Books and Writing

5 Great Books About Mental Health (#3)

This round-up of books with excellent mental health components tackle suicide, depression, grief, self-harm, institutionalization, illness/mortality, and PTSD. Some of the books are for young adults, some are memoir or part-memoir, and some are commonly assigned in high school English classes.

Books dealing with mental health are rarely easy to read, but they are so, so worth it. They’re poignant, illuminating, and often lend themselves to endlessly revealing re-reading.

The Virgin Suicides by: Jeffrey Eugenides

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Blurb: “In a quiet suburb of Detroit, the five Lisbon sisters – beautiful, eccentric, and obsessively watched by the neighborhood boys – commit suicide one by one over the course of a single year. As the boys observe them from afar, transfixed, they piece together the mystery of the family’s fatal melancholy, in this hypnotic and unforgettable novel of adolescent love, disquiet and death. Jeffrey Eugenides evokes the emotions of youth with haunting sensitivity and dark humor and creates a coming-of-age story unlike any of our time. Adapted into a critically-acclaimed film by Sofia Coppola, The Virgin Suicides is a modern classic, a lyrical and timeless tale of sex and suicide that transforms and mythologizes suburban middle-American life.”

Blue Nights by: Joan Didion

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Blurb: “Richly textured with memories from her own childhood and married life with her husband, John Gregory Dunne, and daughter, Quintana Roo, this new book by Joan Didion is an intensely personal and moving account of her thoughts, fears, and doubts regarding having children, illness, and growing old. As she reflects on her daughter’s life and on her role as a parent, Didion grapples with the candid questions that all parents face, and contemplates her age, something she finds hard to acknowledge, much less accept. Blue Nights, the long, light evening hours that signal the summer solstice, “the opposite of the dying of the brightness, but also its warning,” like A Year of Magical Thinking before it, is an iconic book of incisive and electric honesty, haunting and profound.”

It’s Kind of a Funny Story by: Ned Vizzini

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Blurb: “Ambitious New York City teenager Craig Gilner is determined to succeed at life – which means getting into the right high school to get into the right college to get the right job. But once Craig aces his way into Manhattan’s Executive Pre-Professional High School, the pressure becomes unbearable. He stops eating and sleeping until, one night, he nearly kills himself. Craig’s suicidal episode gets him checked into a mental hospital, where his new neighbors include a transsexual sex addict, a girl who has scarred her own face with scissors, and the self-elected President Armelio. There, Craig is finally able to confront the sources of his anxiety. Ned Vizzini , who himself spent time in a psychiatric hospital, has created a remarkably moving tale about the sometimes unexpected road to happiness.”

Deadline by: Chris Crutcher

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Blurb: “How can a pint-sized, smart-ass, eighteen-year-old make his mark on the world from Nowheresville, Idaho – especially when he only has one year left to do it? When Ben Wolf learns his senior year of high school will be his last year, period, he is determined to go out in a blaze of glory. That means not letting anyone know about his diagnosis. It means trying out for the football team. It means giving his close-minded civics teacher a daily migraine. It means going for the amazingly perfect, fascinating Dallas Suzuki. But living with a secret isn’t easy…what will Ben do when he realizes he isn’t the only person who’s keeping one.”

The Things They Carried by: Tim O’Brien

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Blurb: “With more than two million copies in print, The Things They Carried is a classic work of American literature that has not stopped changing minds and lives since it burst onto the literary scene. It is a groundbreaking meditation on war, memory, imagination, and the redemptive power of storytelling.”

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