25 books directly related to loneliness 📚

All 25 loneliness books as recommended by authors and experts. Updated weekly.

A Book of Silence

By Sara Maitland,

Book cover of A Book of Silence

Why this book?

Of all the destinations we can and do explore during our lives, our internal landscape is the most intimate. Without silence, how do we begin to know ourselves, and to see ourselves for who we really are? Sara Maitland moved from being a chatterer to “a silence hunter,” seeking out spaces where she could live alone and savour silent solitude. Her book explores histories and landscapes of silence, from contemplatives to explorers. She nails the difference between bad silence (the kind most of us are terrified of) and the spaciousness of prolonged silence that, eventually, becomes a state of bliss. Don’t be put off by the apparent seriousness of this subject: Sara might be a religious reclusive, but she writes in accessible prose that, ironically, induces the sense you could almost be having a drink together. It’s a brilliant book.


Hope Farm

By Peggy Frew,

Book cover of Hope Farm

Why this book?

Hope Farm moved me so much because it conveys the bitter-sweetness of being thirteen, being privy to adults who make terrible choices, and having to adapt to the consequences of those choices. It is about parents who join cults (in this case, a hippy one) and the effects of this on their children. Peggy Frew has such a seductive and captivating way of engrossing the reader in the story through her stunning prose.  


The Pencil

By Allan Ahlberg, Bruce Ingman (illustrator),

Book cover of The Pencil

Why this book?

This witty, quirky, ever-escalating modern classic celebrates burgeoning creativity and rubs out the criticism of others and our own self-doubt! A joyous squiggle of a story with the eponymous Pencil as a hero. How often does our own creativity – especially when we are little – begin with a single pencil line?


The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone

By Olivia Laing,

Book cover of The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone

Why this book?

I actually forgot the title of this essay collection and for the longest time I was kicking myself, truly beating my head against a wall trying to remember what it was. Thanks to this feature, I was able to! Olivia Laing is amazing in her ability to tap into vulnerabilities with an uncanny sense of ease and in The Lonely City, she focuses on urban isolation and loneliness, something to which most creatives living in a big city can relate. After reading this one, you’ll walk a city block looking not at what the streets have in store for you but rather what might be existing behind closed doors, invisible to you but all too real to those trapped in those spaces.


Walden and Civil Disobedience

By Henry David Thoreau,

Book cover of Walden and Civil Disobedience

Why this book?

Another profound critique of “civilized” values. Thoreau is like Plato in that he always drills down to bedrock truth: What is it that makes for a good life? Individually and collectively? Be prepared for longueurs. Those who want a pithier critique along more contemporary lines might enjoy the works of the late Ivan Illich, especially Tools for Conviviality.


Little Brown

By Marla Frazee,

Book cover of Little Brown

Why this book?

Little Brown is not the type of book on friendship I originally intended to include. The main character is sad and friendless, and that doesn’t really change by the end of the book. But it raises deeply moving questions about the nature of relationships and connection. For older picture book age children beginning to confront bullying and misunderstanding in school settings, it may lead to thought-provoking and important questions.


The Road to Winter

By Mark Smith,

Book cover of The Road to Winter

Why this book?

Such a pleasure to find the Winter series, because Australian apocalyptic stories are few and far between. Set on the surf coast of Victoria, this book revels in the pristine scenery and the majesty of the ocean. You can almost smell the salt in the air.

Courageous and determined, teenager Finn lives alone with his patient dog Rowdy. Finn appreciates the harsh beauty of what’s left after the disaster, but he’s not blind to the awful injustices that flood in after the rule of law disappears. Finn shows an extraordinary capacity for love and care for the people around him, as well as the few who escape the clutches of new slavery. Rowdy – despite his name – is the quiet rock that gives Finn heart, and he’s never more or less than a dog. Which is wonderful.


The Surrender Experiment: My Journey Into Life's Perfection

By Michael A. Singer,

Book cover of The Surrender Experiment: My Journey Into Life's Perfection

Why this book?

What I love about Michael A. Singer’s The Surrender Experiment is that it really shows us just how much life is serving up for us, every single day. In fact - that’s how I discovered it in the first place! A friend recommended one of Michael’s other books to me (The Untethered Soul) but I mistakenly read this instead. 

Michael is a professor turned spiritual teacher and author. The Surrender Experiment is all about his journey, having made the commitment to simply trust in the flow of life. He chronicles how he created the framework within his life to live this way, what unfolded for him as a result, and the beauty of it all. 

The reason why I recommend this book as being complementary to Stepping Beyond Intention and for anyone looking for guidance in personal development is that it opens your eyes up to just how much is out there for you. It’s about showing you how to get out of the way of what life is trying to give you. 

It’s very easy to get caught up in trying to dictate how something should show up for you. The Surrender Experiment reminds us that we need to be open to all of the ways something can happen for us.


I'm Thinking of Ending Things

By Iain Reid,

Book cover of I'm Thinking of Ending Things

Why this book?

Before it was a Netflix movie (psst! The book is way better), this slim little book creeped me the hell out. It’s a simple premise: A woman is driving with her boyfriend to meet his parents for the first time, only she’s not really sure the relationship is going to work out. However, this psychological thriller will have you on the edge of your seat from the very beginning—only you won’t know why until the very end. I’m shivering just thinking about it.


Boot & Shoe

By Marla Frazee,

Book cover of Boot & Shoe

Why this book?

Boot and Shoe are siblings and best pals. They live together in the same house and do everything together, but they are each in charge of opposite porches: Boot can be found guarding the back porch, while Shoe takes care of the front porch. Until one day, when a squirrel ran amok around their house and turned everything upside down. Now, where is Boot? And where is Shoe? And can they find each other again? You can’t help but be fully invested in these two adorable doggie characters. 


Cave in the Snow

By Vicki MacKenzie,

Book cover of Cave in the Snow

Why this book?

This book is a true treasure. It tells the incredible story of Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo, now a world-renowned dharma teacher in the Tibetan tradition. Born as Diane Perry in London, she decided at the age of 18 that she was a Buddhist, saved up her money, and sailed to India in 1964 to pursue her spiritual path. There she battled the prejudice against women in Tibetan Buddhism, did a 12-year solitary retreat in a remote cave in the high Himalayas, and emerged from the cave with the stead-fast determination to build a monastery for nuns in India. Vicki Mackenzie recounts the practicality, sheer determination, and fearless intelligence of Tenzin Palmo in detail, so we really get to experience her amazing inner and outer journey. Furthermore, the writer weaves the history, beliefs, and practices of Tibetan Buddhism in a way that gives us a clear insight into this often complex religion.


Walden

By Henry David Thoreau,

Book cover of Walden

Why this book?

We backyard veggie growers owe a deep debt of gratitude to the Native Americans who passed on to us their protein-rich maize, squash, potatoes, and beans. One beneficiary was that great contemplative gardener Henry David Thoreau who tended a bean field on the shores of Walden Pond at Concord, Massachusetts. "What shall I learn of beans or beans of me? I cherish them, I hoe them, early and late I have an eye to them and this is my days work," he wrote. He still does not disappoint – even after 160 years. 


Nothing Rhymes with Orange

By Adam Rex,

Book cover of Nothing Rhymes with Orange

Why this book?

In a list about vegetables, I couldn’t resist including one book about fruit, simply because I love it so much. Various fruits take turns being celebrated in rhyme, but as one increasingly gloomy orange realizes, it cannot be included, because, well, it’s in the title. This is a book parents love every bit as much as the kids, and reading it aloud 10,000 times just made me love it more. It will make any meal or snack involving fruit more fun. (Our family still quotes a particularly memorable line every time we eat kiwi.) There are some references that go over kids’ heads, but the book is so funny and well-written that mine never cared. Have fun, and plan on stocking the fruit bowl.


Together: The Healing Power of Human Connection in a Sometimes Lonely World

By Vivek H Murthy M.D.,

Book cover of Together: The Healing Power of Human Connection in a Sometimes Lonely World

Why this book?

Vivek Murthy has been Surgeon General of the United States in both the Obama and Biden administrations. Together is a book about the health crisis of loneliness facing America. When you go deep as the leader of an arts organization, no matter what your organization does, I think you’ll realize that what you do has the potential to address this crisis in powerful ways.


The Stranger in the Woods: The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit

By Michael Finkel,

Book cover of The Stranger in the Woods: The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit

Why this book?

The very idea that someone could abandon modern life and live for so long in the middle of a wood in Maine, in the USA, for close to 30 years, without being found, I find incredible. What Christopher Knight decided to do here isn’t a million miles from Chris McCandless in my earlier book recommendation, but he lasted a lot longer and was undoubtedly more successful. It takes a very special kind of person to become a true hermit, but at some time in our lives, almost all of us will wonder what it’s like to disappear, just to leave everything behind and live the most simplest and natural of lives. Christopher may well not be the last hermit – we’ll never know how many are out there, if we’re honest – but what he achieved makes for fascinating reading, a chance to taste what this sort of mystical life might be like without having to leave the comfort of our own armchairs. 


Because You'll Never Meet Me

By Leah Thomas,

Book cover of Because You'll Never Meet Me

Why this book?

Because You’ll Never Meet Me is a YA novel that takes quirky friendships to a different level. Ollie is allergic to electricity and Moritz suffers from a rare heart condition. He was also born without eyes. Because of their medical issues, Ollie and Moritz can never meet. Ollie’s mom and doctor urge him to befriend someone like him and he and Moritz become long-distance pen pals. Their friendship is brought to life through the heartfelt letters they write to each other. There’s also a dark secret about their past and where they came from. 


Hug Me

By Simona Ciraolo,

Book cover of Hug Me

Why this book?

Hug Me depicts the story of Felipe, a young cactus, who just wants to be hugged. The problem is that his family just isn't the touchy-feely kind. It leads Felipe to go on his own path to find a friend. But hugging a cactus can be a tricky thing... This simple yet touching story will make you see the prickliest person as someone who also needs to be loved and hugged. I promise you, this cute little cactus will melt your heart!


The Invisible String

By Patrice Karst, Joanne Lew-Vriethoff (illustrator),

Book cover of The Invisible String

Why this book?

I read this book after publishing my own book about grief and why I loved it so much was because the author has a similar vision of people, things, and the world. Reading the story I had the impression that I was reading my own mind. I think this book explains very well to the reader how important love is to keep the connection among those who are separated alive. This story is written in a comforting and entertaining way and I believe it helps heal wounds after a loss.


Wintering: The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times

By Katherine May,

Book cover of Wintering: The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times

Why this book?

Katherine May’s Wintering is a treasure for any season of life. This personal narrative, told through gorgeous, evocative prose, describes a period of physical and emotional suffering in the author’s life akin to winter – when the world feels cold and causes us to retreat to a much darker place that we’d prefer to avoid. Ms. May chronicles this painful stage of her life and describes the spiritual “hunkering down” necessary for not only acceptance and healing, but for true transformation, emerging on the other side wiser, freer, and more fully alive. I cracked open this book as the COVID-19 pandemic was at its peak, and May’s wisdom offered a balm of hope during an isolating, stressful time.


My Year of Rest and Relaxation

By Ottessa Moshfegh,

Book cover of My Year of Rest and Relaxation

Why this book?

The premise of this book is how to be the ultimate anti-workaholic, and from that concept alone, I was hooked. Our protagonist decides to spend a year doing nothing, literally a year of rest and relaxation. She sleeps, eats, and watches lots of VHS movies. Moshfegh is one of the most exciting young writers of contemporary literature. Her wit could cut through granite, and as ridiculous as the premise is, she manages to pull it off. Reading this book was like giving in to my Id. Sometimes all I want to do is watch myself be lazy.  


Where Happiness Begins

By Eva Eland,

Book cover of Where Happiness Begins

Why this book?

Where Happiness Begins is a clever picture book that depicts happiness as a character that can take any shape and form. Sometimes it is hard to find. And sometimes it is right there with us. The illustrations are bright and beautiful. To me, we should read it frequently as a gentle reminder that happiness always begins within ourselves.


Our Souls at Night

By Kent Haruf,

Book cover of Our Souls at Night

Why this book?

Who can resist this tender love story of the widow, Addie Moore, and the widower, Louis Waters? This is the book Kent Haruf promised his wife he’d complete before he died, and now we have the gift of his sharp insights into the nature of love in our later years along with his crystalline prose. I’m a romantic at heart, and this book reinforced my faith in the power of love. The humanity and the dignity of these characters will stay with you forever, not to mention the gentle humor that comes from two senior citizens trying to make their late-in-life relationship work.


Snow Hunters

By Paul Yoon,

Book cover of Snow Hunters

Why this book?

This stunning, superlative novel soars in its lyricism. In just 194 pages, we get a lifetime. Yohan leaves the Korean peninsula after the war and becomes an apprentice to a Japanese tailor in Brazil. This story is quiet, without a lot of fireworks, but it’s nonetheless haunting and just gorgeous. 


The Lost Man

By Jane Harper,

Book cover of The Lost Man

Why this book?

This is not a Young Adult book but it’s such a great crime book I’ve got to include it. Plus it’s set just over the ditch in Oz and it’s the perfect antidote after reading my book. In my book you’ll be drowned in the rain, in The Lost Man you get to bake in the hot, hot sun! I loved learning about life in rural Australia and, as farmers in New Zealand, how large sheep ranches are run there. I now want to visit!


Seek You: A Journey Through American Loneliness

By Kristen Radtke,

Book cover of Seek You: A Journey Through American Loneliness

Why this book?

Much ink has been spilled about the “loneliness epidemic” spreading widely in the modern world, and this book does a good job of illuminating several facets of that epidemic, addressing the distinction between our private and public selves, and questioning the means through which we attempt, with mixed results, to close our social gaps.