Reading is one of my favorite pastimes, a good book can distract me when I’m not feeling well, it can teach me so many things, or it can simply help me relax and fall asleep at the end of a hard day. I enjoy nonfiction as much as fiction, and while I prefer to avoid the “cure” books, I do look for books that allow me to learn about myself and how I can better manage my illnesses and my life.
Some of the best health books aren’t about curing but about teaching us how to live better despite our illnesses. These are some of the books that I’ve learned much from and that I feel are worth reading for everyone – with or without chronic illness.
Books to help you cope with chronic illness
1. The Patient’s Playbook, by Leslie Michelson – This is the guidebook for getting the best medical care. I’ve shared this book many times because I really do think that EVERYONE should read this book. Everyone, but especially those of us who are already patients. I say everyone because whether you are a patient or not, you may be at some point and if you aren’t you will probably be a caregiver. This book is so important that it shouldn’t even be read just once. I’m due to read it again because it has so much great info. Leslie Michelson is now also co-hosting a podcast that is worth listening to with even more great tips about managing your health. Read my full review of The Patient Playbook.
2. The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer – This is a biography that teaches us about the importance of asking for help and how to do it. Amanda Palmer is a singer and artist who spent years “busking” as a street performer. What she can teach the rest of us about asking for help is really amazing. This is one of those books that I basically recommended to everyone that I spoke to for months after reading it. It’s also one of those books I will be reading again.
3. Conquer Your Chronic Pain by Dr. Peter Abaci – This is a book about beating chronic pain written by a chronic pain doctor. A doctor who realized that the standard ways of treating chronic pain weren’t working and were actually making people hurt more. Throughout his writing it’s obvious that he “gets it” and he’s not just throwing out BS. He’s actually created a treatment protocol that takes the whole person into account and treats the person. Read my full review of Conquer Your Chronic Pain.
4. Daring Greatly by Brene Brown – Daring Greatly teaches us so much about pushing past our fears, facing anxieties, and the importance of being vulnerable. I’ve learned a lot from listening to Brene Brown’s TED Talks, and I learned just as much reading this book.
5. Take Back Your Life by Tami Stacklehouse – Tami is a Fibromyalgia warrior who has found her way to the other side. Now, she shares what she learned about how to live with Fibromyalgia. She acts as the Fibromyalgia Coach (aka a health coach focused on Fibromyalgia) and shares her knowledge in this book as well. Her approach is very similar to mine in the focus on holistic healing through diet and lifestyle changes. Read my full review of Take Back Your Life.
6. Women and Stress by Jean Lush and Pam Vredevelt – This is an excellent book that discusses the unique stress that many women feel. It covers topics such a care-giving, self-esteem, and guilt. I’m including this here because I think it’s important to help us understand the guilt that we carry is not unique, and is often made worse when we live with chronic illness.
7. 12,000 Canaries Can’t Be Wrong by Dr. John Molot – Dr. Molot discusses multiple chemical sensitivities and how our environment has played a huge role in the creation of these sensitivities as well as in many of the illnesses we live with today including Fibromyalgia and CFS/ME. Read my full review 12,000 Canaries Can’t Be Wrong.
8. The Whole Health Life by Shannon Harvey – Shannon is a journalist who lives with chronic illness. Like many of us she’s been diagnosed with many things and is still not sure of the correct diagnosis. Instead of sitting by waiting for doctors to find an answer she used her journalist background to seek out scientific answers to how she could feel better. The end result of that research is this book. I’ve already written about this book a couple of times (here and here) and my full review is yet to come.
9. In Sickness As In Health by Barbara Kivowitz – This is a must-read for anyone in a relationship, whether chronic illness is already a part of that relationship or not. Barbara shares many great stories of couples who have dealt with or are dealing with chronic illness and how they survived. Through those stories I learned so much about what it takes to survive chronic illness and marriage. Read my full review of In Sickness As In Health here.
10. It Starts With Food by Dallas & Melissa Hartwig – This is the guide to the Whole 30 Diet, something that I try to do at least once a year. This is a great way to clean out your system and learn what food(s) may be causing or increasing your symptoms. This book covers the science behind why certain foods might be making you sick, as well as provides the instructions for cleaning your diet and successfully completing a Whole 30.
11. Boundaries by Dr. Henry Cloud – I feel that those of us with chronic illness often have more of a struggle with boundaries than others. We struggle with saying yes too often, or with sharing too much. Our attempts to control our lives often bleed over into the lives of those around us. And, if it’s not us with those struggles, we often find ourselves on the other side dealing with other’s overstepping our boundaries. Understanding these processes can help us live happier and (mentally) healthier lives.
12. Get Back Into Whack by Sue Ingbretson – Sue lives with chronic illness. In her first book, FibroWhyalgia she shared her story and her search for why her health had gone sideways, as well as what she learned along the way about how to rebuild her health. Sue is a health coach and in her latest book she shares why our brains are wired to fight change, even good change that can help us feel better – and more importantly, she shares how to overcome that fight. Read my full review of this book here.
13. Unlocking Lyme: Myths, Truths, and Practical Solutions for Beating Lyme Disease by Dr. Bill Rawls is about more than just Lyme Disease. Dr Rawls is also more than just a doctor. He lives with chronic illness including Lyme, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia. He shared his journey in his first book, Suffered Long Enough. In Unlocking Lyme he goes in depth on the myths and truths about these conditions, as well as his plan for how to fight back. Read my full review of this book here.