The role assigned to the family in the treatment of the mentally ill has varied over the last 150 years; in some eras families were excluded from the patients' care and assigned a major share of blame for their illness. With more recent trends such as the self-help movement, consumer activism, and psychoeducation, the family is once again acknowledged as an important resource in the care of the chronically ill. One result is a proliferation of books written by and for the mentally ill and their families. The author reviews 28 books published after 1950, including 16 first-hand accounts and 12 guides by mental health professionals, that deal with schizophrenia and the major affective disorders. The goal is to familiarize professionals with the literature in this area so they can knowledgeably recommend books to patients and families. Books that may be informative to professionals themselves are also discussed.