The best rehabilitation books

7 authors have picked their favorite books about rehabilitation and why they recommend each book.

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The Drama of the Gifted Child

By Alice Miller,

Book cover of The Drama of the Gifted Child: The Search for the True Self

Reading this book I discovered the difference between the true and the false self. If you are not truly seen as the person you are in your childhood, you will develop a false self. A way of being and performing that you think others might like. And you might forget who you really are, and what you deep inside desire and long for.

Alice Miller describes this situation so clearly. And I recognized my own false self, and have since then worked on becoming my true self again.

Who am I?

I am a psychotherapist and pastor. Since my first book Highly Sensitive People in an Insensitive World, which became an international bestseller, I have received letters from all over the world, from people, telling me about their lives. I discovered there is a need for books on how to live your life in an authentic way. I have studied Psychiatrist C.G. Jung and Philosopher Søren Kierkegaard at the university. The books, I recommend are easier to read than these two. In my books, I use many examples. It is important to me that the wisdom of great writers becomes accessible to all people regardless of their level of education.

I wrote...

Confronting Shame: How to Understand Your Shame and Gain Inner Freedom

By Ilse Sand, Mark Kline (translator),

Book cover of Confronting Shame: How to Understand Your Shame and Gain Inner Freedom

What is my book about?

Shame might be far from the first thing that comes to mind when you think about what's causing your problems. Shame is hidden, and rarely something we talk about, but it can underlie challenges that we deal with on a daily basis, including anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem.

This book will help you understand what shame is, how it arises, and, in turn, how to overcome it. With exercises in each chapter, it provides tools to reflect on, confront and free yourself from shame. The book also includes a questionnaire to assess how much shame impacts you. Be kind to yourself and rediscover your empathy for yourself with Confronting Shame.

Dementia from the Inside

By Jennifer Bute,

Book cover of Dementia from the Inside: A Doctor's Personal Journey of Hope

Jennifer Bute is a medical doctor living in the United Kingdom. After being diagnosed with dementia she had to retire from her practice and moved into an assisted living facility. Here, she continues caring for others by offering seminars on living with dementia and writing about her journey on her blog and on Facebook, as well as in this beautiful book. Her story is brave and inspiring and dispels many myths about living with dementia.

Who am I?

I am a registered nurse, author, and dementia daughter. As a nurse and hospital case manager, I spent many years caring for people living with dementia and their families. This inspired me to write a novel, Blue Hydrangeas, an Alzheimer’s love story. I soon encountered difficulties marketing my book. I reached out to two other dementia daughters I’d met online who had also written books on the subject from personal experience and together we founded the non-profit organization Our mission is to carefully vet resources – stories of personal caregiving – to help busy caregivers find the information and inspiration they need for their own journeys. To date, we are 300+ authors strong.

I wrote...

Blue Hydrangeas

By Marianne Sciucco,

Book cover of Blue Hydrangeas

What is my book about?

What if the person who knew you best and loved you most forgot your face, and couldn't remember your name? Memory care is everyone's solution for what to do about Sara but Jack can't bear to live without her. He’s committed to saving his marriage, his wife, and their life together from the devastation of Alzheimer’s disease. They retired years ago to the house of their dreams and operated it as a bed and breakfast named Blue Hydrangeas. Jack has made an impossible promise: They’ll stay together in their beautiful home no matter what the disease brings.

He takes them on an impulsive journey to confront their past and reclaim their future. In the end, he realizes that staying together at any cost is what truly matters.

Rights Come to Mind

By Joseph J. Fins,

Book cover of Rights Come to Mind

Fins combines personal narratives of patients he has encountered who have suffered severe neurological injuries with data from the field of neurology to explore the complex question of what it means to be in a persistent vegetative state—as well as one’s prognosis for recovery. A deeply compassionate volume that will make readers question what they believe about comas, death, and the gray area in between. 

Who am I?

As a physician and attorney, I’ve always been fascinated by the nexus where my two professions meet.   During the course of my career, I have been asked to advise colleagues on topics as far-reaching as whether a death row inmate should receive an organ transplant to how to offer psychotherapy ethically to a conjoined twin. Although questions like these do not arise every day, even the everyday questions in my field – on such topics as confidentiality, boundaries, and informed consent – never grow old.

I wrote...

Who Says You're Dead? Medical & Ethical Dilemmas for the Curious & Concerned

By Jacob M. Appel,

Book cover of Who Says You're Dead? Medical & Ethical Dilemmas for the Curious & Concerned

What is my book about?

Drawing upon the author’s decades teaching medical ethics and his work as a practicing physician, this book of challenging ethical dilemmas asks readers, What would you do?

A daughter gets tested to see if she’s a match to donate a kidney to her father. The test reveals that she isn’t the man’s biological daughter. Should the doctor tell them? A deaf couple prefers a deaf baby. Should they be allowed to use medical technology to ensure they have a child who can’t hear? Who should get custody of an embryo created through IVF when a couple divorces? Or, when you or a loved one is on life support, Who says you’re dead? In short, engaging scenarios, Dr. Appel takes on hot-button issues in medical ethics.

Undo It! How Simple Lifestyle Changes Can Reverse Most Chronic Diseases

By Dean Ornish, Anne Ornish,

Book cover of Undo It! How Simple Lifestyle Changes Can Reverse Most Chronic Diseases

Dean Ornish is a legend in the world of lifestyle medicine. He was the first to show you can reverse heart disease with diet and lifestyle, and his work has gone on to study many of the diseases we care about, from diabetes to prostate cancer to Alzheimer’s disease. Undo It is a wonderful synthesis of Dr. Ornish’s research, and it suggests a unifying hypothesis for disease. This book also is co-authored by Anne Ornish, who brings a holistic dimension to lifestyle medicine.

Who am I?

I'm a physician, scientist, and food as medicine researcher who has spent three decades studying how the body defends itself against disease to protect health. A major focus of this has been on how your body responds to what you feed it. I'm an internationally renowned physician, scientist and author of the New York Times bestseller Eat to Beat Disease: The New Science of How Your Body Can Heal Itself. My work has led to the development of more than 30 new medical treatments and impacts care for more than 70 diseases. My TED Talk, “Can We Eat to Starve Cancer?” has garnered more than 11 million views. 

I wrote...

Eat to Beat Disease: The New Science of How Your Body Can Heal Itself

By William W. Li,

Book cover of Eat to Beat Disease: The New Science of How Your Body Can Heal Itself

What is my book about?

Is your diet feeding or defeating disease? Forget everything you think you know about your body and food and discover the new science of how the body heals itself. Learn how to identify the strategies and dosages for using food to transform your resilience and health in Eat to Beat Disease.

Your body was designed to fight disease, and we have radically underestimated how foods can be used to amplify this hidden power. Pioneering physician-scientist Dr. William Li empowers readers by showing them the evidence behind over two hundred health-boosting foods that can stave off cancer, reduce your risk of dementia, and beat dozens of avoidable diseases.

A Million Little Pieces

By James Frey,

Book cover of A Million Little Pieces

I loved reading this book before it became tainted by fact checkers. That being said, it remains a fascinating, raw, and gripping read. His use of language as falls deeper and deeper into becoming hooked is similar to being a storm chaser. He can’t help himself chasing the highs, knowing full well the low may be the last one. “I want a drink. I want fifty drinks. I want a bottle of the purest, strongest, most destructive, most poisonous alcohol on Earth. I want fifty bottles of it. I want crack, dirty and yellow and filled with formaldehyde. I want a pile of powder meth, five hundred hits of acid, a garbage bag filled with mushrooms, a tube of glue bigger than a truck, a pool of gas large enough to drown in. I want something anything whatever however as much as I can.

If there ever were…

Who am I?

I am fortunate to have been blessed with a positive disposition. When my toast falls on the floor I like to believe it will land butter side up. I learned at a very early age that owning one's mistakes and airing them out loud could bring on laughter or a smile of recognition that many of us suffer the same fears as we navigate this often uncharted life with our fingers crossed or hands in prayer, that we will mostly get it right. This is why I write the books I write. By nature, I am a happiness ambassador… And humor is my weapon of choice.

I wrote...

Getting Waisted: A Survival Guide to Being Fat in a Society that Loves Thin

By Monica Parker,

Book cover of Getting Waisted: A Survival Guide to Being Fat in a Society that Loves Thin

What is my book about?

Getting Waisted is a vivid look at growing up fat. It's a hilarious and painful ride from chubby baby to a never really thin adult. Monica’s story is also a love story, one where she comes to love herself and in the process finds her true Prince Charming. Monica is an actor, writer, and producer. Most notably she co-wrote the beloved All Dogs Go to Heaven. One of her proudest achievements was creating her insightful one-woman show, Sex, Pies and A Few White Lies. Her latest memoir, the very funny but brutally honest Oops I Forgot to Save Money—(not a how to but a don’t ever!) came out in the fall of 2021. Currently, she is hard at work on her first novel.


By Sarah Hepola,

Book cover of Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget

This book does an excellent job describing what it’s like to feel “less than.” For me, that is the crux of my drinking. I truly appreciate that Hepola addresses sexuality patterns for many women alcoholics. It’s difficult to portray this in a way that is understandable but does not excuse the behavior nor shame it. This story is not glamorized and I appreciate that. 

Who am I?

I can say in truth and with humor, that I’m overqualified on this topic. My parents are both alcoholics, I followed suit along with two siblings and married into the club, not once but twice. Thank God my second marriage was to a recovering alcoholic. Today I’m approaching 30 years of sobriety while hubby remains in the lead with 34 years. Knowing what it’s like to live with another alcoholic, practice the art yourself and find a way through it, should be the equivalent of a doctorate on addiction. I know the pain, denial, struggle, and all the lies. Most importantly, I have the heart to help others who, like myself, march on the front line of this battle.

I co-wrote...

In Spite Of Us: A Love Story about Second Chances

By Deb Palmer, Sandy Palmer,

Book cover of In Spite Of Us: A Love Story about Second Chances

What is my book about?

A raw, authentic story written in dual perspectives by two alcoholics, now married and in recovery. Sandy is sober, moving toward God and a better life. Deb is not sober. She believes a sober life would be like staying awake through major surgery.  What happens when this unlikely match agrees to a blind date? Solo, they're a mess, but as a duet? God help them! They are modern-day characters right out of the Bible. Remember the sheep? That pesky fellow wandering off causing the shepherd to leave the ninety-nine and take care of it? That's them. What lengths will God go to save this couple from their worst enemy--themselves?

Radical Remission

By Kelly A. Turner,

Book cover of Radical Remission

Radical Remission compiles the stories of cancer patients who have achieved remission against all odds. Pulling from over 1000 case studies published in the medical literature, reported across nearly all cancer types, Kelly Turner, PhD, structured her doctoral thesis around nine key principles common among long-term cancer survivors. She later published her work for the lay reader, categorizing these principles around body, mind, and spirit interventions that can be implemented alongside conventional oncology treatment. After my cancer diagnosis, this book gave me a vision of a future in durable remission.

Who am I?

I was 32 when diagnosed with stage 4 non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. As a clinician, and now cancer survivor, I’ve become increasingly focused on empowering cancer patients through and beyond remission. Nearly two decades of clinical practice have taught me that an informed and committed patient makes better decisions about their care, harmoniously interfaces with their healthcare team, and stays focused on living a healthy lifestyle. I’ve read countless books about cancer, but this list outlines the essentials that I recommend to patients beginning their healing journey.

I wrote...

Cancer, Stress & Mindset: Focusing the Mind to Empower Healing and Resilience

By Brandon LaGreca,

Book cover of Cancer, Stress & Mindset: Focusing the Mind to Empower Healing and Resilience

What is my book about?

I believe the most important anticancer strategy is an engaged and healing mindset. Cancer, Stress & Mindset explores the contribution of stress to the initiation and progression of cancer; how stress affects the body and mind; and simple strategies to cope with the stress of being a cancer patient, from diagnosis through remission. This is the book I needed at the onset of my cancer journey, mired in the stresses of decisions related to my care. Years later, I wrote this as a starting point to help patients and caregivers cultivate an anticancer mindset.

Learning to Speak Alzheimer's

By Joanne Koenig Coste,

Book cover of Learning to Speak Alzheimer's: A Groundbreaking Approach for Everyone Dealing with the Disease

This book is wonderful for so many reasons. It reminds us that simple, commonsense approaches often work to solve or ameliorate daily problems. It shows us ways that communication is possible even when language fails. It encourages us to see through the individual’s eyes and live in their world. It urges us to focus on what the person is still able to do, and to compensate for or simply ignore what they cannot. And it inspires us to create moments of success and laughter along the way. 

Who are we?

As a neurologist and neuropsychologist team who have spent their entire clinical, teaching, and research careers focused on individuals and their families experiencing memory loss, Alzheimer’s disease, and dementia, our goal is simple. We want to empower individuals and their families with the tools they need to manage memory loss, Alzheimer’s disease, and dementia. We work to balance pharmacological and nonpharmacological management, as well as the needs of the individual with those of their family. Reading books like the ones in our list plus articles in medical journals keeps us current with the progress in the science of dementia and the humanity of individuals and families living with the disease. 

We wrote...

Six Steps to Managing Alzheimer's Disease and Dementia: A Guide for Families

By Andrew E. Budson, Maureen K. O'Connor,

Book cover of Six Steps to Managing Alzheimer's Disease and Dementia: A Guide for Families

What is our book about?

In our book, Six Steps to Managing Alzheimer's Disease and Dementia: A Guide for Families, we begin by explaining dementia and its various causes, including Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia, Lewy body disease, and others. We then describe how families can manage issues with memory, language, vision, behavior, agitation, aggression, driving, incontinence, sleep, and more, all without medications. Which medications can be helpful—and which can make things worse (more than 100 listed by name)—are then discussed. We close by reviewing how to care for yourself as a caregiver, build your care team, sustain your relationship with your loved one, and plan for the future.

Prison by Any Other Name

By Maya Schenwar, Victoria Law,

Book cover of Prison by Any Other Name: The Harmful Consequences of Popular Reforms

As public awareness of mass incarceration has grown, reformers, and even law enforcement, have attempted to build alternatives, policies, and institutions they argue are alternatives to prisons and jails. These alternatives include policies like electronic monitoring, drug courts, halfway houses, lockup mental health facilities, and court supervision. In this book, Law and Schenwar systematically demolish the notion that such initiatives do anything more than widen the net of incarceration. In their view, these “alternatives” create programs and institutions based on the notion that altering the form or style of punishment will eliminate mass incarceration. Instead, they argue this requires the elimination of the paradigm of punishment and the establishment of programs outside the criminal legal system that provide freedom and opportunities for targeted populations. 

Who am I?

I've been a social justice activist all my life. In my younger years, I turned to violence to bring about liberation. That landed me a federal arrest warrant which I avoided for 27 years by living as a fugitive. I spent most of that time in southern Africa, joining freedom movements against apartheid and colonialism. Arrested and extradited to the U.S. in 2002 I spent 6 1/2 years in California prisons while observing the impact of mass incarceration. I vowed to direct my energy to end mass incarceration through grassroots organizing. Since then I've been a writer, researcher, and activist in my local community of Champaign-Urbana, Illinois as well as being partner and father to my two sons.

I wrote...

Understanding Mass Incarceration: A People's Guide to the Key Civil Rights Struggle of Our Time

By James Kilgore,

Book cover of Understanding Mass Incarceration: A People's Guide to the Key Civil Rights Struggle of Our Time

What is my book about?

Drawing on a growing body of literature and activism, Understanding Mass Incarceration describes competing theories of criminal justice—from rehabilitation to retribution, from restorative justice to justice reinvestment. In a lively, accessible style, author James Kilgore, who spent six years in prison himself, illuminates the difference between prisons and jails, probation and parole, laying out key concepts and policies such as the War on Drugs, broken windows policing, three-strikes sentencing, the school-to-prison pipeline, recidivism, and prison privatization. Informed by the crucial lenses of race and gender, he addresses issues typically omitted from the discussion: the rapidly increasing incarceration of women, Latinx folk, and transgender people; the growing imprisonment of immigrants; and the devastating impact of mass incarceration on communities.

Rethinking Madness

By Paris Williams,

Book cover of Rethinking Madness: Towards a Paradigm Shift in Our Understanding and Treatment of Psychosis

I found Rethinking Madness to be a highly original book. Clinical psychologist Paris Williams interviewed individuals who had been diagnosed with schizophrenia and other psychoses, and he integrated this research with prominent alternative explanations for madness. In contrast to the gloomy picture painted by establishment psychiatry, Williams describes how full recovery from schizophrenia and other related psychotic disorders is not only possible but is surprisingly common, and that many people who recover from these psychotic disorders do not merely return to their pre-psychotic condition, but often undergo a profound positive transformation with far more lasting benefits than harms.

Who am I?

I am a practicing clinical psychologist, often at odds with the mainstream of my mental health profession. I have a strong interest in how society, culture, politics, philosophy, and psychology intersect, and my previous books about depression, activism, and anti-authoritarianism reflect that. The late historian Howard Zinn described me this way: “It is always refreshing to find someone who stands at the edge of his profession and dissects its failures with a critical eye, refusing to be deceived by its pretensions. Bruce Levine condemns the cold, technological approach to mental health and, to our benefit, looks for deeper solutions.”

I wrote...

A Profession Without Reason: The Crisis of Contemporary Psychiatry―Untangled and Solved by Spinoza, Freethinking, and Radical Enlightenment

By Bruce E. Levine,

Book cover of A Profession Without Reason: The Crisis of Contemporary Psychiatry―Untangled and Solved by Spinoza, Freethinking, and Radical Enlightenment

What is my book about?

The field of psychiatry is in crisis and requires a fresh look. The former director of the National Institute of Mental Health has said: “Whatever we’ve been doing for five decades, it ain’t working,” and he and other prominent psychiatrists have now discarded psychiatry’s chemical imbalance theory of mental illness and declared psychiatry’s DSM diagnostic manual to be invalid.

My goal was to interest freethinkers and critical thinkers of science, philosophy, politics, and history who would not ordinarily read a book about psychiatry. I believe that readers unfamiliar with the radical Enlightenment thinker Baruch Spinoza will be intrigued by his life and the modern relevance of his ideas. With Spinoza’s help, A Profession Without Reason untangles the crisis of contemporary psychiatry—and helps solve it.

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