Top 5 Friday: Books about mental illness

I was SO excited for this topic, until I realised that I don’t actually think I’ve read that many books about mental illness, let alone containing mental illness.

-10 points for Rachel.

I do have 5 books about mental illness in one way or another, but for someone who spends a lot of time being very passionate about how we should talk about mental illness, that’s an embarrassingly low number.  Please recommend me some in the comments!

5. The Things They Carried, Tim O’Brien: This book about the Vietnam War was assigned to me for some class that I didn’t actually take in high school (there were three version of English, all with different books) but I read it anyway because I love reading books about war (although I HATE watching films about it).  It was probably my first introduction to literature that really deals with PTSD, and it deals with it SO WELL.  Definitely recommend reading.

4. Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn: I liked this book more than a lot of people.  That’s all I’m going to say about the plot because otherwise I’ll spoil it (it’s pretty easy to spoil).  I don’t think it’s very hard to argue that both Nick and Amy (although particularly Amy) suffer from mental illness, which is why it’s on my list.

3. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Ken Kesey: Another mental illness classic, seeing as it’s set in a mental institution.  I quite enjoyed it when I read it, although I wouldn’t say it had a particularly profound impact on me. Still a good story though!

2. The Virgin Suicides, Jeffrey Eugenidies: I read this book in a day. Less than a day actually.  I devoured it.  I couldn’t put it down.  It was utterly captivating.  As you may have guessed by the title it deals with suicide, not through those who commit it by through they eyes of everyone else around them struggling to understand.  100% recommend.

1.The Yellow Birds, Kevin Powers: I had to read this book for uni, and I think it was the only book for that course that I actually fully read.  It deals with a soldier’s PTSD by switching between his experiences in Iraq and his struggles upon his return.  A lot of people seemed to struggle with this fragmented story style, viewing it as a lack of plot.  To me it was THE POINT.  The point of PTSD, the point of how fractured our memories really are, the point of everything.  I would definitely recommend reading it, but would warn you that not everyone likes this book as much as I do.

So there they are, 5 books (that I can think of) about mental illness that I’ve read.  Seriously, if you have any recommendations or suggestions please let me know, I’d love to read more!


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