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I went back and forth on whether or not I should do this list or not but I decided I would. I have always had, for lack of a better word, an interest in eating disorders. I am fortunate enough to not have to face one myself but I have always read stories about people with them, blogs, and more recently, eating disorder memoirs.
I also never really thought about fiction books about eating disorders, but those are out there, too, and on this list. I’ve only read the first one so far, but the rest are all ones I would like to read at some point.
There are, of course, major trigger warnings for a variety of mental health issues throughout this list so proceed with caution. The Storygraph App could be a good place to check for any reader-flagged trigger warnings in any of these books that may affect you.
Eating disorder resources
I am nothing near an expert when it comes to eating disorders, they are just something I have always been interested in, for lack of a better term. These are just books and memoirs I want to read but if you are battling an eating disorder and looking for help, here are some better lists of resources to start with: CED, Eating Disorder Foundation, and nationaleatingdisorders.org. The suicide prevention line can be reached at 988.
- If you want to listen to some of these, consider trying Audible! You can get your first month free (one free book) plus tons of others they have for free. Get that Audible deal here.
- If you’re on more of a budget, try Scribd! You can get your first month free there. You can read books and listen to audiobooks. It is unlimited (especially the reading) but if you listen to tons of new audiobooks you may be restricted after a few. I don’t listen to enough to confirm this, but I do use Scribd myself and like it a lot. Sign up for Scribd here!
- Shop my collection of bookish goodies on Etsy! These aren’t my shop items, but other shops I’ve curated into a book-themed collection. Shop my Etsy bookish goodies here!
- If you want to read more on your Kindle but don’t want to buy books, Kindle Unlimited is a wonderful option. It’s $9.99 a month but if you read a lot and like to read more than just new releases, it could be worth it. Get Kindle Unlimited here!
- Get $5 off of $25 from BookOutlet! This is a great place to find new books for pretty cheap. They also have sales quite a bit, so keep an eye out for those. I tend to check here for books I want if they’re more expensive other places. They don’t have everything but they do have a lot. Shop BookOutlet here!
- Thrift Books has become my go-to when I’m looking for a book and want it cheap. It’s great if you like buying used books. With this you can get a free book after spending $30!
- Shop my book lists here! You can find every book list I have on Bookshop.org (except my monthly round-ups) and I add everything I can but they occasionally won’t have some. I do occasionally add extras though. If any lists are empty, they’ll be filled in shortly! Shop my bookshop.org book lists here.
Elena is seventeen and vanishing as she battles anorexia. This is a look at five years of fighting through school, treatment centers, and more.
I just read this one and thought it was really good. It was tough to read at times, as I but very good.
Lia and Cassie are best friends. They’re also competing in a deadly contest to see who can be the thinnest. But Cassie suffers the ultimate loss, her life, and Lia is left behind, haunted by her friend’s memory and racked with guilt for not being able to save her.
This seems to be the gold standard in this genre as more than one on this list are compared to Wintergirls.
Wasted: A Memoir of Anorexia and Bulimia
This is one I would really like to read. Marya lost all sense of what it means to be normal after five hospitalizations, endless therapy, and loss of friends, family, and jobs as she lovingly embraced anorexia and bulimia. Until a particularly horrifying bout in college put the romance of wasting away to rest.
Quiet in the Corner
This is Wal’s vivid account of his troubled adolescence battling an eating disorder while he watches his family fall into turmoil as his brother turns to drugs.
This only has two stars (and two ratings) on Amazon but like, 4.5 I think on Goodreads with 70-some reviews so it still sounds worth a read.
Not only is Stevie trapped in her life and her body, but now she’s trapped in an eating disorder treatment center in New Mexico. Life here is an actual nightmare.
Her father signed her up for 60 days of treatment, but what no one knows is that she may only have 27 days left if she gets her way. Stevie’s plan is to end her own life on the day her brother Josh lost his, thanks to her.
This is a collection of photographs and stories from twenty girls and women suffering from various afflictions and eating disorders. Alongside the personal stories are essays on the sociology and science of eating disorders.
This is also a documentary on HBO Max and I’m going to watch it right now!
As I Disappear
This one is a little different as it’s written in free-verse poetry. Annalise began battling OCD and bulimia in her childhood and this shows the struggles of knowing who you are and who you should be.
The Girls at 17 Swann Street
Anna was a professional dancer who followed the man of her dreams from Paris to Missouri where she was alone with her biggest fears, throwing her into a downward spiral of depression and anorexia. At 88 pounds, she was forced to seek treatment at 17 Swann Street where she lives with other women facing life-threatening eating disorders.
This is a fiction eating disorder book and probably the one I want to read most from this list.
How to Disappear Completely
Kelsey devoured magazine articles and memoirs to find out how to become the very best anorexic. While hospitalized at fifteen, she found herself in an existential crisis: how can I suffer from something I sought out?
Here, she unpacks the modern myths of anorexia while sharging her own story of rehabilitation.
Please Eat: A Mother’s Struggle to Free Her Teenage Son From Anorexia
15-year-old Ben had everything he could want but then he began to starve himself while his urge to exercise became extreme. Within months, he lost a quarter of his body weight.
This is his mother’s account of what it was like to helplessly watch her son transform into someone she didn’t recognize. With the help of his parents, his therapist, and his own determination, he slowly began to rebuild his life.
Not All Black Girls Know How to Eat: A Story of Bulimia
Stephanie grew up poor and hungry in the inner city with foster care, sexual abuse, and insecurity defining her early years. She doesn’t fit the stereotype of someone with an eating disorder. The biggest difference though: she’s Black.
She describes her troubles facing a disorder prominently described as a white woman’s problem, trying to escape self-hatred and a food obsession by never slowing down, and finally being trapped in a downward spiral. She can no longer deny that if she doesn’t get help, she will die.
I would love to read this one for a different perspective on eating disorders.
What I Lost
So far, Elizabeth has lost forty pounds, four pants sizes, a boyfriend, and her peace of mind. She is finally a size zero. And the newest resident at the eating disorder treatment center, Wallingfield.
She’s determined to make it through the program so she can go home and start restricting again. She thinks her mom, with her own size-zero obsession, may need treatment more than she does. Then she starts getting mysterious packages and has to get to the bottom of it.
I would also really like to read this one.
Jennifer can only keep up appearances while binging, purging, and starving for so long. After finally confessing her secret to her parents, she is hospitalized at the Samuel Tuke Center where she learns how all her relationships with food, friends, and family are healthy or unhealthy.
Pea always knew there was something wrong with the way she eats, avoiding certain smells, textures, and even sights of food. Finally, she is diagnosed with Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID) and it all starts to make sense. She is hopeful that after her diagnosis she’ll get the treatment she needs to get better.
Things are starting to look up with therapy and the support of her family, but when she decides to go off her antidepressants, things start to get out of control.
This is a really good choice if you want a book about disordered eating that is not anorexia or bulimia. I would like to read this one.
Janie hates throwing up but makes herself do it several times a day. She must survive the day-to-day with barfers and starvers at Golden Slopes while the doctors and psychiatrists try to find out what is wrong with her as they dig through painful memories.
This is another good choice if you want a fiction book about eating disorders.
Have you read any of these books? Which ones? Any others you would recommend?