Why hello there, readers! I have been thinking for a while now about assembling a list of the books that have been most helpful to me in recovery, and today is the day that I put thoughts into action! When I first began the recovery process, I wanted to read anything I could get my hands on that dealt with eating disorders. I craved knowledge about what was happening to me and I longed to read the words of people who had been in my shoes when I felt so painfully alone and terrified.
In my quest for knowledge, I bought nearly every book on the topic of anorexia and eating disorders that I could find online. This resulted in a lot of excellent reading material, as well as some that I found fairly unhelpful. In my hyper-anxious state, I even read a few books that ended up being triggering to me. So, in an effort to help anybody who is wondering where to begin or just looking for a few more resources, I have put together a list of the books that have helped me most. They aren’t in any particular order, as I believe that they were all important for me to read for different reasons.
Life Without Ed by Jenni Schaefer, which is the first book that I bought in recovery. This book is an excellent, quick read that tells Jenni’s story of recovery alongside input from her therapist. I found the balance of Jenni’s writing wither her therapist’s provided a great perspective. It also has very short chapters, which was helpful for me when my brain could not focus for more than a few minutes.
Goodbye Ed, Hello Me. Also by Jenni Schaefer, this book has some excellent journaling prompts and covers a wide array of issues those with disordered eating may face. It provides some great encouragement for those in recovery who are feeling as if full recovery will never come, and it definitely made me feel less alone in my struggles.
8 Keys To Recovery from an Eating Disorder, by Carolyn Costin with Gwenn Schubert Grabb. I can’t recommend this book highly enough. It is unbelievably thorough and entirely engages the reader with great journal prompts and other activities along the way. If you are looking for a resource that will make you look with brutal honesty at your disorder, this is a good choice.
The Eating Disorders Sourcebook by Carolyn Costin. This is another excellent read by the same author, although it approaches the topic from a more analytical standpoint and less as a self-help book. Because I find eating disorders so fascinating, I was completely engrossed by this book. It also helped me call out a lot of my behaviors that I thought “weren’t that bad” as disordered, which I needed to read.
Eating in the Light of the Moon by Anita Johnson. I’m somewhat hesitant to recommend this book. When one is in the right mindset, it is fantastic. However, when I was completely malnourished yet convinced that I had a problem with over-eating, this book primarily led to me analyzing my food choices even more. Therefore, for those in the throes of a restrictive disorder, I would recommend holding off on reading this one. However, once the mind and body have healed a bit, I do think it is an interesting perspective on women’s relationship with food and their bodies.
The Religion of Thinness by Michelle M. Lelwica. My therapist gave me this book soon after we started working together, and it is a fascinating look at mainstream culture’s obsession with weight and food. It’s a little bit dense and more of a social critique than a self-help book, but I found it immensely beneficial to read.
You Can’t Just Eat a Cheeseburger by Justine Duppong. I liked this book because of its wonderful journal prompts, including those for friends and family. It also provides a ton of sound, practical advice for facing a variety of challenging situations in recovery.
Anorexia Nervosa: A Guide to Recovery by Lindsey Hall and Monika Ostroff. If you can look past the dated appearance of this book cover (don’t judge a book by its cover, remember?), it is a great, quick read that covers a lot of basic information that can be great for family and friends, while offering strategies for those in recovery as well. I would recommend this book as one to be read by parents and loved ones as well as those in recovery. It provides succinct, concrete information as well as tools for those recovering.
On the whole, I think the most important thing one can do when searching for any recovery resource is pay attention to how it is affecting them. I ordered a few books on Amazon because they had excellent reviews, only to find them triggering or unhelpful to me. If a resource is in any way triggering disordered behavior or thoughts, put it down. Just because it helped somebody else does not mean that it will help you, and a good Amazon review does not necessarily mean that it will be beneficial to your own recovery. I also recommend re-reading books that have been helpful to you throughout your recovery. It is incredible what new information can be gleaned from old resources as you move toward health!
If you’re looking for a place to start or continue your search for recovery materials, I hope this list provides some helpful guidance. If you have read a book or used an online source that you have found particularly beneficial, please feel free to send it my way!