You're Not Alone: Mental Health Reads

By NYPL Staff
March 25, 2020

It's easy to get anxious. Should I go out and shop?  Has the news changed in the 10 minutes since I last checked it? When will this all be over? Great books remind us that we’re not alone in challenging times.

The ten books below were chosen as part of Spaces to Thrive, a partnership with the Mayor's Office of ThriveNYC to spark conversation about mental health and bring free mental health programming to New Yorkers. The list was compiled and authored by NYPL staffers Yesenia Velasquez & Erica Parker, Adult Programming. All are currently available remotely as e-books and/or audiobooks.

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A Curious Mind: The Secret to a Bigger Lifeby Brian Grazer

For decades, Brian Grazer has scheduled a weekly "curiosity conversation" with an accomplished stranger. Working with journalist Charlie Fishman, Grazer offers a window into the conversations that inspired some of America's favorite movies and television, from 24 to A Beautiful Mind.  A Curious Mind is a fascinating and inspiring homage to the power of inquisitiveness and the ways in which it deepens and improves us.

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Better than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Livesby Gretchen Rubin

Ruben shares information about habit formation, along with strategies for breaking habits that are counterproductive and for forming good habits that enhance the quality of life and help in the attainment of life goals.

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Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan

An account of the author's struggle with a rare brain-attacking autoimmune disease traces how she woke up in a hospital room with no memory of baffling psychotic symptoms, describing the last-minute intervention by a doctor who identified the source of her illness.


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Brave Enough by Cheryl Strayed 

The bestselling author of Wild and Dear Sugar is back with a collection of inspirational quotes drawn from her writing.


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Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madnessby William Styron 

The author chronicles his personal journey within the depression's psychic landscape, as well as offers readers an illuminating path to recovery.

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Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Bodyby Roxane Gay 

A memoir exploring the tensions between self-comfort and self-care, while addressing shared anxieties over pleasure, consumption, appearance, and health.

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Loud in the House of Myself: Memoir of a Strange Girl by Stacy Pershall 

Set in a small city in Arkansas, the author chronicles her adolescence and personal journey with bipolar and borderline personality disorders. 


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Manic: A Memoir by Terri Cheney

A personal account of life with bipolar disorder documents the author's experience with the condition's extreme highs and lows, in a memoir that also traces her therapies and the disease's impact on her relationships.

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My Age of Anxiety: Fear, Hope, Dread, and the Search for Peace of Mindby Scott Stossel 

The author recounts his lifelong battle with anxiety, showing the many manifestations of the disorder as well as the countless treatments that have been developed to counteract it, and provides a history of the efforts to understand this common form of mental illness.

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The Road to Characterby David Brooks

David Brooks investigates America’s transition to a culture that values self-promotion over humility, explaining the importance of an engaged inner life in personal fulfillment.

Don't forget to "return" your e-books when you're done—the sooner you return them, the sooner someone else can use them


Staff picks are chosen by NYPL staff members and are not intended to be comprehensive lists. We'd love to hear your ideas too, so leave a comment and tell us what you’d recommend. And check out our Staff Picks browse tool for more recommendations!