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Recommended Books

Great Books for Those with Chronic Illness

Here’s a list of my favorite books that have helped me understand and reframe life with these crazy health issues. A great book connects us to others with similar challenges and offers help for our own struggles.

Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan

Brain on Fire Book

This New York Times best-seller is first-person account of a young woman who gets a bug that triggers a mysterious autoimmune reaction, rapidly causing brain inflammation, paranoia, and seizures. She struggles with identifying her symptoms, and before she has a chance to really understand what’s happening she begins to lose her sanity and has to fight for her life. There was so much I related to, like the confusion and denial of the first signs of illness, the countless doctors that fail her as her health quickly deteriorates. This was a gripping read that left me feeling hopeful and surprisingly connected.

 

Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers by Robert Sapolsky

Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers Book

A non-fiction book that’ll attract those who enjoy a technical read. It’s definitely written for the layman, and Sapolsky has some great graphics and a nice sense of humor that keeps the material easy to read. You can check out my post that highlights my favorite concepts.

 

Never Bet Against Occam

A favorite among mast cell patients. Dr. Lawrence Afrin is a leader in the field of mast cell disease, and explains how Mast Cell Activation Syndrome (MCAS) is far more prevalent than previously believed. He validates the struggles of we have all had with MCAS, and for any patient struggling with a poorly understood illness. Great detail in understandable terms, and hope!

 

When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chödrön

When Things Fall Apart Book

Buddhism-inspired advice for how to cope with the grim challenges of life. She’s spiritual, yet nontheistic, which is a must for me. A refreshing contrast from the too common “everything happens for a reason” mentality. Instead, her words ring honest and true.

 

Full Catastrophe Living by Jon Kabat-Zinn

Full Catastrophe Living Book

This book is the backbone of full-fledged mediation programs for pain management at institutions like Scripps, and was recommended by my therapist. I’d recommend skimming through most of the pages and spend time on the exercises like the “body scan.” There are so many books on meditation, but this one has stood out to me as more clinical and effective by providing different approaches and perspectives. Worth checking out at your library. If that doesn’t sell you, there’s a foreword by worship-worthy Thich Nhat Hanh.