50 Books: The must-read books recommended by the people of Hestia

In 2020, we mark 50 years of providing support and hope for adults and children every step of the way of recovery. Throughout the year, we'll be sharing the unique lives and journeys of the people who make Hestia, alongside the books, films and songs that have impacted them the most.

We'll be updating this list weekly - happy reading!


  1. Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden

As recommended by Tahara, PA to Hestia’s Directors

“When I was young, my mum and I would watch a Japanese series called Oshin. We were obsessed; it was very famous in Iran. I miss watching it with her. I came across this book and it reminded me of watching this Japanese series with her, but it also resonated with me and my story and struggles. It’s about a young girl and her sister – it’s a story of survival.”

Get Memoirs of a Geisha here.


  1. Stalingrad by Antony Beevor

As recommended by John, a volunteer for Hestia’s befriending service

“The battle fought in Stalingrad was going on when I was younger and I was very moved by the effort to turn back the German soldiers. It’s a story of how the Russians kept regrouping and coming back to fight the battle until they eventually won. It’s really an epic story of how people came together in those adverse conditions.

Get Stalingrad here.

Hestia volunteer John

  1. A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

As recommended by Sara*, who lived in one of Hestia’s domestic abuse refuges

“I’ve read it so many times and every time I read it I get different emotions from it. It’s about a girl who is an illegitimate child and then faces abuse in her marriage, and all the stigma there is because of that. It’s a book centred on kindness and the people who help her along the way.

Get A Thousand Splendid Suns here.


  1. Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor

As recommended by Saffron, who is living in one of Hestia’s mental health supported accommodations

“I learn it in school. It’s about racism in America, slavery and what happened back in the days on the cotton fields. It was a horrific read but really educational. It made me think about how well I’ve got it.”

Get Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry here.


  1. The Bible

As recommended by Judy, a volunteer for Hestia’s Phoenix Project and Ealing Hospital Discharge Service

“It is the living, active word of God and has helped and guided me through life. Dipping into it regularly gives me wisdom and the strength to live at peace with everyone.”

Get the Bible here.

Hestia volunteer Judy

  1. Arturo’s Island by Elsa Morante

As recommended by Cosimo, Hestia’s Outreach Team Leader at our RBKC Integrated Mental Health Service

“There are many books which have impacted my life, and amongst these, one of my favourites is L’isola d’Arturo or Arturo’s Island, by Italian novelist Elsa Morante. The book is about a boy, Arturo, his dog and Procida, a small and beautiful island off the coast of Naples. It’s a beautiful coming of age book and it was great visiting Procida last year and seeing where it was set. This book was also one of my mum’s favourite books, which is another reason why it is special to me.”

Get Arturo’s Island here.


  1. The Establishment by Owen Jones

As recommended by John, Hestia’s Volunteer Manager

“I only read factual books; I have zero imagination! The Establishment by Owen Jones has impacted me the most. I’m really interested in politics and human behaviour, and this book looks at how ‘the establishment’ controls the feelings of the general public. It will make you stop and think.”

Get The Establishment here.


  1. Lost Connections by Johann Hari

As recommended by Jasmin*, a survivor of domestic abuse and volunteer at Hestia’s befriending service

It’s about mental health. It’s so well written and researched. We all suffer with challenges at some point and we live in a culture that says there’s something wrong with your brain. Johann has gone all over the world to prove that there are nine things that cause mental health problems and they’re all social. I think anyone in my circumstances, coming from a refuge, completely isolated, on my own and not working, would have mental health problems. Hari says that for good mental health you need shared meaningful connections, meaningful employment and meaningful values. Thankfully Hestia understands this concept."

Get Lost Connections here.


  1. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

As recommended by Rube*, an ex-resident in Hestia’s mental health supported accommodation

“It’s about a boy’s search for treasure and he comes up against so many obstacles and challenges. In the end, the treasure that he’s been searching for is within himself. The philosophy is that you can search for what you want in life, but it’s all inside of you.”

Get The Alchemist here.
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Ex-service user Rube*

10.The Woman Who Invented Beauty by Helena Rubinstein

As recommended by Zoe, ZOEVA founder and supporter of Hestia's domestic abuse services

"Her story fascinated me because she was a very inspirational and courageous woman who dragged herself out of poverty. She became a pioneer and changed the beauty industry during her lifetime."

Get The Woman Who Invented Beauty here.


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