To celebrate World Mental Health Day, I’ve decided to list some of my favorite books that highlight mental health (excluding the more popular ones).
Mental health is a topic close to my heart, and its been a struggle not only living with anxiety/depression, but also finding things that remind me I’m not alone, that describe how I feel.
In no particular order, let’s talk about some of my favorite books that tackle mental health:
1. More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera
This will come as no surprise to anyone that knows me. Adam is one of my favorite authors, and his books are some of the only ones that have made me outwardly emote. I still think about Aaron to this day, and hope he’s okay. Without spoiling too much, this book tackles depression, grief, self-harm, suicidal thoughts, and more in a way that was absolutely heart-wrenching for me because of how badly I related. I can’t love this book enough, and it forced me to reevaluate my own feelings and the ways I was dealing with things.
For those of y’all that don’t already know what this is about, it follows the story of Aaron Soto, who is reeling in the aftermath following his father’s suicide. With his girlfriend away, he starts getting closer to someone new, and realizes things that he should have never tried to keep buried. Alongside this, Adam seamlessly incorporates something not so far fetched into the world: the Leteo Procedure, which is designed to bury memories and make you happy.
2. Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner
Another tearjerker. I had to really evaluate myself after reading this. This deals with grief in its rawest form, and I really appreciated how he normalized therapy. It’s okay to seek help, and there’s no shame or anything in it. I work hard in my everyday life to do the same, casually mentioning my therapist or medications, but it still is meant with the most awkward of silences. It’ll get there though.
This book, inspired by actual events, deals with the main character fighting his guilt over maybe accidentally causing the death of his best friends. He goes to their loved ones and deals with his grief by living a “Goodbye Day” with them, basically how you would want to spend a last day with someone you love. But, he also has to deal with his feelings for a girlfriend of one of the dead, and a judge with a vengeance who thinks him responsible for the death of his son.
3. Six of Crows/ Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo
All of the characters deal with their own struggles, but they don’t sugarcoat or dramaticize anything. I appreciated how the characters helped each other out, with their own issues, such as PTSD, anxiety, phobias, and more.
They are a team of thieves, who will stop at nothing if the price is good enough.
4. History is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera
Another Adam book because yes. This is #ownvoices, as the main character struggles with his OCD and his grief following the unexpected death of his first love/ex-boyfriend. Throughout the book, we can see how the different ways the people around him dealt with his OCD showed how they felt about him. For example, Theo accommodated to Griffin’s ticks, while another character forced him to face the music, since the rest of the world would never be so accommodating.
5. We Are the Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson
One of my favorite books of all time, We Are the Ants highlights depression, suicidal thoughts, and questions the meaning of life all while still being entertaining, sharp, and ruthless. There is an almost rape scene, so be mindful in case that would affect you.
6. milk and honey by rupi kaur/ the princess saves herself in this one by Amanda Lovelace/ I Danced With Sorrow by Alicia Wright
All three of these short-verse poetry books were spectacular in highlighting the horrible effects of things like trauma, PTSD, depression, anxiety, abuse, and more on the mind without romanticizing the mental illness side of things, but the recovery. I love them all and highly encourage everyone to read all three.
7. Mosquitoland by David Arnold
Another one of my favorites, this one stood out to me when I was reading it because I felt home. The main character spoke to me in a way I had never seen before, and it’s everything from a coming-of-age to a laugh out loud relatable adventure. Some lines that really spoke to me were “I am Mary Iris Malone, and I am not okay.” This admittance to myself was the first step to getting better. And the other is “The uncomfortable nearness of strangers” which kind of spoke to my own social anxiety. Again, their is an almost rape scene for those that need to be aware.
8. The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli
I love Becky so much, and to me, this book did an excellent job at its protrayal of anxiety (it is #ownvoices). I want to be Molly, a kickass fat girl who deals with her anxiety in a healthy way (this way – by taking medicine). Diverse, funny, and romantic, you’ll love this fluffy book about a girl who confronts her own feelings of self-worth in a whirlwind of love and friendship.