The most recommended books about eating disorders

Who picked these books? Meet our 33 experts.

33 authors created a book list connected to eating disorders, and here are their favorite eating disorders books.
Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

What type of eating disorders book?


Book cover of História, História

Christine Herbert Author Of The Color of the Elephant

From my list on serving in the Peace Corps.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a returned U.S. Peace Corps volunteer who served as a community health worker and educator in Zambia from 2004-2006. My highly-anticipated debut memoir, The Color of the Elephant: Memoir of a Muzungu, a Zola Award finalist, releases January 2022. As an avid reader of adventurous, fish-out-of-water tales, I’ve read dozens of memoirs by fellow Peace Corps volunteers who’ve served all around the world from the 1960s to the present day. These are my top picks based on literary merit, engaging storytelling, and pure heart.

Christine's book list on serving in the Peace Corps

Christine Herbert Why did Christine love this book?

Breathtaking in its honesty and poetic style, this is the Peace Corps memoir “hidden gem” you’ll be glad you’ve unearthed! Eleanor and her husband are newlyweds sent to the remote Portuguese-based Creole-speaking islands of Cape Verde. Not long after arriving, Eleanor develops an eating disorder that drains the vitality of her body, her mind, her work, and her marriage. The narrative nimbly weaves poetic imagery, keen observation, personal stories, history, and geography lessons together into a fascinating literary tapestry. This is a story about fidelity, the search for meaning, the frailty of the human condition, suffering, perseverance, and redemption; in short: a survivor’s story.

By Eleanor Stanford,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Twenty-two and newly married, Eleanor Stanford and her husband join the Peace Corps and find themselves on the West African islands of Cape Verde. In this beautifully alien place, as she teaches her students and struggles to come to terms with the island's fascinating yet frustrating culture, Eleanor watches everything she knows about relationships get flipped upside-down and attempts to hide the eating disorder she's developed, which threatens both her marriage and her life. Part travelogue, part cultural documentary, 'Historia, Historia' combines journalistic excellence with the gripping style of personal memoirs to bring you this lyrical, moving portrait of an…

Book cover of Madness: A Bipolar Life

Trisha Cull Author Of The Death of Small Creatures

From my list on revealing the truth about mental illness.

Why am I passionate about this?

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?

Hornbacher details her experience of living with bipolar disorder—the psychological escapades, the unimaginable highs, and devastating lows. These transcendent highs and crippling lows are mirrored in the strange delights and perils of the physical world. She is the life of parties, dressed provocatively in silky red dresses and matching ruby lipstick. But she is also capable of breaking ties with reality, hopping in a car with a boyfriend and travelling across the state for no reason in particular, an adventure in which the pleasure of the high becomes too much, too dangerous to be reckoned with. 

I too recall waking up at 2 am, writing for 18 hours straight, (without a water or pee break), and creating a beautiful essay in one draft which was later published. I once spent two days and nights in a blinding fury of elation that was simultaneously beautiful and terrifying. I too remember in…

By Marya Hornbacher,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Pulitzer Prize–nominated author of Wasted, Marya Hornbacher's astonishing New York Times best-selling memoir from the belly of bipolar disorder.

Marya Hornbacher tells the story that until recently she had no idea was hers to tell: that of her life with Type I ultra-rapid-cycle bipolar disorder, the most severe form of bipolar disease.

In Madness, Hornbacher relates that bipolar can spawn eating disorders, substance abuse, promiscuity, and self-mutilation, and that for too long these symptoms have masked, for many of the three million people in America with bipolar, their underlying illness. Hornbacher’s fiercely self-aware portrait of bipolar, starting as early as…

Book cover of Group: How One Therapist and a Circle of Strangers Saved My Life

Lisa Niver Author Of Brave-ish: One Breakup, Six Continents, and Feeling Fearless After Fifty

From my list on making flight time disappear because you feel in the story.

Why am I passionate about this?

As both a lifelong traveler and reader, I cannot start an adventure without a great book. Having owned a Kindle since 2008, I consistently carry a virtual library, curating an assortment of captivating reads for every journey. As a travel journalist, I fly multiple times a month, which amplifies my need and understanding of the perfect in-flight companions; stories that transport and captivate. As an author with a memoir to my name, I appreciate the transformative power of storytelling. This blend of literary passion, frequent travel, and personal authorship has led me on my search for engaging, unforgettable books that mesmerize the reader.  

Lisa's book list on making flight time disappear because you feel in the story

Lisa Niver Why did Lisa love this book?

Christie Tate’s candid memoir made me feel like I was part of her therapeutic group experience. I could hear the dishes breaking when she took her anger out on them, and I jumped with joy at her successes.

With humor and vulnerability, she explores the complexities of relationships, mental health, and self-discovery. The book's engaging narrative and relatable insights make it a page-turner, providing a perfect distraction during a flight. Tate's wit and vivid writing create a sense of connection, making it an ideal companion for a solo journey.

Whether you're seeking introspection or simply a captivating story, this book offers a thought-provoking companion to your airborne adventure.

By Christie Tate,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?


'Every page of this incredible memoir by Christie Tate had me thinking, "I wish I had read this book when I was 25. It would have helped me so much!"'
Reese Witherspoon

'This unrestrained memoir is a transporting experience and one of the most startlingly hopeful books I have ever read. It will make you want to get better, whatever better means for you.'
Lisa Taddeo, New York Times bestselling author of Three Women

For fans of Three Women and Everything I Know About Love comes a refreshingly original memoir about self-discovery, loneliness and love.…

Book cover of I'm Glad My Mom Died

Mary Rowen Author Of Leaving the Beach

From Mary's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Writer Reader Mom to humans and other mammals Denim upcycler

Mary's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Mary Rowen Why did Mary love this book?

As a former bulimic who wrote a novel about a bulimic woman, I have a sense of how difficult it must be to write a memoir focused on eating disorders. Memoirs are tricky when family members are key characters; they’re trickier when those family members have caused significant suffering.

But Jeannette McCurdy—a former child star with a horrific history of eating disorders—manages to write a clear-eyed, unflinching account of her relationship with her narcissistic, controlling late mother. She doesn’t shy away from dark themes or placing blame on her mother, but somehow retains a sense of humor that makes the book an excellent—albeit often painful—read. 

By Jennette McCurdy,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked I'm Glad My Mom Died as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A heartbreaking and hilarious memoir by iCarly and Sam & Cat star Jennette McCurdy about her struggles as a former child actor-including eating disorders, addiction, and a complicated relationship with her overbearing mother-and how she retook control of her life.

Jennette McCurdy was six years old when she had her first acting audition. Her mother's dream was for her only daughter to become a star, and Jennette would do anything to make her mother happy. So she went along with what Mom called "calorie restriction," eating little and weighing herself five times a day. She endured extensive at-home makeovers while…

Book cover of Sick Enough: A Guide to the Medical Complications of Eating Disorders

Jenna Hollenstein Author Of Intuitive Eating for Life: How Mindfulness Can Deepen and Sustain Your Intuitive Eating Practice

From my list on reality-check your relationship with food and body.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m obsessed with the connections between Buddhist philosophy, meditation, Intuitive Eating, eating disorder and addiction recovery, body liberation, and intersectional social justice work. These connections are everywhere! It may not seem like it, but how we relate to food and our bodies reflects how we feel about all bodies. How we speak to ourselves reflects how we feel about difference, difficulty, and interdependence. Challenging our entrenched beliefs about health, eating, food, and body helps us to ultimately recognize the inherent worthiness of all bodies. This is how we both come to know ourselves authentically and how we change the world for the better. 

Jenna's book list on reality-check your relationship with food and body

Jenna Hollenstein Why did Jenna love this book?

Few people – perhaps even those of us in the eating disorders field – really appreciate just how common eating disorders and disordered eating are.

In this book, an eating disorder physician calls into question the cognitive distortion that someone isn’t “sick enough” to warrant intervention and eating disorder recovery.

I love how Dr. Gaudiani not only covers the reddest flags of eating disorders, but acknowledges what many of us have come to regard as “normal” but in reality is disordered, dangerous, and harmful.

By Jennifer L. Gaudiani,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Patients with eating disorders frequently feel that they aren't "sick enough" to merit treatment, despite medical problems that are both measurable and unmeasurable. They may struggle to accept rest, nutrition, and a team to help them move towards recovery. Sick Enough offers patients, their families, and clinicians a comprehensive, accessible review of the medical issues that arise from eating disorders by bringing relatable case presentations and a scientifically sound, engaging style to the topic. Using metaphor and patient-centered language, Dr. Gaudiani aims to improve medical diagnosis and treatment, motivate recovery, and validate the lived experiences of individuals of all body…

Book cover of 8 Keys to Recovery from an Eating Disorder: Effective Strategies from Therapeutic Practice and Personal Experience

Karyn D. Hall Author Of The Radically Open DBT Workbook for Eating Disorders: From Overcontrol and Loneliness to Recovery and Connection

From my list on recovery from eating disorders.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been interested in psychological health since I was in high school and continue to search for interventions and preventions to alleviate mental illness and build mental health. I’m a licensed psychologist and coach focusing on evidenced based treatments, with a special interest in how people connect and the impact of loneliness. Despite a growing population, more people are feeling lonely, including adolescents, and loneliness can often be a root cause of mental suffering. Loneliness is common among individuals with anorexia and other eating disorders as well as chronic depression. Addressing how to connect and how they may be blocking connections can be a complicated but needed process. My work is focused in this area.

Karyn's book list on recovery from eating disorders

Karyn D. Hall Why did Karyn love this book?

This book gives the perspective of a therapist and a former client who is now a therapist herself. 

This book can create realistic hope and includes self-disclosures of the author’s own experiences. The authors recognize that eating disorders serve a purpose and it’s not about food. They also emphasize the importance of reaching out to people which is a key factor for recovery.

By Carolyn Costin, Gwen Schubert Grabb,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked 8 Keys to Recovery from an Eating Disorder as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This is no ordinary book on how to overcome an eating disorder. The authors bravely share their unique stories of suffering from and eventually overcoming their own severe eating disorders. Interweaving personal narrative with the perspective of their own therapist-client relationship, their insights bring an unparalleled depth of awareness into just what it takes to successfully beat this challenging and seemingly intractable clinical issue.

For anyone who has suffered, their family and friends, and other helping professionals, this book should be by your side. With great compassion and clinical expertise, Costin and Grabb walk readers through the ins and outs…

Book cover of Heavy: An American Memoir

Rachana Vajjhala Author Of Kinetic Cultures: Modernism and Embodiment on the Belle Epoque Stage

From my list on dazzlingly written books from the past five years with both style and substance.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a music historian who loves to read novels. Most of my childhood was spent either playing the piano or devouring whatever books I could get my hands on. Now, I try to share my love of music and good writing with my students at Boston University. When not at school, you can usually find me exploring the trails of New England with my dog.     

Rachana's book list on dazzlingly written books from the past five years with both style and substance

Rachana Vajjhala Why did Rachana love this book?

As someone who writes about historical embodied practices such as music and dance, I am always interested in how people write about lived experiences in their own bodies.

Though ostensibly a memoir about growing up in Mississippi, Heavy also explores the possibilities and impossibilities of writing. Laymon, nevertheless, gives lightness to his profound narrative with complex, challenging, yet always luminous prose.  

By Kiese Laymon,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

*Named a Best Book of the Year by the New York Times, Publishers Weekly, NPR, Broadly, Buzzfeed (Nonfiction), The Undefeated, Library Journal (Biography/Memoirs), The Washington Post (Nonfiction), Southern Living (Southern), Entertainment Weekly, and The New York Times Critics*

In this powerful, provocative, and universally lauded memoir—winner of the Andrew Carnegie Medal and finalist for the Kirkus Prize—genre-bending essayist and novelist Kiese Laymon “provocatively meditates on his trauma growing up as a black man, and in turn crafts an essential polemic against American moral rot” (Entertainment Weekly).

In Heavy, Laymon writes eloquently and honestly about growing up a hard-headed black son…

Book cover of Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body

Rebecca Dimyan Author Of Chronic: A Memoir

From my list on chronic illness to laugh, cry, and everything in between.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a woman who suffers from chronic illness, I am interested in sharing my experience and learning about other women who also suffer and survive their chronic conditions. I have had endometriosis, a painful disease, since I was a teenager. I’ve always enjoyed stories about different kinds of chronic illnesses, and I appreciate the way pain and sickness can be translated into memorable books. 

Rebecca's book list on chronic illness to laugh, cry, and everything in between

Rebecca Dimyan Why did Rebecca love this book?

A “best of books about chronic illness list” would not be complete without Gay’s heartbreaking memoir.

The bestselling author delves into chronic overeating, PTSD from a trauma she suffered as a young girl, and a complicated relationship with her overweight body. This book is both devastating and devastatingly beautiful. She explores her history with food as a Haitian-American woman as well as society’s expectations of women and women’s bodies. Gay is a true warrior, and she writes her story with guts.

Trigger Warning: this book contains explicit depictions of sexual violence.

By Roxane Gay,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The New York Times Bestseller

National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist

Lambda Literary Award winner

From Roxane Gay, the New York Times bestselling author of Bad Feminist, a memoir in weight about eating healthier, finding a tolerable form of exercise, and exploring what it means to learn, in the middle of your life, how to take care of yourself and how to feed your hunger.

New York Times bestselling author Roxane Gay has written with intimacy and sensitivity about food and bodies, using her own emotional and psychological struggles as a means of exploring our shared anxieties over pleasure, consumption,…

Book cover of I'm Not Supposed to Be Here: My Recovery from Borderline Personality Disorder

Jerold J. Kreisman Author Of Talking to a Loved One with Borderline Personality Disorder: Communication Skills to Manage Intense Emotions, Set Boundaries, and Reduce Conflict

From my list on understanding those with borderline personality.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a psychiatrist, I've had a special interest over the past forty years in working with patients with symptoms of BPD, preceding even the formalization of the diagnosis. I've been intrigued by these patients who often display enormous intelligence, creativity, and energy, yet are handicapped by emotions and behaviors that are out of their control. I established one of the early treatment centers specifically designed for their treatment. Where once these patients were stigmatized by professionals and others to be bothersome, untreatable, chronically suicidal, and to be avoided, I've witnessed great advancements in treatment approaches. We now appreciate that the vast majority of patients get better. It's been a privilege for me to participate in these advances.

Jerold's book list on understanding those with borderline personality

Jerold J. Kreisman Why did Jerold love this book?

This is a personal and very candid account of a woman's confronting a diagnosis of BPD, complicated by an eating disorder and other self-sabotaging behavior, and working with her psychiatrist and others to support her on a road to recovery. The author examines her disruptive childhood and the obstacles impairing her recovery. Her openness and courage are inspiring.

By Rachel Reiland,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked I'm Not Supposed to Be Here as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

With astonishing honesty, this memoir reveals what mental illness looks and feels like from the inside, and how healing from borderline personality disorder is possible through intensive therapy and the support of loved ones.

With astonishing honesty, this memoir, Get Me Out of Here, reveals what mental illness looks and feels like from the inside, and how healing from borderline personality disorder is possible through intensive therapy and the support of loved ones. A mother, wife, and working professional, Reiland was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder at the age of 29--a diagnosis that finally explained her explosive anger, manipulative behaviors,…

Book cover of Wasted: A Memoir of Anorexia and Bulimia

Andy Marr Author Of A Matter of Life and Death

From my list on family dysfunction and drama.

Why am I passionate about this?

Mary Karr once wrote, "A dysfunctional family is any family with more than one person in it." I totally agree with that. In forty years, I’ve yet to encounter a magical family where everybody gets along, nobody screams things they don’t mean, and there’s never a need to drown your feelings in food or drugs or booze. I grew up in a more-than-averagely dysfunctional household, where poor health and crippling anxiety frequently raised their ugly heads. Since losing my younger sister to mental illness six years ago, I’ve worked hard to make sense of our past, both through my own writing and through the work of authors who write so well about family dynamics.

Andy's book list on family dysfunction and drama

Andy Marr Why did Andy love this book?

I was first introduced to Hornbacher’s classic memoir in 2007 by my little sister, who was desperate to help me understand the eating disorder that had plagued her for more than 15 years. The book wasisa no-holds-barred account of life with an eating disorder, a terrifying narrative of a young woman's gradual and deliberate path towards self-destruction, and it left me in pieces for weeks afterward. And yet, despite the pain it caused, it really did help me understand my sister’s illness better, and in doing so helped reduce the divide that had begun to open between us. Seonaid died in the summer of 2016 after battling anorexia for over 20 years, but even through my grief, I remain grateful to this work for teaching me how to remain strong and patient in the face of this heartbreaking disease.

By Marya Hornbacher,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A 'retired career anorexic' examines herself and her, and our, culture in a masterpiece of confessional literature.

At the age of four Marya Hornbacher looked in a mirror and decided she was fat. At nine, she was bulimic. At twelve, she was anorexic. By the time she was eighteen, she'd been hospitalized five times, once in the loony bin. Her doctors and her parents had given up on her; they were watching her die. But Marya decided to live. Four years on, now 22, here is her harrowing tale, powerfully told in a virtuoso mix of memoir, cultural criticism and…