The best books about epilepsy

Many authors have picked their favorite books about epilepsy and why they recommend each book.

Soon, you will be able to filter by genre, age group, and more. Sign up here to follow our story as we build a better way to explore books.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy through links on our website, we may earn an affiliate commission (learn more).

The Spiral Staircase

By Karen Armstrong,

Book cover of The Spiral Staircase: My Climb Out of Darkness

The Spiral Staircase is the book I’ve read the most number of times as an adult. It is the autobiography of Karen Armstrong who was a Catholic nun for six years in the 1960s in the UK. The book picks up after she leaves her convent and is studying English literature at Oxford University. She is also suffering from mysterious episodes of fainting and memory loss, and so we are taken into her struggles with both academia and the psychiatry of the 1970s. She then spirals through other careers and eventually returns to God – not now as a person of faith but as a writer about religion – its beauty and its tension.

This is perhaps the most honest book I’ve read, as it unflinchingly describes the experience of making terrible mistakes – as we almost all do – without blame or self-flagellation. Karen Armstrong learns, in the end,…

Who am I?

As a psychologist with environmental interests people often ask me about hope. It goes something like this: “Climate change is pushing us toward disaster! What is your source of hope?”  I finally figured out that I only have one source of hope. It is that we, as people, are able to work together just well enough to keep it all afloat. There’s a lot involved in working together – learning to listen with compassion, run good meetings, empower everyone to give of their best, and rebuild trust when it starts to break down. I’ve been researching these topics in community settings for the past 15 years. 

I wrote...

Psychology for a Better World: Working with People to Save the Planet

By Niki Harré,

Book cover of Psychology for a Better World: Working with People to Save the Planet

What is my book about?

Psychology for a Better World is for people who believe it is worth trying to make a world in which both ourselves and the ecological systems we are part of can flourish. It is based on the latest research in psychology and is jam-packed with action strategies. It offers new ways to think about how people interact in social settings, and how the same characteristics that keep us hooked into unsustainable practices can be used to move us forward. It includes a guide to help you analyse what you can do to contribute to a better world while simultaneously increasing your personal wellbeing.

Our intuitive approaches of arguing more aggressively with our perceived opponents, and telling others how wrong they are, are often not effective ways to get lasting behavioural change. Instead, Niki provides a wide range of evidence to show that boosting positive emotions, role modelling, understanding the power and dynamics of identity, and moral context all need to be authentically applied if we are to be effective change agents.

The Islands at the End of the World

By Austin Aslan,

Book cover of The Islands at the End of the World

When sixteen-year-old Leilani and her father traveled to O’ahu from Hilo to try a promising but experimental treatment for her epilepsy, they never expected to be stranded in the middle of a worldwide geomagnetic storm. With tsunamis striking randomly, all modern technology broken, and facing food shortages under martial law, Leilani and her father have to fight their way home. Along the way, Leilani discovers that the one thing that makes her different may be the one thing that saves us all. It’s an apocalyptic page-turner centered on Hawaii’s ecology and traditional cultural solutions.

Who am I?

Growing up in a kanaka maoli—Native Hawaiian—family in Hawai’i, I hungered for stories centered around island kids and their authentic lived experiences. I scoured classrooms, libraries, and bookstores looking for stories that reflected my reality, but all I ever found were dusty collections of ancient legends, not books that appealed to my sense of wonder or adventure. It’s the reason I wrote the Niuhi Shark Saga trilogy and why I’m so excited to share this collection with you. These books are everything I always wanted to read as a child growing up in Hawai‘i—and more!

I wrote...

One Boy, No Water (The Niuhi Shark Saga)

By Lehua Parker,

Book cover of One Boy, No Water (The Niuhi Shark Saga)

What is my book about?

When you’re allergic to water, Hawai‘i isn’t always paradise.

I’m Zader Kaonakai Westin. One drop of water on my skin burns like lava. Uncle Kahana knows more than he says about my water allergy and why I crave raw meat. But I don’t care about secrets. I just want to be a surfing star like my brother Jay instead of the Blalah’s favorite punching bag at Lauele Intermediate. After a shark scare, Jay quits surfing, but surfing’s like breathing to Jay. I have to help my brother get back in the ocean or he’ll go crazy. Staying out of the water seems safer, but Niuhi aren’t like regular sharks. When Niuhi are around, safety is an illusion, and everyone knows it’s bump first, then bite.

The Heiress Effect

By Courtney Milan,

Book cover of The Heiress Effect

This is the book that made me want to write a historical romance. The protagonist, Miss Jane Fairfield, is outlandishly rich. But she can’t get married and leave her younger sister, who has epilepsy, to the well-meaning but cruel treatments recommended by their uncle, who is also their guardian. Since her money makes her an appealing target for many an impoverished rake, Jane has to work extra to become unappealing while still seeming like she’s trying to attract a man. She wears obnoxiously bright clothing, insults people with the kindest tone, and—in one desperate attempt to make a man be mean to her—takes the food right off his plate. This is a book about people trying to put you in your place and keep you small. And let me give you a hint: it’s a romance, so there’s definitely a Happily Ever After, and that includes small-minded people getting their…

Who am I?

I’m a writer of relatable misfits, and a misfit myself. My outsides and insides have never matched, and my accent has always been wrong. I’ve lived all over the United States, and no matter what, I’m always from somewhere else, no matter how long I’ve lived there. I usually end up good friends with other interesting folx who are the same as me: a little different, a little crafty, and a hell of a lot of fun. 

I wrote...

A Lady's Finder (When the Blood Is Up)

By Edie Cay,

Book cover of A Lady's Finder (When the Blood Is Up)

What is my book about?

Lady Agnes is a scandal thanks to her sister’s marriage to a prizefighter. Or rather, she should be. Suddenly, receiving attention from the unpredictable Mr. Townsend, Lady Agnes finds herself believing he might love her and not her dowry. Or is she a means to an end as her family insists?

Jack About Town is London’s best Finder of Lost Things. What few realize is that Jack transcends the spheres of men and women, existing as both—neither?—sex. Now he has found Lady Agnes who accepts him—a jewel so rare that even Jack is surprised he could find it. When Jack is commissioned to steal from Lady Agnes’s cousin, can Jack prove his love and earn the money he needs to protect himself?

How to Pray

By Pete Greig,

Book cover of How to Pray

With Pete Greig’s How to Pray, the subtitle says it all: A Simple Guide for Normal People. Greig is a worldwide authority on prayer, but as a self-described “scruffy Brit,” he writes in a way that makes prayer both appealing and accessible. With disarming humor and candor, Greig addresses questions we’ve all asked, from why God heals some people but not others (Greig’s wife, for example, suffers severe epilepsy) to whether or not it’s okay to pray for a parking space. (Spoiler alert:  Greig says yes to parking place prayers, since doing so equips us to live life with greater gratitude. Love that.) I have more than two dozen well-loved books about prayer on my shelf, but How to Pray might be my favorite. It is, to borrow a word from the Brits, “brilliant.”

Who am I?

I’m often introduced as a “prayer expert” but I’m not. I’m just someone who’s found herself praying a lot—for my family, my friends, and even sometimes complete strangers. And while there are all sorts of ways we can pray, I like praying the Scriptures—taking the actual words of the Bible and using them to shape our perspective as well as our prayers. Not only has that approach made my conversations with God more diverse and creative, but it has made them more powerful. Plus, praying this way has equipped me to trust God and experience freedom from worry or fear—even when things don’t happen the way, or in the timing, that I want them to.

I wrote...

Praying the Scriptures for Your Life: 31 Days of Abiding in the Presence, Provision, and Power of God

By Jodie Berndt,

Book cover of Praying the Scriptures for Your Life: 31 Days of Abiding in the Presence, Provision, and Power of God

What is my book about?

Praying the Scriptures for Your Life is the latest release in the bestselling Praying the Scriptures series. With short, easy-to-read chapters, this book invites you to experience a deeper intimacy with God and discover how connection to Christ equips us to live meaningful, satisfying, purposeful lives. The 31-day format includes select Bible readings, questions for reflection, and powerful prayers you can use to talk to God about every area of your life—from relationships to faith to finding freedom from worry and fear.

Because You'll Never Meet Me

By Leah Thomas,

Book cover of Because You'll Never Meet Me

Because You’ll Never Meet Me is a YA novel that takes quirky friendships to a different level. Ollie is allergic to electricity and Moritz suffers from a rare heart condition. He was also born without eyes. Because of their medical issues, Ollie and Moritz can never meet. Ollie’s mom and doctor urge him to befriend someone like him and he and Moritz become long-distance pen pals. Their friendship is brought to life through the heartfelt letters they write to each other. There’s also a dark secret about their past and where they came from. 

Who am I?

I’ve always been fascinated by the intensity of friendships, whether they last a few months or a lifetime. For me, unlikely friendships have always been the most interesting, whether it be differences in class, age, hobbies, etc. I think all people can find common ground if they just listen to one another and talk for a minute. I love books featuring unlikely duos and almost always include them in my own novels. I hope you enjoy these books as much as I do, and they remind you of the best friends you’ve ever had.

I wrote...

One Night

By Deanna Cabinian,

Book cover of One Night

What is my book about?

One Night is a contemporary YA romance novel about teen angst, unrequited love, and self-discovery set to the beat of Elvis Presley's music.

Thompson is miserable. Even though Caroline broke his heart, he wants her back. With his mind on her, his life takes an unexpected turn. Johnny Lee Young, Hawaii’s Favorite Elvis Impersonator, gives him a job. Thompson knows nothing about celebrity impersonators, but he does know social media. Will he get Caroline back and find his true love? One Night is a delightful coming-of-age tale perfect for fans of John Green and Maureen Johnson. It’s an unforgettable story of friendship and finding yourself, of heartache and healing, and of the remarkable turns a life can take in One Night.


By Lauren Slater,

Book cover of Lying: A Metaphorical Memoir

Love it or hate it, this is a truly unique book. Slater presents herself as the ultimate unreliable narrator, describing her life-long struggles with epilepsy, only to reveal that her diagnosis is a lie. (Or is it? Apparently, even she is not sure.) Which makes the experience of reading Lying a slippery head trip. One becomes easily absorbed in Slater’s evocative prose and haunting descriptions, only to be reminded a sentence later that it may all be complete BS. 

Some readers might be turned off by what is, admittedly, a bit of a mind fuck. Me, I’m fascinated by it. Lying offers the opportunity to vicariously inhabit a mind not quite tethered to truth… thus forcing readers to contemplate our own relationship to Truth.

Who am I?

I’m a cultural anthropologist with a passion for exploring how we humans make meaning of the wonderful, terrible, startling, often-absurd existence in which we find ourselves. My research has taken me from NYC’s underground occult scene to the conflict-resolution strategies of Central Peru; from circus performers in Portland, Maine, grappling with their physical potential, to a comedy club in Berlin where I set out to discover the secret sauce for evoking “collective joy” amongst strangers. I am drawn to artistic works that mix genres and defy categorization… and thus have a penchant for alienating editors, librarians, and bookstore owners who struggle to identify on which shelf my books belong. 

I wrote...

The Friendliest Place in the Universe: Love, Laughter, and Stand-Up Comedy in Berlin

By Hillary S. Webb,

Book cover of The Friendliest Place in the Universe: Love, Laughter, and Stand-Up Comedy in Berlin

What is my book about?

In this “anthropological memoir,” Hillary S. Webb turns an anthropologist's eye to the existential search for meaning through the microcosm of a multicultural comedy club in the age of Trump. Told with her signature mix of humor and emotional candor, Webb’s journey offers lessons for all of us grappling with the divisiveness of contemporary life. Come for the free pizza and schnapps—stay for the characters, their stories, and the community.

Yoga for Life

By Colleen Saidman Yee,

Book cover of Yoga for Life: A Journey to Inner Peace and Freedom

I really liked this book because beautiful, blonde, former model Saidman Yee (wife of the popular yoga teacher Rodney Yee) seems so perfect on the outside that one couldn’t imagine she’d ever have had a notable problem—let alone a seizure disorder or substance abuse issues. Growing up in Indiana, one of seven kids, the author ended up posing for glamour shots and making a name for herself in the fashion world. But inside she experienced anxiety and fear of failure. Saidman Yee’s vulnerability and authenticity shine in this candid story of how yoga helped her go within and honor her true self. Wonderful yoga sequences designed by Saidman Yee are included.

Who am I?

Nearly 20 years ago, I awkwardly stumbled into a yoga class after a therapist informed me that I needed to do something about my anxiety issues (“Take your pick,” she said, “I’ll prescribe pills or you can try yoga.”) From the very first class, I was drawn not only to the physical practice, but to the sense that yoga could lead me deeper into my own heart and soul. I wrote a memoir about my journey—and about how yoga helped me later face and conquer breast cancer. I now teach yoga, and I love reading about how yoga changes lives—as it almost always does. 

I wrote...

Yin, Yang, Yogini: A Woman's Quest for Balance, Strength and Inner Peace

By Kathryn E. Livingston,

Book cover of Yin, Yang, Yogini: A Woman's Quest for Balance, Strength and Inner Peace

What is my book about?

By her fifties, Kathryn E. Livingston thought everything in her life would have clicked into place. Instead, she felt like she was falling apart. She was consumed by panic and anxiety, always expecting the worst. Until her discovery of yoga helped her find peace. This is a memoir about two transformative years in Kathryn’s life, an account of her relationship with a compassionate teacher who taught her to trust herself and the universe, even while facing the death of her parents, her children leaving home for college, and breast cancer. Yin, Yang, Yogini is a memoir about reinvention, with yoga as the backdrop for change—a blueprint for evolving in midstride, learning to let go of the past, and living with trust in the present moment.

Bookshelves related to epilepsy