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Often, it can be helpful to learn about various mental illnesses through the literature that dares to tackle such difficult subjects. That is why NAMI Northern Illinois has compiled a list of books that cover specific topics concerning mental illness. Whether you are looking to connect with a fictional character who shares your condition, interested in learning about treatment options, or seeking to better understand a loved one’s diagnosis, we hope  you will find a new favorite among our list.

This list is divided by different disorders and mental health topics. Click on the title links to learn more about the book. If you would like to make a suggestion for our list, feel free to contact us here.

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Anxiety And Panic Disorder

I Don’t Want to Be Crazy by Samantha Schutz

She’s Come Undone by Wally Lamb

Don’t Panic by R. Reid Wilson, PhD

Just Breathe by Annette Rivlin­-Gutman

Scaredy Squirrel by Melanie Watt

My Age of Anxiety: Fear, Hope, Dread, and the Search for Peace of Mind by Scott Stossel


Taking Charge of ADHD, Third Edition: The Complete Authoritative Guide for Parents by Russel A. Barkley

Smart but Scattered: The Revolutionary “Executive Skills” Approach to Helping Kids Reach Their Potential by Peg Dawson and Richard Guare

Asperger’s Answer Book by Susan Ashley

Adolescents on the Autism Spectrum: A Parent’s Guide to the Cognitive, Social, Physical, and Transition Needs of Teenagers with Autism Spectrum Disorders by Chantal Sicile-Kira and Temple Grandin

The ADHD-Autism Connection by Diane M. Kennedy

Asperger Syndrome: The Oasis Guide by Patricia Romanowski Bashe

The Survival Guide for Kids with ADHD by John Taylor

The Social and Life Skills Menu: A Skill Building Workbook for Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorders by Karra M. Barber

The Social Success Workbook for Teens by Barbara Cooper and Nancy Widdows

Social Skills for Teenagers and Adults with Asperger’s Syndrome: A Practical Guide to Day-to-Day Life by Nancy J. Patrick

The Clark Kent Chronicles by Pamela Fagan Hutchins

We Said, They Said: 50 Things Parents and Teachers of Students with Autism Want Each Other to Know by  Cassie Zupke

A New Understanding of ADHD in Children and Adults: Executive Function Impairments by Thomas E. Brown 

Smart but Scattered Teens  by Richard Guare PhD


Bipolar Disorder

After a While You Just Get Used to It by Gwendolyn Knapp

Tweak by Nic Sheff

Madness: A Bipolar Life by Marya Hornbacher

Manic: A Memoir by Terri Cheney

An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness by Kay Redfield Jamison

Surrounded by Madness: A Memoir of Mental Illness and Family Secrets by Rachel Pruchno, PhD

72 Hour Hold by Bebe Moore Campbell

Your Voice in My Head: A Memoir by Emma Forrest

The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick

Borderline Personality Disorder

Stop Walking on Eggshells by Paul Mason

Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen

Her by Felicia Johnson

Get Me Out of Here: My Recovery from Borderline Personality Disorder by Rachel Reiland

My Alien Self: My Journey Back to Me by Amanda Green

Loud in the House of Myself: Memoir of a Strange Girl by Stacy Pershall

Depression and Suicide

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini

Veronika Decides to Die by Paulo Coelho

A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki

Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami

Hausfrau by Jill Alexander Essbaum

Nobody Is Ever Missing by Catherine Lacey

After Birth by Elisa Albert

Willow Weep for Me by Meri Nana-Ama Danquah

All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

Unholy Ghost: Writers on Depression edited by Nell Casey

Lay My Burden Down: Suicide and the Mental Health Crisis Among African-Americans by Alvin Poussaint and Amy Alexander

Lit by Mary Karr

Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh

Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness by William Styron

His Bright Light: The Story of Nick Traina by Danielle Steele

Undercurrents: A Life Beneath the Surface by Martha Manning

The Hours by Michael Cunningham

The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression by Andrew Solomon

It’s Kind Of A Funny Story  by Ned Vizzini

Eating Disorders

Eating Disorders Guide

Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson

Wasted: A Memoir of Anorexia and Bulimia by Marya Hornbacher

Thin by Lauren Greenfield

Unbearable Lightness: A Story of Loss and Gain by Portia de Rossi


PTSD and Trauma

A Gesture Life by Chang-rae Lee

The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien

The Round House by Louise Eldrich

Trauma and Recovery by Judith Lewis Herman

Irritable Hearts: A PTSD Love Story by Mac McClelland

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson

Scars by Cheryl Rainfield

Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf

Obssessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

OCD Love Story by Corey Ann Haydu

Just Checking: Scenes From the Life of an Obsessive-Compulsive by Emily Colas

Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone

Kissing Doorknobs by Terry Spencer Hesser

The Man Who Couldn’t Stop: OCD and the True Story of a Life Lost in Thought by David Adam

Every Last Word  by Tamara Ireland Stone


The Quiet Room: A Journey Out of the Torment of Madness by Lori Schiller

I Never Promised You a Rose Garden by Joanne Greenberg

A Beautiful Mind by Sylvia Nasar

The Day the Voices Stopped: A Memoir of Madness and Hope by Ken Steele

I Know This Much Is True by Wally Lamb

Schizophrenia: Voices of Self Destruction by Travis Breeding

Lowboy by John Wray

The Shock of the Fall  by Nathan Filer

Woman on the Edge of Time  by Marge Piercy

Made You Up  by Francesca Zappia

Suicide Notes  by Michael Thomas Ford

Sensory Processing Disorders (SPS)

The Sensory Child Gets Organized  by  Carolyn Dalgliesh

Raising Kids with Sensory Processing Disorders by  Varleisha Gibbs

Self Harm

It’s Kind of a Funny Story  by Ned Vizzini


A World Without You  by Beth Revis

Ripple  by Heather Smith Meloche

Thirteen Reasons Why  by Jay Asher

The First Time She Drowned  by Kerry Kettler

Highly Illogical Behavior  by John Corey Whaley

Mosquitoland  by David Arnold

Still Life with Tornado  by A.S. King

Our Chemical Hearts  by Krystal Sutherland

Treatment and Self-Help

The Anxiety & Phobia Workbook, Fourth Edition 
by Edmund J. Bourne

Women with Attention Deficit Disorder: Embrace Your Differences and Transform Your Life by Sari Solden

If Your Adolescent Has an Anxiety Disorder: An Essential Resource for Parents (Adolescent Mental Health Initiative)by Edna B. Foa and Linda Wasmer Andrews

Depressed and Anxious: The Dialectical Behavior Therapy Workbook for Overcoming Depression & Anxiety by Thomas Marra

The Optimistic Child: A Proven Program To Safeguard Children From Depression and Build Lifelong Resilience 
by Martin Seligman

Get Out of Your Mind and Into Your Life by Steven C. Hayes, PhD and Spencer Smith

The Steps of Essence: How to Live Life Well and Authentically by Hanns-Oskar Porr

The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat: And Other Clinical Tales by Oliver Sacks

Mindfulness and The Art of Choice: Transform Your Life by Karen Sherman

Just Enough: Tools for Creating Success in Your Work and Life by Laura Nash and Howard Stevenson

Overcoming Your Eating Disorder: A Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy Approach for Bulimia Nervosa and Binge-Eating Disorder, Guided Self Help Workbook by W. Stewart Agras,

Cutting: Understanding and Overcoming Self-Mutilation [Book] by Steven Levenkron

8 Keys to Practicing Mindfulness: Practical Strategies for Emotional Health and Well-being (8 Keys to Mental Health) [Book] by Manuela Mischke Reeds

Rethinking Depression: How to Shed Mental Health Labels and Create Personal Meaning [Book] by Eric Maisel

Daughters of Madness: Growing Up and Older with a Mentally Ill Mother [Book] by Susan Nathiel ·

The Narcissistic Family: Diagnosis and Treatment [Book] by Stephanie Donaldson-Pressman

Think Forward to Thrive by Jennice Vilhauer






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