Another recommendation post is long overdue, and this time I’ve decided to recommend books that explore mental health issues. I tried to include a decent mix, both in terms of content and form, with fiction and non-fiction offerings to choose from. As always, I would love to hear your own recommendations for books within this important and yet often overlooked area.
The Man Who Couldn’t Stop by David Adam
This is Adam’s account of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), which comprises his personal experiences, case files, scientific facts and research from throughout the years, making it a very thorough examination of what it means to live with the condition. As someone with OCD myself, it was certainly an interesting read and one I highly recommend if you want to dispel the myths and understand why people aren’t really ‘a little bit OCD’.
Alice and the Fly by James Rice
Chronic phobias, schizophrenia and obsession are the issues explored here, in a story that is dark yet poignant. Most interesting of all for me was the look at class divides within society and the importance of realising that mental health troubles can affect us all.
Stammered Songbook by Erwin Mortier
The short passages in this book read like prose poetry or contemplative diary entries, detailing the author’s frustration at mourning for a mother who is present in body but not in mind, having succumbed to Alzheimer’s disease. This was another one that hit home on a personal level for me, as my own grandmother is currently suffering from increasingly debilitating dementia, with Mortier’s poignant words capturing the feelings of helplessness very effectively.
The Shock of the Fall by Nathan Filer
The Shock of the Fall is a vivid and captivating story about a young man’s descent into grief and mental illness following the death of his brother, his eventual breakdown, and his journey to recovery. This is another offering where the darkness and poignancy strike an ideal balance.
Iris Grace by Arabella Carter-Johnson
Written by Iris’ mother, this is the real life story of a little girl with severe autism. It’s worth pointing out that autism itself is often not officially considered a mental illness, but many of its symptoms – such as a lack of communication skills and social anxiety – manifest themselves in similar ways to mental health conditions. It is an honestly written, beautiful glimpse into the power of art and the unbreakable bond between man and nature, as Iris unlocks her world through painting and a magical friendship with Thula the cat.
What are some of your favourite books that explore mental health issues? Let’s chat about them.