If you’re looking for the top books to help you overcome social anxiety, then you’ve come to the right place.
As someone who suffered with really bad social anxiety, I managed to overcome my issues by studying everything I could find relating to shyness and social anxiety. This includes scientific studies, self help books, communication and dating “gurus,” etc.
On this page, first you’ll learn what the best “social anxiety specific” books are. Then you’ll find out about some little-known books (that don’t have social anxiety in the title) that can help you be less anxious, awkward and quiet around people.
Section A: Social Anxiety Specific Books
1. The Shyness and Social Anxiety System by Sean Cooper
Okay, I may as well get this one out of the way. My top recommended resource for overcoming social anxiety is obviously going to be…
The program that I created myself!
Now, before you run away from this page because of my blatant and unashamed self promotion, here’s why you should take a look at this…
Back when I had really bad social anxiety, I couldn’t find the answer or cure to my problems in just one book. I had to piece it together from many different sources:
- Scientific papers on social anxiety,
- Self help books,
- Communication skills and dating “gurus”
- And many other places
And I created the type of step by step system I wished that I had had. I wrote the type of advice I would have wanted back when I was first struggling with talking in conversations, being less quiet and overcoming that paralyzing anxiety that made me sweat, shake and freeze up around people.
Obviously you shouldn’t just trust my own opinion here. I’m definitely biased. But check out the reviews and feedback I’ve received from both professionals and former social anxiety sufferers.
Learn more about the full system on my website. (Includes the digital manual, the audio version, and 4 bonus reports.)
Or buy the printed manual on Amazon.
Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, here are my other top recommendations…
2. The Solution To Social Anxiety by Dr. Aziz Gazipura
This is the only book out there that I can honestly recommend as having the full and CORRECT answer to overcoming social anxiety, besides my own.
Dr. Aziz starts the book by showing that a better understanding of your fears and social anxiety is the first step to change. Then (similar to my system) he shows you how shyness or social anxiety is changeable, it’s not a permanent part of who you are.
He reveals that most people with social anxiety are secretly carrying a core negative belief that “I’m not enough.” Finally he gives specific steps for how to overcome fear of rejection and begin breaking out of a life of fear.
3. Overcoming Social Anxiety Step By Step by Dr. Thomas A. Richards
Many years ago, Dr. Richards cognitive behavioural audio program was the “gold standard.” This means it was really the only practical and effective option for social anxiety sufferers, besides actual therapy or medication.
The techniques and handouts from the audio program are now also available as a book.
Inside it you will find many useful tips. Techniques like slowing down the voice in your head (Slow Talk), not fighting your feelings, and learning to not trust your automatic negative thoughts (ANTs) are all core teachings here. Many people with social anxiety will find this book very relevant and useful.
4. Overcoming Social Anxiety and Shyness by Gillian Butler
This was probably the first good book for social anxiety. There have been many books written by therapists and psychologists about social anxiety, but you usually feel like the author doesn’t truly understand the difficulty of our unique problem. And the tips they give feel parroted from a therapy handbook written in the 70s.
The first part of this book shows the author truly does have a firm understanding of what social anxiety is and how it affects your life. You will finish it with a feeling that you are not alone with your problems. This is the strongest section of the book, in my opinion.
The second part of the book gives tips to overcome social anxiety.If you’re looking for a crash course in cognitive behavioral therapy for social anxiety, then this would be your best introduction. These are the same types of techniques you may learn from a typical therapist, but tailored towards social anxiety sufferers. Things like writing down your thoughts, analyze when you’re making common thinking errors, etc.
Section B: Books Without “Social Anxiety” In The Title
5. The Power Of Now by Eckhart Tolle
This is a book that has helped many people become cured of anxiety. Yes, I know that’s a HUGE claim to make for a book that has the questionable subtitle “A guide to spiritual enlightenment.”
So what’s this book about? If I had to slap a label on it, I might say “meditation or mindfulness,” but in reality it’s so much more. Eckart Tolle is able to clearly communicate WHY your mind makes you so anxious, frustrated or unhappy so much of the time. And his solution? Living in the present. Let me explain…
If you truly pay attention, you’ll see that most of the time your mind is either remembering or reliving scenes from the past… or imagining and projecting what the future will be. Either way, you’re not living in the now, in the present moment, in the reality of what IS actually happening right here and now. And this is what causes most of your anxiety, frustration and unhappiness.
Learning how to live with your focus in the present will change your life. I’m not kidding.
Practicing living in the present (instead of reliving the past or imagining the future in your mind) has so many more benefits to someone who has social anxiety. It can slow down your racing mind, it can lower the anxiety you feel BEFORE some social event, it can improve your social skills tremendously when you can listen to someone with your full attention.
There are some books out there specifically about mindfulness for anxiety, but in my opinion those are usually missing some of the magic and clarity found in this book.
6. Psycho Cybernetics by Dr. Maxwell Maltz
This is a little-known gem, a self help book from the 1960s that shows you how to achieve what you want in life — whether that’s more confidence, friends or success.
Dr. Maltz was a plastic surgeon who discovered something fascinating. Many people came to him wanting to fix a “flaw” in their appearance. And after the surgery was done and their “flaw” was fixed, many of these people’s lives did not actually improve.
Although their outer image was changed, their inner “self image” stayed the same, so their problems of low self esteem, shyness, insecurity, loneliness continued. In this book Dr. Maltz create a method to change your “self image.” That’s what he called your inner picture of the sort of person you are. He said you cannot create outer change in your life without first creating inner change in your self image. In my opinion, he wrote one of the most useful self help books ever.
7. Daring Greatly by Brene Brown
I’ve talked before how the root cause of many people’s social anxiety is shame. Specifically, feeling ashamed about who you are as a person. This is what I call toxic shame, and you should check out my video about this topic here:
This book by Brene Brown (she calls herself a “shame researcher”) is probably the first mainstream book that talks about this sticky subject. The cure for shame prescribed in the book is vulnerability, having the courage to slowly open up to people and share more of yourself. A very important book for anyone who has social anxiety to read. You can watch her TED talk here to get a taste of what she talks about.
8. The Charisma Myth
Finally, an “improve your social skills” book that is actually useful. Most of the communication skills books out there are full of bad or too-simple advice. This book is different. It won’t tell you to “use other people’s name” or “stop criticizing people” or any other dumb tips like that.
Instead, the author breaks down charisma into 3 parts: Presence, Power, and Warmth. Then in each chapter explains how you can improve each part. The best part is that the techniques are very specific, so you’ll be able to actually use them the next time to talk to people. For example, she doesn’t just tell you to “be interested in what the other person is saying” she actually breaks down HOW you can improve this step by step.
9. No More Mr. Nice Guy by Dr. Glover
This is a book written for “nice guys.” These are guys who believe they are caring, unselfish and nice… but can never seem to get what they want from relationships.
Although this book isn’t targeted towards people with social anxiety, I think it could be very useful to you. It will teach you how to have healthy relationships and become a stronger man. Dr. Glover talks about:
- How to set personal boundaries,
- How to put your needs first,
- How to stop trying to gain approval from others, and
- Stop getting used by them…
By practicing the things Dr. Glover talks about, you will become a much more confident person. You’ll become more naturally attractive to women. And you will feel in control of your own life instead of feeling like a helpless victim of other people.
10. Feeling Good and Intimate Connections by Dr. David D Burns
This is actually 2 different books by the same author. I couldn’t decide which one is better, so I’ll put both.
Feeling Good is probably the most popular self help book based on therapy techniques ever written. It starts off with the idea that your thoughts cause your feelings. Then, chapter by chapter, it gives you insight into new ways of thinking and techniques to improve your mood — whether you’re struggling with worry, anxiety or depression.
Intimate Connections is a book meant for people struggling with shyness or loneliness. It contains stories of many of Dr. Burns’ own patients who had trouble making friends or finding a significant other. The author shares his own story of approaching women in the local park for an entire summer and getting rejected by every single one — ouch! Yet through the experience he overcame his shyness. The beginning of the book will teach you how to be happy on your own. Surprisingly, this is how you stop being needy and turning people off. The second half of the book, which tried to teach more practical social skills, I thought was only okay at best.
I hope you find this list of books for social anxiety useful! It’s definitely not a complete list, just the books that I feel are the MOST valuable to someone struggling with feeling anxious, quiet and awkward around people.
Have you read any of these books? Did they help you? Or are there any great books I’ve missed?
Let me know in the comments below!