The best books about anxiety

38 authors have picked their favorite books about anxiety and why they recommend each book.

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The Concept of Anxiety

By Alastair Hannay, Søren Kierkegaard,

Book cover of The Concept of Anxiety: A Simple Psychologically Oriented Deliberation in View of the Dogmatic Problem of Hereditary Sin

The acknowledged father of existentialism actually makes anxiety interesting (if you’re into that sort of thing.) Not for sissies.

Who are we?

Thomas Cathcart and Daniel Klein have been thinking deep thoughts and writing jokes for decades, and now they are here to help us understand philosophy through jokes, and jokes through philosophy. They like philosophy and they like jokes, not necessarily in that order. Best of all, they like combining them. 

I wrote...

Heidegger and a Hippo Walk Through Those Pearly Gates: Using Philosophy (and Jokes!) to Explore Life, Death, the Afterlife, and Everything in Between

By Thomas Cathcart and Danny Klein,

Book cover of Heidegger and a Hippo Walk Through Those Pearly Gates: Using Philosophy (and Jokes!) to Explore Life, Death, the Afterlife, and Everything in Between

What is my book about?

A hilarious take on the philosophy, theology and psychology of mortality and immortality. That is, death. The authors pry open the coffin lid on this one, looking at the Big D, its prequel, Life, and its sequel, the Hereafter. Philosophers such as Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Camus and Sartre have been wrestling with the meaning of death for as long as they have been wrestling with the meaning of life. Fortunately, humourists have been keeping pace with the major thinkers by creating gags about dying. Death's funny that way - it gets everybody's attention.

Anxious People

By Fredrik Backman,

Book cover of Anxious People

This book tells the tale of a group of strangers viewing an apartment that is for sale who are held hostage by an inept bank robber. The humor and humanity of the situation compelled me to read this book in a weekend. The twists and turns keep the reader glued to the page. For me, any book that has you thinking about the characters long after the book has ended is worth the read.

Who am I?

When I was in third grade, I received a note from a boy that stated, “I like you. Terry.” I learned that just a few words were necessary to convey emotion and that every word in a story needs to have purpose. I earned a bachelor’s degree in English from Indiana University and remembered Terry’s note. These are my favorite books. They get to the point and take me on an adventure. I’ve studied them and written my debut novel in such fashion. In addition to my novel, I’ve published many non-fiction human interest stories, short prose, and poems. I credit any awards or recognition I have received to four words from Terry.  

I wrote...

Class A Felony

By Deena Lee Davis,

Book cover of Class A Felony

What is my book about?

Sparks fly between Chloe Loucks and her irresistible co-worker, the gorgeous Travis Trammel, starting with their first kiss. Chloe can’t believe someone so handsome wants to be with her, so she’s willing to forgive minor instances of rude behavior. Although she discovers Travis is not quite a perfect Prince Charming, their relationship deepens. There’s no turning back once Travis shares secrets that Chloe finds disturbing, frightening―and illegal. Shocked, Chloe fights her feelings but finds herself drawn ever deeper until Travis commits an unspeakable act that reveals his true character, forever shattering her trust. As she tries to pick up the pieces, Chloe realizes there’s only one way she can get on with her life. She puts her plan into motion and learns revenge may indeed be a dish best served cold.  

The Wisdom of Insecurity

By Alan Watts,

Book cover of The Wisdom of Insecurity: A Message for an Age of Anxiety

In my own book, The Buddha in the Classroom, I tell the story of my fortuitous and life-changing first encounter with this book, while in my first year of college. Foreshadowing my career as a teacher of eastern philosophy, it lit the fire of my ongoing interest in Zen and had a profound impact on my personal journey into meditation. I sensed that the ironic title held some precious secret. I would discover, within its pages, the magic that happens when we learn to lean into the unknown, rather than fight against it. Indeed, the search for assuredness in life only seems to perpetuate the angst that is at the root of all the anxiety that characterizes the human condition... at least for many of us! Through letting go, we become more free.

Who am I?

I’m now in my 25th year as professor of eastern philosophy at Santa Monica College. One of the things I love most about teaching this subject is the unconventional nature of the way I'm able to approach it. Unlike many other academic subjects, it lends itself to an experiential counterpart, so it’s a joy to share a few minutes of meditation before getting into any lectures or discussions. I share from my own personal experiences in different styles of meditation, which come from years of trainings in Kundalini and Hatha Yoga, as well as from my background in Zen.

I wrote...

The Buddha in the Classroom: Zen Wisdom to Inspire Teachers

By Donna Quesada,

Book cover of The Buddha in the Classroom: Zen Wisdom to Inspire Teachers

What is my book about?

Donna Quesada had been teaching for about a dozen years when the first signs of burnout hit her. Rather than give into her frustration, she reached for Buddha's teachings--the Zen wisdom that formed the basis of her own longtime spiritual practice. She survived the semester and gradually rediscovered the joy of teaching that had been progressively declining. In this wonderful book, she shares the lessons she learned--lessons that reveal time and again: No matter the situation, it's always about getting your head in the right place first. Resolution begins in our own minds. Some days, some semesters, and even some years will be more challenging and more wearisome than others, she warns. But in Buddha in the Classroom, Quesada offers a lasting source of encouragement and inspiration. Although the book draws from Eastern teachings, the wisdom is for everyone, regardless of personal background, creed, or faith.

Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway

By Susan Jeffers,

Book cover of Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway

I know that this is a bestseller written in the simplest language. And that the title is an excellent one-sentence summary of the book’s content (so why read it?). And that it sounds like a typical self-help book. But it is not by chance that this book is still read by millions thirty-five years after its initial publication. Jeffers’s concise language and seemingly self-evident maxims interspersed throughout the book take you on a journey into the deepest recesses of the soul and into the psychology that lies behind our life’s actions. Since multiple fears appear during the midlife crisis, including the major one of creating a rupture between one’s present and future life, this book is the manual for overcoming all fears that lead to inactivity and paralysis. While acknowledging the necessity of difficulties and pain in life, by showing how to transform these to our benefit, the book ends…

Who am I?

I’m a writer and world-traveler. But in my previous life, I was a media executive. At thirty-five years old, at the height of my career in that world, I felt an emptiness – a lack of meaning in my life. I decided to quit and retreat to a family country house in order to figure out my next steps. I soon realized that I was experiencing a full-blown midlife crisis and started reading a lot of books in order to understand my predicament. I ended up reading for four years before finally deciding to travel around the world. The following books are the ones that helped me the most; I recommend them to others who are entering this crucial period of life.

I wrote...

Destination Earth: A New Philosophy of Travel by a World-Traveler

By Nicos Hadjicostis,

Book cover of Destination Earth: A New Philosophy of Travel by a World-Traveler

What is my book about?

The book is the product of my continuous six-and-a-half-year journey around the world, during which I visited seventy countries on six continents, treating the world as if it were a single destination. While many travelers today concern themselves with destinations solely for amusement, relaxation, and entertainment, I propose a more meaningful, rewarding, and fulfilling way of viewing travel. Enriched with travel anecdotes and some of my best travel photos, the book sheds light on the relationship between Travel and Life as a whole. Ideas and experiences are interwoven into a newly created Philosophy of Travel that is practical and easy to apply.

Name and Tame Your Anxiety

By Summer Batte,

Book cover of Name and Tame Your Anxiety: A Kid's Guide

Directed at middle school-age kids, this book offers practical advice to pre-teens on how to practice anxiety-taming strategies. It even includes a chapter on medication. Quotes from real kids also make the subject matter more relatable and let kids know that they’re not alone. The sections on what therapy is like and how you can advocate for yourself can be empowering for kids as well as teaching lifelong skills.

Who am I?

Let’s face it—kids’ anxiety has gone through the roof over the last two years since the start of the pandemic. Not being able to play with friends, participate on sports teams, or even have sleepovers has had an impact. For kids, play is one of their main ways to relieve stress.  Here are my five go-to books for kids dealing with anxiety, worries, and stress. 

I wrote...

What to Do When You're Scared and Worried: A Guide for Kids

By James J. Crist,

Book cover of What to Do When You're Scared and Worried: A Guide for Kids

What is my book about?

I wrote this book back in 2004. My goal was to take what we know about anxiety in adults, its causes, and treatments, and bring it down to a child’s level. Learning about how your brain is wired to react quickly when it thinks you’re in danger has kept us safe for thousands of years. Changing your thoughts, desensitizing yourself to things you fear, and practicing relaxation techniques all help kids feel better and reduce their anxiety.  

Starving the Anxiety Gremlin

By Kate Collins-Donnelly,

Book cover of Starving the Anxiety Gremlin: A Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Workbook on Anxiety Management for Young People

This book manages to convey lots of information about anxiety without feeling overwhelming to tween readers, in part due to an effective layout and the use of workbook activities (quizzes, questionnaires, word searches, etc.) that encourage kids to personalize and practice what they are learning. Anxiety is externalized in the form of a gremlin, which readers are taught to recognize, challenge, and ultimately tame. There is the added bonus of a UK author – and plenty of British-isms - helping US readers remember the universality of anxiety.

Who am I?

I am a Clinical Psychologist and the parent of a once-anxious child who grew up before I developed the expertise I now have, which means I did just about everything wrong. The silver lining, I guess, is that I see anxiety not only from a therapist’s perspective but also through the eyes of a child who is suffering and a parent who has no idea how to help. All of the books I have written, and all that I have recommended, speak respectfully to children and the adults reading with them about real struggles and real solutions. I feel privileged to be able to do this work.

I wrote...

Outsmarting Worry: An Older Kid's Guide to Managing Anxiety

By Dawn Huebner,

Book cover of Outsmarting Worry: An Older Kid's Guide to Managing Anxiety

What is my book about?

Worry has a way of growing, shifting from not-a-big-deal to a VERY BIG DEAL in the blink of an eye. This big-deal Worry is tricky, luring children into behaviors that keep the anxiety cycle going. Children often find it hard to fight back against Worry, but not anymore.

Outsmarting Worry teaches 9 to 13-year-olds and the adults who care about them a specific set of skills that makes it easier to face – and overcome – worries and fears. Smart, practical, proven techniques are presented in language immediately accessible to children with an emphasis on shifting from knowing to doing, from worried to happy and free.

Hey Awesome

By Karen Young, Norvile Dovidonyte (illustrator),

Book cover of Hey Awesome: A Book for Kids about Anxiety, Courage, and Being Already Awesome

In my work in the world of mental health and trauma, anxiety is a common complaint. I love the positive (and scientifically accurate) portrayal of the function of anxiety in this whimsically illustrated book. “Sometimes your brain works so hard to protect you, it hits the panic button by mistake.” With this strengths-based framework woven into every page, Hey Awesome teaches kids how to be the boss of their brilliant and brave brains. A must-read for all children, and a lifeline for those who struggle with anxiety. And remember, “anxiety and courage always happen together.”

Who am I?

My super-power is making brain science accessible and entertaining for children and adults alike. I am living this out as an author, mental health counselor, and the founder of BraveBrains. In addition to training parents and professionals, I have the joy of sharing my passion and expertise through podcast appearances, blogs, and articles. The lightbulb moments are my favorite, and I'm committed to helping people bring what they learn home in practical ways. I write picture books because the magic of reading and re-reading stories light up the brain in a powerful way. But don’t worry…I always include some goodies for the adults in the back of the book.

I wrote...

What's Inside Your Backpack?

By Jessica Sinarski, Joanne Lew-Vriethoff (illustrator),

Book cover of What's Inside Your Backpack?

What is my book about?

Zoey Harmon just wants to feel light-hearted and carefree. Unfortunately, she keeps getting weighed down by pesky “books” in her backpack, like Worry and Shame. Much to her surprise, she’s not the only one! Zoey learns that the adults in her life deal with these difficult feelings too! Luckily, they have some bright ideas that can help her set aside the books she’s not meant to carry! Will it be enough to help her with the biggest book of all?

While there are no quick fixes for all of life’s complex problems, What’s Inside Your Backpack? highlights some of the ways we can nurture resilience in body and mind.

Much Too Much Birthday (Maud the Koala)

By J.E. Morris,

Book cover of Much Too Much Birthday (Maud the Koala)

The title explains the way children often feel…much too much! We tend to overdo it when wanting to give our children too much of most things. Children become overwhelmed as Maud did. This book is a wonderful way to show children how this can happen and help them understand more isn’t always better and sometimes a break is best. I especially like the note to caregivers in the back.

Who am I?

Often, people don’t understand the emotions of a child. The care and keeping of children have been my life focus as a mother of five, 4-H leader, Kindergarten aide, religious education teacher, and owner of Whalen’s Country Childcare. I hold dear the awe and wonder seen in the eyes of a child and hope to forever be inspired by the sight. Since my new book, Little Red Rolls Away was released, I have presented at schools, libraries, appeared in newspapers, magazines, and been featured on CBS Good Day Sacramento. Endorsements include filmmaker Joey Travolta, Founder and Creative Director, Inclusion Films, a company that aims to teach the art of filmmaking to people with developmental disabilities.

I wrote...

Little Red Rolls Away

By Linda Whalen, Jennifer E. Morris (illustrator),

Book cover of Little Red Rolls Away

What is my book about?

When Little Red Barn wakes one morning, he finds his animal friends have gone. He's empty and alone. And then big noisy machines lift him up and put him on a truck. As Little Red is transported across the countryside, down a major river, and through city streets, he feels anxious and a little afraid. Where is he going? Who will be there when he reaches his destination? When Little Red does finally reach his new home in a surprising location, he finds things are even better than before.

While entertaining children, the story of the little barn's relocation and adjustment to a new place will reassure and comfort young readers facing changes in their own lives.


By Claire Bidwell Smith,

Book cover of Anxiety: The Missing Stage of Grief: A Revolutionary Approach to Understanding and Healing the Impact of Loss

Claire Bidwell Smith’s Anxiety: The Missing Stage of Grief was the first book that revealed to me that anxiety lives in the body autonomous from the mind, and can cause panic attacks hours or even a day after the feelings flood the system, causing a lack of connection between cause and effect. It expanded my sense of what anxiety is, and how the physical response appears in unexpected places…like while grieving.

Who am I?

When I first started building this site, and the Beautiful Voyager community, I had just turned 40 years old. I’d been fighting migraines all of my life and had tried every medication and natural approach possible. I'd given up hope for improvement when my neurologist surprised me by saying: You have Generalized Anxiety Disorder. I searched but found nothing online that spoke to my physical experience of stress, overthinking, and anxiety. I decided that had to change, and that was when Beautiful Voyager was born. I hope you find the answers you’re looking for, or even just feel less alone on the journey. The first Beautiful Voyager book, Get Out of My Head, was released in May 2020.

I wrote...

Get Out of My Head: Inspiration for Overthinkers in an Anxious World

By Meredith Arthur,

Book cover of Get Out of My Head: Inspiration for Overthinkers in an Anxious World

What is my book about?

Are you an overthinker? You’re not alone! This beautifully illustrated guide offers a joyful, manageable way to deal with anxiety while quieting your stressful thoughts through easy exercises, bite-sized takeaways, and calming visuals. What if you learned to ride the wave of anxiety instead of getting lost in it? Get Out of My Head is here to help, providing guidance and inspiration for overthinkers, people-pleasers, and perfectionists. Written by Meredith Arthur, founder of Beautiful Voyager, featuring art by Leah Rosenberg, former Director of the Color Factory in New York, Get Out of My Head offers soothing techniques for understanding anxiety and moving through the traps of overthinking.

An Introduction to Coping with Anxiety

By Brenda Hogan, Lee Brosan,

Book cover of An Introduction to Coping with Anxiety

I love this small book. Often with anxiety reading lengthy, complicated, medicalized books are overwhelming when anxiety is thumping us in the head. This book is accessible, and you don’t sit there and think, ‘Gawd, I’m only on page 12 and there are 436 other pages to go. How am I going to get through it?’ It’s a really good starting point when you’re not sure why you’re feeling anxious but need some foundation knowledge about what’s going on. The people that have written it know what they’re talking about, our experts in their field but it doesn’t feel preachy or patronizing. 

Who am I?

I have lived with anxiety all my life – it’s a real bugger. At school, I would worry about wearing the wrong shoes or forgetting my shorts for football. Anxiety can be paralyzing and often coupled with its BFF depression, which I have too. Nice eh? I also know that when you face up to anxiety and start swearing at it, not letting it rule you, understand what it is and how useless it is, things start to get easier. It’s not about getting rid of anxiety, it’s about managing it, not letting it rule you. That’s what my book does, with a large dollop of humour thrown in to help things. 

I wrote...

How to Tell Anxiety to Sod Off: 40 Ways to Get Your Life Back

By James Withey,

Book cover of How to Tell Anxiety to Sod Off: 40 Ways to Get Your Life Back

What is my book about?

Despite more and more people opening up about their mental health, anxiety is still taboo. We're not supposed to be anxious; we're supposed to be resilient and able to 'get on with it'. We are expected to excel while juggling a hectic, pressurised schedule at home and at work, despite the lines between the two being more blurred than ever. This book dispels that taboo. It is for anyone who has experienced general anxiety disorder, trauma-related anxiety, clinical anxiety, and those with 'low-level' anxieties.

At once empathetic and entertaining, How to Tell Anxiety to Sod Off offers 40 ways to get to a better place with anxiety. They are born out of the author's personal experience of managing his own anxiety and his many years of working as a counselor helping people with their mental health.

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