There are loads of diabetes books out there – albeit many of them are cookbooks, which are easy to choose by your pallet and patience in the kitchen. But if you’re trying to get a realistic understanding of this disease, what you need in order to keep yourself healthy, and how to cope with the many social and psychological challenges of diabetes, it may not be so obvious which books are right for you.
At DiabetesMine, we’ve been publishing diabetes book reviews for many years now (and we do a week-long giveaway most times we post a new review!). People often ask us about the best books for type 1 diabetes and the best books for type 2 diabetes… but our view is that there is enough commonality that most books apply well to both.
We’ve compiled this list of staples and favorites to get you started on your “best-of” diabetes reading. Enjoy!
Best Diabetes Books on the Basics (Especially for Newly Diagnosed)
A few well-known titles that are extremely helpful when you’re new to diabetes include: the “Diabetes for Dummies” book from that series; “Think Like a Pancreas,” by award-winning Certified Diabetes Educator Gary Scheiner, aimed mostly at type 1 diabetes; and Gretchen Becker’s “The First Year with Type 2 Diabetes: An Essential Guide for the Newly Diagnosed.”
Beyond those, we recommend:
BRIGHT SPOTS & LANDMINES - (Read our Book Review)
By Adam Brown
For those who don't know Adam, he's a fellow type 1 who works at Close Concerns and diaTribe and has become a go-to expert for many in our community based on his personal D-management experiments and explorations of new technologies. This 237-pager published in 2017 is a colorful run-through of D-tips and priorities, and Adam describes this as "The Diabetes Guide I Wish Someone Had Handed Me" when he was diagnosed at age 12 in 2001. His book theme concentrates on so-called "bright spots" and "landmines" for what works and doesn't work in his diabetes management, and he focuses on everything from blood sugar checking, CGM use and technology, insulin use, exercise, food, sleep, and mental aspects of living with diabetes. In September 2018, Adam also released his book in audio-format as a way to bring it to more people beyond the traditional print and e-book formats. You can find it (read by Adam himself!) available for free on the diaTribe Foundation website to listen to, as well as on AmazonAudible and iTunes.
SUGAR SURFING (Read our Book Review)
By Dr. Stephen Ponder
He's a well-known pediatric endo who happens to live with type 1 himself, and in this book he shares the thought process with which he managed his BG very effectively to achieve near-normal A1Cs in the mid 5s. The book itself lays out what Dr. Ponder describes as "dynamic diabetes management," since change and variation and numbers being off are part of diabetes. Instead of giving up, he lays out a methodology we can use to take control of our BG, learn from our experience and feel successful about our achievements. His method is essentially focuses on being extremely mindful of all your actions that affect blood sugar, and continuously looping through the four-step cycle of: monitoring, being "in the moment," analyzing, and execution.
TAMING THE TIGER: YOUR FIRST YEAR WITH DIABETES - (Available on Amazon)
By William Lee Dubois
Written by DiabetesMine’s own Q&A columnist and correspondent Wil Dubois, this slim little volume of just over 100 pages aims to give newly diagnosed folks "the bare-bones information you need to get started" on the "lifelong journey that will be easier than you can possibly imagine today."
KNOW YOUR NUMBERS, OUTLIVE YOUR DIABETES - (Available on Amazon)
By Amy Tenderich and Dr. Richard Jackson
DiabetesMine Editor Amy Tenderich and Joslin Diabetes Center endocrinologist Dr. Richard Jackson collaborated on this do-it-yourself guide to overall good health and long life with diabetes. The book explains the five essential health tests that you’ll need to understand and monitor over your lifetime: the 5 essential health tests: A1c, lipids, blood pressure, microalbumin, and eye exam – plus step-by-step instructions on how to improve if your results are out of range.
CHEATING DESTINY: LIVING WITH DIABETES, AMERICA’S BIGGEST EPIDEMIC - (Available on Amazon)
By James Hirsch
Journalist James Hirsch (who lives with type 1 diabetes) somehow managed to turn loads of statistics and personal testimonials about suffering from an unpleasant disease into a book so compelling it's hard to put down. He’s cleverly woven together everything from the carnivalistic commercialism of the annual ADA Expo to the life of "insulin's poster girl" Elizabeth Evans Hughes to the trials of the nation’s leading embryonic biologist. This book gives you a “Big Picture” of diabetes in America.
PUMPING INSULIN - (Available on Amazon)
By John Walsh (and others)
If you are at all curious about the advantages of using an insulin pump, you’ll want this book. Seriously, it is considered by many to be "the Bible" on insulin pumps. It’s written by a husband-wife team of medical experts, and John (the husband) has been wearing an insulin pump himself for over 30 years (!)... there are several versions of the book, so make sure to find the most current one or version that applies most to your life with diabetes.
THE BOOK OF BETTER - (Read our Book Review)
By Chuck Eichten
This colorful volume on the benefits of insulin pumping (it’s better!) is like a comic book, or rather a work of art, with every page containing some kind of graphic or design element. But it’s still well-written and informative, explaining how insulin users can live better with their diabetes with an insulin pump at their hip.
THE DIABETES SOLUTION (Read our Interview with the Author)
By Dr. Richard Bernstein
OK, this one's pretty specific to food choices and is quite popular within a segment of the D-Community who prefer low carb eating. But it's a much-cited and followed guide in our community and we certainly think it should be included (even if it's a bit too hardcore for our tastes). Dr. Bernstein is a veteran type 1 himself who abides by an extremely low carb lifestyle and works to always make sure his numbers are as close to 83 mg/dL as possible. The book goes through his beliefs and management in diabetes, and also talks about medications and the food industry in how it fuels what he sees as less-than-healthy behavior. There are multiple editions over the years, so make sure you're snagging the correct and most up-to-date version.
Best Diabetes Books for Parents of T1D Children
UNDERSTANDING DIABETES (aka: THE PINK PANTHER BOOKS) - (Read our Interview with the Author)
By Dr. H. Peter Chase
Known by many in the diabetes community as the "Diabetes Bible," this series of books were first published in the 1970s and have been updated many times over the years. Dr. H. Peter Chase from the Barbara Davis Center in Colorado is the man behind the books, which feature an image of the Pink Panther cartoon and have been included in the JDRF's Bag of Hope, and they have helped thousands of families newly diagnosed with type 1 on understanding the basics of life with T1D. They can be purchased via the Children's Diabetes Foundation in Colorado.
KIDS FIRST, DIABETES SECOND: TIPS FOR PARENTING A CHILD WITH TYPE 1 DIABETES (Available on Amazon)
By Leighann Calentine
Written by Leighann Calentine, author of D-Mom Blog and mom to Quinn, a school-age PWD diagnosed with type 1 in 2008, this book covers a good balance of practical tactics and tips for managing diabetes, along with how to deal with the emotional burden of raising a child with this disease. Note that the book focuses mostly on Leighann's own personal experiences, so none of the information should be taken as prescriptive.\
DIABETES AND ME: AN ESSENTIAL GUIDE FOR KIDS AND PARENTS - (Available on Amazon)
By Kim Chaloner and Nick Bertozzi
A husband and wife team in New York have found a way to spice up diabetes learning with this “graphic novel” for kids and adults that teaches you all about diabetes self-care, Cathy-style (for those who remember that comic strip). The book is packed full of Diabetes 101 info, broken out into six chapters that talk disease basics, healthcare team, blood sugar nuances, meal and exercise aspects, and the critical support aspects of living with diabetes.
LIFE IS SHORT, LAUNDRY IS ETERNAL - (Available on Amazon)
By Scott Benner
Scott Benner is the Diabetes Dad from New Jersey behind the blog, Arden's Day, named for his daughter Arden who's been living with type 1 since age 2 in 2006. This 228-page paperback is hugely entertaining. It’s a guy sharing his own experiences as a stay-at-home dad — the good, bad and the ugly. Diabetes doesn't take center stage, but he does describe the emotions around his daughter’s diagnosis. And he gives a glimpse into his day-to-day activities and how diabetes and other duties, like doing those dreaded loads of laundry, all fit together.
RAISING TEENS WITH DIABETES: A SURVIVAL GUIDE FOR PARENTS - (Read Our Book Review)
By Moira McCarthy Stanford
Written by passionate D-Mom and advocate Moira McCarthy Stanford (who blogs over at Despite Diabetes), we named this book “the most valuable volume to any family that includes a teen with diabetes.” All the content stems from Moira’s first-hand experience raising her now 20-something daughter Lauren, who was diagnosed at the age of six in 1997. The book sheds light on the perspective of both the teen living with it, and the parents trying to, well, parent...
Best Diabetes Books for Kids
OPEN UP YOUR BAG - (Read our Book Review)
By Mike Lawson
Published in July 2018, this 34-page picture book is all for kids (especially those just recently diagnosed who are learning the ropes of diabetes management). It's light on words but full of hand-drawn illustrations by Mike, who is a skilled artist and fellow type 1 who's been involved in art throughout the Diabetes Community over the years (including cartoons here at the 'Mine). This book is the first in a series that Mike is planning, and this one and others will be housed at the Diabetes Doodles online platform.
MOOSE AND GIRAFFE POETRY BOOKS - (Read our Book Review)
By Yerachmiel Altman
A longtime type 1 in the Boston area, Yerachmiel has written two fun picture and poetry books for kids with diabetes who may not be aware of the latest in diabetes technology. The Moose with the Pump and I Can Help Take Care of Me were both released in paperback and e-book formats in 2016.
“I felt that the books (currently) available did not outline the changes, hardware and life the newly diagnosed child would face,” Yerachmiel tells DiabetesMine. “My real dream would be to do a series of these books – one for each season, and one for each major activity or challenge a child with diabetes might have. I’m thinking summer camp, school, parties (maybe a friend’s birthday party), family trips, and doctor appointments. I would be open to other ideas as well."
CAROLYN'S ROBOT RELATIVE (Read our Book Review)
By Dana M. Lewis
A well-known do-it-yourself advocate in the community has published her first kids' book for those little ones, though not necessarily for those actually living with diabetes. Instead, this is for any child who may not fully understand diabetes technology that family members, friends or others with diabetes might be wearing. It's a fun story that Dana says was inspired by her own neice, and it has great hand-drawn illustrations telling the story of D-tech and the difference it makes for many people with diabetes.
LARA TAKES CHARGE - (Available on Amazon)
By Rocky Lang
How do you explain to a young child with diabetes why her parents are hurting her with finger pricks and insulin injections every day? Hollywood producer Rocky Lang is one dad who struggled with that dilemma. In 2001, his ten-year-old daughter, Nikki, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. "Lara was so young and had no idea of what was happening," Rocky says. "It was gut-wrenching. So I wrote a book for her." That book ended up selling over 15,000 copies. It tells the story of a girl, Lara, who lives and plays happily all while managing her diabetes with her glucose meter and insulin pump.
COCO’S FIRST SLEEPOVER (AND OTHER COCO THE MONKEY WITH DIABETES BOOKS) -(Read our Book Review)
Published by Disney
This is the third book in a series by Disney Publishing and Lilly Diabetes featuring the character Coco the Monkey with Diabetes. At 24 pages with four question/answer pages, it's written to help children and their families prepare for the child's very first night away from home after being diagnosed with type 1.
COVERING THE BASES - (Read our Book Review)
By Leigh Olsen
At 133 pages and partially sponsored by ESPN, this book is about a boy named Phillip Mitchell who can't wait to go to baseball camp. He's been looking forward to it for months, and it's finally here! There's just one problem: he hasn't spent so many nights away from home since he was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, and he's worried. What if something goes wrong and there's no one around who can help him? Will Phillip be able to enjoy his first time at baseball camp, or will his nerves get the best of him?
BALLERINA DREAMS - (Available on Amazon)
By Zippora Karz
The diabetes community's favorite prima ballerina, Zippora Karz, added "children's author" to her resume when she recently published a thoroughly charming book about a school-age girl with a passion for ballet who gets diagnosed with type 1 diabetes right before the biggest performance of her little life.
Parents of little girls will find this book reminiscent of the "Nina Nina Ballerina" series, but with a sophisticated diabetes twist. And Zippora does not "dumb down" this disease at all, but rather presents it in very clear and frank terms.
THE BABYSITTER’S CLUB: THE TRUTH ABOUT STACEY - (Read our Book Review)
By Ann M. Martin
The beloved Babysitter’s Club book series about four friends who form a babysitter's club in their small, fictional town in Connecticut spanned 217 novels between 1986 and 2000, and there was also a 1995 movie and a short-lived Disney series. Even though the series is now a quarter-century old and much of the diabetes tools and technology have changed, this book about 13-year-old Stacey’s struggle revealing her diabetes to her friends still rings true.
Best Diabetes Books for Women
MY SWEET LIFE: SUCCESSFUL WOMEN WITH DIABETES (Read our Book Review)
By Dr. Beverly Adler
An anthology of essays written by 24 dynamic women living with diabetes, sharing their personal stories on life with diabetes and everything that goes along with it. The book features autobiographical essays on how these accomplished women have succeeded in life, either because or in spite of their diabetes. These women vary in age, from thirty-somethings to a woman in her 90's who has lived with diabetes for over 70 years! They write about their diabetes diagnosis and how diabetes has shaped their life — for worse and better. In the introduction to the book, Beverly writes, "Who better to share our ups and downs (with blood sugar or mood) than another woman who walks the same walk as us? Sometimes it helps just to know that other women have overcome the same challenges as we are going through."
THE SMART WOMAN’S GUIDE TO DIABETES - (Available on Amazon)
By Amy Stockwell Mercer
We can't think of a better researched guide to the nuanced life of a woman with diabetes than this.
With 25 years of diabetes life experience herself, Amy created a comprehensive guide to the various unique aspects of living with diabetes as a woman. She touches on everything from dealing with emotions at diagnosis, to eating and exercise, to dating, sex and motherhood. She includes personal stories from over 20 women with diabetes, including DiabetesMine editor Amy Tenderich. The author also includes Q&As with endocrinologists and other medical experts.
BALANCING PREGNANCY WITH PRE-EXISTING DIABETES: HEALTHY MOM, HEALTHY BABY -(Read our Book Review)
By Cheryl Alkon
Author Cheryl Alkon writes: “(When) I started blogging about my efforts to get and stay pregnant, while managing my type 1 diabetes. I liked the support I received from commenters. Plus, I wanted to connect with others who were pregnant, had given birth, or who were trying to conceive... At the same time, I found that there were no insider's guides to pregnancy with pre-existing diabetes that were told from an actual woman with diabetes' perspective.” This was Cheryl’s impetus to compile this book, which gives the insider details of pregnancy and type 1 or type 2 diabetes, based on both her personal experiences and insights from dozens of other women who have been there.
A WOMAN’S GUIDE TO DIABETES: A PATH TO WELLNESS - (Available on Amazon)
By Dr. Nat Strand and Brandy Barnes
This newest title for women is concise, clearly and frankly written, and aside from some very good diabetes basics, it includes a lot of great unique information and prompts that you won't find anywhere else. After all, when was the last time you opened a diabetes book to find whole sections on puberty, hormones, conception, menopause, mood changes, relationships, guilt feelings, coping mechanisms, soul-searching and spirituality? All stereotypically female topics, but also sorely neglected in the diabetes literature to date.
THE SISTERHOOD OF DIABETES - (Available on Amazon)
By Judith Jones-Ambrosini
Thirty-eight female athletes who've done amazing things despite their diabetes are profiled in this volume. The author manages to deftly tell each of their stories, in concise sections of about 10 pages each, alongside informative little break-out sections on diabetes, diabetes camps, and the sports these women do. Like did you know that Dragon Boat Racing dates back to ancient folk festivals about 2000 years ago? Today, Nicole Marcelin, diagnosed with type 1 diabetes four days before her 5th birthday, is a competitive dragon boat racer, and also recently gave birth to a healthy baby girl!
Best Diabetes Books for Men
Unfortunately there are very few books that focus specifically on issues of concern to men with diabetes. Hopefully this new one will start a trend:
MY SWEET LIFE: SUCCESSFUL MEN WITH DIABETES - (Read Our Book Review)
By Beverly S. Adler
Even men with diabetes need support sometimes, and this 259-page book is the first of its kind: stories of triumph for men with diabetes, written by those successful men with diabetes, compiled by Dr. Bev Adler. The book features many well-known men in the diabetes community, athletes, medical pros and TV personalities -- all talking about their lives and challenges with diabetes, and how they’ve managed to succeed despite (or alongside) this disease.
THE DIABETIC MAN (Available on Amazon)
By Peter A. Lodewick and June Biermann
An older one from 1999 that has a "For Dummies" feel to it, this one is a more medically-written book addressing the "unique" challeges that men with diabetes face. It touches on everything from psychological aspects, nutrition, exercise, work, stress, sports and sex.
Best Diabetes Books for Loved Ones
WHAT TO DO WHEN YOUR PARTNER HAS DIABETES: A SURVIVAL GUIDE (Read our Book Review)
By Nicole Johnson and Lorraine Stiehl
Released in 2017, this "survival guide" is created by the dynamic duo of Nicole Johnson, a fellow type 1 who's famous for being crowned Miss America in 1999, and D-wife and advocate Lorraine Stiehl, who's actively involved in numerous diabetes organizations and whose husband Chris is a longtime T1. At only 54 pages, this paperback is surprisingly comprehensive -- covering everything from basic Diabetes 101, to more advanced treatment advice, to support needs and conversation-starters for loved ones of PWDs. The different topics addressed include: managing fear, balancing the good and bad, how involved D-Partners should be, long-term complication concerns, sex and diabetes, having children, and how to feel empowered about diabetes.
Best Diabetes Books on Mental Health and Psychosocial Aspects
The pioneering and most famous title in this category is “Diabetes Burnout: What to Do When You Can’t Take It Anymore” by diabetes psychologist William Polonsky, originally published in 1999.
Luckily, many newer books now also address this topic from a variety of angles:
DEALING WITH DIABETES BURNOUT - (Read our Book Review)
By Ginger Vieira
It's all about those times in our diabetes lives when we feel the pressure of our broken pancreas weighing on us... when we reach the end of our ropes so to speak and just feel like we can't go on doing what we know we need to do. Fellow type 1, life coach and accomplished author Ginger Vieira covers everything from bumps in the road re: food, exercise, blood sugar checks, doctor relationships, and communicating with others about diabetes. But Ginger's unique and refreshing approach to addressing these topics actually manages to make reading about diabetes burnout fun.
BALANCING DIABETES: CONVERSATIONS ABOUT FINDING HAPPINESS AND LIVING WELL -(Read our Book Review)
By Kerri Sparling
In this first book by beloved blogger Kerri Sparling at Six Until Me, she compiles strategies used by people with diabetes and their caregivers to bring that elusive balance into their lives. Whether adult or child, type 1 or type 2, spouse or caregiver, male or female, people in the diabetes world will find themselves in this book and be inspired by the commonality of that continuing search for balance.
THRIVING WITH DIABETES - (Available on Amazon)
By David Edelman and Dr. Paul Rosman
This new book is the culmination of the Thriving with Diabetes online workshop series conducted by David Edelman and lead author Dr. Paul Rosman, an accomplished New York endocrinologist who also did a stint as Senior Medical Advisor to Eli Lilly & Company. It actually attempts to synthesize the 'best practices' of patients out in the real world: What have they done to succeed and how can they do more of it? We loved this refreshing “life hack” approach to keeping blood sugar levels in range.”
TOO SWEET: THE NOT-SO-SERIOUS SIDE TO DIABETES - (Available on Amazon)
By Laura Kronen
In this self-published book, fashion and design enthusiast and fellow type 1 Laura Kronen offers a light-hearted look at the challenges of diabetes. The book is meant to entertain, not change the way you, or anyone you know, does business with diabetes. The author includes funny and heart-tugging stories about her own life with T1D, and from a number of other folks as well. It really is these anecdotes that make this a great read for anyone in the diabetes community.
IF I KISS YOU, WILL I GET DIABETES? - (Available on Amazon)
By Quinn Nystrom
DiabetesMine Managing Editor Mike Hoskins writes: “I may not be a 13-year-old girl, but I'll confess: it may have seemed that way if you saw the range of emotions that came over me while reading a new diabetes book by a young type 1 from Minnesota.” He found himself “laughing to crying… all over the place” reading Quinn Nystrom’s story of growing up diabetic. The book title comes from an actual question that young teenage Quinn (now in her late 20's) got asked back in her high school days only a few years after being diagnosed in March 1999.
DIABETES BURNOUT (Available on Amazon)
By Dr. William H. Polonsky
This is a classic must-have for any diabetes book-shelf. Dr. Polonsky is one of the go-to experts on the mental health and psychosocial aspects of diabetes, and his 1999 book is chock full of helpful tips and tricks and sage advice on dealing with burnout -- those times when living with this condition just takes a toll on our minds and bodies. Whether it's scheduling a "diabetes vacation" or interactive action plans that include writing notes to yourself, this one has it all.
This book list is just a small sampling of all the diabetes books that DiabetesMine has reviewed over the years, and there are countless others out there to read. We'd love to hear about any new D-books that are on your book shelves, or that you happen to know of being penned... send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via social media on Twitter or Facebook, and we'll do our best to "check them out" as soon as possilbe.
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