Book Recommendations from Volunteers and Staff

Kendall Mosher's Recommendation:

Book: The Opposite of Butterfly Hunting:

I would recommend The Opposite of Butterfly Hunting by Evanna Lynch because it offers a realistic perspective of growing up with an eating disorder, but from the perspective of someone familiar (Evanna Lynch played Luna Lovegood in the Harry Potter movies). It details her experiences in recognizing her struggles and the journey through recovery. I think it is a wonderful book that does not at all romanticize mental illness and shows how it can affect anyone. 

Here is the book’s published summary: 

A raw, compelling memoir from actress and activist Evanna Lynch detailing her rise to fame as Luna Lovegood in the Harry Potter movies while facing disordered eating, and how she learned to navigate the path between fears and dreams—for readers of Jennette McCurdy’s I’m Glad My Mom Died and Tom Felton’s Beyond the Wand.

Evanna Lynch’s casting as Luna Lovegood in the Harry Potter films is a tale that grew to almost mythic proportions—a legend of how she faced disordered eating as a young girl, found solace in a beloved book series, and later landed the part of her favorite character. But that is not the whole story.

Even after recovery, there remains a conflict at her core: a bitter struggle between the pursuit of perfection and the desire to fearlessly embrace her creative side. Revealing a startlingly accomplished voice, Lynch delves into the heart of her relationship with her body. As she takes the reader through a personal journey of leaving behind the safety of girlhood, Lynch explores the pivotal choices that ultimately led her down the path of creativity and toward acceptance of the wild, sensual, and unpredictable reality of womanhood.

Honest, electrifying, and inspiring, this is a story of the battle between self-destruction and creation, of giving up the preoccupation with perfection in favor of our uncharted dreams—and how the simple choice to create is the most liberating action a person can take.”

John Sepp's Recommendation:

Book: Turtles All the Way Down 

Written by John Green and published in 2017, this is a story about a 16-year-old American high school student, Aza. She suffers from OCD and anxiety, and readers get to step inside her daily life from her point of view. It is unlike any book I’ve read, due to how powerfully the author illustrates her struggles with mental health. He wrote this because of his own childhood experiences dealing with the same types of issues, and the result is a highly personal, moving read. Simply put, the plot is centered around Aza and her friend investigating a billionaire’s disappearance (evading the police’s criminal investigation) in order to collect a $100,000 reward. Throughout this pursuit with her friend, her mental illness begins to spiral out of control, and the discoveries eventually come to a shocking finish in the investigation. 

Book: Stoner 

Written by John Williams and published in 1965, the story revolves around the eponymous William Stoner from Missouri, who grows up in a poor, conservative farming family. He goes to college for agronomy, but falls in love with English Literature, switching majors eventually to become an instructor. The general idea of this book is that it focuses on a mediocre man that lives a life consisting of a series of disappointments. On the first page, a very blunt recollection of his life is presented, explaining that he was not held in high esteem by his colleagues, and that his name evoked no significant meaning after his death to students and others; all that was left of him was a small manuscript written by a few peers left in the library. The book then illustrates his life, with themes like failure, love, death, life, and dignity. While it may sound boring, I found it to be one of the most influential books I’ve read due to how precisely Williams brought Stoner to life, and witnessing not a plot that was full of twists, turns, excitement, but rather a slow-burning, melancholy tale. I think this book is important because I believe that almost anyone can relate to Stoner’s life one time or another, and we get to see his struggles unfold and how he reacts when it feels like life is against him. 

One of my favorite quotes from this book is: “He had come to that moment in his age when there occurred to him, with increasing intensity, a question of such overwhelming simplicity that he had no means to face it. He found himself wondering if his life were worth the living; if it had ever been. It was a question, he suspected, that came to all men at one time or another; he wondered if it came to them with such impersonal force as it came to him.”

Rachael Kim's Recommendation:

Book: Man’s Search for Meaning

Author Viktor Frankl chronicles his experiences in Nazi concentration camp as a prisoner. A psychiatrist, Frankl shares his insight on his survival: usage of self-psychotherapeutic method. The highly effective method involved identifying a purpose in life, then being absorbed in the imagined outcome. A life-saving method, it ultimately allowed him to persist through the Holocaust. If you believe you are at the bottom of your life, Viktor Frankl might bring some light to you.

Lisa deRamos' Recommendation

Book: Self-Care for People with ADHD

Self-Care for People with ADHD by ADHD expert and psychiatrist Dr. Sasha Hamdani is a helpful resource for managing ADHD symptoms and practicing self-compassion.

Elizabeth Bernardini's Recommendation

Book: The Body Keeps the Score

The Body Keeps the Score by psychiatrist and pioneer in trauma/PTSD researcher Bessel van der Kolk is an in-depth dive into the brain and body after experiencing traumatic events/stress. After observing war veterans in the hospital he worked at, the author generated a massive amount of research into the scientific effects of trauma and PTSD. In the book, the author describes exactly how trauma changes the brain’s pathways/systems as well as potential treatment options that have been helpful. It is truly a fascinating read and opened my own eyes to the underlying causes and effects of traumatic events.

Book: Feeling Great

As someone who is more skeptical of self-help books, I am a huge fan of David Burns’ Feeling Great. Burns is a world-renowned psychiatrist who has developed his own form of therapy based in traditional cognitive-behavioral therapy, or CBT. The book is really engaging, well written, and details techniques to work through depression, anxiety and other mental health struggles. He also includes real stories of past clients that are relatable and filled with hope. A must read!

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