100 Must-Read Books about Mental Illness

This content contains affiliate links. When you buy through these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Sarah S. Davis

Staff Writer

Sarah S. Davis holds a BA in English from the University of Pennsylvania, a Master's of Library Science from Clarion University, and an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Sarah has also written for Electric Literature, Kirkus Reviews, Audible, Psych Central, and more. Sarah is the founder of Broke By Books blog and runs a tarot reading business, Divination Vibration. Twitter: @missbookgoddess Instagram: @Sarahbookgoddess

May is Mental Health Awareness Month and a great time to explore the many writers who write on diverse topics related to mental health and mental illness. The following list of books about mental illness contains fiction, graphic novels, nonfiction, memoirs, biographies, and more, all books that broaden our understanding of mental illness from first hand and second hand experiences. Whether it’s May or the other eleven months, reading books about mental illness can lead to greater awareness of how these invisible disabilities and chronic illnesses can affect our lives firsthand. 

100 must-read books about mental illness
  1. 72 Hour Hold – Bebe Moore Campbell
  2. All the Bright Places – Jennifer Niven 
  3. All the Things We Never Knew: Chasing the Chaos of Mental Illness – Sheila Hamilton 
  4. Americanah – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  5. The Awakening – Kate Chopin
  6. Awakening Kali – T. S. Ghosh
  7. The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath 
  8. Beloved – Toni Morrison
  9. The Bipolar Disorder Survival Guide – David Miklowitz 
  10. Bleeding Violet – Dia Reeves 
  11. The Buddha and the Borderline: My Recovery from Borderline Personality Disorder through Dialectical Behavior Therapy, Buddhism, and Online Dating – Kiera Van Gelder 
  12. By the Time You Read This, I’ll Be Dead – Julie Ann Peters 
  13. The Color of Hope: People of Color Mental Health Narratives – ed. Vanessa Hazzard
  14. The Color Purple – Alice Walker
  15. Crazy – Han Nolan
  16. Darkness Visible – William Styron 
  17. Dragonfish – Vu Tran
  18. Every Last Word – Tamara Ireland Stone 
  19. Everything, Everything – Nicola Yoon
  20. The Evil Hours: A Biography of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder – David J. Morris 
  21. Everything I Never Told You – Celeste Ng
  22. Fangirl – Rainbow Rowell 
  23. Find You in the Dark – A. Meredith Walters 
  24. Flowers From the Storm – Laura Kinsale 
  25. Franny and Zooey – J. D. Salinger 
  26. Furiously Happy – Jenny Lawson 
  27. Get Me Out of Here: My Recovery from Borderline Personality Disorder – Rachel Reiland 
  28. Girl, Interrupted – Susanna Kaysen 
  29. Haldol and Hyacinths: A Bipolar Life – Melody Moezzi
  30. Hamlet – William Shakespeare 
  31. The Hours – Michael Cunningham 
  32. Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened – Allie Brosh 
  33. Imagine Me Gone – Adam Haslett 
  34. Impulse – Ellen Hopkins 
  35. It’s Kind of a Funny Story – Ned Vizzini 
  36. The Last Time We Said Goodbye – Cynthia Hand 
  37. Keep Me Still – Caisey Quinn
  38. Let the Tornado Come – Rita Zoey Chin 
  39. A Little Life – Hanya Yanagihara
  40. Look Straight Ahead – Elaine M. Will 
  41. Looking for Alaska – John Green 
  42. Loud in the House of Myself: Memoir of a Strange Girl – Stacy Pershall 
  43. Made You Up – Francesca Zappia 
  44. Madness: A Bipolar Life – Marya Hornbacher 
  45. The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie – Jennifer Ashley 
  46. The Madwoman in the Attic: The Woman Writer and the Nineteenth-Century Literary Imagination – Sandra M. Gilbert and Susan Gubar 
  47. The Man Who Couldn’t Stop: OCD and the True Story of a Life Lost in Thought 
  48. Manic: A Memoir – Terri Cheney 
  49. Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo and Me – Ellen Forney 
  50. The Marriage Plot – Jeffrey Eugenides 
  51. The Memory of Light – Francisco X. Stork
  52. Mrs. Dalloway – Virginia Woolf 
  53. More Happy Than Not – Adam Silvera
  54. The Museum of Intangible Things – Wendy Wunder 
  55. My Age of Anxiety: Fear, Hope, Dread, and the Search for Peace of Mind – Scott Stossel 
  56. My Heart and Other Black Holes – Jasmine Warga 
  57. The Nest – Kenneth Oppel
  58. The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression – Andrew Solomon
  59. Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami
  60. Not Alone: Reflections on Faith and Depression – Monica A. Coleman
  61. A Note of Madness – Tabitha Suzuma 
  62. Ophelia Speaks: Adolescent Girls Write About Their Search for Self – Sara Shandler 
  63. Out of Her Mind: Women Writing on Mental Illness – Rebecca Shannonhouse (ed.) 
  64. Paperweight – Meg Haston 
  65. Polarity – Max Bemis 
  66. Prozac Nation – Elizabeth Wurtzel 
  67. Psychiatric Tales: Eleven Graphic Stories about Mental Illness – Darryl Cunningham
  68. The Quiet Room: A Journey Out of the Torment of Madness – Lori Schiller
  69. Reasons To Stay Alive – Matt Haig 
  70. The Round House by Louise Erdrich
  71. The Salt Eaters – Toni Cade Bambara
  72. Shadows in the Sun: Healing from Depression and Finding the Light Within – Gayathri Ramprasad
  73. She’s Come Undone – Wally Lamb 
  74. The Silver Linings Playbook– Matthew Quick 
  75. Skinny – Donna Cooner 
  76. Sparks Off You – Anita Felicelli
  77. Stop Pretending: What Happened When My Big Sister Went Crazy – Sonya Sones
  78. Stranger – Rachel Manija Brown and Sherwood Smith
  79. The Surrendered – Chang-rae Lee
  80. Swallow Me Whole – Nate Powell 
  81. A Tale for the Time Being – Ruth Ozeki
  82. Ten Ways Not to Commit Suicide – Darryl “DMC” McDaniels
  83. Therapy – Kathryn Perez 
  84. Thirteen Reasons Why – Jay Asher 
  85. Touched with Fire: Manic-Depressive Illness and the Artistic Temperament – Kay Redfield Jamison 
  86. The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath – Sylvia Plath 
  87. The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B – Teresa Toten 
  88. An Unquiet Mind – Kay Redfield Jamison 
  89. The Virgin Suicides – Jeffrey Eugenides 
  90. Your Voice is All I Hear – Leah Scheier 
  91. Wasted: A Memoir of Anorexia and Bulimia – Marya Hornbacher 
  92. When Reason Breaks – Cindy L. Rodriguez
  93. When We Collided – Emery Lord 
  94. White Oleander – Janet Fitch
  95. Wide Sargasso Sea – Jean Rhys 
  96. Willow – Julia Hoban 
  97. Willow Weep for Me: A Black Woman’s Journey through Depression – Meri Nana-Ama Danquah
  98. Wintergirls – Laurie Halse Anderson 
  99. The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins 
  100. The Yellow Wallpaper – Charlotte Perkins Gilman 

What books about mental illness do you recommend?