Summer Reading List: Novels, Memoirs, & Nonfiction Your Occupational Therapy Colleagues Love

By Stephanie Yamkovenko posted 11 days ago


Ready to get lost in your next novel, memoir, or nonfiction book? Your colleagues recommend these 12 books—from Lisa Genova’s latest novel to classic Oliver Sacks, you will find plenty of titles to add to your summer reading list!

Comment with what’s on your list for this summer or join the ongoing discussion about books here.


The Reason I Jump: The Inner Voice of a Thirteen-Year-Old Boy with Autism by Naoki Higashida

A Japanese boy diagnosed with autism when he was 5 learned to communicate using a handmade alphabet grid and began writing poems and short stories. He wrote this memoir when he was 13 years old. An AOTA member says it is insightful reading and good to learn from a cultural standpoint, too.

My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist's Personal Journey by Jill Bolte Taylor

A brain scientist’s stroke in her left hemisphere givers her insight into the different functions of the two brain hemispheres. An AOTA member says the author has wonderful suggestions for working with stroke patients based on neurology.

Educated by Tara Westover

Westover’s parents were survivalists in the mountains of Idaho and the first time she set foot in a classroom was when she was 17 years old. AOTA members are loving this book saying that it’s helpful to learn about people and cultures in our own country that are drastically different from ourselves.

The Bite of the Mango by Mariatu Kamara with Susan McClelland

An AOTA member said this book is a difficult read and contains a lot of trauma that the author experienced as a child in Sierra Leone, but she says, “I was especially touched by a line in the book where she says how she lost her hands but realized she could still touch others through her heart…She has the attitude of enduring in her life!”


Lucky Boy by Shanthi Sekaran

The story of a Mexican teenager who enters the U.S. without papers and with child and a married couple who are coming to terms with their infertility and are exploring foster to adopt. A heartbreaking story of the foster care system, immigration, and infertility.

Waking Lions by Ayelet Gundar-Goshen

A respected neurosurgeon is forced by a professional dispute to relocate from Tel Aviv to Beersheba, a desert town where dust is everywhere.

Standard Deviation by Katherine Heiny

A stuffy banker reconsiders his bubbly second wife. An AOTA members says, “it’s a good read about family life in Manhattan with an adolescent son who has Asperger’s.”

Five Feet Apart by Rachael Lippincott

Two teens fall in love but because they both have cystic fibrosis they cannot get within a few feet of one another. @OT.Reads on Instagram (a great account that you should follow!) says the novel explores social participation, sexual activity, and ADLs of people with chronic illness and shows how the couple adapts behaviors to be as intimate as possible.

Every Note Played by Lisa Genova

AOTA members love author Lisa Genova, and one member who calls herself a “Lisa Genova devotee” recommends you read her newest book. An accomplished pianist has ALS and his divorced wife becomes his reluctant caretaker as he becomes increasingly paralyzed.

Twelve books covers of recommended books


The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down by Anne Fadiman

An AOTA member says it’s the one book that made them go into health care. The story of a refugee family’s experience with the U.S. healthcare system and their culture conflicts that obstructed treatment.

An Anthropologist on Mars by Oliver Sacks

Sacks explores seven medical case histories of individuals with neurological conditions such as autism and Tourette syndrome.

A Woman of No Importance by Sonia Purnell

Michael Roberts on Twitter said he loved the main character’s focus and steadfastness. “I don't think I would have liked to do her worksite eval, though.” This is the untold story of the American spy who helped win World War II.



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