My Must-Reads

Book recommendations for living with ME CFS

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There are books out there which promise a “cure” or the “best way” of getting rid of every chronic illness out there. However, as yet, I don’t feel comfortable with that approach. I know my chronic fatigue isn’t going anywhere (yet) so for now I want to feel comfortable and at peace with it. Obviously easier said than done!

There are several books I’ve read over the last few months which I’ve absolutely loved. They’ve totally resonated with me and got me thinking about priorities, values and just the basics of needing to get through the day-to-day.

Hopefully you might like some of them too, let me know if you do!

Mummying and M.E’s Must Reads of July 2019

How to Live Well with Chronic Illness and How to Be Sick – Toni Bernhard 

What both of these books do is help you to get to the elusive acceptance stage of chronic illness. Trying to fight an illness or even pretend it isn’t there, is a losing battle, but what this book allows you to do is not only come to terms with the illness but learn strategies of getting through from day to day. I particularly liked the first few chapters on communicating one’s illnesses to others and learning how to deal with anger.  


F*** It series – John Parkin

This has to be my favourite out of this list. The beginning of this book explains the situation that the majority of us end up in: “I’ll be happy when…” What John Parkin does so brilliantly is explain that if we constantly aim for a future point, we never learn to be happy or at least content with what’s happening in the here and now. With chronic illness the whole point is the symptoms aren’t going to go away. Trying to aim for the point at which you are completely symptom-free is useless. Instead, this book encourages us to say “f*** it”. 

Book recommendations for living with ME CFS
Books recommendations for living with ME CFS

Fighting Fatigue: Managing the Symptoms of ME CFS – Sue Pemberton

This book is more of a workbook than an information text. Each chapter covers the different aspects of living with ME CFS: rest, sleep, diet etc and allows you to work through a series of activities and tasks to encourage you to explore your fatigue and understand it that bit better. Overall the book allows you to learn to live with the condition of ME CFS, not fight against it. What I particularly like about this book is that it is not making you buy or do things that are completely weird like some other books do. 


Mindfulness: A Practical Guide to Finding Peace in a Frantic World – Mark Williams and Danny Penman

The concept of mindfulness has become increasingly popular over the last 5 years and for good reason. It is a common misconception that mindfulness involves ignoring or getting rid of all thoughts and feelings and forgetting it all. Far from it, mindfulness is the approach of noticing your thoughts and feelings without judgement. Most importantly, it teaches you to sit with your emotions, as painful as that might be at first. This book by Mark Williams is a really good explanation for those new to mindfulness and gives you some suggestions of mindfulness meditations. 

Book recommendations for living with ME CFS
Books recommendations for living with ME CFS

Reasons to Stay Alive – Matt Haig 

It is known that those with chronic illness have a higher chance of developing depression. For those with already pre-disposing depression and/or anxiety, the introduction of ME CFS into the mix can exacerbate an already fragile mental state. Matt Haig’s book is not just interesting but sobering at the same time. The section that continues to be my favourite, and has inspired my own “Things that make Soph better/worse” is where Matt has written his list of the things that make him better (mindfulness, running, yoga), as well as the things that make him worse (coffee, lack of sleep, the dark, the cold).  While these lists are totally personal to him, they allowed me to reflect on the actions that help me and also don’t help me which then nicely links into how to spend my spoons more wisely. (If you haven’t already read my explanation of the Spoon Theory, click here to read.) 

Book recommendations for living with ME CFS
Books recommendations for living with ME CFS

For all the parents out there: 

  • Why Mummy Drinks / Why Mummy Swears / Why Mummy Doesn’t Give a Fuck – Gill Sims
  • Hurrah for Gin – Katie Kirby
  • The Unmumsy Mum – Sarah Turner 

These books are absolutely fantastic. There’s no other way to put it. If you haven’t read these, buy them now. The way each of these authors describes life with children, in such a frank, honest but hilarious manner, is just brilliant. I thoroughly recommend. 


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