12 Must-Reads if You Have Rheumatoid Arthritis

by Lene Andersen, MSW Patient Advocate

Rheumatoid Arthritis Books You Should Read

Living with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is not easy. Connecting with other people who also live with the condition is an important part of adapting and finding a way to live well with RA. One way to learn from others is through books written by people who have this condition. We combed through the options and collected a list of the best.

Take Me Home from the Oscars
Skyhorse Publishing

"Take Me Home from the Oscars: Arthritis, Television, Fashion, and Me"

Many of us are a bit private about how RA affects our lives, but Christine Schwab had to hide it from the world. A successful style and fashion reporter, her career depended on not being sick. In her book “Take Me Home from the Oscars: Arthritis, Television, Fashion, and Me," she finally stopped hiding, instead choosing to tell the truth about what it is like to be desperately ill and flaring with RA, while maintaining a high-pressure career in the entertainment industry.

Errant Gods
Ratatoskr Publishing

"Errant Gods"

How many times have you read a rollicking adventure in which the hero had RA? Erik Henry Vick, the author of “Errant Gods,” uses his own experience of living with RA to draw a vivid and realistic image of the daily struggle. He then places his hero in another realm, fighting with and against powerful near-gods to save his family. “Errant Gods” isn’t just a great story, though. Reading a book in which someone who has RA is the actual hero of the story is both inspiring and empowering.

Your Life with Rheumatoid Arthritis: Tools for Managing Treatment, Side Effects and Pain
Two North Books

"Your Life With Rheumatoid Arthritis: Tools for Managing Treatment, Side Effects and Pain"

One of the most frustrating parts of RA is having to figure it all out yourself, which can take you down unnecessary and unproductive dead ends. “Your Life with Rheumatoid Arthritis: Tools for Managing Treatment, Side Effects, and Pain” is the first in a series for both RA newbies and veterans. I wrote this book with the intent of it serving as a friend who’ll guide you through making decisions, coping with symptoms, and creating a better life with RA. You can read more of my writing here on HealthCentral.

Enemy Within: A Memoir of Strength, Determination and Acceptance
New Holland Publishers

"Enemy Within: A Memoir of Strength, Determination and Acceptance"

When your life spans the gamut of being a virtual prisoner because RA prevents you from leaving your home, to being the nanny for a rock star’s children, a survivor of domestic abuse, and an RA advocate, you write it all down. In “Enemy Within: A Memoir of Strength, Determination and Acceptance,” author Karen Ager shares stories from her over 30 years of living with RA. It’s a heartfelt book that brings home the truth that there is so much more to life with RA, yet the condition can color everything you do.

Schaffner Press

"Hard to Grip: A Memoir of Youth, Baseball, and Chronic Illness"

Every now and again, a child’s dream to grow up to play professional baseball comes true. It did for Emil DeAndreis. And then, RA took that dream away. In his memoir, “Hard to Grip: A Memoir of Youth, Baseball, and Chronic Illness,” he tells the story of how baseball is connected to everything good in his life, and how he re-created that life after RA. It’s an extremely relatable book; everyone with RA has had dreams that they’ve had to give up or reimagine after their diagnosis. You can read more of Emil’s writing here on HealthCentral.

The Rheumatoid Arthritis Cookbook: Anti-Inflammatory Recipes to Fight Flares and Fatigue
Rockridge press

"The Rheumatoid Arthritis Cookbook: Anti-Inflammatory Recipes to Fight Flares and Fatigue"

Many diets claim to be able to cure RA with little research to back them up. However, the anti-inflammatory diet has significant evidence to demonstrate its effectiveness. In “The Rheumatoid Arthritis Cookbook: Anti-Inflammatory Recipes to Fight Flares and Fatigue,” nutritionist Caitlin Samson shares delicious recipes based on the anti-inflammatory diet. Although not everyone who has RA finds their condition responds to changes in how they eat, this diet is well-supported by research to improve your overall health, to include reducing the risk of heart disease.

Parent and child walking down hallway towards light.
iStock

"So Young: A Life Lived With Rheumatoid Arthritis"

Like many others with RA, Daniel P. Malito was tired of hearing that he was too young to have this chronic illness. This is why he wrote So Young: A Life Lived With Rheumatoid Arthritis,” his memoir of living with autoimmune arthritis since the age of 11. Funny, heartbreaking, and deeply touching, this book will make you feel as if you know Dan and want to have dinner with him to hear more about his life.

The Faerie Mule
Kris Lindbeck

"The Faerie Mule"

Fairytales begin the education of children in terms of how our culture works, how to behave, and the telling of our dreams. But usually, sick or disabled characters are relegated to the wise woman or evil villain roles. In “The Faerie Mule,” written by Kris Lindbeck, the heroine, Sorah, is an ordinary person facing extraordinary choices. Woven through the story of Sorah’s RA are many of the situations people with the condition face: bullying, disbelief, kindness, support, and love.

Life growing through concrete; perseverance concept.
iStock

"A Resilient Life: Learning to Thrive, Not Just Survive, with Rheumatoid Arthritis"

There is a lot of focus on what RA takes away, especially among those looking in from the outside at what it’s like to live with the condition. But RA can also change who you are for the better. Author Kat Elton is an occupational therapist who has lived with RA since she was a toddler. In "A Resilient Life: Learning to Thrive, Not Just Survive, with Rheumatoid Arthritis," she guides you toward discovering a belief in yourself and figuring out a way to live well with the condition by blending her own story with practical advice and useful workbook sections.

Taking Charge: Making Your Healthcare Appointments Work for You
Ricky White

"Taking Charge: Making Your Healthcare Appointments Work for You"

Medical appointments are a recurring feature in your life when you have RA — a very frustrating feature. Who better to give you advice then someone who has been there on both sides? Ricky White has ankylosing spondylitis, a form of autoimmune arthritis, and also has experience working as a nurse. In “Taking Charge: Making Your Healthcare Appointments Work for You, he shares helpful tips on setting goals, planning your appointments, communication, building good relationships with your healthcare team, and more.

Happy face hiding sad girl
iStock

"Rheumatoid Arthritis Unmasked: 10 Dangers of Rheumatoid Disease"

RA most definitely is not “just” arthritis — it’s a systemic illness that can affect almost every part of your body. In “Rheumatoid Arthritis Unmasked: 10 Dangers of Rheumatoid Disease,” author Kelly O’Neill Young dives deep into the research to meticulously document that RA is an all-body condition. Geared toward rheumatologists and researchers, as well as knowledgeable RA veterans, this book is a comprehensive education in the medical effects of RA, and an impassioned demand for a change in how RA is viewed and treated.

The First Year: Rheumatoid Arthritis: An Essential Guide for the Newly Diagnosed
Da Capo Press

"The First Year: Rheumatoid Arthritis: An Essential Guide for the Newly Diagnosed"

The first year of living with a chronic illness can be especially challenging. This is when you have to learn everything there is to know about treatment, coping skills, and adapt emotionally. “The First Year: Rheumatoid Arthritis: an Essential Guide for the Newly Diagnosed,” written by M.E.A. McNeil, is a fantastic guide to getting a handle on it all. Published in 2005, some of the sections are a bit out of date, but many — especially related to adjusting and family relationships — remain relevant today.

Lene  Andersen, MSW
Meet Our Writer
Lene Andersen, MSW

Lene Andersen is an author, health and disability advocate, and photographer living in Toronto. Lene (pronounced Lena) has lived with rheumatoid arthritis since she was four years old and uses her experience to help others with chronic illness. She has written several books, including Your Life with Rheumatoid Arthritis: Tools for Managing Treatment, Side Effects and Pain, and 7 Facets: A Meditation on Pain, as well as the award-winning blog, The Seated View. Lene serves on HealthCentral's Health Advocates Advisory Board, and is a Social Ambassador for the RAHealthCentral on Facebook page, facebook.com/rahealthcentral. She is also one of HealthCentral's Live Bold, Live Now heroes — watch her incredible journey of living with RA.