The most recommended mental disorder books

Who picked these books? Meet our 199 experts.

199 authors created a book list connected to mental disorders, and here are their favorite mental disorder books.
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Book cover of The Snake Pit

Mikita Brottman Author Of Couple Found Slain: After a Family Murder

From my list on psychiatric hospital by women who spent time there.

Who am I?

In addition to being an author, I’m a literature professor and a psychoanalyst; I have worked in prisons and psychiatric hospitals. I have also been a psychiatric patient. I’m fascinated by narrative, and by the way we use language to make sense of our own experiences and to connect with other people.

Mikita's book list on psychiatric hospital by women who spent time there

Mikita Brottman Why did Mikita love this book?

This is the 75th anniversary edition of a book first published in 1946, a best-seller at the time, and the impetus for changes in the treatment of psychiatric patients. The narrator, novelist Victoria Cunningham, finds herself incarcerated in a corrupt and badly-run hospital with little memory of how she got there; I was disturbed by the way she had to navigate through an obscure, nonsensical bureaucracy that seems more insane than any of the hospital’s patients. Virginia is supported by her loving and loyal husband, but at times she loses track of her memories and forgets who he is. The book is frightening—especially given that it’s based on the author’s own experiences at Bellevue Hospital in New York—but also intimate and moving.

By Mary Jane Ward,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Vintage book


Book cover of Moby-Dick

Maddalena Bearzi Author Of Stranded: Finding Nature in Uncertain Times

From Maddalena's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Marine Biologist Conservation Advocate Traveler Reader

Maddalena's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Maddalena Bearzi Why did Maddalena love this book?

Moby-Dick is a true classic and an extraordinary book. I own a beautiful, old copy of it and I read this literary masterpiece more than once in my life, including last month. And not just because it’s one of the greatest books of all time, but also because I am a marine biologist who has studied whales and dolphins for many years!

The narration of this epic (and a bit intimidating) piece of literature - dated back to 1851, is poetic. I read mostly nonfiction books but, at times, I discover a fiction book that truly engages me. Moby dick has been such a book for me. Highly recommended.

By Herman Melville,

Why should I read it?

18 authors picked Moby-Dick as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Melville's tale of the whaling industry, and one captain's obsession with revenge against the Great White Whale that took his leg. Classics Illustrated tells this wonderful tale in colourful comic strip form, offering an excellent introduction for younger readers. This edition also includes a biography of Herman Melville and study questions, which can be used both in the classroom or at home to further engage the reader in the work at hand.


Book cover of All That I Remember About Dean Cola

Anne Buist Author Of The Long Shadow

From my list on crime where mental illness is conveyed authentically.

Who am I?

I’m a Professor of Women’s Mental Health and have worked clinically, taught, and researched in the area of perinatal psychiatry for over thirty years. I do forensic psychiatry related to this; all this guides the books I write. I am passionate about promoting mental health and helping everyone understand the high level of trauma and its devastating effects on people; I have also been an avid reader of just about everything since I was eight, and love a gripping crime or psychological thriller. But it has to make sense, be authentic and not demonize mental illness; I have a particular hatred for the evil serial killer who was just “born that way”.

Anne's book list on crime where mental illness is conveyed authentically

Anne Buist Why did Anne love this book?

This is more literary than crime but Chandler has at the heart of her book a woman with serious mental illness; she captures the soul of a troubled woman and the rippling effects of past and psychosis, as well as the vagaries of memory. And there is a mystery to work out; it was short-listed for the Sisters in Crime Davitt’s award.

By Tania Chandler,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked All That I Remember About Dean Cola as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The boys from back home stand beside the bed, watching her bleed onto the white sheet. ‘He only said to scare her,’ one of them says.

Sidney is happily married to her firefighter husband and thinking about having a child, but her life has been marred by psychotic breakdowns. Haunted by memories of Dean Cola — the teenage crush who is an essential piece of the puzzle that is her past — she returns to the town where she grew up. Something unthinkable happened there, but is she strong enough to face it?

A compelling portrait of mental illness, memory,…


Book cover of Hidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of an American Family

Stephen Trimble Author Of The Mike File: A Story of Grief and Hope

From my list on families struggling with mental health.

Who am I?

I’d been writing for forty years before I could write about the biggest story in my life. My 25 non-fiction books about the American West—landscape, Native peoples, conservation—are a joy to research, photograph, and create. But I had unfinished emotional business: my mentally ill brother who left home when I was six, never to return. After everyone in my family was gone, it was finally safe. I began to recreate my brother’s life, reveling in research. I know how to do that. Opening myself emotionally to the heart of my family story took far longer. Empathy is a choice, and I’ve made my choice.

Stephen's book list on families struggling with mental health

Stephen Trimble Why did Stephen love this book?

In many ways, my book is a prologue to Robert Kolker’s extraordinary book. When Mike left our home, he moved to the Colorado State Hospital, in 1957, just a few years before the Galvin brothers began to rotate through the same wards. My mother dealt with the guilt and shame, stigma and chaos of one child with schizophrenia. The Galvins had ten boys and two girls, and six of the boys were diagnosed with schizophrenia. Unimaginable. I feel especially close to their story because I went to college in Colorado Springs. I rode my bike near the Galvin home on Hidden Valley Road. Even the brain research ending Kolker’s book on a note of hope happens in Denver at the University of Colorado. Like mine, this is a Colorado story. 

By Robert Kolker,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • OPRAH’S BOOK CLUB PICK • ONE OF GQ's TOP 50 BOOKS OF LITERARY JOURNALISM IN THE 21st CENTURY • The heartrending story of a midcentury American family with twelve children, six of them diagnosed with schizophrenia, that became science's great hope in the quest to understand the disease.

"Reads like a medical detective journey and sheds light on a topic so many of us face: mental illness." —Oprah Winfrey

Don and Mimi Galvin seemed to be living the American dream. After World War II, Don's work with the Air Force brought them to Colorado,…


Book cover of A Home for Min Soo: Putting Together the Pieces of My Life

Tracy Crump Author Of Health, Healing, and Wholeness: Devotions of Hope in the Midst of Illness

From Tracy's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Christian Former ICU nurse Caregiver

Tracy's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Tracy Crump Why did Tracy love this book?

I can’t say enough good things about this one. I was laughing one minute and crying the next, but the laughter definitely outweighed the tears.

Min Soo is orphaned as an infant in Korea, but thanks to a foster mother’s prayers and perseverance, he is adopted by Brian and Sarah Hampshire in America. Diagnosed with a genetic disease, autism, and an earth-shattering illness, Min faces life with the wit and wisdom of a sage and the refreshing faith of a child.

I love the insights this developmentally disabled young man has on life, love, and Jesus and the courage with which he faces the future.

Book cover of Calvin

Ann Jacobus Author Of The Coldest Winter I Ever Spent

From my list on young readers that deal with mental illness.

Who am I?

I’m an American author of young adult novel Romancing the Dark in the City of Light and other fiction for younger readers as well as a trained suicide prevention counselor and mental health advocate. I have long been pulled by the subject of suicide since struggling with depression as an adolescent. Along with my pal, author and psychologist Nancy Bo Flood, we read and keep track of exceptional, traditionally-published books dealing with mental illness—that of the main character or of someone they love—that avoid tropes and stereotypes, model characters seeking and receiving help and support and ultimately coping, all while pursuing their goals and dreams like any other fictional people. 

Ann's book list on young readers that deal with mental illness

Ann Jacobus Why did Ann love this book?

This concise, beautifully-written gem of a novel features seventeen-year-old Calvin, diagnosed with schizophrenia, who makes a delusional and ill-advised trek across frozen Lake Erie to visit cartoonist Bill Waterson. Fortunately, his best friend Suzie, more firmly grounded in our collective reality, goes along. It’s a fascinating walk in the shoes of a young protagonist suffering serious mental illness that makes us question the very nature of reality in the first place.

By Martine Leavitt,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Calvin as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

Just because you see something doesn't mean it's really there.

Seventeen-year-old Calvin has always known his fate is linked to the comic book character from Calvin & Hobbes.

He was born on the day the last strip was published. His grandpa put a stuffed tiger named Hobbes in his crib. And he even had a best friend named Susie.

Then Calvin’s mom washed Hobbes to death. Susie grew up beautiful and stopped talking to him. And Calvin pretty much forgot about the strip―until now.

Now he is seventeen years old and has been diagnosed with schizophrenia. Hobbes is back, as…


Book cover of Loving Someone with OCD: Help for You & Your Family

Mark E. Crawford Author Of The Obsessive Compulsive Trap: Real Help for a Real Struggle

From my list on obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Who am I?

I’ve been a practicing clinical psychologist for over thirty years. I’ve seen many patients who have suffered from OCD – some to the point of being debilitated by their symptoms. Few things are as gratifying as helping someone overcome OCD and live a normal life. While the disorder can be confusing, once people understand what OCD is and how to treat it, they can literally change their lives for the better. This is why I went into this field to begin with, and after thirty years, I still feel privileged and grateful when I can help someone escape the prison of OCD symptoms. 

Mark's book list on obsessive-compulsive disorder

Mark E. Crawford Why did Mark love this book?

OCD affects not only the one with the disorder, but anyone in the family who loves the person with OCD. Most family members want to help their loved one who suffers from OCD, but their instincts are usually to help them “feel better,” which is often different from responding in a way that helps them “get better.” This book is a great resource to help a family member understand OCD and to learn how to support their loved one. 

By Karen J. Landsman, Kathleen M. Rupertus, Cherlene Pedrick

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Loving Someone with OCD as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

People who suffer from mental illness rarely do so alone. Their families and loved ones face their own set of unique challenges - problems that deserve their own resources and sources of support. This is the first book written specifically for the loved ones of people with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). It helps readers examine how OCD affects their lives and offers a straightforward system for building a healthier, more constructive relationship with OCD sufferers.


Book cover of Asylums: Essays on the Social Situation of Mental Patients and Other Inmates

Emily Baum Author Of The Invention of Madness: State, Society, and the Insane in Modern China

From my list on rethinking your sanity.

Who am I?

I’ve spent the last decade researching and writing about mental illness and how it manifests in different cultures. My research has led me to archives in China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong, where I’ve uncovered documents from the earliest Chinese-managed asylums and psychopathic hospitals – documents that give rare glimpses into what it was like to have been mentally ill in China at the turn of the twentieth century. My book, The Invention of Madness, is the first monographic study of mental illness in China in the modern period.

Emily's book list on rethinking your sanity

Emily Baum Why did Emily love this book?

This classic account by a renowned sociologist is critical reading for those interested in the anti-psychiatry movement, a crusade that viewed psychiatry as more coercive than therapeutic and, in some cases, questioned the reality of mental illness itself. For one year, Goffman embedded himself in St. Elizabeth’s mental hospital in Washington, DC, where he ultimately concluded that the defining features of the asylum – similar to those of prisons and other “total institutions” – did more to shape the patient’s behavior than the supposed illness for which the patient had been admitted in the first place. Goffman’s observations left a significant impact on popular ideas about asylum care and helped contribute to widespread deinstitutionalization several decades later.

By Erving Goffman,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Asylums is an analysis of life in "total institutions"--closed worlds like prisons, army camps, boarding schools, nursing homes and mental hospitals. It focuses on the relationship between the inmate and the institution, how the setting affects the person and how the person can deal with life on the inside.


Book cover of The Tree of Ecstasy & Unbearable Sadness

Eugen Bacon Author Of Secondhand Daylight

From my list on psychedelic speculative fiction from Australia.

Who am I?

I am an African Australian author of several novels and fiction collections, and a finalist in the 2022 World Fantasy Award. I was announced in the honor list of the 2022 Otherwise Fellowships for ‘doing exciting work in gender and speculative fiction’.  I have a master's degree with distinction in distributed computer systems, a master's degree in creative writing, and a PhD in creative writing. The short story is my sweetest spot. I have a deep passion for the literary speculative, and I write across genres and forms, with award-winning genre-bending works. I am especially curious about stories of culture, diversity, climate change, writing the other and betwixt.

Eugen's book list on psychedelic speculative fiction from Australia

Eugen Bacon Why did Eugen love this book?

The quality and production of this phenomenal hardcover of imposing size are mesmeric. Its metaphoric text on mental illness and accompanying artwork are visually appealing and poignantly immersive. Transformative text transports the reader, any reader—child, young adult, adult—to beauty and hurt, evolution and transformation. The perfect book for anyone living with psychosis or other illness, and for everyone else to understand the fragility of debilitating conditions.  

Book cover of Loving Someone with Bipolar Disorder: Understanding & Helping Your Partner

Dave Mowry Author Of OMG That's Me!: Bipolar Disorder, Depression, Anxiety, Panic Attacks, and More...

From my list on bipolar disorder from someone who has lived with it.

Who am I?

Dave has lived with bipolar disorder and severe anxiety all of his adult life. He has also worked with over 800 people with mental illness in a certified peer support role. Dave is a blogger with Bp Magazine for Bipolar and a mental health influencer. His blog posts have been read by over a million people. Dave has been hospitalized, had most of the treatments available for bipolar disorder including ECT. Dave has come out the other side and has the rare ability to put all of his emotions and experiences in his writing with complete openness and honesty, making him a best-selling author about bipolar disorder.

Dave's book list on bipolar disorder from someone who has lived with it

Dave Mowry Why did Dave love this book?

This is the second book about bipolar disorder that my wife read on her journey of understanding this illness. Family members of people with bipolar disorder are usually left in the dark. Loving Someone brings light and hope to the loved ones of people with bipolar disorder.

By Julie A. Fast, John D. Preston,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Loving Someone with Bipolar Disorder as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This fully revised and updated second edition of the bestselling Loving Someone with Bipolar Disorder discusses all aspects of readers' relationships with bipolar partners: work, money, sex, medications and their side effects, therapeutic treatments, and more.

Also called manic depressive disorder, bipolar disorder can cause extreme mood swings, and people who suffer from this disorder can alternate between manic and depressed behavior without much warning.

Loving Someone with Bipolar Disorder, Second Edition, builds on the practical advice offered in the original book by offering critical new information on the medications that are sometimes prescribed to manage bipolar disorder symptoms. Readers…