Favorite Books with Mental Health Rep | April Monthly Recommendations

Posted April 24, 2018 by Madalyn || 17 Comments

Monthly Recommendations is a Goodreads group created and hosted by Kayla Rayne @ Kayla Rayne and Trina @ Between Chapters. I used to do these videos when I was on BookTube, and I really miss them, so I’ve decided to try to do them on the blog every month. April’s topic is books with mental health rep! As a person who deals with mental illness myself, this topic is near and dear to my heart. It’s also an area where I’m always looking for more recommendations! However, I compiled a list of ten books that I felt got mental illness right. I rated all of these books four stars or higher. Let’s get into my picks!

madalyn’s recommendations

(Covers link to Goodreads)

Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde // This was one of my favorite books from last year. It features great representation in general, but as it relates to this topic, one of the POV characters, Taylor, has anxiety. This is definitely one of the portrayals of anxiety in fiction that felt the most true to my own experiences.

Tiny Pretty Things by Sona Charaipotra & Dhonielle Clayton // This series always seems to find its way onto my recommendation lists, but it tackles a vast array of topics so expertly. In terms of mental health rep, one of the main characters has an eating disorder, while another struggles with prescription drug addiction. I love this series, and though I cannot personally speak to the representation of these mental health issues, I thought they were handled sensitively and honestly.

Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson // This is always one of my go-to recs for people looking for nonfiction about mental illness. Jenny Lawson calls her memoir “a hysterical, ridiculous book about crippling depression and anxiety.” It’s ridiculous, but it’s also heartfelt and raw and full of insights about living with mental illness. Highly recommend the audiobook of this one!

History Is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera // Adam Silvera has spoken numerous times about how Theo’s OCD in History is heavily inspired by his own experiences with OCD.

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo // The SoC duology is a perfect example of mental health done right in a fantasy setting. Many of the POV characters are dealing with mental illness, specifically PTSD. It’s heartbreaking at times, but the representation is handled incredibly well, imo.

Heart Berries by Therese Marie Mailhot // This is a recent read, and one of the best memoirs I’ve ever read. In it, Mailhot discusses her experiences with bipolar disorder, as well as how her mental illness intersects with her identity as a Native woman. Heart Berries is simply stunning.

Under Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall // This is one of my favorite books that focuses on mental health as a central issue. It follows a main character with agoraphobia and anxiety.

Hunting Prince Dracula by Kerri Maniscalco // In HPD, Audrey Rose deals with PTSD due to the events in the first book in this series. I thought this was a refreshingly realistic portrayal of characters having to deal with the aftermath of traumatic events.

Nice Try, Jane Sinner by Lianne Oelke // This book is a gem in so many ways, but I personally loved the depression rep. It felt very true to my own experiences with depression.

The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli // Upside is one of my all-time favorite books in general, but the anxiety rep in particular is probably the best I’ve ever read. Again, Molly’s experiences with anxiety feel so true to my own. Plus, she takes medication! And it’s discussed on the page!

honorable mentions

Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone: Purely-Obsessional OCD rep

10 Things I Can See from Here by Carrie Mac: anxiety rep

Not Otherwise Specified by Hannah Moskowitz: eating disorder rep

Turtles All the Way Down by John Green: OCD rep

Final Draft by Riley Redgate: depression rep

What are your favorite books with mental health representation? Have you read any of the books on my list?

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17 responses to “Favorite Books with Mental Health Rep | April Monthly Recommendations

  1. The couple of books I’ve read from this list, I loved! So I most definitely need to check out the others. Tiny Pretty Things is at the top of my list!

  2. Glad to see Jane Sinner on your list. I really enjoyed that book, but don’t think it gets enough love. I also enjoyed Upside, Tiny Pretty Things, SoC, Every Last Word, and Turtles.

  3. Gah, there are SO many that I want to read on your list, that I have heard great things about, but I have only read a couple. Upside, which I loved, and Six of Crows, Every Last Word, Turtles, and 10 Things. Furiously Happy, History is All You Left Me, Jane Sinner, and Under Rose Tainted Skies are ones I MUST get to ASAP. This is a fabulous list, thanks so much for sharing it!

  4. This is such an important topic! I love that we’re seeing mental health rep in YA beyond just in contemporaries- I think it’s important to see the topic tackled in fantasy too, and to not write those characters in a vacuum. I have a physical copy of Staking Jack the Ripper on my TBR and I’m really interested to get to it now because I’m curious to see the character growth dealing with PTSD throughout the series (or are they companion novels? I feel like I’m never really sure!)

    • Me too! I think genres other than contemporary leave a lot of room to explore mental illness, and I’m happy to see authors taking it on. The Stalking Jack books are technically companion novels, according to the author! I really love that series.

  5. Queens of Geek * The Upside of Unrequited definitely had good anxiety rep IMO. And although I haven’t been through PTSD to say if it was good – I loved SoC’s

    I want to read John Green’s because I’ve heard a lot of great things about that as well.

    Karen @ For What It’s Worth

  6. This is a really useful list, thank you! I’ve been wanting to check out more books featuring mental illness for a while.

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