There are few worse feelings in life than loneliness. In fact, it’s epidemic, and linked to poor mental and physical health. Luckily, for bookworms, we have shelves full of books that can help alleviate that feeling – a temporary salve at least. Here are ten books to read when you feel lonely.

10 Books To Read When You Feel Lonely - Book List - Keeping Up With The Penguins
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Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine - Gail Honeyman - Book Laid on Wooden Table - Keeping Up With The Penguins

Eleanor Oliphant has basically made loneliness her whole personality – not that she’d describe herself as lonely. She’s ‘completely fine’, as the title suggests, with her work and her pizza and vodka nights and her weekly conversations with Mummy. Over the course of Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine, though, she discovers that true human connection is not impossible, and there are people who can see beyond her eccentricities. This is one of the books to read when you feel lonely because, if an odd duck like Eleanor can overcome it, so can you. Read my full review of Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine here.

The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman

The Thursday Murder Club - Richard Osman - Keeping Up With The Penguins

The Thursday Murder Club is a books to read when you feel lonely two-fer: it’s got a group of friends that will warm your heart and make you laugh, and a murder mystery that will keep you intrigued and distracted. Elizabeth, Joyce, Ibrahim and Ron enjoy investigating unsolved murders as a hobby, but when one occurs right underneath their noses in their retirement village, their skills are put to the test. They’re an unlikely gang of armchair detectives, but they’ve got a few tricks up their sleeves. Plus, there’s a few sequels that come after this one, and books are one of the few healthy binges that can help you deal with loneliness.

Everything I Know About Love by Dolly Alderton

Everything I Know About Love - Dolly Alderton - Keeping Up With The Penguins

One of the most accessible solutions to loneliness is a good chat with a good friend. If one of those isn’t forthcoming, the next best thing is reading a memoir like Everything I Know About Love. Dolly Alderton is disarmingly frank, a bit of a mess but a loveable one, and reading her memoir is like listening to a friend tell you a bunch of stories about her life over a glass of wine (or five). She’s even got a couple of recipes to give you, along with some advice for navigating early adulthood and cautionary tales.

The Martian by Andy Weir

The Martian - Andy Weir - book laid on wooden table - Keeping Up With The Penguins

You think you’re lonely? Try being the only person on an entire planet! That’s Mark Watney’s situation in The Martian, a book about an astronaut accidentally abandoned by his team on the red planet. He has plenty of problems to contend with – figuring out how to survive, generating enough food and breathable air for himself on a planet that supplies neither, until the next spaceship arrives in a few years’ time – but he remains optimistic, no matter how insurmountable the obstacles. This is one of those books to read when you feel lonely because Watney’s enthusiasm is simply infectious, and his great sense of humour about his dire circumstances is sure to make you feel better about your own. Read my full review of The Martian here.

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

The Rosie Project - Graeme Simsion - Book Laid On Wooden Table - Keeping Up With The Penguins

Loneliness is a problem for Don Tillman, and like all the problems in his life – grocery shopping, workplace politics, schoolyard bullies – he’s sure it should be approached logically and scientifically. That’s why he creates The Wife Project, a questionnaire designed to filter out candidates and find his most compatible partner for life. What could possibly go wrong? The Rosie Project is a book about looking for love and companionship in all the wrong places, but somehow finding it anyway. Read my full review of The Rosie Project here.

The Reading List by Sara Nisha Adams

The Reading List - Sara Nisha Adams - Keeping Up With The Penguins

For many lonely bookworms, the library is a place of solace. Whether you’re a patron – like widower Mukesh looking for a way to connect with his granddaughter – or an employee – like bright but anxious teenager Aleshia – it’s a place to find connection and comfort. In The Reading List, these lonely souls form an unlikely friendship over a list of book recommendations Aleshia discovers in one of the returns. This is a story about finding joy through the common interest of books, and we can all use a little of that, lonely or not.

The Helpline by Katherine Collette

The Helpline - Katherine Collette - Keeping Up With The Penguins

The Helpline is a book about Germaine. Germaine is in her late thirties, she’s very good with numbers, she loves Soduku (more than most people), and she makes a point of seeing her mother as little as possible. In fact, she avoids most people. She’d rather be analysing spreadsheet data than engaging in pointless conversation. But now that she’s lost her job as a senior mathematician, she’s forced to find alternate employment answering phones for the local senior citizen helpline. It forces her to connect with other people, for the first time in a long time, and she discovers it’s not quite as bad as she remembers. Read my full review of The Helpline here.

My Best Friend’s Exorcism by Grady Hendrix

My Best Friend's Exorcism - Grady Hendrix - Keeping Up With The Penguins

Counteract your loneliness with a heaping serve of nostalgia, and a side of… demonic possession? My Best Friend’s Exorcism will take you back to the heady days of adolescent friendship, when your friends are your world, and you’ll do anything to protect them. Of course, it’s a Grady Hendrix horror-comedy novel, so things also get a little freaky, but that’s a nice distraction from the real-world horrors that exacerbate our feelings of isolation. Read my full review of My Best Friend’s Exorcism here.

The One-Hundred-Year Old Man Who Climbed Out The Window And Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson

The One Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out The Window And Disappeared - Jonas Jonasson - Book Laid on Wooden Table - Keeping Up With The Penguins

When you live to be a hundred, you see a lot of friends come and go, and you inevitably experience some periods of loneliness. Allan Karlsson doesn’t let it get him down, though. There’s always vodka! In The One-Hundred-Year Old Man Who Climbed Out The Window And Disappeared, he (you guessed it!) climbs out the window of his retirement home and goes on an adventure, one that takes him around the world and elicits some very strange memories from his century of living life to the fullest. This is one of the best books to read when you feel lonely because not only is it great fun, but it reminds you that it’s never too late and your life isn’t over until its over. Read my full review of The One-Hundred-Year Old Man Who Climbed Out The Window And Disappeared here.

The Other Side Of Beautiful by Kim Lock

The Other Side Of Beautiful - Kim Lock - Keeping Up With The Penguins

If you’re feeling really lonely, it might seem strange that I’m recommending a book about someone who chooses to be alone most of the time – but give it a chance. The Other Side Of Beautiful is a really moving book about overcoming your fears to find connection and happiness. A woman who lives with severe anxiety and agoraphobia is forced out into the world by a house fire, and finds herself driving the length of Australia in a run-down van with her sausage dog, Wasabi, for company. It might sound bleak, but it’s one of the most heartwarming books to read when you feel lonely – promise! Read my full review of The Other Side Of Beautiful here.