The Anxiety Relief Reading List

If you struggle with anxiety, books are some of the most healing things out there. I don’t think you necessarily have to go to the self-help section of a book store in order to find something helpful for mental health. The best books are the ones with characters you relate to and that inspire you to live life the way you want to live. Their stories can teach you valuable lessons you can apply to your own life. It’s okay to escape into the world of a book sometimes!

All of these have helped me in some way whether I was going through a tough time, needed to escape. or just needed some inspiration. Disclosure: The links are through my amazon affiliate account.

  1. Not That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She’s “Learned” by Lena Dunham

“I didn’t know why this was happening. The cruel reality of anxiety is that you never quite do. At the moments it should logically strike, I am fit as a fiddle. On a lazy afternoon, I am seized by a cold dread.” – Lena Dunham

No other book but this one has made me feel that my ordinary experiences growing up as a girl not only deserve to be heard, but that they are remarkably similar to other girls.

The Reading List For Anyone Who Struggles With Anxiety or Mental Health

2. Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer

“Nothing is more damaging to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future. The very basic core of a man’s living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun” -Christoper McCandless

Into the Wild was one of those life changing books for me. (The movie actually was as well). It was one of those books where I would practically yell in people’s faces that they just had to read it and it explained what I was feeling like no other book could. It’s the story of a 23 year old guy who gives up all of his possessions and money and heads for Alaska. It’s full of the most beautiful insights about life and love and what truly matters. It made me feel like no matter what petty problems I had in my life and what I was scared of for the future, everything would be okay. It was a reminder that there is so much beauty in the world around you and in life itself.

3.Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed.

“I knew that if I allowed fear to overtake me, my journey was doomed. Fear, to a great extent, is born of a story we tell ourselves, and so I chose to tell myself a different story from the one women are told. I decided I was safe. I was strong. I was brave. Nothing could vanquish me.” – Cheryl Strayed

I’m not sure what it is about books about people who explore wilderness, but this book was incredibly inspiring as well. Cheryl Strayed tells her experiences from when she hiked from Southern California to Washington by herself. And does it beautifully. She is a woman who went through so much loss and then succeeded in doing something so incredible. It’s definitely the kind of story that inspires you to be braver.

4. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo

“Keep only those things that speak to your heart. Then take the plunge and discard all the rest. By doing this, you can reset your life and embark on a new lifestyle.” -Marie Kondo

I never thought I would be into a self-help book that helps you tidy up your house, but Marie Kondo’s approach really inspires you to look at life differently, to embrace minimalism, and to take a good look at what truly makes you happy.

The Ultimate Reading List for Anxiety and Mental Health

5. It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini

“People are screwed up in this world. I’d rather be with someone screwed up and open about it than somebody perfect and ready to explode.” – Ned Vizzini

This book is about a teenage boy who has a suicidal episode and ends up in a psych ward and the people he meets and things he learns there. Along with being funny, it helps you to realize how ordinary and common mental health problems are and makes you feel better about being open with your own.

6.The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling

“It is the unknown we fear when we look upon death and darkness, nothing more.” – J.K Rowling

What to say about Harry Potter except that if you struggle with anxiety, or depression, or a mental health issue of any kind, Harry Potter should be on your list. The character of Harry alone is so complex and through his eyes you learn about love, friendship, grief, death, bravery, among many other things. Not to mention that no book series has ever been so captivating and successful at pulling me into a completely different world. Not only is the magical world a nice escape from reality, you find that magical people are just as relatable as regular ones.

7.Siddhartha by Herman Hesse

“I have always believed, and I still believe, that whatever good or bad fortune may come our way we can always give it meaning and transform it into something of value.” -Herman Hesse

Siddhartha is my first recommendation to anyone who is looking to get into mediation or mindfulness as a way of dealing with stress or anxiety. For such a short read, it’s full of wisdom.

I will add more books as I think of them! I’d love to know your recommendations! What are some books that have helped you through a tough time?


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  • shootingstarsmag

    I love this topic as I do suffer from anxiety, though not AS bad as it used to be. I love that you included the HP series as well as It’s Kind of a Funny Story. I don’t watch Girls or anything ,but I do really want to read Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham.

    I think The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky is a book for me. Yes, bad things happen and it deals with tough topics, but it also has some amazing quotes about life and love and friendship and how things will be okay. I love it!


    • Hi Lauren,

      Thanks so much, I’m glad you liked it! Anxiety definitely comes and goes for me as well. I definitely recommend “Not That Kind of Girl”. I definitely want to read The Perks of Being A Wallflower again because I’m forgetting most of it. Think it could be a good addition to this list!

      -Sarah 🙂

  • As someone who did suffer from a ton of anxiety but now overcoming it, I love this post so much. Thank you for sharing! I’ve recently purchased “Not That Kind of Girl” and it’s just been sitting on my book shelf, but now I’m definitely going to read it. x

    Paper Hobbit ||

    • Hi Regina! I’m so glad you enjoyed this. You will definitely enjoy “Not that Kind of Girl” as well! I too suffer from anxiety and i find it so helpful to have books with relatable characters and storytellers!

  • I love The life changing magic of tidying up – it just made me realise that if I’m surrounded only with things that make me happy then I’m bound to be more happy right?!
    I love how you’ve picked out quotes from each book!
    Aleeha xXx

    • Thanks, Aleeha! I thought it was so enlightening as well! I never would have thought a book about cleaning would clear my mind so much. – Sarah 🙂

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