Invisible Illness

Staff PicksShaw/Watha T. Daniel Library

Invisible Illness

Non-Fiction and Fiction focused on disability and mental illness

The books below cover the subject of disability and mental illness. There is a mixture of non-fiction and fiction in the list, and it attempts to give a wide range of perspectives on topics that are often misunderstood and underrepresented in mainstream media and politics. Here, those readers looking for materials that reflect a mental disorder can find representation via these recommended titles.

Note: All titles are linked to their physical copies unless otherwise noted, and all are available as library e-books and/or e-audiobooks with OverDrive.

Disability Visibility By Alice Wong
The theme of Alice Wong’s Disability Visibility is to amplify the voices of the disabled. The collection of essays, anecdotes, eulogies, and other forms of expression begs to be heard by the society that is constantly at odds with the rights of the disabled. The collection gathers the stories of individuals who, until this point, have felt invisible in a society that has quietly ignored their plight. The writings in the collection expose biases of the able and the lack of care consistently shown at every intersection of class, race, and gender.

Willow Weep For Me: A Black Woman’s Journey Through Depression By Meri Nana-Ama Danquah
Danquah's memoir is absorbing from the first page. Her battle with mental illness and juggling the normal stressors of life is written in inspiring detail and captivating measure. Danquah’s life is a mirror-image of so many others in the United States and her book is sure to touch anyone who is or knows someone dealing with depression.

Impulse by Ellen Hopkins
Ellen Hopkins’ novel, Impulse, is based on the real-life issues young adults are facing today. The novel tells the story of Tony, Vanessa, and Connor, all three of whom have previously committed acts of self-harm. Tony, Vanessa, and Connor's lives jump off the page and quickly stick with the reader -- staying long after the book has finished.  Poignant and lyrical, Hopkins’ Impulse is sure to draw readers in search of a YA novel that covers the topics of mental illness and disability. 

The Center Cannot Hold by Elyn Saks
In this memoir, Saks explores her experience as an academic whose hospitalizations led to multiple disruptions throughout her life since adolescence. It's clear that being brilliant can affect the treatment patients receive, but the takeaways from the memoir are the experiences Saks documents through her own lens and her balance of work, health, and life she forces herself to create. 

Everything Here is Beautiful by Mira T. Lee
Everything Here Is Beautiful is a powerful story about two sisters and the circumstances that bind them together and eventually push them apart. One sister’s diagnosis causes her life and the lives of those she touches to change forever. A story that is as much about mental illness as it is about friendship and family, readers will enjoy this book for many reasons.

Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson
Jenny Lawson gives readers a page-turning and in-depth view into her mind and her life with depression and mental illness. Lawson’s writing is fun and engaging, and her humorous style and wit add laughter to the serious discussion of mental illness. Sufferers and those who seek to understand them will both find hope, peace, and the feeling they have found a new friendship when reading this book. 

Em and The Big Hoom by Jerry Pinto
In this work of fiction, the narrator pieces together the backstory of his mother’s severe depression through her stories and diary entries. The book is intimate and detailed and doubles as a work surrounding the mental illness of a parent and a romantic love story.