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.

Challenge Types:
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:
Acquainted–4 books
Aware–8 books
Advocate–12 books

GoodReads Group
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:
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.

Participant Reviews:
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.

Reading Suggestions:
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 4/17/2016. Books reviewed after that date will be added to the list on the next page maintenance day.

Addictive Disorders



Antisocial Personality Disorder

Asperger’s Syndrome

Autism Spectrum Disorder

Bipolar Disorder

Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD)

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)



Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID, formerly known as Multiple Personality Disorder or MPD)

Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (EDNOS)

Hoarding Disorders

Mental Retardation

Munchausen by Proxy

Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD)

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Panic Disorder

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)



Sensory Processing Disorder

Sleep Disorders

Suicide and Suicidal Ideation

Tourette’s Syndrome

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 (review policies here) or if it is a new release, you may submit it for the New Release Fridays feature (full details here), but please do not leave comments or email me asking me to simply add your book to the list.

  1. mrsborderlinehughbanks
    December 24, 2010 at 2:15 am

    So far when the new year starts I will be starting on the book ” Cut I will make a post for each chapter ( that will probably take 2 wks tops to read). I then will start on The Buddha and The Borderline ( that will probably take me 2 – 3 months tops to read). i am still decided on which other 2 books to read. I might read more than four in 2011 just taking it slow at first.

    • Karen
      January 16, 2011 at 12:12 am

      I’m also very curious about The Buddha and The Borderline. I can’t wait to hear what you say about it.

      I’ll be starting my first book on this challenge tomorrow: I Don’t Want To Be Crazy by Samantha Schutz, but I have a whole slew in the queue through my library and from audible.com.

      • January 17, 2011 at 11:32 am

        I’m so excited to start seeing the reviews!

  2. mrsborderlinehughbanks
    December 24, 2010 at 2:28 am

    Ok I have made my decision on thetwo other books I want to read …..

    1. Get me Out of here

    2.Hungry: A Mother and Daughter Fight Anorexia

    The second is about a jounrey between a mother and daughter dealing with anorexia. It is written by both Mother an Daughter.

    • December 24, 2010 at 10:39 am

      Those all sound like excellent choices! I’m especially looking forward to your posts for each chapter of Cut and to see what you think of The Buddha and the Borderline. 🙂

  3. January 5, 2011 at 8:40 am

    I’d like to take up your challenge. I’ve already read some of the books on your list and I haven’t yet decided which of the others I want to read. I’d like to read as many as possible and review them on my website.

    I’d also like to recommend an excellent book: The Madman’s Tale by John Katzenbach. It’s a murder mystery told from the viewpoint of a schizophrenic.

    • January 5, 2011 at 9:12 am

      Oh, excellent. I’m glad you’ll be participating, and I’ll add your suggestion to the list!

  4. January 11, 2011 at 7:08 am

    I’ve decided to join the challenge (here I also thought of another book Soft Spots, this is a PTSD memoir

    I did change the graphic, I’m bi-polar and this seems to fit how I feel sometimes.

    • January 11, 2011 at 9:12 am

      Great! Glad to have you in the challenge! And thanks for the recs.

  5. December 1, 2011 at 11:45 am

    I would love to be a part of the MIA reading challenge. I think breaking up the stigmas of mental illness is important. I suppose I feel this way to because I currently suffer from mental illness. I have a blog on wordpress called Depressionandbpd.me . I created this blog to help Borderline Personalities and non-BP’S. Please stop by and check it out some time. I would love to post your blog link on my blogroll links page so that other readers can participate in your challenge and learn more about mental illness.

    • December 1, 2011 at 12:37 pm

      I’m so excited to have a new participant already this year!! Welcome to the challenge, and please feel free to link and promote however you like.

  6. froggy
    January 3, 2012 at 12:26 pm

    This is amazing. Thank you so much for doing this! As someone with DID/MPD you just made all of us want to read more. 🙂

  7. January 11, 2012 at 4:12 am

    Hello Amanda, just to officially let you all know I’ve signed up for this challenge again this year. Here is the link to my sign-up post:


    • January 13, 2012 at 9:31 am

      Thanks, Jessica! So glad to have you back this year. 🙂

  8. April 19, 2012 at 1:43 pm

    Hi everyone! I never made an official announcement, I am part of the challenge this year. I have mentioned that I am participating on my blog though. http://daniellewood728.wordpress.com

    I’ve read & reviewed 2 books now (I know these are 2 from the list, but in case anyones interested):


    • April 20, 2012 at 11:39 am

      I’m so glad you’re joining us!! The challenge is so important, and I’m glad to be getting more participants at any point in the year 🙂

      And please do always link your reviews, even if they’re already on the list. Actually, especially if! It’ll help let the community know about your reviews.


  9. June 25, 2012 at 1:46 pm

    Hi, Wasn’t sure how to contact you. I’m working on a website collecting titles of written work by people with mental health issues. Could I link to this page in my ‘links’ section? The site isn’t up yet but my blog is ephena.wordpress.com

    • June 25, 2012 at 2:51 pm

      Hi Annette,
      Thank you for asking! Yes, feel free to link to this page, but please do be aware that not *all* of the titles on the list are by someone with a mental illness. Some of them are by advocates/supporters/friends.

  10. June 25, 2012 at 3:28 pm

    That’s great. My list will be people with mental illness/madness, but I want to have a section with links to other reading lists, some of which might have other authors etc. The site is supposed to be for people with issues/challenges, but we’ll have to see what happens.

    • January 7, 2013 at 11:32 am

      So great to have you back again! Thanks for linking up to your posts. 🙂

  11. January 9, 2013 at 11:03 am

    I admire this challenge. I think mental illness awareness is very important. I was hoping I’d find someone who was hosting an Autism Awareness theme in April, but this is even better. I’m not sure how many books I’ll end up reading, but I really look forward to seeing what everyone else reads!


    • January 10, 2013 at 10:27 am

      What an awesome entry post! I’m so pleased that you found a challenge to suit your hopes. 🙂 Looking forward to seeing your 2013 reads.

  12. January 11, 2013 at 8:54 pm

    What a wonderful challenge! The fact that you are doing this challenge means a lot to me. I suffer from severe depression and possibly BPD and/or bipolar. Doctors can’t agree. http://booksareportablemagic.blogspot.com/2013/01/mental-illness-advocacy-mia-reading.html

    • January 12, 2013 at 11:31 am

      Hi Julie!
      Welcome to the challenge! I’m so glad you found it 🙂 I’m sorry that doctors struggle for a diagnosis for you. That must be very difficult. But keep up the hope! Recovery is a step-by-step process for everyone. And I hope you find the challenge encouraging in your process.

  13. January 15, 2013 at 11:04 am

    Alright, here goes. I only put down four books due to current time constraints, but so many on the list sound interesting that I may have to extend that at some point! In any case, here’s the link: http://bookingitup.wordpress.com/2013-challenges/. On a side note, I’m halfway through Hunger already, and it’s really good!

    • January 15, 2013 at 4:11 pm

      Welcome to the challenge, Alexandra! So glad to have you and glad you’ve found the suggestions list helpful. I’m glad you’re enjoying Hunger as much as I did so far. Hope the rest of the challenge is just as engaging for you!

  14. Ang
    July 8, 2013 at 10:02 am

    So far I have read Wintergirls and Soft Spots. Now I am looking for suggestions for books with a basis in Sensory Processing Disorder, any suggestions?

    • July 9, 2013 at 2:10 pm

      Hi Ang! Thanks for participating in the challenge and giving me an interesting new topic to look into. It appears that most of the books published so far addressing SPD are either nonfiction for parents/educators on how to deal with it or a few picture books for children. I was also able to find one memoir, however. The memoir is Not Just Spirited: A Mom’s Sensational Journey With Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) by Chynna T. Laird http://www.amazon.com/Not-Just-Spirited-Sensational-Processing/dp/1615990089/ref=cm_lmf_tit_11. What appears to be the most highly trusted book for adults dealing with a child with SPD is The Out-of-Sync Child by Carol Kranowitz http://www.amazon.com/Out-Sync-Child-Carol-Kranowitz/dp/0399531653/ref=cm_lmf_tit_1. I was unable to find any fiction books with fictional characters with SPD for adults or YA to read. Although, again, there were a few children’s picture books. Hope this helped!

      • Ang
        July 10, 2013 at 11:10 am

        Wow Thank you! I had been having a really hard time finding anything, I was usually referred to books involving Asperger’s instead. I think a memoir would be right up my alley.

      • July 10, 2013 at 3:13 pm

        You’re welcome! Glad to help 🙂

  15. December 27, 2013 at 1:16 am

    I’m really looking forward to this challenge. Just joined. Thanks for having this 🙂

    • December 28, 2013 at 11:01 pm

      Thank you so much for joining! I’m excited you found it. 🙂

  16. December 30, 2013 at 2:24 pm

    I made it to 6 books this year. Here is the link for my wrap up post. It contains the list of books and links to my thoughts on them.


    • January 6, 2014 at 1:39 am

      Congratulations! You made it to more books than me this year! So happy to have you participating.

  17. December 31, 2013 at 5:18 pm

    I’m set for 2014. Although I’m committing to the first level, I hope to read more this year. Thank you again for this challenge.

    • January 6, 2014 at 1:39 am

      Thank you for continuing to participate. I’m so happy you enjoy the challenge.

  18. March 3, 2014 at 7:48 am

    I have a proposal: I am walking for NAMIWalks NYC (although you guys are welcome to donate that isn’t my purpose here) and I am trying configure a viable way to harness this challenge into a readathon. Maybe $3-5 per book read from each person willing to sponsor me. Anyways, this is just seedling of an idea banter, but if you guys think there is something to it (or not), please don’t hesitate to jump in to tell me so!

  19. March 3, 2014 at 7:56 am

    I’m walking in NAMIWalks NYC and I couldn’t help notice this would be a great readathon. 5-10¢ per page read from each person? I’d take those odds with how much I read.

    • March 3, 2014 at 7:33 pm

      Hi Samantha! It’s wonderful you’re doing the NAMI Walk. I did it myself a few years ago, and it was a very empowering experience. 🙂

      You’re welcome to create a readathon connected with the challenge. Just please provide links back to this page and mention that I host the challenge. Let me know if you do decide to do a readathon, and I will promo it here and on twitter.

  20. March 4, 2014 at 10:29 am

    Oops I accidentally posted twice

  21. January 1, 2015 at 2:08 pm

    I’m back for another year. Living with MH issues, it’s easy to become myopic and jaded, and I’m grateful to have this challenge reminding me to stay informed and continue caring.

    My post for this year (that will be updated as needed) will be at: http://comesitbythehearth.blogspot.com/2015/01/mental-illness-advocacy-reading.html

  22. March 4, 2015 at 3:59 pm

    Really can’t wait to join in!! The Curious Incident was a really enjoyable book! I am hoping to finish The Bell Jar (like some others, I didn’t get into it either) as well as start The Silver Linings Playbook, An Unquiet Mind and Look at Me. Thanks as well, this is is a really great way to discover new books as well 🙂

    • March 4, 2015 at 4:05 pm

      Addition by Toni Jordan may also be worth looking at, to see if it would make the list. It is a romance novel, with the main female character having OCD. Well researched and worth a read.

    • March 4, 2015 at 4:38 pm

      We are always happy to have more participants! Looking forward to seeing your reviews.

  23. May 12, 2015 at 3:20 am

    I’m joining late but have a few books read already. http://hippiebookreviews.blogspot.com/p/blog-page_12.html

    • May 12, 2015 at 1:53 pm

      Hooray! We’re always glad to have more participants, at any time of year. Thank you for linking up!

  24. November 6, 2015 at 10:54 pm

    Hi, will you be doing this one next year? If so, I’d love to join. I did another reading challenge about mental illness this year, but the blog for that one was deleted several months ago. I’ll gladly join yours if you have it.

    • November 7, 2015 at 7:56 am

      Hi Jamie! Yes! I’ve hosted it every year since 2011 (with sign-ups in December 2010). How many books I myself manage to read for the challenge varies year to year but it is an issue I care about a lot, so I always host the challenge. You’re welcome to join in at any time! No need to wait for official annual sign-ups 🙂

      • November 8, 2015 at 11:15 am

        I’ll be joining, but won’t start till next year. I joined a lot of other challenges this year and am trying to finish them. But I definitely will be in next year. This is a good topic to read about.

  25. November 13, 2015 at 4:20 pm

    Here is my sign up post:
    As I said, I will be starting this next year. I have some books in mind already. i know at least one that will also fit into my own challenge that I a hosting next year.

  26. December 28, 2015 at 2:20 pm

    I am signing up for this challenge. I’m committing to 4 books, but hopefully I will read more! Have not decided which books I will read yet, but I have schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s in my family, so I will probably start with those recommendations. My blog is https://booksbujoandrenly.wordpress.com/2016-reading-challenges/

    • December 28, 2015 at 4:21 pm

      Welcome! Happy to have you!

  27. abookdragon
    November 17, 2016 at 6:26 am

    I’m going with four during 2017, I’ve already got three from your list in my tbr pile! Here’s my post.

    • abookdragon
      November 17, 2016 at 6:30 am

      the review submitted for Soft Spots is from 2009. Sorry, I saw the 2011 too late

  28. November 22, 2016 at 11:12 pm

    I’m joining for 2017 with 4 books. My post is here: http://booklovingmommy.blogspot.com/2016/11/2017-reading-challenges.html

    • December 18, 2016 at 4:08 pm

      Welcome! I hope you find the challenge to be informative and fun!

  29. December 9, 2016 at 12:11 pm

    I’m signing up again for 2017! My goal is four books. http://www.wholelattebooks.com/p/2017-mia-reading-challenge.html

  30. December 13, 2016 at 7:42 pm
  31. December 17, 2016 at 4:07 pm

    I’ll be participating in 2017 and am committing to read 6 books for this challenge. http://www.thoughtsonbooks.com/mental-health-challenge-2017/

  32. December 23, 2016 at 7:56 pm

    I’ll be joining for 2017! I plan on starting with 8 books, but I have a few more to add. https://say-essie.tumblr.com/post/154871309952/mental-health-reading-challenge

  33. abookdragon
    December 24, 2016 at 11:04 pm

    I’m doing this one again for 2017. i don’t remember if I sign up, my post is here. I also thought of a book that might fit: Dancing with Ana (my review

  34. January 7, 2017 at 7:22 pm

    This really is a great challenge. I’m looking forward to start my first MIA book of the year. Here is my sign-up post 🙂 https://emilissa15.wordpress.com/2017/01/08/2017-reading-challenges/

  35. November 4, 2017 at 11:06 am
  1. December 16, 2010 at 1:08 am
  2. January 5, 2011 at 5:02 am
  3. March 26, 2011 at 1:34 pm
  4. April 22, 2011 at 2:38 am
  5. May 6, 2011 at 2:33 am
  6. May 16, 2011 at 3:01 am
  7. September 29, 2011 at 3:01 am
  8. November 1, 2011 at 4:03 am

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