Focus On: Psychological Novels

Though I’ve featured novels with psychiatric/mental illness themes before I have never dedicated an entire post to them. The human psyche is so interesting because of how fragile it truly is. Below are a selection of my favorite novels and memoirs about mental illness and those who treat it.

Dreaming for Freud by Sheila Kohler

Dreaming for Freud by Sheila Kohler

Dreaming for Freud: A Novel

A retelling of Freud’s famous Dora, Dreaming for Freud is riveting and disarming. Getting into the head of Freud and Dora puts the case in a whole new light. Plus, anything blurbed by Joyce Carol Oates and Amy Tan is good enough for me!

 

The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides

The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides

The Virgin Suicides

Creepy, voyeuristic and impeccably written, The Virgin Suicides is an interesting representation of life after suicides. The book has all the sensuality of Sofia Coppola’s film with more story and substance.

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

Sharp Objects

Long before Gone Girl became a sensation, I picked up Sharp Objects and fell hard for Flynn’s writing. I even did a featuring her for my high school creative writing class! Sharp Objects is a mystery but with a twist, the detective suffers from a mental illness. As the mystery unfolds you begin to realize the book is much more an unraveling of the narrator’s mystery than it is a solving of a crime.

Sybil by Flora Rheta Schreiber

Sybil by Flora Rheta Schreiber

Sybil

I’ve spoken elsewhere about this novel, but it’s hold on psychology warranted a mention. Every Psych 101 student hears about the strange Sybil case and learns to debate diagnoses by going through its rocky history.

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

The Bell Jar

Last but certainly not least is the book that is beloved by high school and college girls everywhere. Plath captures the frenzy and despair of being young and suffering in her remarkable prose. Every time I read this novel I find myself discovering new meanings and nuances — on my top ten favorite books of all time!

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Christmas 2012: Books I Recommend

I’ve already posted the books that I’ve been coveting this year, but I wanted to share my suggestions for stocking stuffers with you guys! I’ve read all of the books below this year and HIGHLY recommend them. Check them out and let me know what you think!

Astray by Emma Donoghue
  • I’ll admit I’m usually not a fan of short stories – just when you get to know the characters they leave! However, since discovering The Woman Who Gave Birth to Rabbits while on the Kenyon-Exeter Program (2010-2011) I have fallen in love with Donoghue’s short fiction. She has an amazing ability to introduce and develop characters in a very small space. Her newest collection, Astray, is about comings and goings, immigrations and emigrations.
When She Woke by Hillary Jordan
A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
  • This is the only one that I didn’t discover in the past year. I snuck it in here because the sequel, Shadow of Night came out this summer. There’s so much to love about A Discover of Witches – set in the Bodleian Library, involves hints (or a lot, really) of the supernatural, strong female characters… Check out my view the sequel here.
The Bellwether Revivals by Benjamin Wood
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce
  • Previously reviewed here.
Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn
  • Though her newest novel Gone Girl has received much critical acclaim, I prefer her earlier work. Sharp Objects was a bit of an underground classic at my high school and it became a secret code for my best friend and I. “WICKED above her hipbone, GIRL across her heart.”