Books to read for Mental Health Awareness Month

Mental Health America designated the month of May as Mental Health Awareness Month, a time for bringing awareness about living with mental illnesses along with fighting the stigmas surrounding the topic. Below is a list of books to read to learn about living with mental illnesses in addition to methods that build good habits.

Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner, memoir 

Crying in H Mart: A Memoir: Zauner, Michelle: 9780525657743: Books - Amazon
Written by Japanese Breakfast singer Michelle Zauner, “Crying in H Mart” is a memoir that features topics like healing from loss and figuring out one’s identity. Zauner takes readers along the happiest and most devastating parts of her life and provides insight into the mental hardships she overcame. The book encompasses vulnerability and thrill as she shares her experience navigating life as a daughter, wife and songwriter. 

As a Korean-American child who grew up experiencing similar racial identity issues in addition to having a parent with health problems, reading this book felt as if Zauner was giving a giant hug to my inner child who was forced to grow up too fast. As this book communicates the unspoken yet universally understood struggles of adulthood, I would recommend it to anyone who needs a reminder that they aren’t fighting their battles alone. 


Atomic Habits by James Clear, self-help/personal growth 

Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones: Clear, James: 9780735211292: Books

In “Atomic Habits,” James Clear gives his methods of implementing small changes into life that will magnify into personal habits. The book is divided into four parts that guide readers into adopting a growth mindset and even teaches how to break out of bad habits, including procrastination. 

Normally I wouldn’t choose to read a self-help book for leisure, but I found this book to be different: not only did I feel more than motivated, I found myself handling stressors and challenges differently. I am constantly fighting inner voices that cloud my future, and this book helped me develop an optimistic mindset and a plan to achieve my goals, both big and small. Since there is always room for personal improvement, this book is a must-read for everyone.


Turtles All the Way Down by John Green, realistic fiction 

Amazon - Turtles All the Way Down: GREEN JOHN: 9780141346045: Books

“Turtles All the Way Down” tells the story of a teenage girl named Aza Holmes who suffers from anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Aza gets involved in solving the mystery of a missing person, and the story gives insight into the mental battles that she deals with while being present in real life. 

As an avid reader of realistic fiction, I was engaged by the plot that this book followed: there was a good balance of adventure along with a bit of romance. I found myself relating to the characters a lot, especially the parts where the protagonist found herself feeling trapped by her own thoughts. There are a lot of books that attempt to portray living with mental illness, but this book was different since it didn’t feel like another textbook-definition example of mental disorders. I’d recommend that everyone check it out to gain perspective on what mental illness feels like firsthand.