I'm a firm believer that whatever a problem may be, the solution for it lies in a book. A theory I apply to every aspect of my life, from bad breakups to important career decisions, the power reading has to affect my life has in profound ways has even proven itself in the books that help me through my depression. Without the help of one very important TBR pile, I don't know how I would have gotten through some of my darkest days.
I have suffered from depression off and on since I was a teenage, and the struggle to cope with it has dominated a lot of my adult life. There are the days where my depression is just a slight, lingering feeling in the bottom of my stomach that I can mostly ignore. But more often, there are days where it's a cloud that consumes everything and everyone around me, a cloud that won't part for anyone or anything.
I should point out that reading is not a cure for depression, but it can be a kind of coping mechanism for its symptoms. On those really bad days, the days I can't seem to even get out of bed, the only place I'm able to find solace is on my bookshelf.
From the time I was a teenager and was first diagnosed to this hellish Trumpian year, these are the five books that have helped me during my darkest days.
1'My Depression: A Picture Book' by Elizabeth Swados
Few books capture the experience of depression better than Elizabeth Swados' emotional and evocative illustrated memoir of mental illness. An honest and intimate look at what it's like to live everyday with the symptoms of the far too oft stigmatized illness, My Depression is both a poignant examination of the condition itself and an empowering message of hope and inspiration for those suffering from it.
2'She's Come Undone' by Wally Lamb
A riveting coming-of-age story, Wally Lamb's bestselling She's Come Undone tells a remarkable story of love, heartache, and reinvention over the course of one woman's life. Dolores Price's life seems to be a series of one unthinkable trauma after another — her parents split up, her mother breaks down and sends her to live with a grandmother, her only friend sexually assaults her, she attempts suicide — but throughout it all, this remarkable heroine continually figures out how to fit her broken pieces back together again. At once hilarious and heartbreaking, She's Come Undone is an emotionally enthralling story that sticks with you after you're done.
3'Bluets' by Maggie Nelson
Prolific writer, gifted poet, and and sharp critic Maggie Nelson combines all of her greatest skills in Bluets, a beautiful and lyrical exploration of life, loss, and love as seen through one filter: the color blue. Written in the form of a list, this unique book seamlessly weaves together fact and emotion, history and anecdote, to create a beautiful collage of life and loss.
4'The Year of Magical Thinking' by Joan Didion
In The Year of Magical Thinking, the journalist, novelist, screenwriter, and essayist Joan Didion turns her critical gaze inward to explore her own sorrow following the death of her husband, writer John Gregory Dunne. A beautiful and insightful piece of soul-baring writing, this book was written by a woman working through her own emotional turmoil, but it in turn helps readers do the same.
5'The Rules Do Not Apply' by Ariel Levy
A profound memoir about loss, grief, and the depth of human resilience, Ariel Levy's New York Times bestseller simultaneously devastates and inspires. The Rules Do Not Apply is a sincere and thoughtful journey through Levy's unconventional life and losses, specifically the tragic death of her premature son and the dissolution of her marriage. Told with unflinching honesty and ruthless self-awareness, this book is testament to the strength of women's spirits and their capacity for recovery and reinvention.