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Mental Health and Reading - Why is it important?

Updated: Dec 2, 2022

Top 5 Self-Help and Recovery Books

It’s mental health awareness month! Let us celebrate this May and all the forthcoming months by taking care of our mental health, however we can. This article is one of those guides to help you, our beloved readers!

Mental health has been long recognized as a bane to society - as a problem for a selected few. Why would you need to be mentally healthy? Shouldn't you should be healthy as you are?

Thankfully, that conception is starting to fade. Mental health requires care and nutrition, just like physical health. Owing to the endless pursuits of psychologists and mental health activists around the globe, easier access to information, literary development of societies - people now recognize mental wellbeing as a part of life, not just as a need for a selected few.

How Does Reading Benefit Our Mental Health?

There are plenty of ways one could go about taking care of their mental health. For some people, it’s listening to music. For some, it’s through doing the work they love. Although everyone is different, there are certain methods of self-care which are common for all humans. Reading is one of those activities!

We read all the time. You may think you aren’t a reader, but you’re always reading posts on social media, signs on the street, even thinking with words in your mind. Reading is essential in our daily lives.

But how important is it for mental health? Well, this 2012 study suggested that reading group participants in these experiments have had a reduction in several depressive symptoms over a period of just two weekly readings for twelve months. Also known as bibliotherapy, reading for mental therapy is not quite uncommon. Its scientifically proven that reading automatically stimulates brain activity, along with facilitating human traits like empathy, as this study shows.

Additionally, reading text which is written solely for self-care has extra benefits. You automatically receive the neurological benefits mentioned above, plus cognitively learn more about self-care, self-love, and your own psychology. Don’t believe us? Take it from this research, which had explored the relationship between mental health and self-help reading materials.

Our top 5 Mental Health and self-care books

You may be interested in getting into reading for its mental benefits, or you may already be a reader and are looking for self-help books. Do not worry if you are either one of those, as we have prepared a list of our 5 favorite self-help books! You can read these books regardless of whether you’re a beginner or an experienced reader.

The first book in our list, It Didn’t Start With You, dives deep into the mysteries of trauma and mental conditions. Mark Wolynn, the author, aims to explore how all our unexplainable issues can be both environmentally and genetically inherited. Even if the story has been forgotten, silenced, or the person who suffered the original trauma has passed away - memory and feelings can still live on.

This book provides pathways in how these feelings can be healed, through developing genograms, a map of experiences, visualization, active imagination, and direct dialogue.

The defining statement of this entire book would be “...when we try to resist feeling something painful, we often protract the very pain we’re trying to avoid… The emotions, traits, and behaviors we reject in our parents will likely live on in us. It’s our unconscious way of loving them, a way to bring them back into our lives.”. These words are quite powerful, and gives an insight into the juxtaposition of human psychology; avoidance of pain can sometimes do the exact opposite.

Mark Wolynn is the director of The Family Constellation Institute in San Francisco. He has taught at several reputable universities and institutions all over the United States. He has also trained at clinics and published articles across the most popular psychology-based websites such as Psychology Today, Psych Central, and the New York Times.

It Didn’t Start With You won a 2016 Nautilus Book Award in psychology. It is currently ranked #4 in Amazon’s Popular Psychology Counseling list. This book is 256 pages long and was published in 2017. It has a rating of 4.7/5, with over 4200 ratings.

Essentially, we are born alone, and we die alone. And that’s not a bad thing. Taking care of ourselves regardless of whether we’re alone or not is the primary objective of mental wellbeing. However, this realization of loneliness can be daunting for many and they reach out for company. Having company is human, but that company should never turn into codependency.

Codependency can manifest in various forms, starting from feeling the need to tend to someone else’s problems, or from wanting someone to help you with yours. This book aims to help you understand all these forms and alleviate yourself from them through self-care, instructive life stories, personal reflections, exercises, and self-tests. All of these are laid down in the book beautifully, to help you achieve mental independence. You can help both yourself and others invaluably, only when you are mentally independent.

“When you're doing what's right for you, it's okay to say it once, simply, and then refuse to discuss anything further”, is a statement that rings in my mind from this book. It epitomizes how codependency should not violate mental independence.

This book is #1 on Amazon’s Substance Abuse Recovery list. Melody Beattle is one who does not carry fancy certifications but countless life experiences. Through these books, she has been sharing all the things she learned from these life experiences. Codependent No More is 229 pages long and was published in 1986. It has a rating of 4.7/5, with a whopping 10,400 ratings!

Alcoholism is one of the most common hindrances of human growth, hidden under the veil of recreation. One may not appear to be an alcoholic, yet it’s highly possible that alcohol plays a significant role in their lives. This is common in most societies, and has been accepted as the norm for too long.

Quit Like A Woman challenges our views towards alcohol consumption in general. This may seem like a conservative or religious view towards life, but it’s actually not. One may ask, “Why wouldn’t a person drink?”.

Well, there are plenty of reasons why. Intoxication is simply a tool to influence communities and cultures, especially women. It influences the way we think, the way we make decisions, the way we live. As the book puts it, “spending a night out drinking is akin to dismantling every piece of protection we have—our cognition, our decision making, our reaction time, our memory, our standards, our voice. If we thought about alcohol in this way—as something that undermines our collective momentum and personal agency and vitality and self-worth—what would that mean for us? What if we all rejected the poison—then what? I’ll tell you what: world domination, bitches.”, is a powerfully witty statement from the book which sums up the influence of Alcohol in our lives.

Holly Whitaker is the founder of Tempest, a modern, trauma-informed, human-first recovery program, which she started in 2014, a year after becoming sober. Quit Like A Woman ranks at #52 in Amazon’s Alcohol Recovery books. It is 368 pages long and was published in 2019. The book has a rating of 4.5/5, with over 3,500 ratings.

Amy Dresner, the author, writes records of her own encounters with addiction in My Fair Junkie. For nearly 20 years she had battled with sex, drugs, and alcohol addiction which eventually led her to psych wards, a divorce, and jail. If hitting rock bottom and getting back up can be defined, her life would be it. This book is a gritty, gut-wrenching & brutally honest insight into addiction and the grueling path to recovery.

One of the most powerful statements from the book would be “Honey, you’ve got a demon inside you that would happily see you dead. It’s a side of you that wants to sabotage everything.”, would be one of the most powerful statements from the book.

Amy Dresner is a former stand-up comic and one of the only few selected contributors without a Ph.D. to write for and My Fair Junkie ranks #1,118 in Amazon’s Alcoholism Recovery list and is 256 pages in length. It was published in 2017 and has a rating of 4.6/5, with over 900 ratings.

Are you always feeling messed up? It’s normal to feel that way. No matter how much or how little we have, how far we’ve come, we can still feel messy and troubled. Unfu*k Yourself is a non-passive, direct approach of setting you straight. It teaches you how to defocus from negative mental thoughts to focus on reality.

Gary John Bishop directs with the following, ''Wake up to the miracle you are... Here's what you've forgotten: You're a fu*king miracle of being.'' Bold statements like these throughout the entire book help you realize that the only obstruction in your life is you. It isn’t other people, it isn’t your circumstances, but it’s just your and the negative self-talk you keep telling yourself. He quite promptly engages us to not let the past define ourselves and to take control of our own lives.

Gary John Bishop was the Senior Program Director to one of the world's biggest personal and professional development companies. His straightforward self-empowerment philosophy has helped countless people all over the world. Unfuck yourself ranks #22 on Amazon’s Happiness list. The book is 218 pages and was published in 2017. It has a rating of 4.6/5, with over 13,500 ratings!

I really love finding good books and diving in! I hope you guys enjoy some of these books or this article has inspired you to research some own books for yourself!

Thank you so much for reading this article. Thank yourself too for taking the time to read this. You have taken a generous attempt at self-care as you’ve read this, and I hope that all the information here has actually helped!

Reading is undoubtedly beneficial for a person’s wellbeing, and no matter how busy your schedules are, you can certainly make time for one book. Even if that means reading that book over a very long period of time. Just as long as you make the effort, you will see results automatically. If you have found this article useful, do share it with your friends and family! And if you’re enjoying the content I produce, a little caffeine to keep me going would be greatly appreciated!

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About Me


Emily has honest conversations with guests about mental health, addiction recovery, self-development, wellness, and spirituality


She discusses how they influence each guest’s unique recovery journey. Inspired by her own recovery and wellness journey,


Emily’s mission is to annihilate the stigma around addiction, to provide listeners with the tools, guidance, and motivation to help them navigate through their recovery and personal growth one day at a time.


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