Since May is for mental health awareness, I am going to pile my favourite books featuring anxiety into your arms and stare at you till you read them.
10/10 for this method of book recommendation. I’m sure it can’t backfire.
Actually I had a whole lot of posts planned for May because YAY (!!) mental health is a topic I’m passionate about and it’s a topic that’s layered in stigma, misunderstood, and given confusing rep in media. But somehow it is…May….18th…and I have posted a grand total of TWICE this month. Yikes. Ok but I did disappear to move house and write a novel. And while I could’ve scheduled posts…Organisation??? We don’t know her. Focus?? A stranger. 🙌🏻
So let me squeeze a bunch of mental health posts into the end of the month.
Today I’m recommending books featuring ANXIETY because…I have it! And it’s really hard to find good rep for it!
This, I feel, is because it’s so misunderstood. “Oh you’re anxious? Just stop overthinking it!” they say. Cue our eyes rolling out the back of our heads. Plus there’s a difference between “oh I feel anxious” to “I CYCLE ANXIETY BETTER THAN A WASHING MACHINE CYCLES MY SOCKS AND THERE IS NO END. EVER.” Anxiety vs anxiety, basically. I’ve been diagnosed with Anxiety, social and general (also depression). I long to read books that hold that comforting whisper of “Hey you’re not alone…” But often times, the rep I come across is gut-wrenchingly bad.
So I want to share my faves. 🤗
also, the obvious disclaimer is: not everyone’s anxiety disorders manifest the same way. So these hit a chord with me, but that doesn’t mean they’re perfect or universal anxiety rep.
OTHER POSTS you might like 👀
…The Wicker King by K. Ancrum
honestly if you only read ONE BOOK from this list…make it this one. It is the kind of book that steals your whole heart and just wrecks you — in the best possible way. It’s narrated by August (who has anxiety) and he is trying to keep his best friend Jack afloat (who has a degenerative illness) and honestly I broke for these two boys. For their love that they didn’t have words to describe. For their need to be loved and taken care of and how that was never given them. How they would die for each other. The book is the softest, and most deepest heartbreak — coupled with pure hope. (And August’s anxiety was very very dear to me.)
…Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi
OH. If this isn’t one of my favourites of 2019 already!!! Sam’s anxiety was like…oh I felt seen. He’s basically an anxiously depressed heap, existing on coffee and unrequited love, and I 100% loved this book with all my soul. It’s also dual-narrated by Penny, who is a writer, so like hit me with how good this book is, why don’t you. I think Penny also had anxiety? But Sam’s was like a washing machine on a spin cycle that never ended and Penny was self-imploding by herself.
…HISTORY is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera
Technically Griffin has OCD … but that’s anxiety! And also this is #ownvoices and you can tell because it just has so much heart. It’s also here to break your heart, because Silvera is constantly nice like that. Look it’s been a while since I read this so I’m clinging to feels more than actually remembrance of what happened (lol, yes, I am the worst) but I do remember feeling my heart knot up in my chest at how Griffin was at war with his compulsions: does he ask for help for them or deny them? Because I get that. Also this book is queer and sad and, yet still, hopeful.
…A Quiet Kind of Thunder by Sara Barnard
Steffi has social anxiety and selective mutism and…🙌🏻 if this wasn’t some of the most relatable rep for me eep. It’s actually such a Quiet YA™ story, soft and wholesome and she’s kind of forced into being “buddies” at school with the new kid, Rhys, who is deaf. Since Steffi knows a bit of BSL (British Sign Language) due to her selective mutism, she can sort of talk to him. And the whole “I don’t wanna be around this boy” turns to “😍THIS BOY😍”. And if you’re worried it has a “romances cures all” plot? NOPE. That is not to be seen here. It so firmly stays true to the realities of mental illness…but how life can be so much sweeter when you have someone on your side.
…Radio Silence by Alice Oseman
Also gonna shout out to I Was Born For This also for being amazing with anxiety. Jimmy!! 🙌🏻 She just writes perfectly accurate anxiety-rep ok?! Ok. So in Radio Silence my heart was just stolen by Aled, who’s actually a secondary character — but he’s ace and anxious and an absolute geek and he and Frances fall into this such deep, wholesome friendship. It is EVERYTHING.
I love friendship books!! I want 100 more of them at all times!! I also need to badly reread it because I’ve forgotten too many details.
…Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman
Yes this one will slowly turn you into a star shaped puddle of tears and you’ll just be there whispering, “This is beautiful” while the book repeatedly smacks you in the head. Bless. Kiko has social anxiety, too, and also PTSD from an abusive mother. Like you don’t really imagine your own mother would be…racist. But she IS and it’s disgusting and horrifying and I felt so bad for Kiko I wanted to steal her from these very pages. Also she’s an artist — so the book is a painting in itself.
…Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson
This isn’t explicit rep…as in: it’s not on page with Stevie saying “I have anxiety.” But I can SEE. I feel it in my bones. She’s so socially awkward and she absolutely overthinks everything and isolates herself (actually I headcanon she’s also autistic 😌my child, I love) and she sort of buckles inwards when things get Too Much and she panics. Also there’s murder and boarding schools and it’s SO quirky. I just loved it!!!
…Anger Is A Gift by Mark Oshiro
Ok I loved Moss but this book will hardcore make you CRY. It’s a #BlackLivesMatter story (#ownvoices too) and it’s about the absolute discrimination black teens face in some highschools. Moss has very intense anxiety disorder, partially brought on also by his father’s murder and how Moss feels he’s expected to fit in those shoes and be an activist, but he is struggling just with highschool. It also has a soft queer romance and I just 😭 Reeeeead this one. It’s so important.
…The Weight Of Our Sky by Hanna Alkaf
Another super important one! This is set in the riots of 1969 in Malaysia (#ownvoices!) and Melati has OCD/anxiety and it is SO intense. Her spirals are described in acute detail and it’s so hard to read sometimes. My heart broke for her. And also this was a pocket of history I knew literally nothing about, so it was good to learn?? And also I just loved the writing, how it was about family and facing your demons and admitting you need help.💛 A tough read but SO GOOD.
…The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
Why have one type of anxiety when you can have FOUR. Ok you know that this is my favourite series adjfkasld and one thing I love is how accurately Maggie Stiefvater gets anxiety. (Well, she lives it, so that makes sense.) But Gansey has full on panic attacks, Adam has PTSD and dissociates with his anxiety, and Ronan self-medicates his PTSD and gets stuck in literal anxiety-dreams of visceral nightmares. And Noah? Noah is so anxious what can I say. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ I think it’s important to talk about how anxiety can be displayed so differently too?? So bless this book for that. (ALSO IT’S MY FAVOURITE AHHHHH.)
…The Boy Who Steals Houses by… Meeeee
What can I say. I wrote a book. I am anxious. The book turned anxious. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ And now my life’s work is
loudly subtly recommending it to you at every opportunity with zero shame.
My two main characters, the Lou brothers — Sam and Avery — both have anxiety. It presents in different ways, a contrast that really meant a lot to me to write. Sam implodes and Avery explodes. Sam helps Avery manage his anxiety but Sam feels like no one notices his…HA BOI. Just wait till I gift you with a whole new family. 🤗 Anyway this book was very personal for me to write, particularly with the anxiety rep. So I’m just glad it got a chance to be in the world!
| WHAT DO YOU THINK |
tell me some YA books with anxiety rep that you loved?? have you read any of these? (and have you posted much this month or been a slacker like me oops lmao🤭)