8 Books About Loneliness To Make You Feel Less Alone

Feeling lonely? Want to know why or how to connect with others? Check out these reads about loneliness that will help you better understand your emotions.

Lifestyle Non-Fiction Recommendations Self Help

As a busy college student, a writer, and an introvert, I spend a lot of time alone. Don’t get me wrong, I love spending time with family and friends. But sometimes, there are few more peaceful experiences than reading in the dead of night, listening to the blaring horn of the midnight train that passes my house every evening. For me, solitude is not synonymous with loneliness.

However, in a post-pandemic world, society is more distant than ever. We stare at blue screens in dark basements and pretend we’re happier than we are so other people can validate our life choices with emojis. Under the technological illusion of connection, we are truly alone, forced to compartmentalize the curated versions of ourselves with the real, uncensored, “ugliness” of our true selves. It’s no wonder the modern world faces a loneliness epidemic.

This emotion, complicated by both spiritual and secular notions of interpersonal connection, pervades our collective consciousness as a net-negative experience. While that may be true in some cases, there are many ways to cope with loneliness and seek communion or healthy alone time. While it is up to the individual to decide how they perceive the emotion, here are 8 books about loneliness to make readers feel less alone in their journey.

The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone by Olivia Laing


Part-memoir, part-artistic critique, The Lonely City follows Laing as she moved to New York City in her thirties for a relationship that decoupled shortly thereafter. In one of the loneliest periods of her life, Laing discusses the phenomenon of being lonely in a large city by analyzing the art and lives of Edward Hopper, Andy Warhol, Henry Darger, and David Wojnarowicz. Described as an “electric, dazzling investigation into what it means to be alone,” The Lonely City is a great read for art fans and NYC enthusiasts.

The Friendship Formula: How to Say Goodbye to Loneliness and Discover Deeper Connection by Kyler Shumway, PsyD


The Friendship Formula is perfect for anxious or socially awkward loners of all ages who want a how-to guide for making and maintaining friendships. Using psychological concepts like attachment theory, power dynamics, and defense mechanisms, this book explains in clear language how to find insight within oneself in order to create lasting connections with others. As the book states, “Give someone a friend, and they might be less lonely. Teach someone how to friend, and they will never be lonely again.”

The World According to Mister Rogers: Important Things To Remember by Fred Rogers


This short yet powerful book is a collection of stories, insights, anecdotes, and never-before-published writings of Fred Rogers, America’s favorite neighbor. A children’s show host and ordained Presbyterian minister, Fred Rogers was a man who advocated for love, honesty, respect, individuality, and friendship. Perfect for those who love inspirational quotes or whose inner child still lives in Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, The World According to Mister Rogers demonstrates that sometimes the most simple ideas about life are the most important.

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman


For readers more interested in fiction than self-help books, Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine is the perfect sad yet hopeful story for lonely hearts. Eleanor is an incredibly literal and socially awkward woman who is fine. Except, she has no one in her life who cares about her, spends her weekends drinking vodka, and might not be fine at all. However, Eleanor one day stumbles into an unlikely friendship with a coworker and an old man who requires saving after taking a tumble on the sidewalk.

As this trio comes to know one another, they find that friendship is what they all needed, and Eleanor embarks on a journey of healing and discovering self-worth. An uplifting read in the same vein as A Man Called Ove, readers will relate to and root for Eleanor’s journey to eventually be fine.

Eleven Kinds of Loneliness by Richard Yates


Eleven Kinds of Loneliness is a short story collection containing — you guessed it — eleven short stories centered on themes of loneliness from different angles. This collection features stories like a newlywed wife feeling alone in her marriage; a schoolboy with a pathological lying problem; Christmas in a tuberculosis ward; and a ghostwriter penning stories for a cab driver. Many of these tales are downers, but if one is the kind of loner who finds meaning in sad stories, this well-written collection might be the perfect read.

Solitude: A Return To The Self by Anthony Storr


For creative types who enjoy reading academic works regarding psychology and philosophy, this 1988 “meditation on the creative individual’s need for solitude” is a great choice. Storr explores the lives of creative geniuses ranging from Beethoven to Beatrix Potter and posits that the human need for solitude is just as important as the need for companionship. He argues that healing and personal growth do not wholly result from our relationships with others but also come from our relationship with ourselves. By reframing concepts of loneliness and solitude, this short book is a refreshing yet timeless look into why being alone is sometimes best for our mental health.

A Biography of Loneliness: The History of an Emotion by Fay Bound Alberti


Another fascinating yet relevant academic text, A Biography of Loneliness, posits that loneliness is not only a modern emotion but one that has only recently shifted into a negative experience. Dating back to the 19th century, “Oneliness” was once seen as a positive, as spending time alone meant growing closer to God. However, as secularism and individualism became more prevalent in Western society, ‘nuclear’ families were formed, and elders drifted to the margins of society, and the Romantic concept of ‘soulmates’ inspired grief and dating heartache into the modern day, loneliness became an epidemic experienced through screens. Using case studies of writers like Sylvia Plath and Virginia Woolf, Alberti explores the meaning of loneliness and navigates its progression over time.

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


In contrast to the state of loneliness, social scientist Brown emphasizes the nature of belonging and what it means to be oneself in an era of “perfectionism and people-pleasing.” Filled with research and personal anecdotes, Brown equates the titular wilderness as an untamed space that simultaneously fosters solitude and belonging. While some of the political and ideological points in the book might not resonate with all readers, Braving the Wilderness has compelling insight into the “spiritual crisis of disconnection” in modern society and the cultural conversations that can lead to belonging and community.

In all honesty, even the most content hermit can feel lonely on occasion. That is why it is so important to reach out to loved ones when you desire connection and communicate your needs when you require solitude. It takes balance to keep one’s soul nourished, and with the help of self-acceptance and a community of beloved friends, one can stave off loneliness for a very long time.

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