Considering the running theme of my blog this list seemed like a really good place to start my journey blogging about books!
These 10 books are ones that have touched me in significant ways at various points throughout my life and my struggle with depression, bulimia and anorexia. I hope you like my recommendations, let me know what you think and please send me books that have significant meaning in your life and they will be featured in another blog post!
This book is, as the author says in her own words, “This book is less a sequel to my last one and more a collection of bizarre essays and conversations and confused thoughts stuck together by spilled box wine and the frustrated tears of baffled editors…”
Furiously Happy is a book about the realities of living, friendships and family alongside multiple mental disorders, but this is also a book about surviving, flourishing and LIVING in the best way you can alongside this. Jenny Lawson has the best sense of humour that will have you laughing the whole way through while being relatable, inspiring and thought provoking. Plus you have to read it if you want to know why there is a taxidermied raccoon on the front cover #SpoilerFreeZone.
For more content check her blog out at The Bloggess
Favourite Quote: “Maybe the scales that weigh everyone else’s emotions don’t work for me. Maybe my scales are greater. Or less. Maybe instead of a scale I’ve wandered off to one of those nowhere places where you wait. And maybe one day I’ll be found, and someone will explain to me why I am the way that I am.”
Wintergirls is a fictional book primarily written about Lia and her journey through high school while in the grips of anorexia. This book also features bulimia, divorce and the tragedy of losing friends to an eating disorder.
While the author has never suffered from an eating disorder, the portrayal of Lia, the evasive tactics to avoid suspicion of relapse and the internal mental dialogue, that is such a key part of eating disorders, is beautifully written. So much of this book resonated with my experience and gave me a sense of being understood. This is a book I wish I could have read as a teenager while the issues portrayed were more relevant to my personal life at the time. Nevertheless I strongly recommend this at any life stage.
For her other (equally fantastic books) check out: http://madwomanintheforest.com/
Favourite Quote: “Smoke gunpowder and go to school to jump through hoops, sit up and beg, and roll over on command. Listen to the whispers that curl into your head at night, calling you ugly and fat and stupid and bitch and whore and worst of all “a disappointment”. Puke and starve and cut and drink because you don’t want to feel any of this. Puke and starve and cut and drink because you need an anaesthetic and it works. For a while. But then the anaesthetic turns into poison and by then it’s too late because you are mainlining it now, straight into your soul. It is rotting you and you can’t stop.”
Reasons to Stay Alive is the true story of the authors experience of depression and how this can bring your whole life crashing to a halt. This book documents his journey from the onset to the deepest depths and the slow rebuilding of life when the worst is over.
His account is honest and really resonated with my own thoughts, while the onset and some of the symptoms he talks about were a little removed from my experience, this is a truly good read. Throughout it all the message to seek out life and love is clear and inspiring, even in some of my worst episodes this book was uplifting and really gave me reasons to stay alive.
More books buy Matt Haig can be found at: http://www.matthaig.com/
Favourite quote: “You might be stuck here for a while, but the world isn’t going anywhere. Hang on in there if you can. Life is always worth it.”
Wasted is a true story of Marya Hornbacher’s life and her battle with anorexia and bulimia (as well as drug and alcohol use just FYI). Her writing is truly haunting in the nest way, once you have read it you will be drawn back again and again.
This is a story of someone who reached depths of illness I can’t even begin to comprehend and yet made it out the other side and had the courage to write about her experiences. Not only is her story truly remarkable but it is also incredibly well written and engaging to levels where I have to read it all in one go, else I cannot sleep because I NEED to finish. This book would be at number 1 but her writing can be triggering due to the real feeling of being codependent (and a little on love) with a disorder that promises so much but never delivers.
More from Marya at http://www.maryahornbacher.com/
Favourite quote: “I was tired of people, and I was incredibly tired of myself. I wanted to do whatever Amazing Thing I was expected to do—it might be pointed out that these were my expectations, mine alone—and be done with it. Go to sleep. Go to a heaven where there was nothing but bathtubs and books.”
5. Thin by Grace Bowman
Thin is another true story documenting the authors decent, life and recovery from anorexia. The author uses her own real life experiences and an aptitude for capturing the internal dialogue of anorexia to make this a really compelling read.
This book has so many echos with my life, from the age of onset to the progression and recovery, including the author refusing inpatient treatment and instead recovering in her own time with medical support. As someone with a crippling fear of being sectioned, this part really made the book real for me.There are few dramatic moments in this story but nonetheless the disease, its effects on you and your loved ones are well documented, and there is clear research on the onset and progression of the disease too. I recommend this for anyone that silently struggling or for anyone that wants to understand the experiences of an anorexia sufferer.
Favourite Quote: “When people ask how you overcome an eating disorder it doesn’t sound like the most convincing of explanations to put it down to just waiting for things to get better, but this was the case in my experience. It was a slow process to wear it down but the more I fought it, the more I wanted to rid myself of its strangling hold, and eventually, with sustained effort, the eating disorder voice gradually faded out.”
6. Monkey Taming by Judith Fathallah
Monkey taming is another true story of the authors experience with anorexia and compulsive exercise, as well as talking about family and loss, told through the character Jessica.
I first read this at the start of my anorexia, a lot of the thoughts, while clear and well written were strange to me. When I re-visited this book years later I was mostly struck by how many small, and seemingly innocent, comments are made throughout our daily lives that can help to start the thoughts that thin=good. This book captures the isolation, exhaustion and fear that the disease and recovery causes.
Favourite quote: “I don’t know why I did it. I did it for control. Because the world is crazy. Because I learned too young that everything is unstable and shaky and false and the only way to get any certainty is to goddamn make it yourself . . . Because I miss Dad. Because madness is chemical and hereditary – and look at my grandmother. Because I was bored. Oh God. I don’t know, I don’t know.”
All My Puny Sorrows is a fictional book about Eli, a world famous pianist with suicidal depression, and her sister Yoli who is desperate to hold onto her.
This book is so profoundly heart wrenching, it truly explores the pain of watching someone you love hurt themselves over and over, and inspires deep thought and reflection on how so much of are actions selfishly driven to spare ourselves pain. The writing style of this book may not be to some peoples taste, but for me it added the feeling of being privy to Yoli’s internal dialogue.
Favourite quote: “… and then she whispered things to me, all about love, about kindness, and optimism and strength. And about you. About our family. How we can all fight really hard, but how we can also acknowledge defeat and stop fighting and call a spade a spade. I asked her what we do when a spade isn’t a spade and she told me that sometimes there are things like that in life, spades that aren’t spades, and that we can leave them that way.”
8. The Man Who Couldn't Stop, The Truth About OCD by David Adam
This book is a true story told about the author and his life struggling with OCD for 20 years.
This book delves deep into the human mind, explores scientific and historic information about mental illness and brings together accounts of other peoples experiences with compulsive behaviour. For me this book was the prefect blend of history, science and real life experience of a disorder I knew little about beyond it’s frequent miss-use in daily life.
Read more at: https://www.davidneiladam.com/
Favourite quote: “The fear is as acute. The sense of impotence is just as debilitating. It feels like I am thrust right back into the maelstrom again, each and every time. But I trust, and I know, that it will pass.”
Learning to be me is a personal account of over 20 years the author spent struggling with bulimia, the realities and experiences of this illness that can go hidden for so long.
This book was hard for me to read at first, my bulimia started overnight but took years to improve and was truly one of the worst years of my life. For the author to live though 23 and still have the courage and strength to write about it is inspiring. This book is tremendously well written, it explains the turbulent emotions and isolation that bulimia brings, as well as fully capturing the reasons why it is so hard to break the binge, purge cycle.
Favourite quote: “We must not be idle observers in the recovery process of someone we love or who is close to us. We owe it to our relationship to educate ourselves. In this way, I hope you as sufferer or loved one never has to endure the pain of enforced separation.”
10. Massive by Julie Bell
And last but not least we have Massive, a young adult novel about Carmen, a girl who’s mother is living with anorexia, and how this impacts Carmen through her parents separation and move.
This novel is touching and raw, it doesn’t shy away from discussing the realities of a parent with a mental illness and the slow way this can become part of your own life, especially with large upheaval and significant life events thrown into the mix. Accessible to every reader this novel is a thought provoking read.
More from Julia Bell at : http://www.juliabell.net/
Favourite quote: “Then I realize that I’m not above my body at all, that this was the dream. I’m stranded. The tide has gone out, further than the horizon, and the beach has turned into desert.”