Need to Know: What Are Some Good Books That Feature Multiple Sclerosis?

Tamara Sellman avatar

by Tamara Sellman |

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Editor’s note: “Need to Know” is a series inspired by common forum questions and comments from readers. Have a comment or question about MS? Visit our forum.

This week’s question, inspired by the forum topic Books…” of May 4, 2018: 

What are some good books that focus on MS?

Whether you’re someone with a brand-new MS diagnosis or a veteran, it’s likely you’ve sought out reading to learn more about this complex and challenging disorder.

In the original post cited above (thanks, Jacqueline!), Trevis L. Gleason’s 2015 “Chef Interrupted: Discovering Life’s Second Course in Ireland with Multiple Sclerosis” came highly recommended.

As a voracious reader and a resident in greater Seattle, where the publisher is located, I chide myself for not having already read this book (it is, however, on my “to read” list).

What I do know is this: “Chef Interrupted” is a highly rated and award-winning book. Also, I know through the local grapevine that the author’s speaking engagement at Seattle’s Swedish MS Center was widely attended and the reviews there were very favorable.

Also worth noting: In 2012, celebrity physician Dr. Mehmet Oz designated Gleason as the “#1 Social HealthMaker on Multiple Sclerosis” for his Life with MS blog and other social media efforts.

Gleason’s book keeps company with a solid list of others worth reading on the topic of MS. Because there are so many great titles out there, I’m limiting this list to 10 personal accounts that I have either read or know to be inspiring, powerful reads.

10 personal memories of living with MS

Chasing Hope: A Patient’s Deep Dive into Stem Cells, Faith, and the Future, by Richard Cohen

You may recognize the author as the spouse of television journalist Meredith Vieira. His experience with living with MS for over four decades — including blindness and paralysis — led him to report on cutting-edge stem cell research that gives many people hope for relief from MS.

Tackling Multiple Sclerosis: The Frank Hickson Story,” by William F. Hickson III

This book is not only a memoir about living with multiple sclerosis, but a devoted family history surrounding the life of a young man with professional football dreams who changed course, post-diagnosis, to become a celebrated football coach.

Love Sick,” by Cory Martin

Want a humorous story about life with MS? This memoir features a young woman who had a budding career as a Hollywood writer until she was given an MS diagnosis. Martin shares her pursuit for true love by chronicling her dating adventures as a person with MS. Ten percent of the book’s proceeds go to support the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

Broken Mary,” by Kevin Matthews

Those with ties to Chicago likely know this man from his days as a radio host for “The Loop,” where he served as radio comic and sports commentator. Matthews, a former stand-up comedian, wrote this confessional after discovering a broken statue of the Virgin Mary near a dumpster.

Misdiagnosed: One Woman’s Tour of — And Escape From — Healthcareland,” by Jody Berger

For many, it can take years of jumping through hoops, dealing with judgmental family members and healthcare providers, facing questionable test results, and enduring insurance vagaries before achieving an actual diagnosis. This book is for anyone who’s been part of that diagnostic circus.

Simply Amor: A Mother’s Miracle — Living with Multiple Sclerosis,” by Irma Resendez

Resendez is the CEO and founder of Familia Unida, established 20 years ago in the greater Los Angeles area. The organization serves over 15,000 individuals and families living with MS and its related disabilities. This book records her personal story of diagnosis at age 28 with two toddlers in hand and the news she would probably never walk again.

A Final Arc of Sky: A Memoir of Critical Care,” by Jennifer Culkin

This inspiring memoir by a former emergency life flight nurse is a sweeping review of the author’s life. As such, it isn’t focused only on multiple sclerosis, but on many key aspects of her life. Perhaps the greatest value of this book is not the story of Culkin’s MS diagnosis itself, but rather how she manages to live her challenging life in spite of it.

My Story: A Photographic Essay on Life with Multiple Sclerosis, by Amelia Davis

This one should just be sold with a box of tissues. It’s a gorgeous book combining beautiful black-and-white images with personal essays from the author and commentaries from her family and friends. This one belongs in the “You Are Not Alone” category of inspirational reading.

People with MS with the Courage to Give,” by Jackie Waldman, et al.

Waldman has collected 24 first-person accounts from men and women living with MS, including a physician, a corporate senior vice president, a community garden activist, and even the story of David Lander (better known as “Squiggy” in the ’70s sitcom, “Laverne and Shirley”). Great reading for commuters and short attention spans.

Dirty Details: The Days and Nights of a Well Spouse,by Marion Deutsche Cohen

While this is an older title, Cohen dares to tell a baldly honest narrative about living with MS from the angle of the caregiver. This is not a comfortable read, but it is considered an important book, given the number of reading lists that archive it as a key resource for MS caregivers who are also family members.

Do you have a favorite MS memoir? Post your replies on this piece’s comment section or at the original Books...” forum entry.


Note: Multiple Sclerosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Multiple Sclerosis News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to multiple sclerosis.


Paula Johnston avatar

Paula Johnston

Thank you for the recommendations.

Tamara Sellman avatar

Tamara Sellman

You're welcome! Have a great holiday!

Suzanne Tesch avatar

Suzanne Tesch

Thank you for the suggested books! I don't think I have read any of them but will add them to my list of books I want to read. I would also like to add "The Unmapped Mind" by Christian Dolan.

Tamara Sellman avatar

Tamara Sellman

Hi Suzanne,
I do a reading list in December for the following year, and as it happens, The Unmapped Mind is already on my list! Enjoy your reading and maybe it's too soon, but Happy New Year!


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