How Reading Fiction Helped me with Recovery

Reading Fiction and Eating Disorder Recovery

A big part of recovery for me was finding activities that I enjoyed doing simply for pleasure on my free time. Hobbies that had nothing to do with weight loss, food, dieting or appearance. It was difficult at first – because I had been so focused on productivity, improvement and perfection – but with time I was able to find a few things that I did purely for joy and relaxation.

An important hobby that helped me with recovery and my overall happiness was: reading fiction novels. Reading simply to get lost in a good story. Prior to this, I was reading non-fiction, self-help or diet books, constantly trying to learn or find some sort of hack to make my life better.  

Fiction helped me escape and take a break.

There was also a very healthy element to reading stories where I couldn’t see what the people looked like. I wasn’t constantly being bombarded by unhealthy body image standards but instead being able to imagine and create my own make believe world. It’s an unfortunate truth that we don’t have inclusive messaging within the media, so reading helped me get away from all of that. It was a gift that helped me tremendously during recovery.

Here are some of my favorite fiction books that I read during this time. Some of these books are light-hearted women focused novels, some are more dramatic and serious, some are fantasy sci-fi novels, but they were all chosen from a place of wanting to read a fun, pleasurable story that completely transported me. If you’re looking for a great read, I am sure you will find something good in this list! Here they are:

Dune by Frank Herbert

Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler

The Power by Naomi Alderman

My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

The Secret History by Donna Tartt

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

The Thinking Woman’s Guide to Real Magic by Emily Croy Barker

This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman