Best books on health and healing for chronic illness

“We read to know we're not alone.” ― William Nicholson

Reading the stories of people who have suffered from chronic illness and found a way to thrive or recover always inspire me. Reading healing books were also immensely helpful to me in my own recovery journey. While visiting a doctor or holistic therapist, we are often bound by professionals in our geographic area. However, being able to open a book exposes you to an entirely new way of thinking, and an entirely new field of experts, and you don’t need to leave your living room to benefit from their knowledge!

Here are my favourite books on health and healing:

Full catastrophe living 

This is my go-to book on the power of mindfulness for chronic illness. Written by Jon-Kabat Zinn and based on his mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) program this is the place to start if you’re interested in how mindfulness can help you heal.

What I love about this book is the way it combines personal stories with scientific research (which Zinn was instrumental in getting started). This was the first mindfulness of meditation book I read, and I liked it because it approached mindfulness from a scientific perspective.

The highly sensitive person

This book explores how some people are more sensitive to our surroundings than others. It might help explain why some people are susceptible to chronic or stress induced illnesses while others, who live similar lifestyles, are not. It also has great advice on how to deeply rest and recharge if you’re a highly sensitive person. Read my full review here.

Your brain on nature

I read this book while in the rainforest in Peru, surrounded by the sights, sounds, and smells of the jungle. This book outlines scientific research that has been done over the past century around the benefits of nature and the dangers of not having nearby wild spaces. I liked the different perspective it gave on health, and how something as simple as spending more time in nature can protect us from a variety of illnesses.

The healing point

This book follows the story of the author, James, who found his way back to health after suffering from a crippling, un-diagnosable illness. This book explores a range of health topics and avenues for healing including cleanses, bodily toxins, environmental toxins, yeast, meditation, and more. It’s an entertaining read packed full of useful information!

chronic illness books

Anatomy of spirit

This is the most ‘woo woo’ of all the books on the list. Anatomy of Spirit is the go to book on energy medicine. That is, diagnosing illness and healing the body based on subtle energy signals that the healer receives. The book includes stories of miraculous recoveries from chronic illnesses based on the intuitive readings of the author. Certainly an insightful read if you’re interested in energy medicine, but to be taken with a dose of skepticism ;).

A light in darkness

This book follows the journey of Lisa, a musician, who is diagnosed with multiple chronic illnesses. Despite being bed bound much of the time by her illness, Lisa has found a way to not only survive, but thrive in her artistic career. An inspiring read!

The artist's way

Another book for artist’s, The Artist’s Way is a fantastic book for anyone who wants to use their art to help themselves heal. This book is for all kinds of creatives, and gives advice on how to make your art, the thing that brings you joy, central to your life. While not a book on healing chronic illness, the author shares several stories of how blocks in artistic life come from unhealed past trauma’s, which could also be contributing to physical or mental illness.

The Whole Health Life

This book follows the author’s journey with autoimmune disease, her struggle to get the help she needed from doctors, and her eventual recovery. I loved this book because so much of what Shannon tried – yoga, meditation, diet changes, more time in nature, and more resonated with my story. The book has a nice combination of personal stories, research-backed ideas, and practical tips to try to improve your own health. Read the full review here.

Eastern body western mind

For anyone interested in learning about Ayurveda and the Chakras, this is a great book! It combines western scientific research with traditional Ayurvedic knowledge. As a psychology grad, I really appreciated this approach. This is a long read, but it includes patient stories, psychological theory, scientific studies, Ayurvedic teachings, and practical tips and tools you can use for self-diagnosis and treatment.

Happy reading!

P.S. Don’t forget to add Yoga for Chronic Pain and Yoga for Chronic Fatigue to your reading list!

P.P.S. Want more book talk? Let's connect on Goodreads!

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2 Responses

  1. This is a great list! I love the ones I know on here, which makes me interested to read the rest. If you haven't read How To Be Sick by Toni Bernhard I highly recommend it! I think it would be very much in your wheelhouse.
    • That's great, Violet! Yes! I love Toni Bernhard! I've mentioned her on my list for the best books on chronic pain (http://arogayoga.com/best-books-chronic-pain/) so decided to go with a different selection here, but I'm a huge fan of her work - she's amazing!

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