15 Best Social Anxiety and Shyness Books

These are the best books on social anxiety and shyness, reviewed and ranked.

This is my book guide specifically for and shyness social anxiety. Also, see my book guides on social skills, self-esteemmaking conversation, making friendsself-confidence, and body language.

Top Picks

Top pick overall
Top pick low self-esteem

Top pick overall

1. Shyness and Social Anxiety Workbook

Shyness and Social Anxiety Workbook: Proven, Step-by-Step Techniques for Overcoming your Fear

Authors: Martin M. Antony PhD, Richard P. Swinson MD

This is my favorite book for shyness and social anxiety. Unlike many other books on the topic I’ve read, it isn’t trivializing. It’s shows understanding of wherever your current starting point is. It won’t force you to do things that make you feel too uncomfortable.

The book is based on CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) which is well-supported by science.

I like books that are to the point, but I can imagine that some think this one’s too dry: There are no anecdotes from the author’s own life and no storyline, only exercises and explanations for why the exercises work.

The book is not written from the perspective of a “former shy person” like many other books on this list, but by a clinical physician who knows a lot about the topic. (In other words, it’s more like talking to a therapist than talking to a friend).

It comes down to what flavor you prefer.

Do buy this book if…

1. You are prepared to put in work and do exercises, as this is a workbook and not a storybook. (Exercises are well adjusted to your level, though, no crazy “out-of-your-comfort-zone” stunts).
2. You like to-the-point, actionable advice that is based on science.

Do NOT buy this book if…

1. You want something with more focus on low self-esteem. If so, read How to Be Yourself.
2. You don’t like the workbook format but want something you can glance through. (If so, I recommend Good-Bye to Shy. It has less effective advice in my opinion but is an easier read.)

4.6 stars on Amazon.

Top pick for low self-esteem

2. How to Be Yourself

How to Be Yourself: Quiet Your Inner Critic and Rise Above Social Anxiety

Author: Ellen Hendriksen

This is a GREAT book written by a clinical psychologist who’s had social anxiety herself.

It’s a shame that the cover makes it look like it’s a book for party-girls (might have been the publisher’s idea). In reality, this is an extremely helpful book and as valuable for men as for women.

Compared to Social Anxiety and Shyness workbook, this one is less clinical and more about how to deal with a negative self-image and overcoming low self-esteem.

Do buy this book if…

You have a negative self-image or low self-esteem.

Do NOT buy this book if…

You primarily want exercises for overcoming shyness or anxiety in social settings and not so much focus on low self-esteem. If so, get Shyness and Social Anxiety Workbook.

4.6 stars on Amazon.

3. Overcoming Social Anxiety & Shyness

Overcoming Social Anxiety and Shyness: A self-help guide using cognitive behavioural techniques

Author: Gillian Butler

This book is very similar to Social Anxiety Workbook. Both are workbooks (Meaning, a lot of exercises and examples) and both use CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) which is shown to be effective against social anxiety.

It’s a great book by all means, but not quite as sharp as the SA Workbook. You won’t be dissatisfied, but you might as well get the SA workbook.

4.6 stars on Amazon.

4. Social Anxiety

Social Anxiety : Easy Daily Strategies for Overcoming Social Anxiety and Shyness, Build Successful Relationships, and Increase Happiness

Author: James W. Williams

At 37 pages long, this is the shortest entry on the list.

A good introduction to social anxiety. It outlines the difference between shyness and social anxiety and provides some actionable tips on how to deal with it.

Buy this book if…

You aren’t sure whether you’re shy or may have social anxiety.

Skip this book if…

1. You want a lengthy, detailed read.
2. You’re already familiar with your social anxiety.

4.4 stars on Amazon.

Honorary mentions

Books that I wouldn’t recommend as a first read, but that are still worth looking into.

5. Good-Bye to Shy

Goodbye to Shy: 85 Shybusters That Work!

Author: Leil Lowndes

Like The Shyness and Social Anxiety Workbook, this book advocates gradual exposure to things that make you uncomfortable. This is, in my opinion, the best way to be less shy.

However, I think the actual advice is sometimes off-beat. The exercises are not at all as well-made as in the SA Workbook.

The only benefit of this book is that the author has personal experience on the topic. My feeling is that she never was SUPER shy, though.

Do buy this book if…

You prefer list formats.

Do NOT buy this book if…

1. You are OK with a more clinical, professional approach. (If so, get the Shyness and Social Anxiety Workbook)
2. You don’t like list formats (It’s basically a list of 85 ways to be less shy)

3.9 stars on Amazon.

6. Thriving with Social Anxiety

Thriving with Social Anxiety: Daily Strategies for Overcoming Anxiety and Building Self-Confidence

Author: Hattie C. Cooper

Written by someone who’s had social anxiety and describing her way out of it. Not at all as actionable as the Shyness and Social Anxiety Workbook or How to Be Yourself. But I still mention it here, as it has a more personal flavor than those books.

4.4 stars on Amazon.

7. What You Must Think of Me

What You Must Think of Me: A Firsthand Account of One Teenager's Experience with Social Anxiety Disorder

Authors: Emily Ford, Linda Wasmer Andrews, Michael Liebowitz

This is an autobiographical book detailing one person’s experience with social anxiety from childhood to 27 years old, her age at the time the book was written.

Buy this book if…

You want to feel like you’re not suffering alone

Skip this book if…

You’re looking for a scientific read or a self-help book

4.5 stars on Amazon.

A little too common sense and out of date

8. Talking with Confidence for the Painfully Shy

Talking with Confidence for the Painfully Shy: How to Overcome Nervousness, Speak-Up, and Speak Out in Any Social or Business Situation

Author: Don Gabor

Not my favorite book, but I mention it here because it’s widely known.

It was written in 1997 and many examples feel dated. The psychological principles are still relevant, but much of the advice feels common-sense. A lot of business focus.

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Do buy this book if…

1. You want something that covers the absolute basics, you have moderate shyness and you are primarily interested in business applications.
2. You don’t like workbooks.

Do NOT buy this book if…

1. You have crippling social anxiety. It does say that it’s for the painfully shy, but it’s still trivializing severe shyness or social anxiety.
2. It’s important to you that examples feel relevant today.

4.2 stars Amazon.

9. Stop Anxiety from Stopping You

Stop Anxiety from Stopping You: The Breakthrough Program For Conquering Panic and Social Anxiety

Author: Helen Odessky

Despite having “breakthrough” in the subtitle, this book does not introduce any new ideas.

It does a good job at explaining social anxiety, but the coping methods are mainly for panic attacks.

Buy this book if…

1. You experience panic attacks
2. You want to read about the author’s social anxiety
3. Your social anxiety isn’t overwhelming

Skip this book if…

You don’t experience panic attacks

4.4 stars on Amazon.

Focus on making conversation

10. How to Communicate with Confidence

How to Communicate with Confidence

Author: Mike Bechtle

Opposed to the other books, this is written from the perspective of how to make conversation with social anxiety. However, it doesn’t really hold the same quality as the other books and it isn’t as scientifically focused.

NOTE: See my guide with books on how to make conversation.

Do buy this book if…

You want to improve your social skills but are being held back moderate levels of nervosity or introversion.

Do NOT buy this book if…

You have more severe shyness or social anxiety. If so, I’d recommend the Shyness and Social Anxiety Workbook.

4.5 on Amazon.

11. Painfully Shy

Painfully Shy: How to Overcome Social Anxiety and Reclaim Your Life

Authors: Barbara Markway, Gregory Markway

It’s not a bad book. It covers self-consciousness and worrying about what others think. But it could be more actionable. There are much better books on the topic – I’d recommend the books earlier up in this guide, instead.

4.5 stars on Amazon.

Only if you’re a guy and have moderate social anxiety

12. The Solution To Social Anxiety

The Solution To Social Anxiety: Break Free From The Shyness That Holds You Back

Author: Aziz Gazipura

I thought I’d mention this book as I see it recommended so often.

This book doesn’t hold the same quality as the books at the beginning of this guide. It’s written from a guy’s perspective and is mainly focused on how to talk to women – not overcoming a negative self-image or dealing with the underlying causes of social anxiety.

Do buy this book if…

You’re a guy, have mild social anxiety, and talking to women is your primary struggle.

Do NOT buy this book if…

1. You’re not a heterosexual man.
2. You have moderate to severe social anxiety.
3. You want something more comprehensive. (Instead, go with SA Workbook or How to Be Yourself)

4.4 stars on Amazon.

13. We’re All Mad Here

We're All Mad Here: The No-Nonsense Guide to Living with Social Anxiety

Author: Claire Eastham

The advice in this book is mixed with a lot of personal anecdotes, which are written in a fun, engaging way.

The advice isn’t something groundbreaking, but it is reasonable. With one big exception. The author mentions that you shouldn’t use alcohol as a crutch, but later on in the book that notion seems to be forgotten as she gives examples of herself using it while cautioning to not go overboard. For that reason, I wouldn’t feel right putting this book higher on the list.

Buy this book if…

1. You want a light read charged with positivity.
2. You want to feel better about having social anxiety.
3. You want to read a lot of personal anecdotes.

Skip this book if…

You already know a lot about your social anxiety.

4.4 stars on Amazon.

14. Small Talk

Small Talk: How to Talk to People, Improve Your Charisma, Social Skills, Conversation Starters & Lessen Social Anxiety

Author: Aston Sanderson

A very light and short read totaling only 50 pages.

Focuses on the basics of small talk, social anxiety, and dating. Lacks scientific references. The tips are not bad but are basic.

Buy this book if…

1. You have no time for a lengthy read.
2. You want to put something on your shelf.
3. You want some basic tips on social anxiety and small talk.

Skip this book if…

You want something with depth or science behind it.

4.1 stars on Amazon.

Too trivializing

15. Shyness

Shyness: A Bold New Approach

Author: Bernardo J. Carducci

I wasn’t too impressed by this book. It doesn’t show the same understanding of the reader’s struggles as other books do. Get any other book by the beginning of this guide.

4.2 stars on Amazon.

David Morin is the founder of SocialSelf. He's been writing about social skills since 2012. Follow on Twitter or read more.

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1 Comment

  1. Hi. I see that this list is last updated September 14, 2021 but there is a newer version of The Shyness and Social Anxiety Workbook. Does this mean that you recommend the 2nd version over the 3rd (newest)? Thanks!


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