Mental Health Awareness Month - Book Recommendations

Book Recommendations // Mental Health Awareness Month

As many of you might know, May is Mental Health Awareness Month.

As some of you might not know, raising awareness of mental health issues is a cause that is very close to my heart, and I’m immensely thankful to see that more and more books that deal with this subject, especially written by ownvoices authors, have struck a chord with readers across all genres.

So, in the spirit of shining a light on and destigmatizing mental illnesses, I’d like to introduce three of my favorite books that I personally feel have a great depiction of a mental illness, but are also amazing in every other aspect.

01. The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X.R. Pan

The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X.R. Pan

An immensely beautiful, moving, and magical ownvoices novel by a Taiwanese-American writer, with a story that is set primarily in Taiwan, features a female biracial main character, and deals with depression and its stigmatization (primarily in Asian culture).

This book is not only filled with quotes that will leave tiny, sparkling imprints on your soul, it has a synesthesia rep (!!!), and a wonderful exploration of family dynamics.

02. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

A classic that is relevant, even to this day.

The Bell Jar details a female character’s slow descent into depression. Sylvia Plath’s work is semi-autobiographical—you can see glimpses of herself in her character—which makes the book even more poignant, and devastating.

Apart from that, it stands out with its lyrical, almost poetic, prose, and a striking atmosphere that permeates the narrative throughout the entire novel.

03. Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta

Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta

Will any of my posts about favorite and meaningful books ever not include a Melina Marchetta novel? Probably not.

Saving Francesca is one of the best books I’ve ever read that has a portrayal of depression from an outside point of view that is absolutely amazing.

It shines a light on the fact that mental illnesses never affect merely the people who have them, but everyone around them as well.

Honorable Mentions

Highly Anticipated Books (TBR)

To everyone who has ever struggled, or is struggling, with their mental health—be it anxiety, depression, a bipolar disorder, &c.—know that you’re not alone, and that you got this.

I’m sending every single one of you the warmest thoughts & all the best vibes in the cosmos!! And should you ever need someone to talk to or to listen—I’m here.

blue-watercolor-wash-texture-5let's chat!

Have you read any of these books, and what did you think of them?
Do you “like” reading books with characters that have mental illnesses?
Any book recommendations for me? 💗

xx, Lily

91 thoughts on “Book Recommendations // Mental Health Awareness Month

  1. OMG this post is so important Lily! Thank you for posting this.
    And as a person who has some anxiety issues, I wish people can read about and understand these things more. I would have mentioned Turtles all the way down, although I didn’t like the story but the depiction of the illness in it could not be more true, I could relate immensely to it!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad you think so, Hamad! 🙂 & ahh I didn’t know you had anxiety as well, I’m sorry to hear that. (Do you know which type/are you diagnosed?)

      I’ve heard a lot of good things about Turtles All the Way Down and its anxiety and OCD rep, but I’m not the biggest fan of John Green personally, so I haven’t felt too inclined to read it so far. I’m glad to hear that the rep was good for you, though!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. saving francesca honestly has the best potrayal of depression i’ve ever seen in books, i definitely agree w u on that!! (not that ur surprised lmao)

    we are the ants is Amazing! i rly feel like u would love it. 😮

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I love Francesca Zappia ❤ I read Eliza and Her Monsters last year and thought it was amazing. Great post – The Astonishing Color of After was so sad and beautiful! Also I love that you gave a shout out to Truly Devious – Maureen Johnson is one of my favorite humans 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh well – sorry about Eliza. If I remember correctly, it did take a little bit to get into it.. eh. Can’t win them all…. Truly Devious, on the other hand, how do people not know about that? I was first in line at the bookstore the day that came out 😀

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Great list, I’ve heard so many wonderful things about Under Rose-Tainted Skies. I struggle big time with my mental health unfortunately. I made a recommendations post recently too! xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Georgia! & I’ve read your post and left a comment. 😊

      Under Rose-Tainted Skies has a good anxiety rep, being an ownvoices book, but as a whole, it was a three star read for me.

      I hope you feel better soon, and if you ever need to talk, I’m here. 💕

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh really, it’s not showing a comment from you! Strange 🤔
        I’ll check it out for sure at some point but definitely not in a hurry to do so then!
        Thanks so much, recently started new medications so hopefully they start helping. Same goes for you ❣️

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Ohh that’s so weird, I went back to the post and it’s not there (anymore?). It may be because the WP App glitches sometimes.

          I loved that you included Little & Lion, I’ve had that book on my TBR for a long time now, and I bookmarked it to check out the others I hadn’t heard of so far. 🙂

          I hope so, too! And thank you, I appreciate it. 💝

          Liked by 1 person

  5. So many great picks, The Bell Jar and Under Rose-Tainted Skies are both fantastic. Also, I have heard a lot of great things about Saving Francesca, most of the people I know that have read that book say is amazing. I think I’ll give it a chance soon.

    Great post! ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thank you for your lovely words, Lily! And these are some awesome choices. Reading Sylvia Plath always just strips me down emotionally because there’s something so raw and unflinchingly honest about her work. And We Are the Ants has a heartaching portrayal of suicide and depression, so I’m sure you’ll love it!

    Much love! ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ahh of course, Kathy! And thank you, that makes me really happy to hear. 💜

      I feel the same way about her & you put that into words so beautifully. :’) And I’m so thrilled to hear that about We Are the Ants, now I really can’t wait to read it.

      I hope you have a wonderful day!! xx

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I loved Francesca Zappia’s second book, Eliza and Her Monsters, which is about anxiety coupled with artistic temperament, a bit more than her debut Made You Up — recommend! And I’ve always loved Bell Jar. Great post.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I am applauding everyone who is doing mental health bookish posts this month! I wish I had more time and energy to get something together myself but instead I’ll just live through all you humans!

    I haven’t read many of these but The Astonishing Color of After and Made You Up are both on my immediate TBR. I was so surprised and outrageously happy about the anxiety/panic attack rep in Truly Devious!!! There are for sure some newbies going on my TBR from here as well.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I hope you find heaps of great books through these posts, Becca! 💗

      Please, please love The Astonishing Color of After, and I can’t wait to hear your thoughts on Made You Up, when you get around to reading it. And I completely agree with you, Truly Devious was such a great and positive surprise in that aspect, and I also adore the diversity in it.

      I’m so thrilled I could add books to your TBR, I hope you enjoy them! :’)

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Love this post! recommendations like these are so important ❤ The Bell Jar has been on my TBR for far too long…. this has reminded me that I need to get around to reading it ASAP!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. love the post lily!! I loved the astonishing colour of after, it had the most wonderful mental health story. I’ve read and loved “We are the Ants”, hope you love it too!! 💕

    Liked by 1 person

  11. This is such a wonderful list, Lily, thank you for putting it together! ❤
    I have been anticipating The Astonishing Color for ageeeeeeeees and I still haven't got the chance to read it, but I can't wait. It sounds incredible and unforgettable. Also, very happy to see Under Rose-Tainted Skies here, I loved this book so, so much! ❤ ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Marie! 💗

      The Astonishing Color of After has such a special place in my heart for so many reasons & I can’t wait to hear your thoughts on it when you read it. I really, really hope you love it. And I’m glad to hear you loved Under Rose-Tainted Skies as well! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  12. back at it with the Marchetta praise !!!

    this post was so good and pure and I love you for writing it and I really need to read the bell jar already and made you up and we are the ants and THERE’S TOO MANY TO MENTION but basically every book mentioned on here for the exact same reasons that you mentioned them for

    Liked by 1 person

  13. whoa all these recs … I really need to read. I’d love to read Made You Up cos I really liked Eliza and Her Monsters! Have you read that one?? 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Yes, so important that you shed light on these issues and include books that address mental health and illness. This post has made me consider writing a post specifically for Mental Health Awareness post. Hope you’re able to read many more books that address similar issues too. (:

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I love this post! Such an important role in our lives.

    I have read Made You Up and I was completely breathless at how wonderfully touching it was. Hadn’t heard of Bell Jar I’ll check it out.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ahh thank you so, so much, María, that means a lot! :’)

      I’ve honestly only heard great things about Made You Up, so I really hope it won’t disappoint. & I’m glad that Eliza and Her Monsters was an amazing read for you. 💚


  16. This is such a lovely post! I really wanted to do something for Mental Health Month but then I forgot and now it’s too late…I’ll just have to post in June anyway! But I love books with great rep, especially when they help readers know they’re not alone. That’s really important. 💛 (Also Made You Up is AMAZING and I have WE Are The Ants on my TBR too!)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Cait! That really means a lot to me. 💗

      I’m so happy to hear that good representation in books is something that you value so highly as well & I can’t wait for your post. And I’m planning on buddy reading We Are The Ants this weekend—you’re more than welcome to join in! 🌷


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