34 Best Books on Loneliness (Most Popular)

Scientifically reviewed by Viktor Sander B.Sc., B.A.

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This list includes self-help books that aim to alleviate or explain loneliness, as well as a few autobiographical and fiction books that deal with the topic of being lonely. All books are ranked and reviewed for 2021.

Sections

1. Non-fiction
2. Autobiography
3. Fiction
4. Honorary mentions

Top picks on loneliness

There are 34 books in this guide. Here are my top picks for an easy overview.

Top pick overall
Finding like-minded people in your 20s and 30s
For introverts
Making friends
Improving existing relationships
Longing for a romantic partner
Suffering from depression
Loneliness from a Christian perspective
Explaining loneliness
Comic book
Novel
Poetry about loneliness

Non-fiction

Top pick overall

1. Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone

Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone

Author: Brené Brown

Braving the Wilderness is a mix of research and personal anecdotes that tries to unpack what it actually means to belong, as well as suggest ways of doing so. It’s written by a research professor, author, lecturer and a podcast host. You might’ve heard one of her popular TED talks.

On the negative side, this book repeats some of the author’s old writings and gets political at times, which not everyone will appreciate.

Buy this book if…

1. You want to find ways to connect not only with those around you, but also with yourself.
2. You want actionable advice.

Skip this book if…

1. If you’ve read previous books by this author, as many concepts are reused from Brene’s other works.
3. There are political bits that crop up in this book which doesn’t bother me, but might be provocative to certain people.
3. This is, in my opinion, the best non-fiction book on loneliness. If you want something more fictional, however, I’d recommend checking out Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine.

4.7 stars on Amazon.


Top pick finding like-minded people in your 20s and 30s

2. Belong: Find Your People, Create Community, and Live a More Connected Life

Belong: Find Your People, Create Community, and Live a More Connected Life

Author: Radha Agrawal

The premise of this book is that we feel more and more lonely despite all the technology we have for connecting with others. It proposes a step-by-step solution which could be boiled down to “knowing how to find an existing community of like-minded people or build your own”.

It deals with technology, loneliness, community, sense of belonging and the fear of missing out. It’s great, but I feel like it will be useful mostly if you’re in your 20s and 30s.

Buy this book if…

1. You want to find like-minded people.
2. You have a fear of missing out.

Skip this book if…

You’re in your 40s or older. In that case, read The Relationship Cure.

4.6 stars on Amazon.


Top pick making friends

3. How to Win Friends and Influence People

How to Win Friends and Influence People

Author: Dale Carnegie

Despite being many decades old, this book still feels fresh and timely. It’s not too short, not too long, and easy to read, understand and follow.

It’s a great read on how to become more likeable and make more friends. It breaks down social interactions into a set of rules that make us more likable.

With that said, there are better options if low self-esteem or social anxiety keeps you from socializing.

Buy this book if…

You want to make good impressions.

Skip this book if…

1. Low self-esteem or social anxiety keeps you from socializing. If so, I’d recommend The Social Skills Guidebook or to read my book guide on social anxiety.
2. You primarily want to develop closer friendships. Instead, read The Relationship Cure.

4.7 stars on Amazon.


Top pick for introverts

4. The Social Skills Guidebook: Manage Shyness, Improve Your Conversations, and Make Friends, Without Giving Up Who You Are

The Social Skills Guidebook: Manage Shyness, Improve Your Conversations, and Make Friends, Without Giving Up Who You Are

Author: Chris MacLeod

This book is aimed at people who feel that shyness or introversion might be stopping them from making new friends and connecting better with people.

A part of this book is dedicated to social anxiety, low self-esteem and shyness. Then it delves into ways of actually improving your conversation skills. And the last part is dedicated to making friends and improving your social life.

Buy this book if…

1. Socializing makes you uncomfortable and you want a book that covers all aspects of social life.
2. You want a practical guide with actionable steps.

Skip this book if…

1. You can’t relate to the anxiety part I talked about above. Instead, get How to Win Friends and Influence People.
2. You don’t feel shy or awkward socializing with people.

4.4 stars on Amazon.


Top pick improving existing relationships

5. The Relationship Cure: A 5 Step Guide to Strengthening Your Marriage, Family, and Friendships

The Relationship Cure: A 5 Step Guide to Strengthening Your Marriage, Family, and Friendships

Author: John Gottman

This book mainly focuses on improving, deepening existing relationships, and the advice is aimed at middle aged people. But a lot of it is still great even if you’re younger.

The main idea of this book is that we often turn away when an opportunity for interaction arises. Despite sounding like a fairly simple concept, the book is fairly substantial, going into much detail on how to change our behavior and how it negatively affects our ability to connect.

Buy this book if…

1. You want actionable advice.
2. You want to improve your existing relationships.

Skip this book if…

You only want to be better at making new friends. If so, get How to Win Friends.

4.6 stars on Amazon.


6. What a Time to Be Alone: The Slumflower’s Guide to Why You Are Already Enough

What a Time to Be Alone: The Slumflower's Guide to Why You Are Already Enough

Author: Chidera Eggerue

Written by an online influencer and an artist, the book is pretty to look at and is easy to read, but lacks actionable advice on how to change things in your life.

It could be summed up as a collection of positive affirmations mixed with thoughtful proverbs and idioms.

Buy this book if…

You want uplifting affirmations.

Skip this book if…

You’re looking for detailed, actionable advice. Instead, check out Braving the Wilderness.

4.7 stars on Amazon.


Top pick longing for a romantic partner

7. How to Be Single and Happy: Science-Based Strategies for Keeping Your Sanity While Looking for a Soul Mate

How to Be Single and Happy: Science-Based Strategies for Keeping Your Sanity While Looking for a Soul Mate

Author: Jennifer Taitz

This book references plenty of research and gives actionable advice on how to deal with a breakup, overcome past regrets, figure out what you actually want from your future dates, and how to approach them. The author also throws in a few moments of personal experience here and there.

Though not entirely aimed at women, it is skewed in that direction. With that said, the information in this book can still be useful for any gender.

Buy this book if…

1. You’re looking for a book about romantic relationships.
2. You’re suffering from a breakup.

Skip this book if…

1. You’re looking for a book that focuses on friendships, workplace or family.
2. You’re very familiar with mindfulness.

4.6 stars on Amazon.


8. Solitude: A Return to the Self

Solitude: A Return to the Self

Author: Anthony Storr

The author argues that there are other ways of feeling complete other than relationships with other people, and that always having deep connections is perhaps overvalued in some cases.

He highlights the value of solitude, while not dismissing the importance of relationships.

Buy this book if…

You want a more philosophical look at the problem of loneliness and the idea of solitude as something valuable.

Skip this book if…

You want to read a book on how to connect with people or make friends. In that case, check out Braving the Wilderness.

4.4 stars on Amazon.


9. Stop Being Lonely: Three Simple Steps to Developing Close Friendships and Deep Relationships

Stop Being Lonely: Three Simple Steps to Developing Close Friendships and Deep Relationships

Author: Kira Asatryan

The focus of this book is to develop closeness. In other words, how to be able to develop close relationships rather than superficial ones. It covers closeness with family and partners, but primarily when it comes to friends.

To appreciate this book, you have to be open-minded. A lot of the stuff seems common sense, but even if it is, bringing it up again and reminding us to apply it can help.

The author is not a psychiatrist like in many of the other books. But to have wisdom on the topic of friendship, I don’t think you have to be a psychiatrist.

It’s a good book, but The Relationship Cure is a better read.

4.5 stars on Amazon.


10. The Friendship Formula: How to Say Goodbye to Loneliness and Discover Deeper Connection

The Friendship Formula: How to Say Goodbye to Loneliness and Discover Deeper Connection

Author: Kyler Shumway

A lot of the explanations in this book are common sense, but beyond just describing the issues, it also provides practical steps on how to address them. It’s well-written and easy to read.

It deals with making new friends, as well as improving old relationships.

Buy this book if…

1. You don’t feel very socially savvy.
2. You want a book that gets straight to the point.

Skip this book if…

You’re doing okay socially and are looking for ways to go one step beyond that.

4.3 stars on Amazon.


11. Unlonely Planet: How Healthy Congregations Can Change the World

Unlonely Planet: How Healthy Congregations Can Change the World

Author: Jillian Richardson

Part self-help and part autobiography about being isolated in a big and crowded city, New York. A lot of time is spent on the author’s own experiences, but she also provides actionable steps to find a community of like-minded people, in part by changing the way you view community and closeness.

Buy this book if…

1. You live in a populated area but can’t seem to connect with others.
2. You’re looking for something relatable and the synopsis matches your situation.

Skip this book if…

1. You want a more clinical read.
2. You’re only going to pick up one book. Belong is a better one to start with in that case.

4.6 stars on Amazon.


12. Celebrating Time Alone: Stories of Splendid Solitude

Celebrating Time Alone: Stories of Splendid Solitude

Author: Lionel Fisher

In a way similar to Solitude, this book doesn’t just look at the positives of being alone, but argues that being alone is positive, period. The author himself has spent six years living alone on a remote beach someplace in America, but this book mainly focuses on the stories of other people he has interviewed on the subject.

The author defines the solitary experience broadly, from living in a remote cabin and rarely ever seeing another soul, to breaking up with your partner, but otherwise leading a normal social life.

Buy this book if…

1. You want a book of life stories and musings on the subject of loneliness.
2. You want to challenge your perspective on being alone.

Skip this book if…

1. You want practical advice on how to make friends.
2. You want a book with a clinical approach.

4.2 stars on Amazon.


13. Healing Your Aloneness: Finding Love and Wholeness Through Your Inner Child

Healing Your Aloneness: Finding Love and Wholeness Through Your Inner Child

Author: Erika J. Chopich and Margaret Paul

The main idea of this book is reconnecting with your inner child in order to rid yourself of self-defeating thoughts and behaviors and improve your relationships. It focuses quite a bit on childhood trauma.

Despite being shorter than some other books, it’s written in a way that can be difficult to read. There’s also a lot of pop psychology here, but it does give practical advice on how to deal with the problems it addresses. There is a companion workbook that is sold separately.

Buy this book if…

You’re into the idea of the “inner child”.

Skip this book if…

You’re looking for a light read.

4.6 stars on Amazon. The workbook.


Top pick explaining loneliness

14. Loneliness: Human Nature and the Need for Social Connection

Loneliness: Human Nature and the Need for Social Connection

Authors: John T. Cacioppo and William Patrick

This book goes into a lot of research and talks about the reasons why being lonely is unhealthy, and how exactly it affects people – physically and emotionally.

The reason this book is so low on the list is not because it’s bad, but rather because of its purpose: it doesn’t necessarily aim to solve the loneliness problem, but to explain it. If you want a better understanding of the topic, it might be worth picking up.

Buy this book if…

1. You want a better understanding of how and why loneliness can negatively affect one’s life.
2. You don’t mind a very clinical book.

Skip this book if…

1. You want a book that will give you actionable steps on how to stop being lonely.
2. You’re looking for something relatable and uplifting. In that case, check out What a Time to be Alone.

4.4 stars on Amazon.


Top pick loneliness from a religious perspective

15. Uninvited: Living Loved When You Feel Less Than, Left Out, and Lonely

Uninvited: Living Loved When You Feel Less Than, Left Out, and Lonely

Author: Lysa TerKeurst

Some personal stories of rejection, some quoted scriptures from the Bible, and the main message of: God will never reject you.

This is a pretty popular and highly rated book, but I didn’t put it higher on the list because of the strong religious overtones that make it a more of a niche read. The writing style is also not the greatest here.

Buy this book if…

1. You’re a Christian or are interested in a Christian point of view.
2. You want to read something uplifting on the subject of loneliness.

Skip this book if…

1. The religious themes might be a turn-off for you.
2. You’re looking for a book with actionable steps to deal with your loneliness. In that case, check out Braving the Wilderness.

4.7 stars on Amazon.

Autobiography

Top pick comic book

1. My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness

My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness

Author: Nagata Kabi

This is a vulnerable and honest single-volume, 152-page manga about mental health, depression, sexuality, loneliness, growing up and finding yourself. Despite having the word “lesbian” in the title, I would say that this book isn’t necessarily only aimed at that particular group of readers. It can be a relatable read no matter what your sexuality is.

Buy this book if…

You feel lost and want to read something relatable.

Skip this book if…

1. The sexual themes might be a turn-off for you.
2. You don’t want to read a comic book.

4.7 stars on Amazon. There are also sequels.


2. The Bell Jar

The Bell Jar

Author: Sylvia Plath

This 1963 semi-autobiographical classic portrays the main character’s worsening mental condition, with themes of depression, loneliness and being unable to fit into her role in life.

While getting fairly dark at times, the book does remain hopeful.

Buy this book if…

You something that portrays depression accurately.

Skip this book if…

You want a lighter read. In that case, check out My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness.

4.6 stars on Amazon.


3. A Writer’s Diary

A Writer’s Diary

Author: Virginia Woolf

Comprised of diary entries of a famous feminist novelist Virginia Woolf, written from 1918 to 1941. The entries include her writing exercises, thoughts about her own work, as well as reviews of what she was reading at the time. She talks about the usefulness of loneliness as a writer.

Buy this book if…

You’re interested in learning more about the author.

Skip this book if…

You feel like a fairly old collection of diary entries might bore you. In that case, check out My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness.

4.6 stars on Amazon.


4. Journal of a Solitude

Journal of a Solitude

Author: May Sarton

Another autobiographical book by a female writer that deals with loneliness and depression. Similarly to the previous book on the list, in part it talks of loneliness as something useful, and in some ways perhaps necessary.

Buy this book if…

You want a personal and introspective read.

Skip this book if…

You’re looking for an uplifting read. In that case, check out My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness.

4.4 stars on Amazon.


5. Desolation Angels

Desolation Angels

Author: Jack Kerouac

In this book, Jack’s fictionalized version of himself spends two months working as a fire lookout. After that, he promptly hits the road.

While the fire lookout job is not the main focus of the book, it still deals with the topic of loneliness and shows the contrast between 65 days of isolation and then throwing yourself into a maddening whirlwind of events and people.

Buy this book if…

1. If you’ve read and liked On The Road by the same author.
2. You’re interested in reading a road trip book.

Skip this book if…

You don’t want a lengthy read.

4.5 stars on Amazon.


6. The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone

The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone

Author: Olivia Laing

This is the second book about loneliness in New York City on this list, the first being Unlonely Planet.

It’s about the author’s experience of moving to NYC in her 30s and experiencing isolation and loneliness in the big city. But perhaps a bigger part of the book is Olivia taking a look at other artists who lived in New York and their experiences with loneliness.

Buy this book if…

You live in New York or are interested in the city’s culture.

Skip this book if…

You’re looking for a deeper exploration of loneliness as a concept, rather than looking at particular examples of it. In that case, check out Loneliness.

4.3 stars on Amazon.

Fiction

Top pick novel

1. Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine

Author: Gail Honeyman

A well-written, touching, sad and funny novel about the titular Eleanor who’s lonely, awkward, struggles socially and lives a repetitive life. Until, by chance, she forms an unlikely friendship that changes her outlook on life and helps her deal with her past trauma.

While at times dark and not super realistic, the story is still hopeful and uplifting.

Buy this book if…

You want to read an uplifting story.

Skip this book if…

You might be turned off by the themes of child abuse.

4.5 stars on Amazon.


2. The Essential Writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson

The Essential Writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson

Author: Ralph Waldo Emerson

A collection of essays, poetry and speeches, some of which touch on the topics of solitude and loneliness. Ralph Waldo Emerson is a 19th century philosopher and essayist who wrote about individualism, self-reliance and being in touch with nature, among other things.

This is a huge book of 880 pages and it can also be a slow read due to some of the language being antiquated.

Buy this book if…

1. You’re up for a philosophical read.
2. You’re not very familiar with the author.

Skip this book if…

1. You might be turned off by outdated language.
2. You want to read a light novel. In that case, check out Prep.

4.7 stars on Amazon.


3. Good Morning, Midnight

Good Morning, Midnight

Author: Lily Brooks-Dalton

Done with a post-apocalyptic backdrop, this book tells a story of two characters: an isolated astronomer living in a research center in the Arctic, and an astronaut who’s on her way from a mission to Jupiter.

This book got a film adaptation of the same name in 2020, but it wasn’t done as well as the source material.

Buy this book if…

You want to read an immersive and well-written story.

Skip this book if…

You don’t want to read a sad novel. In that case I recommend picking up Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine.

4.4 stars on Amazon.


4. Eleven Kinds of Loneliness

Eleven Kinds of Loneliness

Author: Richard Yates

A collection of 11 realistic short stories with loneliness as the central theme. The stories are unrelated, save for the themes and the location: post-World War II New York City.

As the title suggests, the author really tries to take a look at loneliness from many different angles, but a good chunk of this book is more depressing than uplifting.

Buy this book if…

1. You like short stories.
2. You want something realistic and thought-provoking.

Skip this book if…

You want an uplifting read. If so, give Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine a look.

4.4 stars on Amazon.


Top pick poetry about loneliness

5. Solitude: Poems

Solitude: Poems

Editor: Carmela Ciuraru

Not to be confused with Solitude by Anthony Storr from the non-fiction section of this list, this Solitude is a collection of poems broken up into different categories, also looking at different kinds of loneliness and solitude from different angles, similarly to the previous book on the list.

In addition to presenting poems on different kinds of loneliness, it has a diverse selection of poets of different genders from different nations.

4.7 stars on Amazon.


6. My Year of Rest and Relaxation

My Year of Rest and Relaxation

Author: Ottessa Moshfegh

At the same time sad and darkly comedic, this book tells a story of a miserable woman who spends a year of her life disconnecting from the world through the use of a large selection of drugs.

This novel is somewhat polarizing – people tend to either love it or hate it. If the premise sounds like something you might enjoy, try checking out a free preview of the book online.

Buy this book if…

You like dark comedy.

Skip this book if…

You want to read an uplifting story. In that case check out Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine.

4.0 stars on Amazon.


7. Prep

Prep

Author: Curtis Sittenfeld

A fairly long but light novel about an angsty highschool girl. It’s well written, entertaining and easy to read, but doesn’t say anything profound or new.

Buy this book if…

You want an entertaining highschool drama.

Skip this book if…

You’re looking for something deeper. If so, check out The Essential Writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson.

3.9 stars on Amazon.


8. Villette

Villette

Author: Charlotte Bronte

This 1853 classic is written by the same author as Jane Eyre. Besides loneliness, this book also touches on the subjects of disappointment, feminism and religion, among many others.

It’s a story about a young woman who moves to the town of Villette to work at a boarding school. There, she develops feelings for a man whose attention is taken up by another woman. The book is narrated by the main character, who’s reserved and even secretive, both in her life and towards the reader.

Buy this book if…

1. You’ve read and enjoyed Jane Eyre.
2. You want to read a long novel.

Skip this book if…

1. You don’t like classic novels.
2. You want a light and uplifting read. In that case check out Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine.

4.0 stars on Amazon.

Honorary mentions

Top pick suffering from depression

1. Lost Connections: Uncovering the Real Causes of Depression – and the Unexpected Solutions

Lost Connections: Uncovering the Real Causes of Depression – and the Unexpected Solutions

Author: Johann Hari

This book looks at the issues that loss of connections cause, with anxiety and depression being the main focus. Despite the name, the main topic of discussion is not the lost connections, but depression.

It has interesting ideas and there can be some good takeaways from reading it, but something to keep in mind is that some parts of it are trivializing and it portrays psychiatry and antidepressants in an overly negative light.

4.6 stars on Amazon.


2. The World According to Mister Rogers: Important Things to Remember

The World According to Mister Rogers: Important Things to Remember

Author: Fred Rogers

An uplifting read that touches on the importance of connections and community. While loneliness is not the main theme, I saw this book pop up on a few lists and decided that it deserves a mention.

Despite being 208 pages long, this book is mostly a collection of quotes, and so it isn’t very text-heavy and can be read fairly quickly. It would probably serve best as a coffee table book.

4.8 stars on Amazon.


3. A Biography of Loneliness

A Biography of Loneliness: The History of an Emotion

Author: Fay Bound Alberti

A Biography of Loneliness is a study of loneliness that looks at a wide range of writings from the 18th century up until modern times and argues that loneliness is a primarily modern issue. It distinguishes between being alone and being lonely, and also deals with old age, creativity and the fear of missing out.

It might be worth picking up if the topic of loneliness interests you, but you should skip it if you’re looking for a self-help book.

4.3 stars on Amazon.


4. The Friend

The Friend

Author: Sigrid Nunez

This is a story about a writer who, after suddenly losing her best friend and finding herself forced to care for the friend’s dog, slowly becomes obsessed with the dog.

It’s a pretty good book, but the reason I put this one in honorary mentions instead of the fiction section is that writer’s life is a bigger theme here than loneliness is. I’d encourage you to check out this book if you’re interested in the literary world.

4.1 stars on Amazon.


5. This One Wild and Precious Life: The Path Back to Connection in a Fractured World

This One Wild and Precious Life: The Path Back to Connection in a Fractured World

Author: Sarah Wilson

Written by a journalist, blogger and a TV presenter, this book links loneliness with consumerism, climate change, political divide, coronavirus and racial tensions.

It gets fairly political at times, and goes into many topics beyond just loneliness. Unfortunately, it’s not very well written and at 352 pages long, it can be tough to get through.

With that said, it might be worth checking out if the premise sounds particularly interesting to you.

4.6 stars on Amazon.

David Morin is the founder of SocialPro. He's been writing about social skills since 2012. Follow on Twitter or read more.

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