BrainLine compiled this list of books about brain injury to help people who have been recently diagnosed, their loved ones, and others who want to learn more about TBI. Most are memoirs, some are non-fiction, and some offer tips and strategies on living with brain injury. Our list is only a small sampling of the books out there, but they are ones that our editorial staff has reviewed and that our generous online community has endorsed or mentioned as their favorites.
We hope you enjoy the list — alphabetized by author.
Please share other suggestions you may have in the comments section below.
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Where Is the Mango Princess: A Journey Back from Brain Injury
By Cathy Crimmins
When her husband, Alan, is injured in a speedboat accident, Cathy Crimmins reluctantly assumes the role of caregiver and learns to cope with the person he has become. No longer the man who loved obscure Japanese cinema and wry humor, Cathy’s husband has emerged from the accident a childlike and unpredictable replica of his former self with a short attention span and a penchant for inane cartoons. Where Is the Mango Princess? explores the very nature of personality -- and the complexities of the heart.
A Hard Chance: Sailing into the Heart of Love
By Tom Gallant
Tom and Melissa Gallant sat in their car at an intersection one early summer evening. After a decade of romance and adventure, they were at a crossroads in their lives. Melissa wanted to settle down and start a business. Tom wanted to sail their schooner around the world. They decided to go their separate ways. Then, their car was t-boned by a bus. This is the story of what happens afterward. It’s the story of a love affair full of high sea adventures and romance, of life lived far from the conventions of polite society. And it is also the story of redemption conferred by accepting the hardest things in life with an open heart.
Bart Goldstein was 16 when he sustained a traumatic brain injury in a car crash in 2001. Told from his father’s point of view, the book chronicles the family’s ordeal, and flashbacks fill in Bart’s life since he arrived from Korea at the age of five months. Considering every possibility in their search for remedies to Bart’s catastrophic injuries, the Goldsteins explored several promising alternatives. Bart’s remarkable recovery resulted from a combination of conventional medicine and alternative and emerging therapies.
Life Out of Order
By Sally Laux
Life Out of Order is Sally Laux’s reflection on her life as it relates to her three brothers and of what happened to them. It is a story of holding onto oneself in the midst of six siblings and rediscovering oneself while losing them, one after another. It is a story of sibling life and sibling loss. Sally Laux lost two brothers to death then became guardian to her third brother after a car crash left him severely impaired with traumatic brain injury.
Rise and Shine
By Simon Lewis
Simon Lewis was a film producer whose life was turned upside down when his car was broadsided and sent careening into a tree. The crash killed his new wife instantly and left him severely injured. He entered a coma he wasn't expected to emerge from, but he did, and over the next dozen years he disproved medical professionals and textbooks with a full recovery while also navigating the labyrinthine insurance industry and managing to find his faith. Rise and Shine is the story of what it means to return to live after a near-death experience.
He Never Liked Cake
By Janna Leyde
When Janna Leyde was a teenager, her father sustained a severe brain injury in a car crash. Since that day, Janna’s life has been a navigation through the inescapable struggles of her father's brain injury, a study of her mother's resilience and unconditional love, and a challenge to find her own identity and acceptance as an adult. “Growing up with a father with a TBI is complicated, un-ending grief without closure,” she writes. “It’s the opposite of resolution. It’s missing someone like hell who’s still alive and with you.”
Head Cases: Stories of Brain Injury and Their Aftermath
By Michael Paul Mason
Head Cases takes us into the dark side of the brain in an astonishing sequence of stories, at once true and strange, from the world of brain damage. Michael Paul Mason is one of an elite group of experts who coordinate care in the complicated aftermath of tragic injuries that can last a lifetime. On the road with Michael, readers encounter people with brain injuries as they struggle to map and make sense of the new worlds they inhabit.
I Am the Central Park Jogger
By Trisha Meili
Shortly after 9 p.m. on April 19, 1989, a young woman jogs alone near 102nd Street in New York City's Central Park. She is attacked, raped, savagely beaten, and left for dead. Hours later she arrives at the emergency room — comatose — with a fractured skull, an 85-degree body temperature, and she has lost so much blood that her doctors believe it's a miracle she's still alive. Meet Trisha Meili, the Central Park Jogger.
Broken Arrow Boy
By Adam Moore
When Adam Moore was 8 years old, a fluke accident resulted in an arrow piercing his brain. The accident led him into a world of hospitals, operations, and physical therapy. Just one year later, Adam was inspired to use his experiences to create a book, Broken Arrow Boy. It tells of his remarkable recovery from brain injury. He entered his book into the 1989 Landmark Editions' National Written & Illustrated by ... Contest, open for students ages 6 to 19. Adam won the Gold Award.
Head Games: Football’s Concussion Crisis from the NFL to Youth Leagues
By Christopher Nowinski
America's favorite sport has a serious problem. Many of the NFL's top players — including Troy Aikman, Steve Young, Merril Hoge, Ted Johnson, Al Toon, and Wayne Chrebet — have had their careers ended by head injuries. But few realize that most NFL players are suffering multiple concussions during their career, and shocking new studies reveal that these players suffer higher rates of depression, cognitive disorders, and Alzheimer’s disease.
Locked inside a brain-injured head looking out at a challenging world is the premise of Claudia Osborn’s memoir. Over My Head is the story of how one woman comes to terms with the loss of her identity and the courageous steps — and sometimes hilarious missteps — she takes while learning to rebuild her life. The author — a 45-year-old doctor and clinical professor of medicine — describes the aftermath of a brain injury that stripped her of her beloved profession.
In 1997, Garry Prowe’s wife, Jessica, sustained a severe brain injury in a car crash. Since then, he has been studying how people recover from serious brain injuries and live purposeful lives. This book is a result not only of his research and personal experiences as Jessica's caregiver, but also of the shared expertise of a panel of more than 300 people with brain injury, caregivers, family members, and medical professionals. His book, he says, is a labor of love. All profits are donated to brain injury organizations in the U.S. and Canada.
Learning by Accident
By Rosemary Rawlins
On a sunny spring day, in an ordinary kitchen, Rosemary Rawlins — a wife and mother of twin teenage girls — answers an unexpected phone call. A car has hit her husband, Hugh, who was out on his bike for a workout. Learning by Accident celebrates how shedding fear and starting over can lead to peace, and in that place of peace, possibilities appear, and lives flourish.
Crash: A Mother, a Son, and the Journey from Grief to Gratitude
By Carolyn Roy-Bornstein
After 25 years of caring for children, first as a nurse, then as a pediatrician, Carolyn Roy-Bornstein finds herself on the other side of the stretcher when her 17-year-old son, Neil, is hit by a teenage drunk driver while walking his girlfriend, Trista, home after a study date. Trista did not survive her injuries. Neil carries his with him to this day.
Both a medical drama and meditation on motherhood, The Water Giver is Joan Ryan's honest account of her doubts and mistakes in raising a child with a learning disability and the story of how his near-fatal accident gave her a second chance as a parent.
To Love What Is: A Marriage Transformed
By Alix Kates Shulman
One day it happens: the dreaded event that will change your life forever. For Alix Kates Shulman, it happened in a remote seaside cabin on a coastal Maine island — where the very isolation that makes for a perfect artist’s retreat can also put life at risk. Alix woke to find that her beloved husband had fallen the nine feet from their sleeping loft and was lying on the floor below, deathly still. Though Scott would survive, he suffered an injury that left him seriously brain impaired. He was the same — but not the same.
I’ll Carry the Fork
By Kara Swanson
“The curious thing about the auto accident that ended my life was that I lived through it. On January 31, 1996, Death sneaked through a red light disguised as a minivan going 50 miles an hour. ’Course, nobody told me that when they finished pulling me out of my car, they were putting me right on the bus…. That’s what I call the process of recovering from traumatic brain injury: ‘getting on the bus.’” So writes Kara Swanson in her wickedly funny and honest memoir about living with a brain injury.
A Three Dog Life
By Abigail Thomas
When Abigail Thomas’s husband, Rich, was hit by a car, his brain shattered. Subject to rages, terrors, and hallucinations, he must live the rest of his life in an institution. He has no memory of what he did the hour, the day, the year before. This tragedy is the ground on which Abigail had to build a new life. How she built that life is a story of great courage and great change, of moving to a small country town, of a new family composed of three dogs, knitting, and friendship, of facing down guilt and discovering gratitude. It is also about her relationship with Rich, a man who lives in the eternal present, and the eerie poetry of his often uncanny perceptions.
In an Instant: A Family's Journey of Love and Healing
By Lee and Bob Woodruff
In January 2006, Lee and Bob Woodruff seemed to have it all — a happy marriage, four beautiful children, and marvelous careers. Bob had just been named co-anchor of ABC’s World News Tonight, but then, while he was embedded with the military in Iraq, an improvised explosive device went off near the tank he was riding in. He and his cameraman, Doug Vogt, were hit, and Bob suffered a traumatic brain injury that nearly killed him. In an Instant is an extraordinary drama of marriage, family, war, and nation.