The 10 Best Books About Loneliness of 2020

Finding peace in solitude

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Our Top Picks

Braving the Wilderness at Amazon

"Through timely research, Brown guides the reader on a path toward reconnecting with oneself and others."

Solitude at Amazon

"Storr shows us to embrace solitude, as it's crucial in fostering creativity."

The Lonely City at Amazon

"Through self-discovery in a new city, Laing embarks on a mission to unearth what it truly means to feel alone."

The Friendship Formula at Amazon

"Through psychological concepts and lessons, the author helps us better understand our own minds and the needs and motives of others."

The World According to Mister Rogers at Amazon

"Through a collection of Mr. Rogers’ personal stories, scripts, interviews, and insights, this books explores the concept of unity."

Unlonely Planet at Amazon

"Richardson provides readers with seven actionable steps toward finding a community and one’s own people."

All Along You Were Blooming at Amazon

"Poet Morgan Harper Nichols shares a colorful collection of poetry and prose that inspires us to embrace the cards we are dealt."

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine at Amazon

"The uplifting story follows the quirky and socially awkward young woman as she navigates loneliness for all of us."

Stop Being Lonely at Amazon

"Simple and effective techniques give us the tools to form stronger relationships and conquer loneliness in social situations."

Happier at Home at Amazon

"Piggybacking on her book ‘The Happiness Project’, author Gretchen Rubin embarks on a quest to make home a happier, less lonely place."

Feelings of isolation and loneliness are more prevalent now than ever, as many of us are stuck at home and unable to see our loved ones.

What's more, three in five Americans consider themselves to be lonely, feel left out, or misunderstood. These numbers continue to rise, with young adults being hit the hardest. If you can relate, know that you are not alone. 

Reading can provide comfort and companionship through turbulent times. Whether seeking counsel or an escape, find comfort in our roundup of best books about loneliness.

Our Top Picks

Braving the Wilderness

Brené Brown, Ph.D., LMSW—research professor, lecturer, and author—brings us on a journey to determine the meaning of belonging as a part of something bigger than ourselves and of standing alone.

Throughout the book, Brown addresses what she calls the "current spiritual crisis of disconnection." She believes we live in a world that has lost the art of meaningful interaction, and we no longer know what it means to belong or how to connect with our peers. Through timely research, intertwined with personal anecdotes, Brown guides the reader on a path toward reconnecting with oneself and each other. 

Brown illustrates the journey of braving the wilderness—the place that is feared, the unknown—and how to navigate feelings of loneliness, discomfort, and division through authenticity and vulnerability.

Solitude

The late English psychiatrist Anthony Storr challenges the psychological paradigm that places interpersonal relationships at the forefront of contentment. Storr shows us to embrace solitude, as it's crucial to fostering creativity.

Shining a light on self-discovery and independence, his insights widen our view of the relationship we have with ourselves and others, as well as how we define loneliness.

Through examining the minds of prominent figures who lived in solitude—Beethoven, Kant, and Kipling—Storr pronounces his belief that there are other means of fulfillment and satisfaction. Without dismissing the importance of human interaction, Storr views solitude as being equally responsible for cultivating creativity and good health.

The Lonely City

The Lonely City

 Courtesy of Amazon

Olivia Laing tells the story of moving to New York City in her mid-thirties and feeling helplessly alone. Laing embarks on a mission to unearth what it truly means to feel alone by way of art. 

"There are so many things that art can’t do. It can’t bring the dead back to life, it can’t mend arguments between friends, or cure AIDS, or halt the pace of climate change. All the same, it does have some extraordinary functions, some odd negotiating ability between people, including people who never meet and yet who infiltrate and enrich each other’s lives. It does have a capacity to create intimacy; it does have a way of healing wounds, and better yet of making it apparent that not all wounds need healing and not all scars are ugly."—Olivia Laing, "The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone"

Her tale of self-discovery paints a picture of paralyzing loneliness, engulfed in a bustling metropolis. Through dissecting prominent works of art, from Edward Hopper's "Nighthawks" and Andy Warhol's "Time Capsules", to Henry Darger's hoarding and the depredations of the AIDS crisis, Laing examines what it means to truly feel alone.

The Friendship Formula

At every age, we continue to seek new friendships, while also aspiring to strengthen existing relationships. Through psychological concepts and lessons, Kyler Shumway, Psy.D. helps us understand our own minds as well as the needs and motives of others. 

Addressing the feelings of loneliness and isolation, Shumway’s teachings aim to give readers the tools to master the art of cultivating authentic relationships and fulfilling human connection. 

Throughout this book, he presents us with relevant research, scenarios, and discussion questions. Shumway addresses topics like communication styles, personality traits, and habits to help us discover our own psychological self and the purpose of friendship.

The World According to Mister Rogers

Many of us grew up on the timeless teachings of Mr. Fred Rogers, aka Mister Rogers, on PBS’ “Mister Rogers' Neighborhood".

Through a collection of Rogers’ personal stories, scripts, interviews, and insights, this book explores universal themes addressing love, courage, inner discipline, and unity. Through an unfiltered lens, Rogers discusses the realities of life—from the hardships to the high points—that connect us all as human beings, and most importantly, as neighbors.

“Solitude is different from loneliness, and it doesn't have to be a lonely kind of thing,” Rogers said. His guidance and wisdom serve as comfort to readers, letting us know that our feelings of loneliness are valid and that we are truly not alone.

Unlonely Planet

Author and community builder, Jillian Richardson, shares a relatable tale of experiencing complete isolation in a big city. Richardson shares her vulnerable journey from loneliness to fulfillment through motivating and authentic storytelling.

“Unlonely Planet” dives into the root of feeling alone and how to overcome this steep obstacle. Richardson provides readers with seven actionable steps toward finding a community and one’s own people. By shifting your mindset and view of community, this book provides a road map for fostering meaningful relationships. 

Richardson is the founder of The Joy List, a weekly newsletter inviting people to meet at events, highlighting facilitated moments of connection.

All Along You Were Blooming

Poet Morgan Harper Nichols shares a colorful collection of illustrated poetry and prose that inspires us to embrace the cards we are dealt and find the light in the present moment. Accompanied by her illustrations, Nichols helps readers find hope and positive affirmation. This ultimate love letter reminds us that we are not alone in our loneliness and that every day is an accomplishment. 

Stemming from a period of self-doubt, Nichols channeled her insecurity into creativity and connection. By inviting people to share their stories, she finds inspiration for her art and poetry.

Her book is described as, "A celebration of hope. An encounter with grace. A restoration of the heart. A healing of wounds. An anthem of freedom.” By reading her book, Nichols hopes the reader will feel both spoken to and heard.

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine

Author Gail Honeyman observed that there's a blind spot in the conversation around loneliness. Thinking about how it might manifest itself differently in younger people and how the implications differ from generation to generation, Honeyman digs deeper. 

Also inspired by the idea of social awkwardness, Honeyman combined the two themes in her story about Eleanor Oliphant. The young adult lives a simple life, rarely straying from her normal routine. Whether it's her choice of clothing, brand of vodka, or how she spends her weekends, Oliphant chooses to live her life in a highly regimented manner. 

The uplifting story follows the quirky and socially awkward young woman as she navigates loneliness and meets a coworker who eventually changes her life forever.

Stop Being Lonely

There is a misconception that loneliness is a byproduct of physical isolation. In reality, it can happen when someone is both physically alone as well as with a group of people. Moreover, online friends don't necessarily fill the void for authentic relationships or fulfilling interactions. This practical book serves as a tool for anyone seeking “the feeling of closeness.”

Relationship coach Kira Asatryan helps us cultivate closeness in all areas of our lives—with family, friends, romantic partners, and at work. Her simple and effective techniques give us the tools to form stronger relationships and conquer loneliness in social situations.

Happier at Home

Piggybacking on her book “The Happiness Project”, author Gretchen Rubin embarks on a quest to make home a happier place.

Sparked by feeling homesick in her own home, Rubin examines her life—including possessions, parenthood, marriage, body, neighborhood, and time—and discovers which factors influence her personal happiness the most. 

Dedicating a school year to her self-discovery project, Rubin dissects every aspect of her life at home. She explores the meaning behind her decisions, actions, and needs, and implements ways to enrich her home with comfort, love, and simplicity. 

Throughout her one-year experiment, Rubin recounts the details of her journey: what she tried, what worked, and the lessons learned.

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  1. Cigna. Cigna takes action to combat the rise of loneliness and improve mental wellness in America. Updated January 23, 2020.