Top Ten Books Which Feature Characters Dealing With Mental Illness


Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the wonderful The Broke and The Bookish. This week’s list are the Top Ten books which feature characters dealing with mental illness. I’ve decided to feature mental illness on my list this week, as I’ve recently been pleasantly surprised with how the topic is represented in literature. I’m not saying that authors always get it right, but it’s an important topic to be explored.

As ever, click on the book image to get to Goodreads.

Undone by Cat Clarke


I really enjoy Cat Clarke’s books and Undone really impressed and shocked me at the same time. It deals with the aftermath of the main character’s best friend killing himself after being outed as gay.

Wintergirls- Laurie Halse Anderson


Laurie Halse Anderson is an amazing writer. I truly recommend her books! Wintergirls deals with eating disorders. It’s an incredibly powerful read.

Speak- Laurie Halse Anderson


Speak is the first book I read from Laurie Halse Anderson. The main character in this book is suffering after a terrible event.

My Heart and Other Black Holes- Jasmine Warga

My Heart and Other Black Holes

This book is about depression and suicide. Handled in a very sensitive manner. Some of the descriptions are so powerful in this book. It really made an impact on me.

The Shock Of The Fall- Nathan Filer

The Shock of the Fall

This is yet another powerful read. The reader learns about the main character’s fall into mental illness. Highly recommended!

The Last Time We Say Goodbye- Cynthia Hand

The Last Time We Say Goodbye

I was really intrigued to see what Cynthia Hand’s contemporary work would be like. I was impressed. This book deals with the consequences of a family member taking their own life.

Perfect Escape- Jennifer Brown

Perfect Escape

In this book, the main character’s brother suffers from OCD. She takes him away from his everyday life and his routines/rituals. They really go on a journey (cheesy, sorry! 😉 ) together. I loved this book!

The Silver Linings Playbook- Matthew Quick

The Silver Linings Playbook

I haven’t seen the movie adaptation but I’ve read the book! It’s so interesting to see the world from the main character’s point of view. A thought provoking book.

Stronger Than You Know- Jolene Perry

Stronger Than You Know

I didn’t expect to love this book as much as I did. The main character suffers from panic attacks admidst other problems. She finds inner strength. I was touched by this book.

Pointe- Brandy Colbert


Another beautiful book that completely exceeded my expectations. It deals with the aftermath of an eating disorder and the aftermath of terrible events.

Have you read any of these books? What did you think? What have you picked for your list this week? Feel free to leave a link to your post and I’ll stop by!


77 thoughts on “Top Ten Books Which Feature Characters Dealing With Mental Illness

  1. This is a great topic. I’ve already seen a few other posts with the same topic. I’ve only read Speak, which I thought was good. I’ve been wanting to read My Heart and Other Black Holes and Wintergirls for the longest time. I’m really interested in Wintergirls because the number of eating disorders now is higher than ever. This week I picked female characters who kick butt. Here’s my TTT

    • Thank you Anjeline. I think it’s really important that mental health is represented and these books do a wonderful job! Looking forward to having a peek at your list soon!

  2. I’ve read Speak and My Heart and Other Black Holes and loved both of them! I’m waiting for Made You Up to come out. I’m really hoping that it’s as good as it sounds.

  3. I wanted to do a topic similar to this but I couldn’t think of enough books, so I’m glad you’ve pointed some out for me! Laurie Halse Anderson does a FANTASTIC job of featuring different forms of mental illness in her books. Have you read The Impossible Knife of Memory yet (also by her)? It deals with PTSD.

  4. I’ve only ever read The Shock of the Fall (especially loved the ending) and Silver Linings Playbook is somewhere on my shelf, but Undone really caught my attention and I’m surprised I’ve never heard of it before. Definitely going to check it out at some point!

  5. Coincidentally, I did mental illness as well but none of our books overlap! I did not think of Wintergirls or Speak. I could see Wintergirls immediately but had to think about Speak, but you’re absolutely right! Good list! I need to add some of your titles to my infinite tbr list.


  6. Excellent list and wildly, I have only read a few here. Although I adore all of Matthew Quick’s books and think he manages a variety of books that fall into mental health awareness. Also, I am partial to Ned Vizzini’s It’s Kind of a Funny Story because my daughter really related to it. Also, I loved Perks of Being a Wallflower, Fangirl and Girl, Interrupted.

    My Top Ten Tuesday List featured characters who should be on stage. After reading your list, I sort of wish I had tackled the same as you. These are such good books to be sharing.

  7. This seems to be a really popular list this week. I am really interested in reading Speak, , My Heart and Other Black Holes, and The Last Time We Say Goodbye.
    Thanks for stopping by my TTT 🙂

  8. I’m pretty pleased to see so many books out there covering all kinds of mental illness. It educates people who still think that if you have a mental illness then you must be a total psycho who wants to stalk and kill them. Having suffered stress and depression since 2002, I feel the more we talk and debate these things, the more understanding people will get. Books are a great tool for provoking that debate. Great choice of topic!

  9. I’ve read both of the Laurie Halse Anderson books and Pointe, all three of which were so well done and so heart-breaking. There are a lot more on your list that I’m hoping to read soon.

  10. Stronger Than You Know and Undone both sound really good!! I also love LHA! ALl her books have become favorites of mine. I’ve read Silver Linings and I’ve seen the movie and I have to say: the movie is SO much better!! You should definitely watch it. JLaw is so good in it.

  11. I think this is the second post with this topic I’ve come across, and you’ve mostly chosen different books. I had no idea so many authors were (finally) tackling some of these illnesses – well, other than depression and eating disorders. It’s good to see.

  12. Thank you for this list, Chrissi! I’ve been meaning to read more books about mental illness, so this is perfect 🙂

  13. Great list. I’ve seen a few others with this same topic, but you have chosen different books, which is awesome. I definitely need to check out Silver Linings Playbook.

  14. Interesting choice, loved your list. I haven’t read any of these yet but I will definitely check them out. Here’s my TTT-

  15. I love how we picked the same topic and managed to only overlap once. Most of these are on my TBR (if I haven’t already read them) but I hadn’t head of The Shock of the Fall before. It sounds so good!

  16. I love books about mental illness! I have only read Speak, but I own Wintergirls and want to read every one on this list.

  17. HOW have I not read any of these?! I saw Silver Linings Playbook, but I don’t think that counts. I have a few of this on my bookshelf right now though, hoping to get to them soon. I think mental health books are SO important, this is such a fabulous topic choice!

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