3. The Book of Joy. It’s a conversation between The Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. They are long time friends and discuss what they have both learned over the course of their amazing lives. Tremendous book.
4. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. I don’t think it needs an introduction. It’s a very small book, which helps since some people with depression can’t read huge volumes, it tires them out. It’s also very simply written while being thought provoking at the same time.
“So, this is my life. And I want you to know that I am both happy and sad and I’m still trying to figure out how that could be.”
That line makes me want to weep. It’s so simple and so true.
9. DUNE. That book helped me so much. I was in a very dark place and it helped me see the light and entrapped me in an adventure. It holds a very special place in my heart, and it really feels like it saved my life.
12. Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh. Ridiculously funny, vignettes that are short enough to not get overwhelming, and the only depiction of depression that made me stop and go, “This! This is what it’s like.” I hope Allie’s ok…
13. Every Word You Cannot Say by Iain Thomas. It’s a book of poems that helped me deal with my uncle passing. It’s an uplifting book and it helps give something physical to something abstract like pain. Not trying to sound pretentious, it just a great book that helped me through some dark times.
15. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig. It’s a little bit more about philosophy, not so much motorcycle repair. But it’s good. Made me look at my problem solving skills, and how to approach actually understanding something vs just being in the moment and accepting things as they are.
18. The Name of the Wind by Pat Rothfuss! Started getting into the series around 4 or 5 years ago and it really helped put myself into perspective as far as what I wanted to achieve for myself and what I wanted the future to hold. It made me feel optimistic for a change.
20. Yes Man by Danny Wallace. It’s just a depressed comedian who agrees to a bet where he has to say “yes” to every offer and proposition he gets, and it improves his life enormously. (It got Hollywoodised into that shit Jim Carrey film, but I promise you they bear no similarity).
I read it as an impressionable 13 year old and it really brought me out of the shell I had built for myself at that time.
23. Nausea by Jean-Paul Sartre. It’s written in first person, through journal entries and the narrative is extremely good at capturing the thought processes of someone with depression. Reading it made me feel a little less alone, and it helped me to step outside of myself and analyze my thoughts from another perspective.
I usually struggle with my environment a lot when my mental state is on its worse side. I keep everything cluttered and can’t handle the amount of stuff I have. I cannot find things, which then frustrates me – pushing me further down. The book is not only an easy and light read, but it helps you set certain systems in place that you can easily maintain once you do. My mind usually feels better when everything around me is clean. Also, I did the classic “does it spark joy” thing and it was actually nice. I now only have things that really keep me happy, nothing unnecessary. It is freeing.
I liked the little stories that Marie Kondo put in her book. Although not all of them were relatable for me, as she is in the traditional housewife mindset, they still put a smile on my face.
I would really recommend that book to get out of a down phase or to prevent unnecessary stress.
33. Moby Dick. It’s a book that can be killed by school and having to write a paper on it, but is absolutely incredible. Modernist writing 60 years before modernism, and in-between all the wonderful weird shit, there’s high seas action.
37. The Power of Now. It will really get you out of your head and stepping into the now.
38. All people have different responses to depression and different wants and needs consequently, but personally I’d never been made happier and had a more brightened and calm perspective of the world than when I’d read The Chronicles of Narnia series. CS Lewis does a fantastic job of putting the emotional state of childlike wonder and innocence into words.
39. Any book by Alan Watts. From personal experience, it helped me to calm down a lot. He also has podcasts! He teaches Buddhism to a Western audience, but in a more secular way that’s applicable to your real, everyday life. Highly recommend. He has books like The Wisdom of Insecurity to The Way of Zen.
41. I’ve got a good one. Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things by Jenny Lawson was just given to me. I’m only part-way through it, but I love it so far. From the cover: “Author Jenny Lawson explores her lifelong battle with mental illness. A hysterical, ridiculous book about crippling depression and anxiety? That sounds like a terrible idea. But terrible ideas are what Jenny does best.”
44. Slaughterhouse Five. Seriously, Kurt Vonnegut got me through some rough times emotionally. He has a dark, wry sense of humor but ultimately a heart of gold beneath that really makes you feel like you’re not alone, that other people out there think like you and have been through the same things.
48. Good Omens. It’s been my favorite book for around 25 years now, and it never fails to make me smile. It’s hilarious, yes, but there’s a quiet charm and encouragement that reminds you that as hopeless as things may feel, they will get better.
49. Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E Frankle. It helped me a bit, and most people I know who’ve read it. Victor E Frankle is a psychologist who endured a concentration camp as a jewish prisoner. He observed what kept people alive and what didn’t and used his experience to launch his own psychotherapeutic approach called logotherapy, which focused on ‘will to meaning’.
He applied his own theories to his life in the concentration camp, writing his book while he was there. The first half is biographical, the second half is his theories and practice for them. Depression and how to help deal with it in a way similar to cognitive behavioral therapy.
50. Winnie-the-Pooh. Some kids are messed up at an early age. I was one of them. Pooh, and Rabbit, and especially Eeyore were cool friends with massive faults. I learned from these books it was OK not to be like the others. Definite read.