The best books about amnesia

16 authors have picked their favorite books about amnesia and why they recommend each book.

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Book cover of We Were Liars

We Were Liars

By E. Lockhart,

Why this book?

This novel’s ending is everything! But it wouldn’t be as powerful without Lockhart’s lyrical build-up. It’s best to go into this one without knowing too much. But, without spoiling anything, the novel involves privileged teens who take matters into their own hands to stop their mothers from fighting over the family assets. Unfortunately, the consequences of their plan are devastating and far-reaching.

From the list:

The best young adult books that illustrate the ripple effect of one bad decision

Book cover of The Maze Runner

The Maze Runner

By James Dashner,

Why this book?

I love books that combine mystery, science fiction, high stakes, adventure, and sizzling plots. The Maze Runner does it all. From the opening pages, I wanted to know how Thomas got there, and why? Why was his memory wiped? What’s the purpose of the maze? Who’s behind it all? And most important, is there a way out? Well worth the read.

From the list:

The best mind-bending dystopian science fiction

Book cover of What Alice Forgot

What Alice Forgot

By Liane Moriarty,

Why this book?

I love an unreliable narrator, and what’s more unreliable than a woman who has lost her memory? Liane Moriarty is masterful in giving the reader just enough information to follow along in the mystery with Alice as she tries to puzzle together what’s happened to her life in the ten years she’s “lost.” The story is thought-provoking in the best way, forcing the reader to think about how we all sometimes get stuck in a rut that might lead to a place we never really felt we chose. It made me wonder what me ten years ago would think if…

From the list:

The best novels about struggling women turning their lives around

Book cover of Restart


By Gordon Korman,

Why this book?

I love stories that force characters to grapple with big questions. In both Wayward Creatures and Restart, the main character has done something they realize is huge and has hurt a lot of people. Only in Restart, the narrator, Chase, has suffered a traumatic brain injury and doesn’t remember anything about who he was or what he did. The story asks readers to think about what justice and accountability require, both inside and outside the courtroom.

From the list:

The best children’s books exploring ideas of justice and accountability

Book cover of Blackout


By K. Monroe,

Why this book?

Blackout follows Allie, a girl who has woken up after a car accident with amnesia in the small town of Pender Falls, British Columbia. Allie can’t remember who she was before, but she’s forced to fall back into the life of “Old Allie”—a girl who had a boyfriend the new Allie isn’t comfortable with, a best friend she doesn’t trust, and a shady past she finds more than unsavory. Allie slowly discovers that she doesn’t like who she was before—and she wants to be better.

The core mystery of this story revolves around Allie discovering the events that lead to…

From the list:

The best small town YA mysteries to keep you up all night

Book cover of I Found You

I Found You

By Lisa Jewell,

Why this book?

Breaking a rule and recommending another book by the same author (that’s how much I love Lisa Jewell because I’m not a rule-breaker!). This author writes real, authentic mom characters. This book has all that encompasses the domestic suspense/thriller genre, so you’ll love all that good stuff while trying to find out why this hot guy with amnesia washed up on her beach and the page-turning story behind it. But you’ll love the main character because she’s a bit of a mess, literally. Not a perfect mom, messy house, saggy belly, but, oh, her heart! Her maternal, caring, instinct is…

From the list:

The best books that’ll make you turn the pages “like a mother”

Book cover of More Than This

More Than This

By Patrick Ness,

Why this book?

A young adult novel that no one would call horror. What makes this scary? The plot will bend your mind like watching The Matrix for the first time. Pick up this book if you want to see how to write scary and easy-to-read science fiction that isn't horror from a world-class author.

From the list:

The best books with plots so mind-bending they are scary

Book cover of Anybody Out There?

Anybody Out There?

By Marian Keyes,

Why this book?

This is my favourite book from my all-time favourite author. I will never forget reading this for the first time, in my then-boyfriend’s flat at the start of our relationship. I ignored him all day (it’s ok, we ended up married) until I’d read it cover to cover. Marian Keyes knows how to pack a devastating emotional punch within her witty, entertaining novels and this is one of the most brutal. It’s a crystal-clear insight into grief, a book that made me sob uncontrollably, and there is no one better at presenting the frustrations and comforting joy of family dynamics…

From the list:

The best books about grief and complicated family dynamics

Book cover of Playing Doctor Part One: Medical School (Stumbling through with Amnesia)

Playing Doctor Part One: Medical School (Stumbling through with Amnesia)

By John Lawrence,

Why this book?

The future Dr. Lawrence sustains two traumatic brain injuries right before starting medical school. After inexplicably not taking any time off to recover, he trundles ahead despite short-term memory loss. What follows is an entertaining and chaotic four years of surmounting formidable obstacles while suffering an imposter syndrome that lingers throughout his training.

I think every medical student aside from the most incurable narcissist feels they are playing doctor much of the time. This memoir is highly relatable.

From the list:

The best painfully honest books about training to become a doctor

Book cover of Identity: Unknown (Tall, Dark & Dangerous, Book 8)

Identity: Unknown (Tall, Dark & Dangerous, Book 8)

By Suzanne Brockmann,

Why this book?

The hero Mitchell Shaw is a Navy SEAL, but as the story begins, he wakes up in a homeless shelter with amnesia. He does have a gun in his boot and money, too, but no clue how he got there. He finds a note that says “Looking forward to meeting you.”—Rebecca Keyes, the Lazy Eight Ranch. He heads for the ranch, hoping it will help him figure out who he really is. What a great hero!

From the list:

The best books with great hunks for heroes

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