10 Best Social Anxiety and Shyness Books 2019

These are the best books on social anxiety and shyness, reviewed and ranked 2019.

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.
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Top pick overall

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

Author: Martin M. Antony PhD

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.)

4.4 stars on Amazon

Top pick for low self-esteem

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

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…

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

Do NOT buy this book if…

  1. 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 and Shyness: A Self-Help Guide Using Cognitive Behavioral 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.

4.2 stars on Amazon

Honorary mentions

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

4. Good-Bye 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…

  1. 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

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

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

A little too common sense and out of date

6. 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.

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.

3.8 stars Amazon

Focus on making conversation

7. 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…

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

Do NOT buy this book if…

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

3.82 on Goodreads. Amazon.

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

Authors: Barbara Markway and 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.

3.6 stars on Amazon

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

9. 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 by 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…

  1. 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

Too trivializing

10. Shyness: A Bold New Approach: A Practical Guide for Overcoming Your Fears and Gaining Control of Your Life.

Author: Bernardo J. Carducci

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

3.53 stars on GoodReads. Amazon

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

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