5 Health Stories That Entertain and Educate

Health stories use narrative to explore illness and wellness. Here is a compilation of suspenseful books that talk about health while keeping you on the edge of your seat. Exercise your mind, body (read on the treadmill!) and soul by choosing from the following top-rated picks.


1. “I Know This Much Is True” by Wally Lamb

I Know This Much Is True is a heartbreaking, unflinching look at mental illness. Mental illness is all too common, representing roughly 18 percent of the U.S. adult population, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. While reading “I Know This Much Is True, you’ll learn about schizophrenia and post-traumatic stress disorder, and how these illnesses affect families and relationships. The book also explores dysfunctional family dynamics and domestic abuse, as well as the resiliency of the human spirit.


2. “The Magic Mountain” by Thomas Mann

Considered one of the most important books in modern German literature, Thomas Mann’s The Magic Mountain is an intriguing, rich read. The story follows Hans, who travels to a sanatorium in the Swiss Alps to visit a cousin suffering from tuberculosis. Hans gets diagnosed with tuberculosis himself and decides to stay at the sanatorium until his condition improves. He’s there seven years, concluding that illness and death lead to greater questions about life, knowledge and purpose.


3. “Ways to Live Forever” by Sally Nicholls

A tear-jerker at times, Ways to Live Forever will keep you on the edge of your seat. It earned the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize in 2008. The story centers around Sam, an 11-year-old boy living with terminal leukemia, as he shares stories about the final months of his short life. You’ll learn about leukemia, its treatment and what it’s like to cope with cancer (through the eyes of a child) when you’re on death’s doorstep.


4. “Mountains Beyond Mountains” by Tracy Kidder

Want to know more about bringing modern medicine to countries in need and curing disease worldwide? Consider Pulitzer Prize–winner Tracy Kidder’s Mountains Beyond Mountains, recommended by Partners in Health. In this inspiring book, you’ll learn about the true story of Dr. Paul Farmer, a physician who sets out to cure infectious diseases and provide modernized healthcare to patients who need it the most. He travels all around the world to practice his craft, solve medical problems and do his part to change the world.


5. “Keeper: Living With Nancy” by Andrea Gillies

The Alzheimer’s Association says this debilitating disease is the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States. The book Keeper: Living with Nancy is a memoir by Andrea Gillies, who cared for her mother-in-law, Nancy. This read will help you learn more about Alzheimer’s, the challenges of being a caretaker and how it affects families.

Health stories can be a fascinating way to explore topics that shape the lives and experiences of everyday people. As this CNN article states, reading is good for your health, so why not check out one of these titles?

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