10 Books For Depressed People

Here are 10 books for depressed people. There are probably some minor spoilers, so watch out.

1. Freedom (2010), Jonathan Franzen

I know Freedom went super mainstream when it initially came out and I know there are reasonable arguments why this book is not for depressed people but… the bulk of this book is seriously depressing. And it’s not just that the characters find themselves in depressing situation after depressing situation (well, they kind of do), it’s the fact that the scope of the novel makes every depressing instance so much more tragic because you’re highly familiar with what lead each character to the sad place they’re in currently. What makes Freedom even more heart-wrenching is Franzen’s masterful narration, which somehow pretends to be neutral but in fact balances a chord of hope for an okay future and despair with the present throughout the entire novel. Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom is definitely a book for depressed people.


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  • ogpipitone

    you forgot The Bell Jar (or any of Plath's poetry)

    • Zaikefilms

      totes obvo

  • Aelya

    Honestly love you for this list. The ones which I have read, I hold dear.
    Thanks, BSG

  • Guest

    Is the title/theme a joke? These sound like books to MAKE you depressed, not books an actual depressed person should read. Not cool.

  • Zaikefilms

    Thanks, I just added like 4 books to my reading list.

    BTW I fucking hate when you guys put each item on a different page. Pet peeve.

    • internetz

      Gotta get those ad bucks!

      • PhermonousFan

        It's seriously the most obnoxious way to get more ad revenue. I'd rather browse through an article surrounded by adult friend finder popups than have to deal with such bullshit.

    • Greg

      seriously, and I get encoding errors on most the lists so I can't even see some of the picks

  • scott

    where's push by sapphire? that influenced the movie Precious

  • http://sayyes.tumblr.com sayyes

    “Olive Kitteridge” by Elizabeth Strout is a great one, too, although I don't think you necessarily have to be a “depressed person” to enjoy reading “depressing” books. Some of us just prefer realism to sunshine and rainbows coming out of a new couple's asses and then they fall in love and have a baby and the whole town loves them and bakes them cookies.

  • marcus

    this list is eerily similar to your last literature list

  • Tim

    I'm 100 pages into Freedom and it's really pretty shitty. Depressing but with no real purpose for that.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1363230138 Michael Koh

    I haven't been depressed in a while but I think it's about time.

    • KohFan

      Oh Michael Koh, I like you.

  • Tim

    Oh and Octet is AMAZING.

  • Megan

    The Sun Also Rises has been glaring at me from the book shelf for months, after seeing it on this list I'm going to finally start it. Also, Catcher in the Rye totally was my favorite book as a depressed 15 year old. As was Less Than Zero, but that's a little more strange

  • Guest

    no Bukowski?

  • http://profiles.google.com/mopeyprincess mopey P

    So like depressed people are allergic to books written over 30 years ago except Hemingway, or what?

    • Guest

      yeah, what about THE BELL JAR

  • EarthToNichole

    7, definitely. And if you're too depressed to actually read the book I recommend the movie.

  • Ophie

    11. The Road by Cormac McCarthy.

  • nycspeed

    Big fan of Less Than Zero & Revolutionary Road. And I second (or third or whatever haha) the already mentioned need to include The Bell Jar, I don't think anything captures what it's like to go through depression as well as that books does (speaking from experience)

    • freddipass

      Oh yeah. Very true.

  • AaronWB

    The whole concept of depressing art or art for depressed people doesn't make sense to me. I have read most of these books and really liked them but I wasn't depressed and they didn't make me feel depressed. I never really feel depressed as a result of experiencing art even if it's “sad” art.

    It's like when people say listening to Elliott Smith is too depressing. Regardless of what the song is about it doesn't make me personally depressed to hear it. Like, I can roll down the windows on a summer day and crank up the volume on Either/Or and jam out, no problem.

    • guest

      it's called “insensitivity” bro

  • LaChiquita

    As someone who's been suicidally depressed for more years than not in my life, I've found these books depressing as shit:

    Bowles' The Sheltering Sky
    Wharton's Ethan Frome
    Seth's An Equal Music

    • okay

      the sheltering sky destroyed me
      favorite book evs

  • http://twitter.com/andeenero Andee Nero

    this list made me depressed because i realized that i was too lazy to click through ten pages to get a top ten list.

  • Umm

    Reading A Clockwork Orange at 13 years old is depressing…. lol.

  • http://twitter.com/adamhump adamhump

    My suggestions for your bummer: 
    Good Old Neon from Olblivion by DFW. The Tree of Life by Terrence Malick. The Song “There is a Place” by the Silver Jews.These have themes of gratitude and forgiveness and letting go. I SAW A DARK SHADOW ON THIS LAND. I COULD NOT LOVE THE WORLD ENTIRE. THERE GREW A DESERT IN MY MIND. I TOOK A HAMMER TO IT ALL. :)

  • http://twitter.com/hbic09 Eria


    Also, The Perks of Being A Wallflower is a good depressing book in a nice kind of way, mostly sad, & simple but heartwarming.

  • Alisa B

    Oh my God, The Sun Also Rises is the most unnerving book I have ever read. It is unnerving because it describes to a T the emptiness of a life that's consumed by just going out to eat, drinking, and going to bars and clubs. It's a life that was prominent in 1920s Europe and remains that way in suburban California for me today. This book made me realize just how empty my own life was.

  • kira

    Lydia Davis is an amazing writer. The End of Story is one of the most painfully honest accounts of how “love” is born and killed i have ever read..

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Steven-Timberman/922794 Steven Timberman

    I hate to be the “You forgot Prozac Nation” guy, but you forgot Prozac Nation. 

    Seriously, Wurtzel's text is the fucking bible for depressed people.

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