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The 4 Best Novels I've Read About OCD


Editor's Note

If you struggle with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741. To find help, visit the International OCD Foundation’s website.

It’s no secret that I have obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). It’s also no secret that I love reading. Therefore, it makes sense that I’ve read a lot of books about OCD, both nonfiction and fiction.

I wanted to highlight four fiction books about OCD that I’ve read and would recommend to others. They all have things I like and dislike, but overall, they get my stamp of approval and do a great job at raising awareness.

Here they are, in the order I read them:

1. “OCD Love Story” by Corey Ann Haydu (Five stars.)

“It’s like, I’m scared and there’re a lot of ugly things, but I’d rather be shipwrecked on this lovely island than safe in a sad, gray cell.”

Age: Young Adult (This may not be appropriate for younger readers.)

Genre: Contemporary, Romance

“OCD Love Story” follows Bea and Beck, two teenagers learning about their OCD and anxiety. This was the first book I read when I was regaining my ability to read from OCD’s clutches. Therefore, it will always hold a special place in my heart. I remember being amazed at how well what she wrote matched my experiences. I ended up highlighting a lot of the book. Overall, OCD Love Story did a great job exemplifying what OCD is truly like, and it showed many different ways the disorder can present itself. Perhaps the best aspect was that it even included exposure and response prevention therapy (ERP), the recommended treatment for OCD.

2. “Every Last Word” by Tamara Ireland Stone (Four stars.)

“If you could read my mind, you wouldn’t be smiling.”

Age: Young Adult

Genre: Contemporary, Romance

This book stands apart from the rest because it doesn’t follow a “traditional,” stereotypical case of OCD. Instead, it follows someone with “Pure O.” Samantha struggles with dark thoughts and has no outward rituals. Certainly, we could use more books portraying the lesser-known “flavors of OCD.” There is a plot twist at the end which I thought was farfetched, but something I did appreciate in this book was the inclusion of Samantha’s poetry.

3. “Turtles All the Way Down” by John Green (Five stars.)

“Your now is not your forever.”

Age: Young Adult

Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Mystery

I enjoyed reading this book immensely. It’s a spectacular portrayal of what it’s like to have OCD, but also just a great story. Aza and Daisy attempt to solve the mystery of a missing person all while Aza battles OCD. John Green is one of my favorite YouTubers, and though I’m not a huge fan of his other books, this one could not be more different. My mom read this book as well, and it gave her a clearer glimpse into my experiences. My main complaint was that OCD was never called OCD in the book. It was left vague. Still, I appreciated the spiral metaphor.

4. “Finding Perfect” by Elly Swartz (Four stars.)

“When I get back to my room, I stand in the middle and stare at my perfectly aligned glass menagerie, my wrinkle-free bed, my neatly folded clothing, and realize that I can’t keep doing this. Things are getting worse. I’m losing control.”

Age: Middle Grade

Genre: Contemporary, Family

Overall, this was an excellent portrayal of what OCD can be like for a child, in this case Molly, as she struggles with family conflict and increasing anxiety. I thought Elly Swartz did a fantastic job describing what OCD can sound and feel like. It was heartbreaking, yet interesting, to watch Molly fall apart and then come back again. My only wish was that more time had been given to ERP therapy and Molly’s recovery process, and that ERP had been called ERP. It felt a little too fast, both in how many pages it was given and in the reality of how long getting a hold on OCD takes. Still, I loved the inclusion of the International OCD Foundation and their website, as Googling and finding them was a huge part of my journey as well.

Up next to read: “The Goldfish Boy” by Lisa Thompson

Age: Middle Grade

Genre: Contemporary, Mystery

What would you add? Let us know in the comments below.

Photo by Katy Belcher on Unsplash