8 Brilliant Fiction Books About Mental Illness

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Brilliant Fiction Books About Mental Illness

One of the most underrated modes of spreading awareness is books, and in these last few years, there have been so many brilliant fiction books about mental illness. These books didn’t just have a solid story, the authors did a phenomenal job of portraying mental illness and its different facets in a sensitive and engaging way.

Literature has played a huge role in destigmatizing mental illness and has always worked towards treating it as an important topic for conversation rather than something that should be shoved under the rug and avoided. Even though non-fiction books have dominated the book world when it comes to talking about mental health and mental illness, these fiction books that focus on mental health are brilliant, to say the least.

Let’s explore and do a deep dive into some of the best fiction books about mental health.

Related: 9 Best Books On Narcissism You Cannot Afford To Miss

8 Brilliant Fiction Books About Mental Illness

1. Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

Fiction books about mental illness - Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine

Goodreads Rating: 4.25

One of the best fiction books about mental illness, without a doubt. 

I remember when I finished this book, I had tears in my eyes, happy and sad both. This is easily one of the best books I have read in recent years. The way mental health, trauma, and the impact of trauma have been handled by the author, it’s beautiful.

Eleanor Oliphant is not the most social person out there, even though she is very good at her job. Because of her less than impressive social skills, her colleagues make fun of her and never include her in any plans they make. However, this doesn’t bother her as she feels pretty happy and satisfied in her life. Then she meets Raymond, the IT guy in her office, and her life changes; they both admire and respect each other, and start to spend more time together.

The big reveal at the end will break your heart, but when you close the book you will have tears of joy on your face. If there is one book I recommend everyone to read at least once, this is the one.

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2. Turtles All The Way Down by John Greene

Fiction books about mental illness - Turtles All The Way Down

Goodreads Rating: 3.91

This novel revolves around Ava who struggles with internal anxious thinking, and she desperately wants to live a “normal” life and be a “perfect” individual, like everyone else. This book mostly deals with the best coping mechanisms and treatment for severe anxiety, with a relatable and nice protagonist.

John Green wrote this book with the intention of helping others struggling with severe anxiety. Another major reason behind this book’s popularity is that it focuses on real-life scenarios and incidents that can spread awareness and help others who are struggling with severe OCD and anxiety issues.

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3. Darius The Great Is Not Okay By Adib Khorram

Fiction books about mental illness - Darius The Great Is Not Okay

Goodreads Rating: 4.28

This is one of the best fiction books about mental illness you will get out there. This novel is set in Iran and revolves around Darius who struggles with his identity and finds it hard to fit in with others. Darius suffers from clinical depression but the stigma attached to it makes it hard for his grandparents to understand his pain and struggles. And on top of that, taking medication for depression comes with a lot of judgment.

The only person who can understand what he is going through and helps him is Sohrab, his next-door neighbor. The more time they spend together, the more he understands and respects his Iranian culture. Understanding your identity is a very crucial part of your mental health and that is what is novel beautifully explores.

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4. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

Fiction books about mental illness - The Bell Jar

Goodreads Rating: 4.04

Sylvia Plath penned this novel based on her life accounts and experiences. She herself struggled with severe mental illness for many years and the novel finely balances the line between fiction and truth and delves deep into her struggles with bipolar disorder and depression.

Since this book was written and released in the 60s, it speaks about electroshock therapy as the preferred way to “treat” and “fix” patients. Unfortunately, Sylvia Plath lost the fight with her depression, and committed suicide on February 11, 1963.

One of the most eye-opening and heart wrenching fiction books about mental health.  

Buy on Amazon

Related: 25 Life-Changing Novels To Read Once In Your Lifetime

5. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey

Fiction books about mental illness - One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

Goodreads Rating: 4.20

This is one of my personal favourite mental illness fiction books and was even later adapted into an iconic movie, starring Jack Nicholson. The book is based in a psychiatric hospital in Oregon and is narrated by presumably a mute and deaf Native American patient called Chief Bromden who observes the activities of another patient, Randle Patrick McMurphy.

McMurphy is an extremely boisterous man who fakes being insane, in order to get out of a gambling charge. Bromden’s narration speaks in detail about mental illness and even civil rights issues that were raging through the country then. Chief Bromden has been suffering from schizophrenia and clinical depression since he witnessed his father who was a chieftain getting humiliated by the American government.

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6. The Virgin Suicides by Jeffery Eugenides

Fiction books about mental illness - The Virgin Suicides

Goodreads Rating: 3.83

Looking for some great fiction books about mental health? Give this one a try!

This book delves deep into the mind of a 13-year-old girl, and the protagonists are the Lisbon sisters, Mary, Bonnie, Lux, Therese, and Cecilia, who live in Grosse Pointe, Michigan.

This novel revolves around the perspectives of the boys that go to school with these sisters, and their struggle to understand why they are the way they are; the Lisbon sisters are regarded as very peculiar by everyone at school. The thing is, the sisters have always been told to stay away from boys and live an isolated life which has led to depression, and thoughts of suicidal ideation in them.

It’s a heartwrenching piece of work that depicts the lives of five young girls who were ignored and even shunned by their town, until it was too late.

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7. All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

Fiction books about mental illness - All the Bright Places

Goodreads Rating: 4.14

This book is about Violet and Theodore who meet under unexpected circumstances and quickly become friends which later on turns into love. People suffering from depression also struggle with suicidal thoughts, and this book is one of the most powerful and best books out there when it comes to a conversation like this.

At the beginning of the book, Theodore seemingly saves Violet from committing suicide on her sister’s death anniversary, while he himself suffers from depression and suicidal thoughts. The two slowly fall in love and stand by each other through everything, but Theodore continues to have a hard time dealing with his demons.

One of my personal favourite fiction books about mental illness that is heart-breaking, beautiful, and joyful at the same time, and I am pretty sure, you won’t be able to stop your tears just like I couldn’t.

Buy on Amazon

Related: 14 Must Read Books As Recommended By Emma Watson

8. Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen

Fiction books about mental illness - Girl, Interrupted

Goodreads Rating: 3.92

This book is about Susanna Kaysen’s experiences when she was a patient at a psychiatric hospital for two years. She chronicles her experiences as a young woman in a hospital which had famous inmates before her such as Sylvia Plath, Ray Charles, James Taylor, and Robert Lowell.

Discussing in detail Borderline Personality Disorder, her book speaks about her experiences with depersonalization and dissociation, like that one time when after a traumatic incident, she wounded herself by biting her own flesh open. She speaks about her observations about the other patients too and their handlers. It’s a clear-sighted, vulnerable, and progressive take on mental illness and psychiatric hospitals.

Undoubtedly one of the best mental illness fiction books I have come across.

Buy on Amazon

Non-Fiction Books About Mental Illness

Apart from fiction books about mental illness, these non-fiction books about mental health are ground-breaking and phenomenal:

  • My Lobotomy by Howard Dully
  • The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and Other Clinical Tales by Oliver Sacks
  • Willow Weep for Me: A Black Woman’s Journey through Depression by Meri Nana-Ama Danquah
  • Wasted: A Memoir of Anorexia and Bulimia by Marya Hornbacher
  • Girl in Need of a Tourniquet: Memoir of a Borderline Personality by Merri Lisa Johnson
  • An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness by Kay Redfield Jamison
  • Gracefully Insane: The Rise and Fall of America’s Premier Mental Hospital by Alex Beam
  • The Theft of Memory: Losing My Father, One Day at a Time by Jonathan Kozol
  • Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan
  • Just Checking: Scenes from the Life of an Obsessive-Compulsive by Emily Colas

Related: 20 Best Psychology Books To Improve Your Life

Now, since we are already talking about mental health issues, and the best books for mental illness, we have some exciting news for you all! 

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Love sure is intoxicating and how! Order your now copy now and open the doors to empowerment!

Have you read any of these fiction books about mental illness? If you have any more mental illness fiction books people should know about, make sure you comment the names below. Also like always, don’t forget to let us know your thoughts in the comments section down below!


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Brilliant Fiction Book About Mental Illness
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