Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish in which book bloggers list their top ten picks for whatever the current prompt is.
Lately, I noticed I am gravitating towards novels with a focus on mental health. In fact, just this quarter, I’ve read five. Yes, there is something appealing to this type of books. No, I am not demented. Because I do not enjoy the struggle and suffering. These are glass shards in the palm, multiple blows in the gut. But I take them. And I’m better for it. As these stories help me get out of the proverbial shoes. They help me understand. They help me empathize. They help me through my own dark tunnels.
So for today, I compiled a list of books that center on depression and/or mental illness. Incidentally, this is my first Top Ten Tuesday too.
More Than This by Patrick Ness
Seth Wearing’s depression pushed him to drown himself (this isn’t really a spoiler; read the synopsis). The point is finding out what led to this. What you get is a heartrending portrayal of a teen trying to keep it together. Until he no longer can.
Bonus: This one is weird. So if you’re into that.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
TPOBAW is easily one of my favoritest. Here’s my pitch: if you are—or once were—a teenager, you’ll like, if not love, this. But here’s another thing, it also deals with suicide, guilt and repressed memories.
Bonus: Logan Lerman did a pitch-perfect portrayal of Charlie in the film adaptation. Basically, the whole movie is AMAZING.
Playlist for the Dead by Michelle Falkoff
Sam Goldsmith wakes up one day with his best friend Hayden not breathing—not even snoring, which he normally does. And all he left is a playlist with a suicide note that says, “For Sam—listen and you’ll understand.” Falkoff paints a vivid picture of how even best friends can be strangers to one another.
Bonus: The chapter titles are actual songs from the playlist and this is an experience on its own.
The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley by Shaun Hutchinson
This one’s a recent read and I’m grateful I saw it up on Pulse It’s Free Reads last week. I said this before and I’ll say it again: I seldom cry for both books and films. But The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley got me breaking my rules. Hutchinson’s depiction of loss and guilt can only be described as “raw.”
Bonus: “It’s a partly graphic novel.”
My Heart and Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga
We often see or read about after the suicide, where characters deal with or try to understand why a loved one did it. Now Aysel Seran and Roman Fraklin, aka Frozenrobot, here are on the planning-our-suicide phase. The takeaway? Warga doesn’t romanticize depression. No.
All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
I don’t even know how to begin with this novel. It’s about mental illness and PTSD and guilt (do you see the trend in my list?) and there’s really no way of talking about Niven’s YA debut without being spoilery, but this much I’ll tell you: every so often we walk away from a story which we’ll always think of, All the Bright Places is one of those stories.
Bonus: For when wry humor is your thing.
The next four titles are ones I’ve yet to read. Hey now.
The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand
Lex’s brother Tyler killed himself and she has to cope up with loss and guilt. Kirkus calls it, “evocative and insightful.”
Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira
May, Laurel’s sister, is dead. But how can she mourn when she hasn’t forgiven her? Here, from Guardian: “This book does make you go slightly down at points, because it reaches into you and pulls about at your emotions, so if you like happy-go-lucky books, a lot of this might not be for you. But if you can handle some tear-jerking bits in books, then this book should be on your ‘to-read’ list.”
Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman
It follows Caden Bosch on a ship that’s headed for the deepest point on Earth: Challenger Deep, the southern part of the Marianas Trench. Also, Caden Bosch is schizophrenic. Publishers Weekly gave this novel a starred review, stating, “[Caden’s] story doesn’t necessarily represent a “typical” experience of mental illness, it turns symptoms into lived reality in ways readers won’t easily forget.”
Mosquitoland by David Arnold
“I am a collection of oddities, a circus of neurons and electrons: my heart is the ringmaster, my soul is the trapeze artist, and the world is my audience. It sounds strange because it is, and it is, because I am strange.” Mim is certainly not okay; she has a mental illness. So does her mom. School Library Journal praised it with: “Debut author Arnold’s book is filled with some incredible moments of insight. The protagonist is a hard-edged narrator with a distinct voice.”
Let’s talk! Which of these have you read? Any title(s) you’ll add to the list? What is the theme of your list? And, PLEASE, if you know or suspect someone to be undergoing depression or is undiagnosed or misdiagnosed, PLEASE PLEASE REACH OUT TO THEM. THERE’S HELP AND WE HAVE TO BE THAT HELP OR AT LEAST THE BRIDGE.