Top 5 Books about Mental Illness I Want to Read

Top 5 Books About Mental Illness I Want to Read

This Top 5 series started back in October 2018 and I kind of lost motivation for making it every week. But it’s back! This is a series of books that I want to read that all have a common theme. Previously on the blog I have focused on witches, werewolves, thrillers, faeries, fairy tale re-tellings, high fantasy and many more. I am going to try and bring this series back for every Saturday.

The Upcoming Schedule Is:

2/1/20 — Dystopian Books

2/8/20 — Mental Illness

2/15/20 — Books about Mermaids

2/22/20 — Books about Spies

2/29/20 — Books inspired by Mythology


  • Share your top 5 books of the current topic– these can be books that you want to read, have read and loved, have read and hated, you can do it any way you want.
  • Tag the original post (This one!)
  • Tag 5 people

Mental Illness

I wanted to feature books about mental illness as a Top 5 Saturday topic because these kinds of books can have a huge impact. There are so manyh books that I’ve read about characters with mental illness that meant so much to me. Through my teenage years I was able to relate to these books when I didn’t know how to talk about anything. Books about mental illness humanize the struggles of people and help others who don’t struggle with mental illness understand it.

These are the kind of books that meant the world to me growing up or through times of struggle. I learned about eating disorders, depression, sexual assault, drug addiction and grief. Books about mental illness made me understand myself and the world around me. Some of my all time favorites are: Bleed Like Me by Christa Desir (Read my review here.), Perfect by Natasha Friend, Clean by Amy Reed, Lucky by Alice Sebold, Tease by Amanda Maciel, Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira and The Girls of 17 Swann Street by Yara Zgheib (Read my review here.).

I’m so thrilled that mental illness is this week’s topic because I really want to read more books like this and it really got me searching for titles that I might be interested in about mental illness.

While sometimes books about mental illness can help us relate, other times they can be triggering and emotionally distressing. Please always check trigger warnings before you read a book that deals with sensitive issues.

What Kind of Girl by Alyssa SheinmelWhat Kind of Girl by Alyssa Sheinmel

The girls at North Bay Academy are taking sides. It all started when Mike Parker’s girlfriend showed up with a bruise on her face. Or, more specifically, when she walked into the principal’s office and said Mike hit her. But the students have questions. Why did she go to the principal and not the cops? Why did she stay so long if he was hurting her? Obviously, if it’s true, Mike should be expelled. But is it true?

Some girls want to rally for his expulsion—and some want to rally around Mike. The only thing that the entire student body can agree on? Someone is lying. And the truth has to come out.

An unflinching exploration of the many forms of abuse society inflicts upon women, and the strength it takes to rise above it all to claim your worth.

This book is all about abuse and the sides people take. I’m extremely compelled to read this after reading Alyssa Sheinmel’s A Danger to Herself and Others and absolutely loving it. (Check out the review here.) Alyssa Sheinmel captured mental illness in a really raw and honest way and her writing is incredible.

Darling Rose Gold by Stephanie WrobelDarling Rose Gold by Stephanie Wrobel

Sharp Objects meets My Lovely Wife in this tightly drawn debut that peels back the layers of the most complicated of mother-daughter relationships…

For the first eighteen years of her life, Rose Gold Watts believed she was seriously ill. She was allergic to everything, used a wheelchair and practically lived at the hospital. Neighbors did all they could, holding fundraisers and offering shoulders to cry on, but no matter how many doctors, tests, or surgeries, no one could figure out what was wrong with Rose Gold.

Turns out her mom, Patty Watts, was just a really good liar.

After serving five years in prison, Patty gets out with nowhere to go and begs her daughter to take her in. The entire community is shocked when Rose Gold says yes.

Patty insists all she wants is to reconcile their differences. She says she’s forgiven Rose Gold for turning her in and testifying against her. But Rose Gold knows her mother. Patty Watts always settles a score.

Unfortunately for Patty, Rose Gold is no longer her weak little darling…

And she’s waited such a long time for her mother to come home.

Darling Rose Gold is about a complicated mother-daughter relationship and Munchausen’s by proxy. I’ve knew someone with Munchausen’s and it is incredibly hard to understand so I’m really hoping for some insight, but what drew me to this book was the unhealthy mother-daughter relationship.

Heroine by Mindy McGinnisHeroine by Mindy McGinnis

An Amazon Best Book of the Month! A captivating and powerful exploration of the opioid crisis—the deadliest drug epidemic in American history—through the eyes of a college-bound softball star. Edgar Award-winning author Mindy McGinnis delivers a visceral and necessary novel about addiction, family, friendship, and hope.

When a car crash sidelines Mickey just before softball season, she has to find a way to hold on to her spot as the catcher for a team expected to make a historic tournament run. Behind the plate is the only place she’s ever felt comfortable, and the painkillers she’s been prescribed can help her get there.

The pills do more than take away pain; they make her feel good.

With a new circle of friends—fellow injured athletes, others with just time to kill—Mickey finds peaceful acceptance, and people with whom words come easily, even if it is just the pills loosening her tongue.

But as the pressure to be Mickey Catalan heightens, her need increases, and it becomes less about pain and more about want, something that could send her spiraling out of control.

I’ve read many books about addiction and sometimes they’re done really well. I have heard that this is a really raw book and it can be hard to read, but I still really want to read it.

Wintergirls by Laurie Halse AndersonWintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson

“Dead girl walking,” the boys say in the halls.
“Tell us your secret,” the girls whisper, one toilet to another.
I am that girl.
I am the space between my thighs, daylight shining through.
I am the bones they want, wired on a porcelain frame.

Lia and Cassie are best friends, wintergirls frozen in matchstick bodies, competitors in a deadly contest to see who can be the skinniest. But what comes after size zero and size double-zero? When Cassie succumbs to the demons within, Lia feels she is being haunted by her friend’s restless spirit.

Eating disorders used to be something that I had a really hard time understanding, and I still do at times. The Girls at 17 Swann Street really changed the way that I understand eating disorders, but it’s still something that I have a hard time completely understanding. Laurie Halse Anderson has become a very loud voice in YA fiction and I would love to read her take on this topic.

Tiny Pretty Things by Sona Charaipotra & Dhonielle ClaytonTiny Pretty Things by Sona Charaipotra & Dhonielle Clayton

Black Swan meets Pretty Little Liars in this soapy, drama-packed novel featuring diverse characters who will do anything to be the prima at their elite ballet school.

Gigi, Bette, and June, three top students at an exclusive Manhattan ballet school, have seen their fair share of drama. Free-spirited new girl Gigi just wants to dance—but the very act might kill her. Privileged New Yorker Bette’s desire to escape the shadow of her ballet-star sister brings out a dangerous edge in her. And perfectionist June needs to land a lead role this year or her controlling mother will put an end to her dancing dreams forever.

When every dancer is both friend and foe, the girls will sacrifice, manipulate, and backstab to be the best of the best.

The reviews of this book are what make me want to pick this one up. It is full of teenage drama, anorexia and extreme bullying. The thing that I am interested in is that one of my friends said that she loved this book, but she wasn’t sure if she liked any of the characters. I know lots of people won’t understand that, but I have a thing for immensely flawed and unlikable characters if it’s done well.

Check out other Book Blogger’s Top 5!

Nen & Jen @ Nen & Jen — Top 5 Sat: Books with Mental Illness Rep

Lili @ Lili’s Blissful Pages — 5 Unforgettable Mental Illness Reps in Young Adult

Dini @ Dinipandareads — Top 5 Saturday: Mental Illness Rep

Louise @ Foxes and Fairy Tales — Top 5 Books Featuring Mental Illness

Rachel @ Rachel Read It — #TopFive Books About…. #MentalIllness That I Want to Read

Michael @ The Book Lovers’ Sanctuary — Top Five Saturday: Mental Illness

Becca Leighanne @ Becca Leighanne — Top 5 YA Books with Mental Illness Representation


Siobhain @ Living my Best Book Life

Ari @Books. Libraries. Also, cats.

Sionna @ Books in her Eyes

Jen @ Book Book Owl

Becca Leighanne @ Becca Leighanne — Check out her post linked above!

Imyril @ There’s Always Room for One More..

Let’s Chat!

What are some of your favorite books about mental illness? Have you read any of these titles? What did you think? What do you love about books about mental illness? Have books like these helped you through a hard time? Please comment below so we can talk about the impact of books about mental illness.

25 thoughts on “Top 5 Books about Mental Illness I Want to Read

Add yours

  1. I’m not a fan of tiny pretty things at all. I felt it sacrificed too much for the sake of melodrama and ultimately didn’t give the rep I was expecting. Would be super interested to hear your thoughts on it though if you read it :)))

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Interesting to hear that. I do think that those kinds of things are important to know going in though. Like I love unreliable narrators, but typically those kinds of books arent great mental illness representation… so I think I will look at Tiny Pretty Things as more of a fluff read full of teenage drama rather than expecting great mental health representation. Glad to know ahead of time though.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I haven’t heard of any of these books before, but they do sound quite interesting. I haven’t read a ton of books that deal with mental illness, so I will have to add some of these to my TBR and check them out.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Awh, sorry! Hopefully upcoming topics will have something that interests you. As always you can check the links at the bottom for other book blogger’s top 5 incase they have something on their lists that you might be interested in!

      Liked by 1 person

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