The most recommended breast cancer books

Who picked these books? Meet our 20 experts.

20 authors created a book list connected to breast cancer, and here are their favorite breast cancer books.
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A Monster Calls

By Patrick Ness, Siobhan Dowd, Jim Kay (illustrator)

Book cover of A Monster Calls

Linh S. Nguyễn Author Of No Place Like Home

From Linh's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Cambridge University researcher Arts-based educator

Linh's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Why did Linh love this book?

Targeted towards children, A Monster Calls is a classic novel for all ages. It is a moving and complex portrayal of grief through a fantasy lens.

I cried so much reading this book and faced hard truths about loss, just as the main character did in coming to terms with his mother’s passing.

By Patrick Ness, Siobhan Dowd, Jim Kay (illustrator)

Why should I read it?

14 authors picked A Monster Calls as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The bestselling novel and major film about love, loss and hope from the twice Carnegie Medal-winning Patrick Ness.

Conor has the same dream every night, ever since his mother first fell ill, ever since she started the treatments that don't quite seem to be working. But tonight is different. Tonight, when he wakes, there's a visitor at his window. It's ancient, elemental, a force of nature. And it wants the most dangerous thing of all from Conor. It wants the truth. Patrick Ness takes the final idea of the late, award-winning writer Siobhan Dowd and weaves an extraordinary and heartbreaking…

The Cancer Journals

By Audre Lorde,

Book cover of The Cancer Journals

Stacy Alaimo Author Of Bodily Natures: Science, Environment, and the Material Self

From the list on thinking of ourselves as the environment.

Who am I?

I’ve been passionate about animals, the environment, and social justice since I was a child. As an adult I have been frustrated—even enragedthat so many products and practices are considered safe and “normal” even though they harm wildlife, pets, and people. I think it's bizarre that people imagine themselves as separate from the chemicals they spray in their homes and their yards, even as they breathe in the toxins. I hope that the concept of “transcorporeality,” which urges us to see our own bodies as literally part of the environment, will convince people that environmentalism isn’t optional but is a vital part of human health and social justice.

Stacy's book list on thinking of ourselves as the environment

Why did Stacy love this book?

Like everything Audre Lorde wrote, this slim book is powerful and revolutionary. Lorde refuses to see her breast cancer as just a personal problem, and instead, as a Black lesbian feminist, traces its origins to larger economic, industrial, and political forces, including food additives and air pollution. Her activist research is impressive, but it is her fierce, bold critiques that I find most inspiring. She calls out the medical establishment, “We live in a profit economy and there is no profit in the prevention of cancer; there is only profit in the treatment of cancer.” She condemns psychological “causes” of cancer, “It is easier to demand happiness than clean up the environment.” Lorde calls us to understand ourselves within a matrix of social and environmental forces and to make change.

By Audre Lorde,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Moving between journal entry, memoir, and exposition, Audre Lorde fuses the personal and political as she reflects on her experience coping with breast cancer and a radical mastectomy.

A Penguin Classic

First published over forty years ago, The Cancer Journals is a startling, powerful account of Audre Lorde's experience with breast cancer and mastectomy. Long before narratives explored the silences around illness and women's pain, Lorde questioned the rules of conformity for women's body images and supported the need to confront physical loss not hidden by prosthesis. Living as a "black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet," Lorde heals and re-envisions herself…

A Breast Cancer Alphabet

By Madhulika Sikka,

Book cover of A Breast Cancer Alphabet

Devesh Dahale Author Of The 5000th Baby: A Parent's Perspective and Journey through the First Year of Life

From the list on patient/family experience in healthcare.

Who am I?

Life caught me by surprise when our youngest son was born with a birth defect that launched our family into the world of surgeries, and treatments. After experiencing the management of chronic care for our child firsthand, I realized how important it is to share personal stories and experiences. It enables empathy and a deeper understanding and appreciation of what patients and families go through. Autobiographical accounts of patients and families are still very limited. We need more people to come forward and share their own patient/family experiences in order to promote the betterment of healthcare and healing through relating with others and learning from others’ experiences.

Devesh's book list on patient/family experience in healthcare

Why did Devesh love this book?

Breast cancer has become ubiquitously one of the most common and dreaded cancers among women. Through this book, the author authentically and innovatively advocates for patients like her, who are diagnosed with breast cancer. She describes her journey in detail in an attempt to guide and advise others on how to deal with and manage life in the face of such a deadly diagnosis. While patients may be overwhelmed by the medical management aspects of the disease, the author reminds us to keep the human and psychological aspects in mind as a patient is after all a human being with emotions at the core.

By Madhulika Sikka,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Breast Cancer Alphabet as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A definitive and approachable guide to life during, and after, breast cancer
The biggest risk factor for breast cancer is simply being a woman.  Madhulika Sikka's A Breast Cancer Alphabet offers a new way to live with and plan past the hardest diagnosis that most women will ever receive: a personal, practical, and deeply informative look at the road from diagnosis to treatment and beyond.

What Madhulika Sikka didn't foresee when initially diagnosed, and what this book brings to life so vividly, are the unexpected and minute challenges that make navigating the world of breast cancer all the trickier.  A…

The Perfect Breasts

By Cara Bertoia,

Book cover of The Perfect Breasts

Susie Black Author Of Rag Lady

From Susie's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Irreverent Funny Sarcastic Compassionate Honest

Susie's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Why did Susie love this book?

The Perfect Breasts is a gripping tale of the impact breast cancer has on every aspect of the lives of each member of a family.

Author Cara Bertoia penned a tautly emotional plot driven by love, loss, trust, family ties, and the inner strength one must summon to face adversity created by both human fallibility and fate rather than turning away.

This book forces readers to face a hard truth: The ultimate symbol of femininity and womanhood can either be a source of great strength and pride or, when lost, a weapon to destroy one’s faith in life and oneself.

By Cara Bertoia,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Perfect Breasts is a personal and raw short story about boobs, by Cara Bertoia author of Casino Queen, written to honor breast cancer awareness month. All proceeds from every page read on Kindle Unlimited to every book bought will be donated to cancer research!

Brilliantly written, The Perfect Breasts is a riveting tale that chronicles the lifelong impact breast cancer has on every aspect of the lives of the Clein family. It should be required reading for every woman because it does not soft-soap the emotional effect of a life-threatening disease.
— Susie Black author of The Holly Swimsuit…

The Story You Need to Tell

By Sandra Marinella,

Book cover of The Story You Need to Tell: Writing to Heal from Trauma, Illness, or Loss

Merle R. Saferstein Author Of Living and Leaving My Legacy, Vol. 1

From the list on legacy and legacy projects.

Who am I?

In my 26 years as a Holocaust educator, I worked closely with hundreds of Holocaust survivors helping them to pass along their legacy of remembrance to thousands of students and teachers. When I retired, I developed and began teaching a course entitled Living and Leaving Your Legacy®. Since 2012, I have taught 64 classes and have spoken to audiences locally, nationally, and internationally. My goal is to help people understand that how we live our lives becomes our legacy. I have worked with individuals at the end of their lives helping them to do sacred legacy work and have trained hospice staffs and volunteers to do the same.

Merle's book list on legacy and legacy projects

Why did Merle love this book?

As a former college writing teacher, Sandra Marinella understands the value of writing one’s story. In The Story You Need to Tell, she recounts her personal journey with breast cancer and tells the stories of others who experienced their own illnesses and traumas. Throughout the book and with the help of writing prompts, Marinella guides and encourages readers to write their stories as an empowering way to heal. She demonstrates how this leads individuals to move toward a better and fuller self as well as to a new, hopeful, and resilient narrative. I recommend this book because it is an excellent guide to writing one’s story, which will eventually become part of that person’s legacy.

By Sandra Marinella,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Story You Need to Tell as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A practical and inspiring guide to transformational personal storytelling, The Story You Need to Tell is the product of Sandra Marinella’s pioneering work with veterans and cancer patients, her years of teaching writing, and her research into its profound healing properties. Riveting true stories illustrate Marinella’s methods for understanding, telling, and editing personal stories in ways that foster resilience and renewal. She also shares her own experience of using journaling and expressive writing to navigate challenges including breast cancer and postpartum depression. Each of the techniques, prompts, and exercises she presents helps us “to unravel the knot inside and to…

The Ones with Purpose

By Nozizwe Cynthia Jele,

Book cover of The Ones with Purpose

Karen Laura Thornber Author Of Global Healing: Literature, Advocacy, Care

From the list on aging and end-of-life decisions and care.

Who am I?

Karen Thornber is Harry Tuchman Levin Professor in Literature and Professor of East Asian Languages and Civilizations at Harvard. Her work brings humanistic insights to global challenges.  Thornber is the author of the award-winning scholarly books Empire of Texts in Motion and Ecoambiguity as well as most recently Global Healing: Literature, Advocacy, Care. Current projects include books on gender justice in Asia, mental health, inequality/injustice, sustainability/climate change, and indigeneity.

Karen's book list on aging and end-of-life decisions and care

Why did Karen love this book?

South African writer Nozizwe Cynthia Jele’s exceptional novel The Ones with Purpose features a family grappling with the death from breast cancer of their oldest sister, eldest daughter, wife, and mother Fikile. The novel depicts caring health professionals who plead with the family to take Fikile home where she can die peacefully, without further intervention. Fikile too begs her loved ones to let her go. But her mother cannot accept that her eldest daughter is dying. Jele’s novel depicts a caring family torn apart by cancer and highlights the importance of making certain that a family’s desperation does not augment the suffering of their dying loved one.

By Nozizwe Cynthia Jele,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

With her sister, Fikile, dead from breast cancer, her father long gone, her mother emerging from years of slumber, and her younger brother, Mbuso, consumed with rage that refuses to settle, Anele Mbuza has no choice but to collect herself and grow up. Or does she? Because, if truth be told, she has not signed up to be her family's caretaker. Surely her dreams are valid? The Ones with Purpose is a remarkable story of family, disappointment, sacrifice, forgiveness, and love.

Book cover of Where the Forest Meets the Stars

S.M. Stevens Author Of The Wallace House of Pain: A Novelette

From S.M.'s 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Animal lover Renewable energy advocate Alternative music lover Mother

S.M.'s 3 favorite reads in 2023

Why did S.M. love this book?

I love this because it’s a stellar example of an intriguing premise that can carry an entire book (as long as it’s well-written, which this is!) When a dirty, bruised girl appears in the yard of Joanna’s rental cabin, Joanna just wants “Ursa” to go home. But Ursa inserts herself into Joanna’s life with abandon and tenacity. 

The odd girl insists she is from another planet, sent to Earth to observe and learn. Keeping the reader wondering if Ursa might actually be an alien – will the story veer into science-fiction? – is no easy task and Vanderah nails it. As I read, I continually asked myself, Is she or isn’t she? Best of all, I wasn’t sure which answer I wanted.

By Glendy Vanderah,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Where the Forest Meets the Stars as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An Amazon Charts, Wall Street Journal, and Washington Post bestseller, and a Goodreads Choice Award finalist.

In this gorgeously stunning debut, a mysterious child teaches two strangers how to love and trust again.

After the loss of her mother and her own battle with breast cancer, Joanna Teale returns to her graduate research on nesting birds in rural Illinois, determined to prove that her recent hardships have not broken her. She throws herself into her work from dusk to dawn, until her solitary routine is disrupted by the appearance of a mysterious child who shows up at her cabin barefoot…


By Rebecca Hodge,

Book cover of Wildland

Laura Drake Author Of Amazing Gracie

From the list on women at the edge of change.

Who am I?

I was raised in middle-class America by a strong woman and an alcoholic. I survived an abuser when I realized that I was the answer to my problems. I write about tough subjects but am an eternal optimist who believes a strong spirit will always ensure a happy ending.

Laura's book list on women at the edge of change

Why did Laura love this book?

About a woman who rents a remote cabin in the mountains to decide; her cancer is back, and she must either fight again, or let nature take its course. There is a forest fire, and she is pivotal in saving not only her life, but the lives of others.

I loved it because it’s about a woman who doesn’t know how strong she is until faced with a situation she can’t let herself walk away from. 

This resonates in mine, and I expect many other women’s lives.

By Rebecca Hodge,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

For fans of Jodi Picoult and Anita Shreve comes an exhilarating debut novel of one woman's courage in the face of catastrophe.

She'll do anything to save them.
But what will she do to save herself?

When Kat Jamison retreats to the Blue Ridge Mountains, she's counting on peace and solitude to help her make a difficult decision. Her breast cancer has returned, but after the death of her husband, her will to fight is dampened. Now she has a choice to make: face yet another round of chemotherapy or surrender gracefully.

Self-reflection quickly proves impossible as her getaway is…

Dr. Susan Love's Breast Book

By Susan M. Love, Karen Lindsey, Elizabeth Love

Book cover of Dr. Susan Love's Breast Book

Theresa Brown Author Of Healing: When a Nurse Becomes a Patient

From the list on having cancer.

Who am I?

I am an expert on being a cancer patient because I was diagnosed with breast cancer in the fall of 2017. I am also a former oncology and hospice nurse. A cancer diagnosis always feels like a calamity and my work with very sick cancer patients showed me how serious the disease can be. I also thought that our health care system would react to cancer with compassion, but I was wrong. I felt on my own as a patient, and that experience led me to reflect on my nursing work. Healing alternates between me being a nurse and a patient. The alteration shows the failings of our health care system, and how to make it more caring.

Theresa's book list on having cancer

Why did Theresa love this book?

After being diagnosed with breast cancer I sampled outside information about breast cancer sparingly and this was the only book that made the cut. I dipped into it when I had a question and otherwise left it alone, but afterward I was usually glad I checked to see what Susan Love had to say and appreciated the big picture context that the book offers. If you can afford it, get the most recent edition since it will be the most accurate about treatment plans and ongoing research. 

By Susan M. Love, Karen Lindsey, Elizabeth Love

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Dr. Susan Love's Breast Book as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

For a woman faced with a diagnosis of breast cancer, the information available today is vast, uneven, and confusing. For more than two decades, readers have relied on Dr. Susan Love's Breast Book to guide them through this frightening thicket of research and opinion to find the best possible options for their particular situations. This sixth edition explains exciting advances in targeted treatments, hormonal therapies, safer chemotherapy, and immunologic approaches as well as new forms of surgery and radiation. There is extensive guidance for the increasing number of women living for years with metastatic breast cancer. With Dr. Love's warm…