MIA Reading Challenge
Mental Illness Advocacy (MIA) Reading Challenge
About the Challenge:
I started the Mental Illness Advocacy (MIA) Reading Challenge in December 2010 in an effort to raise awareness, knowledge, and acceptance of mental illness. Reading, both fiction and nonfiction, is an excellent way to broaden one’s horizons and expose one to new ideas and ways of thinking and being. Many reading challenges already existed in the book blogging community to address racism, sexism, and homophobia, but I could not find any to address the stigma faced by those suffering from mental illness. In spite of mental illnesses being recognized by the scientific community as diseases just like physical ones, many still think those suffering from one are at fault for their own suffering. I hope reading and reviewing books featuring characters struggling to deal with mental illness, whether their own or another person’s, will help remove the stigma faced on a daily basis by those with a mental illness. They already have to struggle with an illness; they shouldn’t have to face a stigma too.
Please note that this is the original MIA Reading Challenge. For the years 2010-2014 there were no other reading challenges addressing mental illness.
What books count?
Any book, fiction or nonfiction, that is either about mental illness or features characters or real people with a mental illness counts for the challenge. However, the book must not demonize people with mental illnesses.
So, for example, the movie Fatal Attraction, which features a character with Borderline Personality Disorder, would not count since she is demonized in the movie. However, Girl Interrupted, which also features a character with Borderline Personality Disorder, would count since that character is presented as a three-dimensional person with good and bad traits.
If you’re having trouble coming up with books to read for the challenge, check out the list of reading suggestions below.
There are two challenge options: ongoing or annual.
You simply make an effort to seek out books that count for the challenge throughout your reading for however long you personally feel works for you. For instance, you could decide to do it for 6 months or 3 years or just until you decide the challenge is no longer working for you. It is not necessary to state how long you will be doing the challenge for when you sign up, but you can if you want to. (This is the challenge type I personally am following).
You commit to read a certain number of books within one year. It does not have to be the calendar start year. It can be a year from the day you yourself wish to begin. So in 12 months, you commit to read at one of the levels below:
It’s not required to join the GoodReads group, but it’s there if you want to join it. Joining it will automatically notify you when a new read is added to the reading suggestions list.
Sign up by commenting on this page!
If you have a blog, I’d appreciate it if you’d write a sign-up post and link to it in a comment on this page. Sign-up posts help spread the word!
If you’re participating via GoodReads, I’d appreciate it if you’d share a status update about the challenge, again to help spread the word.
Participants, please fill out the short form here to add your review to the linkup!
Please feel free to use the reading challenge’s hashtag #miarc to help generate more conversation among participants. I frequently use this hashtag to call attention to books that could work for the challenge.
I’ll be maintaining a listing here of books featuring characters with a mental illness depicted in a sympathetic light. I do my best to organize the book by the main type of mental illness featured, although some feature more than one.
You may also check out the linkup of participants’ reads here. Please be aware that I have not read all of the books in that list and thus cannot guarantee that the exact mental illness listed is correct or that the character(s) with mental illness is not demonized.
Suggestions list last updated on 1/12/2016. Books reviewed after that date will be added to the list on the next page maintenance day.
- Doctor Sleep by Stephen King (review)
- Dry: A Memoir by Augusten Burroughs
- Germline by T. C. McCarthy (review)
- Tweak: Growing Up on Methamphetamines by Nic Sheff
- Abject Relations: Everyday Worlds of Anorexiaby Megan Warin (review)
- Diary of an Exercise Addict by Peach Friedman
- Hunger by Jackie Morse Kessler (review)
- Hungry: A Mother and Daughter Fight Anorexia by Sheila Himmel
- Lying in Weight: The Hidden Epidemic of Eating Disorders in Adult Women by Trisha Gura
- Wasted: A Memoir of Anorexia and Bulimia by Marya Hornbacher
Antisocial Personality Disorder
- American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis (review)
- The Craigslist Murders by Brenda Cullerton (review)
- Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay
- I Am Not A Serial Killer by Dan Wells (review)
- Mr. Monster by Dan Wells (review)
- 600 Hours of Edward by Craig Lancaster (review)
- The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
- Look Me in the Eye: My Life with Asperger’s by John Elder Robison
Autism Spectrum Disorder
- Children of God by Mary Doria Russell
- Electroboy: A Memoir of Mania by Andy Behrman
- Emotional Geology by Linda Gillard (review)
- Manic: A Memoir by Terri Cheney
- An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness by Kay Redfield Jamison
- Where Are the Cocoa Puffs?: A Family’s Journey Through Bipolar Disorder by Karen Winters Schwartz
Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD)
- The Adonis Complex: How to Identify, Treat and Prevent Body Obsession in Men and Boys by Harrison G. Pope
- The Broken Mirror: Understanding and Treating Body Dysmorphic Disorder by Katharine A. Phillips
Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)
- The Buddha and The Borderline: My Recovery from Borderline Personality Disorder Through Dialectical Behavior Therapy, Buddhism, and Online Dating by Kiera Van Gelder (review)
- Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen
- I Hate You–Don’t Leave Me: Understanding the Borderline Personality by Jerold J. Kreisman
- A Queer and Pleasant Danger: The True Story of a Nice Jewish Boy Who Joins the Church of Scientology, and Leaves Twelve Years Later to Become the Lovely Lady She is Today by Kate Bornstein (review)
- Waiting For Daybreak by Amanda McNeil (blog tour and reviews page)
- Perfect by Natasha Friend
- Something Spectacular: The True Story of One Rockette’s Battle with Bulimia by Greta Gleissner (review)
- Wasted: A Memoir of Anorexia and Bulimia by Marya Hornbacher
- Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Andersen
- The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
- Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness by William Styron
- A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby (review)
- Prozac Nation by Elizabeth Wurtzel
Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID, formerly known as Multiple Personality Disorder or MPD)
- Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood
- Set This House in Order: A Romance of Souls by Matt Ruff
- The Sum of My Parts: A Survivor’s Story of Dissociative Identity Disorder by Olga Trujillo, JD (review)
- When Rabbit Howls by Truddi Chase
Munchausen by Proxy
- More Than It Hurts You by Darin Strauss
- Sickened: The True Story of a Lost Childhood by Julie Gregory
Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD)
- Almost Perfect by Alice Adams
- Will I Ever Be Good Enough?: Healing the Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers by Karyl McBride (review)
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
- Devil in the Details: Scenes from an Obsessive Girlhood by Jennifer Traig
- I’m Perfect, You’re Doomed: Tales from a Jehovah’s Witness Upbringing by Kyria Abrahams
- Kissing Doorknobs by Terry Spencer Hesser
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Achilles in Vietnam: Combat Trauma and the Undoing of Character by Jonathan Shay
- Barefoot Season by Susan Mallery (review)
- Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko
- Regeneration by Pat Barker
- Soft Spots: A Marine’s Memoir of Combat and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder by Clint Van Winkle
- The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell (review)
- Still Missing by Chevy Stevens (review)
- A Beautiful Mind by Sylvia Nasar
- The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness by Elyn R. Saks
- The Drowning Girl by Caitlin R. Kiernan (review)
- I Know This Much Is True by Wally Lamb
- January First: A Child’s Descent into Madness and Her Father’s Struggle to Save Her by Michael Schofield (review)
- Woman on the Edge of Time by Marge Piercy (review)
- Cut by Patricia McCormick
- Rage by Jackie Morse Kessler (review)
- Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn (review)
- Skin Game: A Memoir by Caroline Kettlewell
- Women Who Hurt Themselves: A Book of Hope and Understanding by Dusty Miller
Sensory Processing Disorder
- Not Just Spirited: A Mom’s Sensational Journey With Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) by Chynna T. Laird
- The Out-of-Sync Child by Carol Kranowitz
Suicide and Suicidal Ideation
- Don’t Think About Monkeys. Extraordinary Stories Written by People with Tourette Syndrome edited by Adam Ward Seligman
- Icy Sparks by Gwyn Hyman Rubio
- Jerk, California by Jonathan Friesen
Note to Authors and Publishers:
This listing is carefully researched and vetted by me. You cannot simply request to be on it to be placed on it. I must have read the book and rated it at least 4 stars or the book must be highly credited in the psychiatric field to be included on the list. I put a lot of effort into this list, and I will not add books to it on a whim. If you believe your book fits, you may offer me a review copy and specifically mention the relevance to the MIA Challenge in the submission, but please do not leave comments or email me asking me to simply add your book to the list. Check out my Review Policies for further details.