May is Mental Health Awareness Month. While there is often a stigma surrounding discussing mental health, these books are a great way to start the conversation, find solidarity, or expand your understanding of what it is to struggle with mental health. Including both vivid, first-person memoirs and beautifully written novels, here are some of my favorite audiobooks about mental health that address this important topic.
Broken (in the Best Possible Way) by Jenny Lawson, Read by the Author
After listening to Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, I immediately fell in love with Jenny Lawson’s writing. She’s funny, easy to connect with, and beautifully genuine. In Broken (in the Best Possible Way), Jenny shares her experience with depression and the grueling nature of fighting through the day, going to sleep, and waking up to do it all over again. Jenny’s narration is perfection, an audiobook lover’s dream.
The Undocumented Americans by Karla Cornejo Villavicencio, Read by the Author
Karla Cornejo Villavicencio’s book The Undocumented Americans has received an incredible amount praise for her brilliant writing and discussion of the experience of undocumented migrants. But Karla also shares her experience with mental illness and gives an incredibly forthright account about how living as an undocumented American made getting help for her condition more difficult. She’s frank in her discussion of her mental health, and her audiobook narration adds a layer of depth to her story, giving us a little more insight into her experience.
The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X.R. Pan, Narrated by Stephanie Hsu
The day Leigh kissed her best friend, her mom died by suicide. Stricken by grief, Leigh takes a journey to Taiwan to meet her maternal grandparents for the first time. While there, Leigh gets to know more about her mother’s family and what it might have been like for her mom growing up in Taiwan. In flashbacks, we watch as Leigh’s mom struggles with mental illness through the years. Stephanie Hsu performs the audiobook with incredible skill, deftly tackling the challenge of this intensely emotional book.
Heart Berries by Terese Marie Mailhot, Narrated by Rainy Fields
While hospitalized for PTSD and bipolar II, Terese Marie Mailhot writes to try to begin to piece together her memories. She remembers her past in a nonlinear way, some memories more hazy than others. In gorgeous prose, Terese shares snapshots from her life as she untangles her past to better understand her present. Rainy Fields narrates the memoir with precision, using her full, rich voice to help tell Terese’s story.
The Lost Man by Jane Harper, Narrated by Stephen Shanahan
The youngest and the oldest brothers of a ranching family find their third brother dead near the border of their two properties. Now the search begins to discover how the middle brother died. Did he die of the elements? Or was his death something more nefarious? In the Australian outback, ranchers often spend days or weeks at a time alone, moving around vast pastureland. Jane Harper uses this novel to discuss how isolated ranchers often struggle with their mental health. Stephen Shanahan brilliantly narrates this mystery novel, his voice the perfect choice for a mystery novel set in rural Australia.
All My Puny Sorrows by Miriam Toews, Narrated by Erin Moon
Elfrieda is a renowned pianist, living a life that most envy. But behind closed doors, she struggles with a deep, all-consuming depression. Her sister, Yoli, loves Elfi more than anything else, carefully watching her sister’s every move, worried that Elfi might fall into another depressive episode. All My Puny Sorrows delves deep into the painful realities of mental illness on one person and her family. Erin Moon narrates the novel with clarity and emotional depth.
For more recommendation’s check out last year’s post 6 of the Best Audiobooks for Mental Health Awareness Month.