“Waking” by Matthew Sanford

Subtitle: A memoir of trauma and transcendence

Matt was paralyzed from the chest down at the age of 13 in a winter car crash that also killed his father and older sister. His book chronicles the numbness and dissociation that help him survive his first months and years of recovery, and his later reconnection […]

“Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, and Me: A Graphic Memoir” by Ellen Forney

The story and drawings quickly engaged me, despite the author’s sometimes bizarre, sometimes heavy journey through mania, depression, and eventually, balance. She has the fantastic support of her mom, friends, and psychiatrist, but still struggles for years before finding a set of meds that works for her.

In depression, she can barely get […]

“Pure” by Julianna Baggott

Recommended to me by: s.e. smith at this ain’t livin’

This is a layered, well-crafted dystopian science-fiction novel offering both entertainment and examination of modern issues. It has scientific advances and their consequences, predictable heterosexual teen romances, well-developed female characters, adventures, violence, nuances of interaction, and a detailed sense of place.

Where many books […]

“The Horse Boy” by Rupert Isaacson

Subtitle: A Father’s Quest to Heal His Son

Recommended to me by: Kristin Neff mentions her husband’s book about their journey to Mongolia in her book Self-Compassion.

Rupert Isaacson writes about how his intuition and determination (and privilege) bring him to Mongolia where horseback riding and shamans help his autistic son Rowan.

He […]

“Alchemy of Illness” by Kat Duff

Subtitle: A woman explores the transforming – and, paradoxically, healing – experience of being ill

Recommended to me by: a client

Alchemists strive to turn lead into gold by heating it alone in a sealed container, a crucible. In the crucible of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Kat Duff turned inward and found healing in the […]

“Fixing My Gaze” by Susan R. Barry

Subtitle: A Scientist’s Journey into Seeing in Three Dimensions

Recommended to me by: jesse-the-k (in a locked post)

This book was a revelation for me. At last, a book for which I am the perfect target audience! Susan R. Barry writes about the experience of having crossed eyes since infancy, and thus lacking stereoscopic […]

“The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down” by Anne Fadiman

Subtitle: A Hmong child, her American doctors, and the collision of two cultures

Recommended to me by: Emily Ross

This is a beautifully written history of the Hmong people from Laos in the 20th century, interwoven with the story of one Hmong family who took refuge in Merced, California. Their daughter Lia Lee had […]

“Voices from the Inside” by David A. Karp and Gretchen E. Sisson

Subtitle: Readings on the experiences of mental illness

I found this book because I was curious about Caroline Knapp’s writing after reading Gail Caldwell’s memoir about their friendship, and I read it because I wanted to learn about mental illness without its stereotype of causing violence. In fact, [v]iolence is not a symptom of […]

“Totally Tolerant” by Diane Webber and Laurie Mandel

Subtitle: Spotting and stopping prejudice

A brief, photo-filled book with concrete advice for teens on embracing diversity and overcoming prejudice. Adults can benefit from this book as well.

As you can see on the cover, the photos strongly support the book’s message, showing people of a variety of skin colors, genders, and ethnicities.

Diversity […]

“Being Bodies” edited by Lenore Friedman & Susan Moon

Recommended to me by: Catherine Holmes Clark, who also has a detailed site about her journey with environmental illness.

The sweet relief of reading about Buddhism from the perspective of women connected with their bodies took me by surprise. Until I read this book, I didn’t realize how much I’d been reading around a […]