The most recommended books about diseases

Who picked these books? Meet our 23 experts.

23 authors created a book list connected to diseases, and here are their favorite disease books.
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Book cover of Violet Black

Fleur Beale Author Of Juno of Taris

From my list on young people trapped by draconian rules.

Who am I?

I’m a writer from Aotearoa New Zealand and I’ve always been drawn to stories of struggle, especially where a character fights against outside control. I started writing for the high school students I was teaching and got hooked on the YA genre. I love it partly because it crosses all genres – I can write about a 14-year-old girl trying to live in a repressive religious cult but I can also write about a 15-year-old boy who’s a champion kart driver. Karting at top level takes enormous skill as I discovered, but it also has room for dirty tricks.

Fleur's book list on young people trapped by draconian rules

Fleur Beale Why did Fleur love this book?

Violet Black is the first book in a trilogy set in the near future. Violet Black and Ethan Wright are both in a coma after contracting the lethal M-fever. They have never met:

I couldn’t speak, but I was trying so hard to communicate and then... then... I pushed. And something, someone, pushed back. Her name is Violet. Violet, but she is sunshine-yellow, and I need to find her because I think she might be just like me.

But there is a far more serious reason for Ethan to find Violet: the sinister Foundation is trying to hunt them down.

Violet Black in the first book of a trilogy where Violet must fight for her sanity and her freedom from those who want to control her. It’s always wonderful when you’ve got captured by a story and its characters to know that there are more books to come. I love…

By Eileen Merriman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Violet Black 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?

The first book in the Black Spiral Trilogy

Set in the near future, this first book in a fast-paced trilogy will hook you in from the first page.

Violet Black and Ethan Wright are both in a coma after contracting the lethal M-fever. They have never met-

I couldn't speak, but I was trying so hard to communicate and then . . . then . . .
I pushed. And something, someone, pushed back.
Her name is Violet. Violet, but she is sunshine-yellow, and I need to find her because I think she might be just like me.

But there…


Book cover of How Do You Care for a Very Sick Bear?

Nicole Audet Author Of Are You Eating My Lunch?

From my list on bedtime stories turning kids into book lovers.

Who am I?

My journey as a writer began in correlation with my career as a family doctor. After reading Dr. Jacques Ferron’s, books, I knew I wanted to be an author as well as a doctor. While pursuing my medical career, I wrote medical articles and books. My husband and I have also been featured in Chicken Soup for the Soul of Quebecers with the story Witness of the Last Breath. This is the story of the last night of my daughter-in-law dying of lung cancer. Before she died, I promised Marie-Noëlle that I would pursue my writing career to change the world one young reader at a time. And I did.

Nicole's book list on bedtime stories turning kids into book lovers

Nicole Audet Why did Nicole love this book?

In 2006, my daughter-in-law lost her battle with cancer. At the time, I couldn't find any books to explain to young children how to deal with a very sick friend. In 2019, Vanessa Bayer filled the gap with her great picture book on this important and delicate topic.

Tears came to my eyes as I read this beautiful story by an author who has survived this terrible illness. She tells us what she liked most about her friends while she was sick. Everybody facing cancer in his life should read this book. 

By Vanessa Bayer, Rosie Butcher (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked How Do You Care for a Very Sick Bear? as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 2, 3, 4, and 5.

What is this book about?

From debut children's author Vanessa Bayer and illustrator Rosie Butcher, How Do You Care for a Very Sick Bear? is a sweet picture book with advice for children―and adults―for dealing with a sick friend.

You and your friend Bear
are an excellent pair.

But if your friend gets sick,
And can’t do all the things that you two love to do…

You may wonder--how do you care for a very sick Bear?

When someone dear is dealing with illness, it's difficult to know what to do or say. The actor Vanessa Bayer experienced this firsthand when she was treated for…


Book cover of Before You Forget

Teena Raffa-Mulligan Author Of Monelli & Me

From Teena's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Wordweaver Reader Sea-gazer Sun-dreamer Optimist

Teena's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Teena Raffa-Mulligan Why did Teena love this book?

When this book was released in 2017 I delayed reading it due to its major theme of a teenager dealing with her father’s diagnosis of early-onset Alzheimer’s Disease.

I usually avoid books or movies where this is a key element of the story due to my own experience. While I was a mature adult in my late forties and well past my teens when my mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, I know too well the devastating impact of slowly losing a loved one to the disease. I’m glad I finally set aside my reservations and read this book.

Julia Lawrinson has drawn on her own and her daughter’s experience to produce a beautifully crafted and memorable story. It’s raw, honest, and heartbreaking yet never heavy. Before You Forget is also full of warmth, humour, and hope. 

By Julia Lawrinson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Before You Forget 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?

Year Twelve is not off to a good start for Amelia. Art is her world, but her art teacher hates everything she does; her best friend has stopped talking to her; her mother and father may as well be living in separate houses; and her father is slowly forgetting everything. Even Amelia.


Book cover of Some Other Now

Katy Upperman Author Of Kissing Max Holden

From my list on the magic (and angst) of first love.

Who am I?

I’ve been reading YA since I was a young adult myself, and I’ve always favored stories with a strong romantic angle. As a kid, I loved The Baby-Sitters Club’s starry-eyed Stacey and Sweet Valley High’s boy-crazy Jessica; as an adult, I flock to the romance section of bookstores and libraries. When the urge to try my hand at writing struck, I drafted young adult romances without even considering other categories or genres. I will always choose a meet-cute, witty banter, and sizzling chemistry over fast-paced action, clever twists, and high-concepts plots. When it comes to reading and writing, I love love! 

Katy's book list on the magic (and angst) of first love

Katy Upperman Why did Katy love this book?

This story’s protagonist, Jessi, remains one of my favorite YA protagonists; she’s the sort of girl I would’ve loved being friends with as a teenager. And the Cohen boys… it’s no wonder Jessi is so enamored with them both! A poignant narrative centering around unimaginable tragedy, Some Other Now combines two of my favorite romance tropes: the boy next door and the love triangle. It’s a story about best friends, broken families, and love in all its fiercest forms, written with thoughtfulness and lyricism.

By Sarah Everett,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Before she kissed one of the Cohen boys, seventeen-year-old Jessi Rumfield knew what it was like to have a family - even if, technically, that family didn't belong to her. She'd spent her childhood in the house next door, challenging Rowan Cohen to tennis matches while his older brother, Luke, studied in the background and Mel watched over the three like the mother Jessi always wished she had.

But then everything changed. It's been almost a year since Jessi last visited the Cohen house. Rowan is gone. Mel is in remission and Luke hates Jessi for the role she played…


Book cover of Parasite Life

Nancy Baker Author Of The Night Inside

From my list on female vampire protagonists.

Who am I?

I’ve loved books about vampires ever since reading Dracula at much too young an age, but I was always looking for stories in which the women were more than virtuous heroines, objects of desire, or hissing brides. Or wearing negligees. I was also drawn to tales that explored the practical and ethical challenges of being a vampire. Fortunately, the vampire fiction boom beginning in 1980 opened the way for new stories, many by women, that depicted the nuances of vampirism through a female gaze. Travel from 6th century Byzantium to Mexico City to futuristic Mars with these novels that put new spins on the old conventions and introduce some fascinating female vampires.

Nancy's book list on female vampire protagonists

Nancy Baker Why did Nancy love this book?

Jane has grown up as the town outcast, caring for a dying mother who has never shown her any affection. She’s counting the days until she can leave when she meets new girl Sabrina, who pushes her to investigate the mysteries of her mother’s past, including the identity of her unknown father. What Jane discovers upends everything she thought she knew about her life and herself. Sensual, moving, and sometimes grim, I love this book for the way it explores tough questions. What would you do for love? What would you do for need? Who would you betray to survive?

By Victoria Dalpe,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Jane lives alone in a strange old house with her invalid mother who has been catatonic for years, afflicted by a strange wasting disease. But the friendship of a new girl in town, Sabrina, will push Jane to unearth the mysteries of her mother's past and the dark history of her missing father, forcing her to face a monstrous lineage and the cost of her dark life.


Book cover of Pontypool Changes Everything

R.A. Seckler Author Of Containment Zone

From my list on zombies that can think.

Who am I?

I hated reading as a kid. It wasn’t until I was in college I picked up Chuck Pahalniuk’s Survivor and fell in love with books and writing. Since then, I’ve been a non-stop reader and writer. I’d consume on average a book a week (sometime’s more) and write fiction every day. My first novel Containment Zone, combined my love of horror and zombies with themes of coming to terms with the end of one’s life and how we treat the elderly and infirm. For me, writing horror stories is a way of exploring deeper aspects of what it means to be human, all while having some thrills and chills along the way.

R.A.'s book list on zombies that can think

R.A. Seckler Why did R.A. love this book?

Hands down. Burgess is my favorite writer. And if you read anything from this list, read this one. It is almost impossible to describe this book and give it the justice it deserves. Like the rest of Burgess’ novels, Pontypool Changes Everything is full of beautiful, morbid, and just overall insane ideas. A zombie virus that travels through spoken language is fascinating enough. But what really sets this novel apart is Burgess’ lyrical prose, which can leave you both uplifted and down in the dumps at the same time. I found myself rereading passages of this novel simply because of the beautiful prose. (Also: Be sure to check out his other zombie novel The N-Body Problem. Can’t go wrong shooting zombies out into orbit!)

By Tony Burgess,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The dark side of humanity is explored in this electrifying science fiction thriller in which an epidemic virus terrorizes the earth. Causing its inhabitants to strike out on murderous rampages, the virus is caught through conversation and, once contracted, leads its host on a strange journey—into another world where the undead roam the streets of the smallest towns and largest cities, hungry for human flesh. Describing in chilling detail what it would be like if thousands suddenly caught such a virus and struck out on a mass, never-ending, cannibalistic spree, this terrifying narrative is perfect for those who are ready…


Book cover of Ida B: And Her Plans to Maximize Fun, Avoid Disaster, and (Possibly) Save the World

Helen M. Pugsley

From Helen's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Fantasy lover Selkie rights activist Mediocre musician Compulsory writer Purveyor of lost fruit

Helen's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Helen M. Pugsley Why did Helen love this book?

I really fell in love with the themes of conservation, to start with. It reminded me of being back home on the ranch with Grandpa. He taught me that being a good Christian meant taking care of the earth. Ida B’s father had a similar philosophy. I saw myself in Ida B. I used to talk to trees the way she did in the book. Happy to hear that’s a fairly universal experience!

Once Hannigan got me to relate to Ida B., she got me to love her. Even on her worst days. Ida B’s mother, Ida, gets cancer, and Ida B. responds like most kids: She lashes out. They send her to public school, and she’s in a new environment, and she’s frightened, so she gets mean.

Ida B. has a lot of things happen to her that aren’t her fault and things she couldn’t control. She isn’t some…

By Katherine Hannigan,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Ida B as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

Poignant tale of a 9-year-old girl's emotional journey after her idyllic life is shattered by her mother's illness.

Ida B's life is perfect: she is home-schooled by loving parents on a beautiful farm with its own orchard, creek and mountain (well, a pile of earth too tall to be called a hill). Left to her own devices in this rural haven, she talks to the trees in the orchard and sends miniature rafts down the creek, to which she attaches notes like "What is life like in Canada? Please respond". But the idyll is shattered when Ida B's mother develops…


Book cover of Invincible Microbe: Tuberculosis and the Never-Ending Search for a Cure

Marsha Hayles Author Of Breathing Room

From my list on when illness touches a young person's life.

Who am I?

I am an author fortunate to be alive because of emergency medical treatments I received as an infant, treatments not available to one of my older sisters who died as a result. That I grew up in Rochester Minnesota—home to the world-famous Mayo Clinic where my father worked as a pediatric endocrinologist—also may have increased my awareness of how illness and its medical treatments can affect a young person’s life. 

Marsha's book list on when illness touches a young person's life

Marsha Hayles Why did Marsha love this book?

This nonfiction book on tuberculosis, published the same year as my book, begins with the discovery of a skull marked by the scars of tuberculosis. Turns out it belonged to a young man who died over 500,000 years ago from the disease. The authors trace the devastating effects of tuberculosis to modern day when our drugs can no longer fully guarantee treatment. This book tells a fascinating, yet worrisome, story about a most dreaded disease.

By Jim Murphy, Alison Blank,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Invincible Microbe as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 10, 11, and 12.

What is this book about?

"Who knew the biography of a germ could be so fascinating?”—Kirkus (starred review)

This is the story of a killer that has been striking people down for thousands of years: tuberculosis. After centuries of ineffective treatments, the microorganism that causes TB was identified and the cure was thought to be within reach—but drug-resistant varieties continue to plague and panic the human race.

The "biography" of this deadly germ and the social history of an illness that could strike anywhere are woven together in an engrossing, carefully researched narrative. Includes a bibliography, source notes, and index.

This medical detective story is…


Book cover of The Disease to Please: Curing the People-Pleasing Syndrome

Chloe Carmichael Author Of Nervous Energy: Harness the Power of Your Anxiety

From my list on anxiety from a psychologist's perspective.

Who am I?

I'm Dr. Chloe Carmichael, clinical psychologist and USA Today bestselling author of Nervous Energy: Harness the Power of Your Anxiety (endorsed by Deepak Chopra). As a clinical psychologist, a lot of people ask me how to get rid of their anxiety. They're often surprised to learn that actually, we don't always want to get rid of anxiety—because the truth is that anxiety actually brings many benefits, if we know how to unlock them. Anxiety’s healthy function is actually to stimulate preparation behaviors. In this book, I share nine tried and tested tools with step-by-step instructions and real life examples to help readers harness the healthy power of anxiety.

Chloe's book list on anxiety from a psychologist's perspective

Chloe Carmichael Why did Chloe love this book?

This book is another great book for people with anxiety. The desire for social acceptance can be very anxiety-provoking for many people. This can lead to a pattern of self-denial and people-pleasing behaviors. This book teaches how to have healthy boundaries while still having positive relationships, thereby reducing anxiety. This book is very well-written, simple, easy to follow, and highly recommended by therapists and counselors.

By Harriet Braiker,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

What's wrong with being a "people pleaser?" Plenty!

"A fascinating book... If you struggle with where, when, and how to draw the line between your own desires and the demands of others, buy this book!" Kay Redfield Jamison, bestselling author of An Unquiet Mind and Night Falls Fast

People pleasers are not just nice people who go overboard trying to make everyone happy. Those who suffer from the Disease to Please are people who say "Yes" when they really want to say "No." For them, the uncontrollable need for the elusive approval of others is an addiction. Their debilitating fears…


Book cover of Rules for Stealing Stars

Stephanie Willing Author Of West of the Sea

From my list on where the magic and monsters are real.

Who am I?

I think any kid wishes they could save their parent, or a loved one, from suffering. I know I did. When I was a pre-teen, my mom began to withdraw from friendships, church, and community, and she took me and my siblings with her. Her moods were unstable, and sometimes I blamed myself, and other times I just tried to keep her happy. I grew up inside her fairytale, until as an adult, I could recognize the signs of mental illness. I found myself wishing there was a magical reason she was the way she was. All the books on this list are linked by the fantastical way they explore family grief, isolation, and hope. 

Stephanie's book list on where the magic and monsters are real

Stephanie Willing Why did Stephanie love this book?

When I think about magical books that talk about real-world stuff, my first thought is this incredible retelling of The Twelve Dancing Princesses that examines (through a magical lens) the toll of parental alcoholism.

Four sisters all have different ways of coping with the dysfunction caused by their mother’s alcoholism, but together they escape into magical worlds through their house’s closets. The youngest sister, Silly, has been left out for a long time, but she makes their magic stronger once her sisters finally let her join them.

The metaphors are so rich here—the escapism, the secrets and shadows hidden in family closets, and the seemingly perfect but oblivious dad—that this story goes beyond fairytale and becomes personal myth. I love it so much. It’s gorgeous.

By Corey Ann Haydu,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Rules for Stealing Stars as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the tradition of Sharon Creech and Wendy Mass, Corey Ann Haydu's sparkling middle grade debut is a sister story with a twist of magic, a swirl of darkness, and a whole lot of hope. Silly is used to feeling left out. Her three older sisters think she's too little for most things-especially when it comes to dealing with their mother's unpredictable moods and outbursts. This summer, Silly feels more alone than ever when her sisters keep whispering and sneaking away to their rooms together, returning with signs that something mysterious is afoot: sporting sunburned cheeks smudged with glitter and…