Best Books to Read if You Struggle with Chronic Illness

There are many kinds of chronic illnesses and diseases. They are long-term conditions that often last a year or more. 

Some of them are more common among the population such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. Others can be invisible or hidden i.e. others might not recognize the condition just by looking at the person. For example, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, and Crohn’s disease.

Whether it’s common or invisible, having chronic conditions changes the way we live our lives. 

It can make us feel depressed, hopeless, misunderstood, and isolated, especially when there is no cure for the disease.

In this post, you will find various types of books. A few of them are about living with chronic illness. They help you to cope with your emotions and stress. Some are memoirs, while others reveal the causes of your chronic illness.

Choose the book that resonates with you the most.

Bonus: My Book on Changing Perception of Illness

Note: The way I look at my books will never be the same as the way I look at other books, so to be fair I rather keep them off the list. 

Love Your Body by Yong Kang Chan

If you feel depressed about your chronic illness or angry at your body for not functioning at its best, this book will change your perception of illness.

Written from a spiritual perspective, this book helps you to appreciate and trust your body. It shows you the wisdom of your body and how it’s always working for you, not against you even when you are sick.

Reading this book will help you find peace with your chronic condition and build a better relationship with your body. Whether you recover or not, this book helps you to reflect and create new meaning in life.

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Top 10 Best Chronic Illness Books

Disclosure: Please note that the links below are affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate and Bookshop Affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases. I will earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase, but it will be at no additional cost to you.

1. How to Be Sick by Toni Bernhard

This book is for both the chronically ill and their caregivers.

If you hate being sick, this book will give you concrete ways to live well despite your chronic illness and change your outlook on life.

Even though this is a Buddhist-inspired guide, you don’t have to be a Buddhist to benefit from the practice in this book. As someone who became ill in the prime of her career, the author learns to live a life of equanimity, compassion, and joy even with many physical and energetic limitations.

In this comforting and helpful book, she shares her wisdom on how to cope with emotional distress and deal with isolation.

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2. Full Catastrophe Living by Jon Kabat-Zinn

If you feel stressed and depressed about your chronic illness or pain, this book is for you.

Based on the author’s renowned mindfulness-based stress reduction program, this book shows you how to use medically proven mind-body approaches to stimulate well-being and healing.

As per the author, stress can sap our energy and undermine our health. It makes us more vulnerable to anxiety and depression, disconnection, and disease. This book provides you with different practices from meditation and yoga to help you deal with stress.

It’s great for anyone trying to live a healthier and saner life in our fast-paced world.

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3. Medical Medium by Anthony William

If you are open to spirituality and mediumship, this book is for you.

The author has a unique ability to converse with the Spirit of Compassion and receive advanced healing medical information. Since age four, he has been using his gift to see into people’s conditions and tell them and their doctors how to recover their health.

In this book, the author reveals the true causes of chronic symptoms, conditions, and diseases that medical communities continue to misunderstand or struggle to understand at all.

Revised and expanded in 2021, this new edition offers brand-new recipes and more solutions for restoring the soul and spirit after an illness.

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4. Heal Your Body by Louise Hay

Known as the little blue book by the author, this book has helped hundreds of thousands of people to awaken their ability to their own healing process.

The author believes that disease (or rather “dis-ease” as per the author) can be reversed by simply reversing mental patterns and creating a new thought pattern.

This step-by-step guide can be used as a reference book. Just look up your specific health challenge and you will find the probable cause for this health issue and the information you need to overcome it.

If you want to understand the mental causes of your physical illness and the metaphysical way to overcome it, this book is for you.

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5. You Don’t Look Sick! by Joy Selak and Steven Overman

If you are living with invisible chronic illnesses, “you don’t look sick” is probably one of the phrases that you commonly hear and dread hearing.

Written by a patient with chronic illnesses and her physician, this book offers a true-life story that is relatable and valuable, professional advice at the same time. In this book, the authors take you on a journey through the four stages of chronic illness: getting sick, being sick, grief and acceptance, and living well.

Regardless of where you are at in your journey, you will find something that resonates with you.

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6. How to Live Well with Chronic Pain and Illness by Toni Bernhard

Even though you can’t force your body to get better, you can heal your mind. If you are struggling with the challenges that chronic pain and illness bring, read this comforting book.

From career crises and relationship issues to struggles with self-blame, personal identity, and isolation, this book helps you to navigate these challenges and make the most of your life.

Instead of wallowing in misery and suffering, this book gives you practical examples and shows you how mindfulness, equanimity, and compassion can help you make peace with your condition.

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7. The Anatomy of Hope by Jerome Groopman

Can hope contribute to recovery by changing physical well-being?

As a doctor for the past thirty years, the author encountered many extraordinary patients who survived because they held onto hope even though he believed they had no reason to do so. Also, from his personal experience, hope enabled him to regain strength after 19 years of chronic pain. 

His success sets the author on a personal journey to explore the role of hope in healing illnesses. In this book, he discusses the biochemical changes related to hope and the differences between real hope and false hope.

If you are struggling with your chronic illness, read this book to give you hope.

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8. Surviving and Thriving with an Invisible Chronic Illness by Ilana Jacqueline

This book is for those who live with chronic yet invisible conditions such as chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), fibromyalgia, Lyme disease, lupus, and multiple sclerosis (MP).

Written by a blogger who suffers from an invisible chronic illness, the author uses humor to tell you how you can cope and accept your condition. The tips and advice in this book range from dating and relationships to handling work and school with unavoidable absences. You will also learn to navigate judgemental or skeptical relatives and strangers. 

If you feel isolated, lonely, and misunderstood because of your invisible illness, this book is for you.

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9. Dying to Be Me by Anita Moorjani

If you are an empath with a chronic illness, this inspirational memoir is for you.

Written by a fellow empath, this book shows you the author’s journey of completely healing from her illness after fighting cancer for almost four years. During her near-death experience, she understood that her body is only a reflection of her inner state. When she connected to the pure joy and love that she is, she knew her body would reflect that and healed rapidly.

This book gives you hope for recovery and is suitable for people who are open to spirituality and self-healing.

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10. What Doesn’t Kill You by Tessa Miller

This book is part memoir, part guide for chronically ill people. 

In the first part of the book, the author shares the story of her illness — Crohn’s disease. She includes vivid descriptions of how symptoms look and feel, and offers an open and honest look at what it’s like to live with this disease.

In the second part of the book, the author provides a journalistic perspective on living with an incurable disease that doesn’t kill you. For example, how to find doctors who won’t dismiss your symptoms, and how to navigate changing careers and relationships. Also, how to grieve a self that doesn’t exist anymore and take care of your mental health.

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Yong Kang

Yong Kang

Hey there, I’m Yong Kang, best known as Nerdy Creator. I’m an author of seven books. I write about spirituality, self-compassion, and mindfulness. I love reading books, especially non-fiction. The list above is a combination of what I have read and my research. Each year, I create a Top 10 list of my favorite books.