20 best books on overcoming trauma – 2023 reading list & recommendations

Are you looking for a powerful book on overcoming trauma that will inspire and empower you? Look no further! We have compiled a list of the 20 best books about overcoming trauma that will help you heal, grow, and thrive. Whether you have experienced personal trauma or know someone who has, these books offer valuable insights, practical advice, and inspiring stories of resilience. Let’s dive into this incredible collection of overcoming trauma books and embark on a journey of healing and transformation.

The Body Keeps the Score

by Bessel van der Kolk

The Body Keeps the Score: A Book on Healing and Resilience

In this groundbreaking book about overcoming trauma, renowned psychiatrist Bessel van der Kolk takes us on a captivating journey into the fascinating world of the human mind and body. With a deep understanding of the intricate connections between trauma and the physical, emotional, and mental well-being of individuals, van der Kolk offers a fresh perspective on healing and resilience.

From his vast experience working with trauma survivors, including veterans, abuse victims, and individuals suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), van der Kolk unravels the mysteries of trauma and its lasting impact on our lives. He explores the powerful ways in which trauma shapes not only our minds but also our bodies and how it can manifest in a myriad of symptoms and disorders.

Through engaging stories of his patients and cutting-edge research, van der Kolk demonstrates how trauma affects the brain, alters our perception of reality, and can lead to a range of physical and mental health issues. He delves into the profound importance of understanding trauma on a deeper level, highlighting the significance of integrating mind, body, and spirit in the healing process.

With a compassionate and empathetic voice, van der Kolk guides us through various therapeutic approaches, such as neurofeedback, EMDR, and yoga, that have proven effective in helping individuals overcome the debilitating effects of trauma. He emphasizes the importance of finding safe and supportive environments, cultivating self-awareness, and reconnecting with others to foster resilience and recovery.

The Body Keeps the Score is a powerful and enlightening book that sheds light on the complex world of trauma and provides hope for those seeking to heal. Van der Kolk’s compelling narrative and wealth of knowledge make this book an essential read for anyone interested in understanding trauma, its impact, and the path to recovery.


by Tara Westover

Discover the extraordinary journey of Tara Westover in her memoir, Educated. This captivating book chronicles her remarkable story of resilience, courage, and triumph in the face of immense challenges, making it a true testament to the power of the human spirit.

Educated is a compelling book on overcoming trauma that takes readers on a rollercoaster of emotions as they follow Westover’s transformative journey. Raised in a strict and isolated household in rural Idaho, Westover’s upbringing was marked by abuse, neglect, and the absence of formal education. However, driven by an insatiable thirst for knowledge and a burning desire to escape her circumstances, she embarked on an incredible quest for self-discovery.

As the pages unfold, Westover’s story becomes an inspiring tale of resilience and determination. She eventually finds her way to education, defying all odds and earning a Ph.D. from Cambridge University. Along the way, she confronts the painful memories and trauma of her past, ultimately emerging as a survivor and a beacon of hope for others.

In this book about overcoming trauma, Westover’s vivid and evocative storytelling transports readers into her world, immersing them in the raw emotions and challenges she faced. Through her words, she explores themes of identity, family, and the power of education to reshape one’s life.

Educated is not just an overcoming trauma book; it is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit and the transformative power of education. Westover’s story serves as a reminder that no matter how dire our circumstances may seem, we have the strength within us to rise above and create a better future.

A Little Life

by Hanya Yanagihara

A Little Life is a powerful and heart-wrenching novel that delves into the depths of human resilience and the journey of overcoming trauma. Hanya Yanagihara’s masterpiece explores the lives of four friends as they navigate the complexities of love, friendship, and the lasting effects of past traumas.

In this captivating book about overcoming trauma, Yanagihara skillfully weaves a narrative that delves into the darkest corners of the human psyche. The characters grapple with their own personal demons, each facing their own unique battles as they strive to move forward and find healing.

Through the raw and unflinching portrayal of trauma, the author paints a vivid and haunting picture of the impact it can have on an individual’s life. Yet, amidst the pain and suffering, A Little Life also offers glimpses of hope and resilience, showing that even in the face of unimaginable horrors, the human spirit can still triumph.

This book on overcoming trauma is not for the faint of heart, as it delves into harrowing experiences and explores the depths of human suffering. However, it is also a testament to the power of friendship, love, and the unwavering strength of the human spirit. A Little Life is a poignant and unforgettable journey that will leave readers deeply moved and forever changed.

The Glass Castle

by Jeannette Walls

The Glass Castle is a remarkable book about triumphing over adversity and rising above challenging circumstances. Jeannette Walls, the author, shares her extraordinary journey of overcoming trauma and finding strength within herself.

The Color Purple

by Alice Walker

The Color Purple is a powerful and poignant book about triumphing over adversity and healing from past traumas. Set in rural Georgia in the early 20th century, this novel explores the life of Celie, a young African-American woman who endures unimaginable hardships. Through Celie’s compelling narrative, Alice Walker delves into themes of resilience, sisterhood, and self-discovery.

The Great Alone

by Kristin Hannah

The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah is a captivating book on conquering adversity and finding strength amidst trauma. Set in the untamed wilderness of Alaska in the 1970s, this powerful story follows the Allbright family as they strive to build a new life off the grid.

Ernt Allbright, a former Vietnam War POW, decides to move his wife, Cora, and their thirteen-year-old daughter, Leni, to the isolated town of Kaneq. Hoping to escape the demons of his past, Ernt believes that the rugged Alaskan frontier will provide the solace they desperately need.

However, as winter descends and the darkness engulfs the land, the harsh reality of their new life becomes painfully clear. The Allbrights must face not only the unforgiving wilderness but also the escalating violence and turmoil within their own household. Leni, caught in the crossfire between her volatile father and her resilient mother, must navigate the treacherous path to self-discovery and survival.

Through Hannah’s evocative storytelling, readers witness the resilience and determination that can emerge in the face of unimaginable trauma. Leni’s journey is a testament to the human spirit and the capacity for healing, as she learns to find strength within herself and forge her own path forward.

The Great Alone is an inspiring book about overcoming trauma, love, and the unbreakable bonds of family. Hannah’s vivid descriptions of the Alaskan wilderness transport readers into a world both beautiful and brutal, where the characters must confront their deepest fears and find the courage to rebuild their lives. This gripping tale will keep you on the edge of your seat, rooting for the Allbrights as they fight to overcome the darkness and find hope in the most unlikely places.

The Road

by Cormac McCarthy

The Road by Cormac McCarthy is a mesmerizing and hauntingly beautiful novel that delves into the depths of human resilience in the face of unimaginable hardship. Set in a post-apocalyptic world, this powerful book explores the journey of a father and his young son as they navigate through a desolate landscape, searching for safety and a semblance of hope.

While The Road can be viewed as a book about overcoming trauma, it goes beyond that, delving into the very essence of what it means to be human. McCarthy skillfully weaves a tale of survival, love, and the unbreakable bond between a parent and child. It is a story that speaks to the indomitable spirit within all of us, and the lengths we are willing to go to protect those we hold dear.

Through vivid and poetic prose, McCarthy paints a bleak yet strangely beautiful picture of a world devastated by an unnamed catastrophe. As the father and son face incredible hardships, both physical and emotional, they are forced to confront the darkness within themselves and the world around them. But amidst the despair, there are glimmers of hope, moments of tenderness, and acts of kindness that remind us of the inherent goodness that can be found in humanity.

The Road is a book that will grip you from the first page and never let go. It will challenge your beliefs, tug at your heartstrings, and leave you questioning the nature of survival and the lengths we are capable of going to overcome the darkest of circumstances. It is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit and a reminder that even in the face of unimaginable trauma, there is still room for compassion, love, and the will to carry on.

The Kite Runner

by Khaled Hosseini

The Kite Runner is a powerful and poignant book about overcoming trauma written by Khaled Hosseini. Set against the backdrop of Afghanistan’s tumultuous history, this novel takes readers on a gripping journey of redemption, friendship, and forgiveness.

The story revolves around Amir, a privileged young boy growing up in Kabul. His closest friend is Hassan, the son of his father’s servant. However, their friendship is overshadowed by a traumatic incident that haunts Amir for years to come.

As the political situation in Afghanistan worsens, Amir and his father are forced to flee to America. Yet, the weight of guilt and shame from his past actions continue to plague Amir’s conscience. Determined to find redemption, he embarks on a journey back to his homeland, seeking a way to make amends and free himself from the shackles of his past.

Hosseini’s masterful storytelling transports readers into a world of vivid imagery and emotional turmoil. Through Amir’s narrative, he explores themes of love, betrayal, sacrifice, and ultimately, the power of redemption. The book on overcoming trauma delves deep into the human psyche, showcasing the resilience of the human spirit and the healing that can be found through forgiveness and self-forgiveness.

The Kite Runner is a thought-provoking and emotionally charged novel that will leave readers reflecting on the power of redemption and the enduring bonds of friendship. It is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit and a reminder that even in the face of trauma, healing and forgiveness are possible.

The Book Thief

by Markus Zusak

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak is a captivating book on overcoming trauma that takes place in Nazi Germany during World War II. The story follows Liesel Meminger, a young girl who finds solace and escape in the power of words.

Liesel’s life is filled with heartbreak and loss as she is taken in by foster parents, Hans and Rosa Hubermann. Despite the harsh reality of living under Nazi rule, Liesel discovers the transformative power of books and begins stealing them, hence earning her nickname, “The Book Thief.”

Through her stolen books, Liesel learns about empathy, courage, and the importance of standing up against injustice. As she navigates the horrors of war, Liesel finds comfort in the stories she reads and the friendships she forms, including her bond with Max Vandenburg, a Jewish refugee hiding in her basement.

This book about overcoming trauma beautifully explores themes of resilience, love, and the strength of the human spirit. Zusak’s unique narration style, told from the perspective of Death, adds an intriguing layer to the narrative, making it a truly unforgettable read.

With its powerful storytelling and unforgettable characters, The Book Thief is an overcoming trauma book that will leave readers deeply moved and inspired.

The Hate U Give

by Angie Thomas

The Hate U Give: A Powerful Book on Conquering Trauma

Prepare to be moved, inspired, and forever changed by Angie Thomas’ groundbreaking novel, The Hate U Give. This thought-provoking masterpiece delves deep into the heart-wrenching journey of a young black girl named Starr Carter, who witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood friend, Khalil, at the hands of a police officer.

Through the mesmerizing storytelling of Thomas, The Hate U Give explores the profound impact of trauma and how it can shape and define one’s life. Starr finds herself at the crossroads of two vastly different worlds: her predominantly black neighborhood, Garden Heights, and the predominantly white prep school she attends. As she navigates these worlds, she grapples with the trauma of witnessing her friend’s death and the subsequent pressure to speak out.

Thomas expertly captures Starr’s internal struggle, allowing readers to witness her transformation from a timid girl silenced by fear to a courageous young woman determined to use her voice as a catalyst for change. The book delves into themes of racial inequality, police brutality, and the power of community, all while shining a light on the resilience and strength that can emerge from trauma.

The Hate U Give is not just a book about overcoming trauma; it is a rallying cry for justice, empathy, and the power of self-discovery. Thomas’ gripping narrative forces readers to confront uncomfortable truths about society while also offering hope and a call to action. It challenges us to examine our own biases, question the systems in place, and strive for a better, more equitable world.

If you’re looking for an empowering book that tackles important issues head-on, The Hate U Give is a must-read. Prepare to embark on an emotional journey that will leave you changed and ready to make a difference in the world.

The Girl on the Train

by Paula Hawkins

Are you ready to embark on a thrilling journey of healing and resilience? Look no further than The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins, an electrifying page-turner that delves into the depths of trauma and the power of overcoming it.

This gripping novel follows Rachel Watson, a troubled woman struggling to come to terms with her painful past. Divorce, alcoholism, and shattered dreams have left her shattered, but she finds solace in the seemingly perfect lives of a couple she observes from the train window every day.

However, when Rachel witnesses something shocking and becomes entangled in a chilling mystery, she is thrust into a quest for truth that will force her to confront her own demons head-on. As she unravels the secrets of the enigmatic couple, Rachel must navigate through trauma, uncover buried memories, and summon the strength to overcome her haunting past.

Through its heart-pounding twists and turns, The Girl on the Train becomes much more than a psychological thriller. It becomes a beacon of hope, illustrating the resilience of the human spirit and the transformative power of self-discovery. Hawkins’ expert storytelling skillfully weaves together themes of trauma, redemption, and triumph, creating a narrative that will leave you breathless and inspired.

So, if you’re seeking an enthralling read that will take you on an emotional rollercoaster while shedding light on the journey of overcoming trauma, The Girl on the Train is your ticket to an unforgettable experience.


by Emma Donoghue

Room by Emma Donoghue is an extraordinary book on conquering adversity. It tells the gripping story of a young woman named Ma, who has been held captive in a small shed for seven years. The novel is narrated by Ma’s five-year-old son, Jack, who has never known the outside world. In this compelling tale of resilience, Ma and Jack find solace and strength in their unbreakable bond, as they navigate the challenges of confinement and ultimately strive for freedom.

The Help

by Kathryn Stockett

The Help by Kathryn Stockett: A Remarkable Tale of Resilience and Triumph

Indulge yourself in the mesmerizing world of “The Help,” a captivating novel that delves into the depths of overcoming adversity and healing from past wounds. This extraordinary book on resilience and triumph takes readers on a transformative journey, where the power of unity and courage reigns supreme.

Set in the 1960s, in the heart of Mississippi, “The Help” explores the lives of three courageous women who dare to challenge the deeply ingrained racial prejudices of their time. Skeeter, a young white woman, defies societal expectations by embarking on a mission to shed light on the untold stories of black maids working in white households.

With her determination and unwavering spirit, Skeeter connects with Aibileen and Minny, two brave black maids who have experienced the trauma of discrimination and injustice firsthand. As they collaborate, their collective strength and resilience become a beacon of hope for all those suffering under the weight of prejudice.

Through their bond, these extraordinary women find the courage to confront the scars of their past, ultimately overcoming the trauma that has shaped their lives. Their stories intertwine, creating a powerful narrative of resilience, friendship, and the indomitable human spirit.

Stockett’s masterful storytelling brings to life the struggles, triumphs, and heartaches of the characters, immersing readers in a world where compassion and empathy serve as catalysts for change. With every turn of the page, the book becomes a testament to the strength of the human spirit and the transformative power of unity.

So, immerse yourself in this poignant tale of overcoming trauma, where the resilience of the human spirit shines through, reminding us that even in our darkest moments, there is always hope for a brighter future.

The Alchemist

by Paulo Coelho

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho is a captivating book about transforming one’s life and conquering the struggles that hold us back. It is a powerful odyssey of self-discovery and resilience that takes readers on a journey of overcoming trauma and finding true purpose.

The Catcher in the Rye

by J.D. Salinger

The Catcher in the Rye is a captivating coming-of-age novel that delves deep into the struggles of a young man trying to navigate the complexities of adolescence while overcoming his traumatic experiences.

The Bell Jar

by Sylvia Plath

The Bell Jar: A Journey of Healing and Resilience

Discover a remarkable tale of resilience and personal growth in Sylvia Plath’s masterpiece, The Bell Jar. This groundbreaking novel delves into the depths of the human psyche, exploring the challenges faced by its protagonist as she navigates the treacherous path of overcoming trauma.

Set in 1950s America, The Bell Jar introduces us to Esther Greenwood, a young and talented woman on the brink of adulthood. As Esther embarks on a prestigious internship in New York City, her once-promising future soon becomes overshadowed by a suffocating sense of disillusionment and despair.

Plath vividly captures Esther’s emotional turmoil, drawing readers into her world of inner conflicts and external pressures. Through her poetic prose, Plath skillfully portrays the challenges faced by individuals grappling with mental health issues, making The Bell Jar a poignant and relatable journey for anyone who has experienced or seeks to understand the weight of trauma.

As Esther battles her own demons, Plath takes us on a haunting exploration of the human condition, shedding light on the importance of self-discovery and the power of resilience. Through Esther’s journey, readers witness her transformation from a vulnerable young woman confined by societal expectations to a strong and empowered individual ready to reclaim her life.

The Bell Jar is a timeless classic that delves deep into the complexities of trauma and the process of healing. Plath’s unflinching honesty and raw portrayal of Esther’s journey make this novel an essential read for those seeking insight, empathy, and inspiration in their own personal struggles.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

by Stephen Chbosky

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky is a captivating book about overcoming trauma that takes readers on an emotional journey of self-discovery and growth.

Set in the early 1990s, the story follows Charlie, a socially awkward and introverted high school freshman. As he navigates the tumultuous world of adolescence, Charlie finds solace in his newfound friendships with step-siblings Sam and Patrick, who introduce him to a world of freedom, acceptance, and love.

Through a series of letters addressed to an anonymous recipient, Charlie shares his experiences, fears, and hopes as he grapples with past traumas and tries to understand his place in the world. The novel explores themes of friendship, love, sexuality, mental health, and the power of personal expression.

Chbosky’s writing is raw, honest, and deeply moving, capturing the essence of teenage angst and the challenges of overcoming past wounds. The characters are incredibly relatable, each dealing with their own struggles and striving to find their own path towards healing.

With its poignant storytelling and heartfelt messages, The Perks of Being a Wallflower is an overcoming trauma book that will resonate with readers of all ages. It reminds us of the power of human connection and the strength we possess to overcome our past and embrace the beauty of life.


by Cheryl Strayed

Wild is a captivating memoir that takes readers on an emotional journey of self-discovery and healing. It is a powerful book about triumphing over adversity and finding strength in the face of overwhelming trauma.

The Secret Life of Bees

by Sue Monk Kidd

The Secret Life of Bees is a captivating book on triumphing over adversity and finding healing amidst trauma. This powerful novel, penned by Sue Monk Kidd, delves into the inspiring journey of a young girl named Lily Owens, who embarks on a quest for self-discovery and liberation.

The Fault in Our Stars

by John Green

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green is a remarkable book that delves into the lives of two teenagers, Hazel Grace Lancaster and Augustus Waters, as they navigate the challenges of living with cancer. But don’t let the topic intimidate you; this is not just another book about overcoming trauma.

In this beautifully written novel, Green explores the power of love, friendship, and the pursuit of meaning in the face of adversity. Hazel and Augustus form an instant connection at a cancer support group, and together they embark on a journey of self-discovery and acceptance.

While the characters in The Fault in Our Stars are dealing with cancer, the book is about so much more. It’s about finding joy in the little things, embracing the present moment, and making the most of the time we have. It’s a story that reminds us that life is fragile, but it’s also incredibly precious.

This book is not just an overcoming trauma book, but a tale of resilience, courage, and the transformative power of love. It will make you laugh, cry, and reflect on the true meaning of life. So if you’re looking for a book that will touch your heart and leave a lasting impact, The Fault in Our Stars is a must-read.


In conclusion, these 20 books about overcoming trauma offer powerful stories of resilience, healing, and hope. Whether you are personally navigating your own trauma or seeking to understand and support someone else, these books provide valuable insights and guidance. From memoirs to self-help guides, each book offers unique perspectives and strategies for overcoming adversity. By delving into these powerful narratives, we can gain a deeper understanding of the human experience and find inspiration to overcome our own challenges. So, grab a book from this list and embark on a journey towards healing and transformation.