Books about Illness

  1. The Fault in Our Stars

    by John Green
    Two teenagers with cancer find love and explore life's fragility and beauty.

    Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist ... (Goodreads)

  2. The English Patient

    by Michael Ondaatje
    A World War II love story, exploring the depths of human emotion in the midst of tragedy.

    With ravishing beauty and unsettling intelligence, Michael Ondaatje's Booker Prize-winning novel traces the intersection of four damaged lives in an Italian villa at the end of World War II. Hana, ... (Goodreads)

  3. Everything, Everything

    by Nicola Yoon
    A teenage girl's journey of self-discovery, as she breaks free from the confines of her illness.

    The story follows 18-year-old Madeline Whittier, who is being treated by her mother for severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID), and therefore is not allowed to leave her house or interact with ... (Wikipedia)

  4. The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer

    by Siddhartha Mukherjee
    A comprehensive account of the history and science of cancer, from its origins to modern treatments.

    An alternative cover edition for this ISBN can be found, here, and, here,. The Emperor of All Maladies is a magnificent, profoundly humane “biography” of cancer - from its first documented ... (Goodreads)

  5. Paula

    by Isabel Allende
    A woman's journey of self-discovery and healing, as she confronts a devastating diagnosis.

    Isabel Allende wrote Paula while tending to her daughter, Paula Frías Allende, who was in a coma arising from complications of porphyria . Allende started the book as a letter to Paula, explaining ... (Wikipedia)

  6. Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End

    by Atul Gawande
    An exploration of the human experience of mortality and the importance of end-of-life care.

    In, Being Mortal, author Atul Gawande tackles the hardest challenge of his profession: how medicine can not only improve life but also the process of its ending Medicine has triumphed in modern ... (Goodreads)

  7. It's Not about the Bike: My Journey Back to Life

    by Lance Armstrong
    A story of resilience and courage, detailing Armstrong’s fight against cancer and recovery.

    In 1993 , 21-year-old Lance Armstrong becomes World Cycling Champion . In Austin, Texas, four years later on October 2, 1996, at age 25, Armstrong is diagnosed with testicular cancer with metastasis ... (Wikipedia)

  8. We Are Not Ourselves

    by Matthew Thomas
    A journey of life-changing events, testing the resilience of an American family.

    Epic in scope, heroic in character, and masterful in prose, We Are Not Ourselves is a multigenerational portrait of the Irish American Leary family. Born in 1941, Eileen Tumulty is raised by her ... (Goodreads)

  9. Foam of the Days

    by Boris Vian
    Unexpected romance between a wealthy man and a singer, set in a surreal, dreamlike world.

    In a surreal world where animals and inanimate objects reflect the emotions of humans, Colin is a wealthy young man with a resourceful and stylish valet , Nicholas, and a loyal best friend, Chick. ... (Wikipedia)

  10. When Breath Becomes Air

    by Paul Kalanithi
    A doctor's poignant memoir about life, mortality and purpose in the face of terminal illness.

    For readers of Atul Gawande, Andrew Solomon, and Anne Lamott, a profoundly moving, exquisitely observed memoir by a young neurosurgeon faced with a terminal cancer diagnosis who attempts to answer ... (Goodreads)

  11. Mortality

    by Christopher Hitchens
    Reflections on the inevitability of death, drawing on personal and philosophical insights.

    On June 8, 2010, while on a book tour for his bestselling memoir, Hitch-22 , Christopher Hitchens was stricken in his New York hotel room with excruciating pain in his chest and thorax. As he would ... (Barnes & Noble)

  12. Wit

    by Margaret Edson
    A professor's journey of self-discovery as she faces her own mortality.

    Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, the New York Drama Critics Circle Award, the Drama Desk Award, the Outer Critics Circle Award, the Lucille Lortel Award, and the Oppenheimer Award,Margaret Edson’s ... (Goodreads)

  13. My Own Country: A Doctor's Story

    by Abraham Verghese
    A doctor's journey of medical care given to AIDS patients in small-town America.

    My Own Country traces the story of a young infectious-disease physician in the mid-80s in Johnson City, Tennessee , who began to treat patients with a then unknown disease. Because of the seemingly ... (Wikipedia)

  14. Oscar And The Lady In Pink

    by Éric-Emmanuel Schmitt
    A powerful story of friendship between an elderly woman and a sick child.

    Voici les lettres adressées à Dieu par un enfant de dix ans. Elles ont été retrouvées par Mamie Rose, la « dame rose » qui vient lui rendre visite à l'hôpital pour enfants. Elles décrivent douze ... (Goodreads)

  15. My Sister's Keeper

    by Jodi Picoult
    A girl's struggle to reconcile her identity with her family's expectations and her own desires.

    New York Times best-selling author Jodi Picoult is widely acclaimed for her keen insights into the hearts and minds of real people. Now she tells the emotionally riveting story of a family torn apart ... (Goodreads)

  16. Rabbit at Rest

    by John Updike
    A story of family and mortality, exploring the struggle of growing old and facing death.

    This novel is part of the series that follows the life of Harry "Rabbit" Angstrom from 1960 to 1990. Rabbit at Rest focuses on the years 1988–89. Harry, nearly 40 years after his glory days as a high ... (Wikipedia)

  17. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

    by Jean-Dominique Bauby
    A paralyzed man's memoir, transcribed through blinking his left eye.

    On December 8, 1995, Bauby, the editor-in-chief of French, Elle, magazine, suffered a stroke and lapsed into a coma . He awoke 20 days later, mentally aware of his surroundings, but physically ... (Wikipedia)

  18. Curious George Goes to the Hospital

    by Margret Rey
    A lovable monkey helps a friend in need by using his courage and kindness.

    George wakes up to find a box labeled "surprise" on the desk, it contains a jigsaw puzzle. George takes a puzzle piece out, and thinking it is a piece of candy, he swallows it. The Man with the ... (Wikipedia)

  19. Still Alice

    by Lisa Genova
    A woman's struggle to hold on to her identity in the face of a devastating diagnosis of early-onset Alzheimer's disease.

    Still Alice is a compelling debut novel about a 50-year-old woman's sudden descent into early onset Alzheimer's disease, written by first-time author Lisa Genova, who holds a Ph. D in neuroscience ... (Goodreads)

  20. Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness

    by Susannah Cahalan
    A journalist's journey of survival and recovery from a rare autoimmune disorder.

    An award-winning memoir and instant New York Times bestseller that goes far beyond its riveting medical mystery, Brain on Fire is the powerful account of one woman’s struggle to recapture her ... (Goodreads)

  21. The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating

    by Elisabeth Tova Bailey
    A journey into the natural world and exploration of a small creature's extraordinary life.

    In a work that beautifully demonstrates the rewards of closely observing nature, Elisabeth Bailey shares an inspiring and intimate story of her uncommon encounter with a Neohelix albolabris —a common ... (Goodreads)

  22. Autobiography of a Face

    by Lucy Grealy
    A memoir about facing physical deformity and the psychological effects of being ostracized.

    The prologue introduces the reader to Lucy's struggle with self-image. She describes her work at the stable Diamond D, which was her first job after finishing chemotherapy. Through this first ... (Wikipedia)

  23. Hot Milk

    by Deborah Levy
    A woman's quest for answers to her mysterious, chronic illness.

    Sofia, a young anthropologist, has spent much of her life trying to solve the mystery of her mother's unexplainable illness. She's frustrated with Rose and her constant complaints but utterly ... (Goodreads)

  24. Cancer Ward

    by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
    A group of cancer patients in a Soviet hospital confront life and death with humor and courage.

    One of the great allegorical masterpieces of world literature, Cancer Ward is both a deeply compassionate study of people facing terminal illness and a brilliant dissection of the “cancerous” Soviet ... (Goodreads)

  25. The Samurai's Garden

    by Gail Tsukiyama
    A young man's journey of healing in a remote Japanese village.

    A 20-year-old Chinese painter named Stephen is sent to his family's summer home in a Japanese coastal village to recover from a bout with tuberculosis. Here he is cared for by Matsu, a reticent ... (Goodreads)

  26. A Ring of Endless Light

    by Madeleine L'Engle
    A young girl discovers the power of love, friendship and courage while struggling with a terminal illness.

    Fifteen-year-old Vicky Austin and her family are spending the summer on Seven Bay Island with her maternal grandfather , who is dying of leukemia . At the beginning of the story, Vicky attends a ... (Wikipedia)

  27. Drums, Girls & Dangerous Pie

    by Jordan Sonnenblick
    A humorous and heartfelt story of a young boy's struggle with leukemia and its effect on his family.

    The protagonist of the book is Steven Alper, a 13-year-old boy living in New Jersey . The Alper family consists of Dad, an accountant; Mom, an English teacher; Steven, an enthusiastic and talented ... (Wikipedia)

  28. Love Life

    by Kluun

    Stijn en Carmen behoren tot de hip, healthy and wealthy. Ze hebben beiden een eigen bedrijf en zijn de trotse ouders van de eenjarige Luna. Aan geld en vrienden geen gebrek. Ze leven als God in ... (Goodreads)

  29. Out of Mind

    by J. Bernlef
    A man's journey to regain his memories and his identity.

    Maarten Klein verliest langzaam maar zeker zijn greep op de werkelijkheid. Hij kan heden en verleden niet meer onderscheiden, wil plotseling weer naar zijn werk en ziet zijn echtgenote voor een ... (Goodreads)

  30. Going Bovine

    by Libba Bray
    A teen's surreal journey of self-discovery, spurred by a diagnosis of a terminal illness.

    Cameron Smith is a high school slacker from Texas who is on “a slow but uncontrollable skid to nowhere” , living a somewhat aimless life. His father is a college physics professor; his mother is a ... (Wikipedia)

  31. A Very Easy Death

    by Simone de Beauvoir
    A memoir of the author's mother's death, exploring the complexities of love, loss, and mortality.

    A Very Easy Death has long been considered one of Simone de Beauvoir’s masterpieces. The profoundly moving, day-by-day recounting of her mother’s death “shows the power of compassion when it is ... (Goodreads)

  32. It's Always Something

    by Gilda Radner
    Autobiography of Gilda Radner, a comedian and actress, detailing her life, career, and battle with cancer.

    "I had wanted to wrap this book up in a neat little package. I wanted a perfect ending. Now I've learned the hard way that some poems don't rhyme, and some stories don't have a clear beginning, ... (Goodreads)

  33. Inside the O'Briens

    by Lisa Genova
    A family's battle against Huntington's Disease, discovering strength in the face of tragedy.

    Joe O’Brien is a forty-four-year-old police officer from the Irish Catholic neighborhood of Charlestown, Massachusetts. A devoted husband, proud father of four children in their twenties, and ... (Goodreads)

  34. One True Thing

    by Anna Quindlen
    A woman learns about love and loss, grappling with the realities of life and death.

    Ellen Gulden has a high-pressure job writing for, New York, magazine . Ellen is visiting her family home for her father's surprise birthday party. It becomes obvious that she deeply admires her ... (Wikipedia)

  35. Epileptic

    by David B.
    Graphic novel exploring a family's struggle with a son's epilepsy.

    The book tells the story of the artist's early childhood and adolescence, focusing on his relationship with his brother and sister. His brother develops severe and intractable epilepsy , causing the ... (Wikipedia)

  36. The Spare Room

    by Helen Garner
    A friend comes to stay with the narrator while undergoing alternative cancer treatment, testing their friendship and beliefs about illness.

    The novel is told from the first person perspective of a woman, Helen, who lives in Melbourne near her family. A friend Nicola, who is ill with bowel cancer , comes to stay with Helen in order to ... (Wikipedia)

  37. Death Be Not Proud

    by John Gunther
    A memoir of a father's love for his son, who died of a brain tumor at the age of 17. It's a celebration of life and a reflection on death.

    Death Be Not Proud chronicles Johnny Gunther's gallant struggle against the malignant brain tumor that killed him at the age of seventeen. The book opens with his father's fond, vivid portrait of his ... (Goodreads)

  38. Oxygen

    by Carol Cassella
    A medical thriller that explores the ethical dilemmas of a doctor who discovers a patient with a mysterious illness.

    With the compassion of Jodi Picoult and the medical realism of Atul Gawande, real-life anesthesiologist Carol Cassella’s riveting national bestseller seamlessly melds compelling women’s fiction and ... (Barnes & Noble)

  39. This Star Won't Go Out: The Life and Words of Esther Grace Earl

    by Esther Earl
    An inspiring memoir about a courageous and passionate young girl living with cancer.

    A collection of the journals, fiction, letters, and sketches of the late Esther Grace Earl, who passed away in 2010 at the age of 16. Photographs and essays by family and friends will help to tell ... (Goodreads)

  40. Before I Go

    by Colleen Oakley
    A woman with a terminal illness sets out to find a new wife for her husband before she dies.

    A heart-wrenching debut novel in the bestselling tradition of P.S. I Love You about a young woman with breast cancer who undertakes a mission to find a new wife for her husband before she passes ... (Goodreads)

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