Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Top 5 Wednesday: Top Books with Mental Health/Illness

I was a bit worried at first when I saw that this was the topic for the next Top 5 Wednesday. I'd never really thought about mental illness in the books I'd read before, but when I took a look at my Read shelf on Goodreads, I realized that I'd read more than I thought on this topic. These books aren't all relating to one type of mental illness either, which is interesting in that you get the scope of the illness in the individual situation, but you can also examine the similarities of suffering that these characters deal with.

Here, then, is my countdown list for Top 5 Wednesday: Books with Mental Health/Illness.

5. Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

This book at first glance might not seem like it is about mental health, but I think that you will discover as you read it that it definitely has those elements. There's the emotional damage that a girl stuck in her house her entire life goes through, to say nothing of the mother, which tiptoes the line into spoiler territory, so I won't say much here. Suffice it to say, there are definite hints, and then outright declarations regarding mental health here.

What I liked about this book is that it isn't too heavy handed when talking about the issues faced by the characters. You are guided into their story and feel like you understand the pain their going through so well. It's a great read and I strongly encourage you to pick it up.

4. Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson

The thing that I find frustrating about books that deal with eating disorders is that it oftentimes feels like the author is portraying it as a disease that is easy to escape from. The recovery of the character is too easy to attain and that doesn't reflect reality. The thing I find special about this book is that you can see just how wrong this disease, anorexia, can go and that it often involves dancing with ghosts before you can recover, if recovery is even possible because, let's face it, not everyone can recover from their eating disorder.

3. The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

You may or may not think that this is about mental illness. At first I wasn't sure either, but upon reflection, I think that is, at least in part. There is strong evidence throughout the book, and possibly mentioned outright, that the main character is a form of high function autistic. Autism is not itself a mental disorder, but the OCD that Don has is a mental disorder aside from his autism, if he is indeed. I can't remember whether it is discovered that he actually is, or if we're just supposed to think so.

What I found interesting about this book is that, since you are seeing things from Don's point of view, none of what he does seems to be weird or out of the ordinary. I think it gives a good perspective of what the world looks like through the eyes of someone you is dealing with this sort of thing.

2. Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella

In my Goodreads review of this book, I said that I liked how we were able to see the daily struggle of Audrey without the novel being too heavy handed and I stand by that. The reader isn't bogged down with information that, while tantalizing, isn't needed (i.e. what exactly happened to make Audrey this way).

1. Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone

This was the most powerful book that I've read about mental health/illness in at least the last year. In this book we see the other side of OCD, wherein Samantha suffers from obsessive thoughts that she can't stop thinking, where normally one might see her only obsessively counting or repeating a task. There are tastes of that here, but it isn't the main thing.

It is a totally immersive experience that I think everyone should read.  It will draw your emotions to the surface and wrench them like a towel between two hands. I was worn out after reading this book, but that experience is something that I don't always experience when reading and am thoroughly pleased when I have.

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