talking stress across a variety of fronts, from academics to personal matters and everything in between. In my book on college admissions, I advise high schoolers to use data so they can get the most value from their university education as well as reduce the anxiety of what can be an overwhelming process. In my book recommendations, I’ve chosen novels the teenaged me thought honestly depicted the emotional challenges teenagers face and how those challenges are resolved. Whether it be applying to college or developing relationships, the key is to be authentic in who you are!

Anna's book list on books for teenagers about stuff parents don’t—or can’t—discuss

Anna Esaki-Smith Why did Anna love this book?

I’m sure there’s a lot of research about how people decide what book to read. I picked up this one because the cover was inky black, and the author was only identified as “Anonymous,” a pre-Internet version of clickbait!

However, I wasn’t disappointed as this book starkly chronicled a young woman’s descent into drug use through her diary entries. By reading a book presented in such a personal format, I really felt scared for the writer as she continually put herself in dangerous situations while her life spiraled out of control. I was also fascinated by some of the period details she provided, like detangling her just-shampooed hair with mayonnaise. I even tried that once!

Although “Anonymous” ended up being an adult writer, this book made me understand more about resilience and the power of redemption rather than the dangers of drug addiction, which, frankly, I had already learned in…

By Anonymous,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Go Ask Alice 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?

A teen plunges into a downward spiral of addiction in this classic cautionary tale.

January 24th
After you’ve had it, there isn't even life without drugs…

It started when she was served a soft drink laced with LSD in a dangerous party game. Within months, she was hooked, trapped in a downward spiral that took her from her comfortable home and loving family to the mean streets of an unforgiving city. It was a journey that would rob her of her innocence, her youth—and ultimately her life.

Read her diary.
Enter her world.
You will never forget her.

For thirty-five…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in sexual abuse, Virginia, and presidential biography?

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