What are the best books to read on the subject of shyness?

Here are just a few of them, with short descriptions and arranged by subject. These are recommended because the FAQ author has read most of them, but, admittedly,  many of these are getting old, and some are out of print. You may be able to find them at used book stores an sales (like the author did!) or at Amazon's used book service.


Cheek, Johnathan
Conquering Shyness; The Battle Anyone Can Win
1989; G. P. Putnam's Sons
Gives good, basic advice on overcoming the problem of shyness. Especially enlightening is the chapter on shy people's difficulties in finding a job, and what they can do about it.


Phillips, Gerald M.
Help For Shy People
1981, Prentice Hall, Inc.
Enlightening. Explodes some of the many myths surrounding the problem of shyness. Recommended.


Wassmer, Arthur C.
Making Contact; A Guide to Overcoming Shyness, Making New Relationships and Keeping Those You Already Have
1978; Dial Press
While this book doesn't speak to the genetic component of shyness, it is one of the first books on shyness to emphasize the importance of positive imaging, and gives a lot of helpful tips.


Zimbardo, Phillip J.,
Shyness; What it is, What to Do About it
1977; Addison Wesley Publishing Co.
This groundbreaking book was the result of five years' of scientific research, the experiences of 5,000 people and the techniques used in the Stanford Shyness Clinic, founded by the author. Recommended.


Winning Over Shyness (audiotape)
1983; Listen and Learn USA!
A discussion with Dr. Zimbardo on the consequences of shyness, and what to do about it.



Alberti, Robert E. and Michael L. Emmons
Stand UP, Speak Out, Talk Back! The Key to Self- Assertive Behavior
1970; Impact Publishers
Generally good advice by two psychologists on the how-to's of developing assertive behavior.


Carter, Jay
Nasty People; How to Stop Being Hurt by Them Without Becoming One of Them
1979; Contemporary Books
Gives a good description of the problem of difficult people.


Collins, Pat
How to Be a Really Nice Person; Doing the Right Thing-- Your Way
1983, M. Evans & Co.
Highly recommended. Maybe this book should be titled, How to Be a Really Nice Person--Without Letting Other People Walk All Over You! Contains advice on avoiding nosy questions, changing friendships, dealing with constant borrowers, and much more. An excellent book.


Dyer, Wayne W.
Pulling Your Own Strings
1978; Thomas Y. Crowell
Frank-talking book on the myriad ways we are victimized by society and each other, and what we can do about it. Recommended!


Elgin, Suzette Haden
The Gentle Art of Verbal Self-Defense
1980; Prentice Hall, Inc.
Although most verbal slights don't fall into any of the eight categories covered in this book, the basic principles you learn here can be applied to other situations. Especially interesting are the first eleven chapters.


Simon, Sidney B.
Negative Criticism, and What You Can Do About It
1978; Argus Communications
A book that makes the excellent point that criticism is not only something that we shouldn't dish out, but something that we shouldn't always listen to, either.


Zgourides, George
Don't let them Psych You Out!
1993; Loompanics Unlimited
A worthwhile book. Tells how to handle some truly nasty verbal attacks as well as common day-to-day assertiveness-demanding situations.


Job Hunting

Bolles, Richard Nelson
What Color is Your Parachute? A Practical Manual For Job-Hunters and Career-Changers
1981; Ten-Speed Press (updated annually)
A lot of the the tips in this book are best suited to students (who have the luxury of a lot of time for the "informational interviews" advocated by this book to help them decide on the right career path). Still, this book gives information that will be useful for everybody, no matter what stage of the job hunt they are in. For those who are still in school, it should be required reading.


Rosaluk, Warren J.
Throw Away Your Resume and Get That Job!
1983; Prentice Hall, Inc.
Using the techniques outlined in this book will take quite a good deal of mettle (which may be the reason why many people don't use them) but they are bound to be far more effective than the traditional, resume-centered approach to job hunting.



Carnegie, Dale
How to Win Friends and Influence People
1936; Simon and Schuster
There have been many authors who have laid down the basic techniques of getting people to like you since Carnegie (and there were a few who did so BEFORE Carnegie) but none did so as memorably--or as entertainingly--as Carnegie himself. Unfortunately, some of the people who most need to read this book never will (and I'm not talking about "shy" people here)!


Gabor, Don
How To Start a Conversation and Make Friends
1983; Fireside Books
Though it borrows heavily from Wassmer, this is a good guidebook on the fundamentals of conversation. This has been released in both book and cassette form, but the book is more comprehensive.


Schneider, Meg F.
Help! I Can't Think of a Thing to Say
1987; Field Publications
Contains excellent advice on the art of conversation for young people.



Edwards, Marie & Hoover, Eleanor
The Challenge of Being Single
1974; Jeremy P. Tarcher, Inc.
Contrary to what the title might lead you to believe, this is not a book about finding a mate. Rather, it is a celebration of singlehood, a reminder that "getting married is something one chooses to do or not to do, not something one must do in order to lead a complete life." Recommended.


Seigel, Barbara & Scott
How to Date With Confidence
1985; Archway Paperback
Answers just about every question anybody could have about the psychology and how-to of dating. Highly recommended.


General Self-help

Ellis, Albert Ph.D.
How to Stubbornly Refuse To Make Yourself Miserable About Anything...Yes, ANYTHING!
1988; Lyle Stuart
Describes how we make ourselves unhappy through our thinking patterns and how to change them.There is a website devoted to the author's Rational Emotive Therapy, the Albert Ellis Ph.D. Institute,


Fast, Julius
Body Language
1970; M. Evans & Co.
Reveals just how much people can tell about us through the remarkably subtle signals we send out through our bodies.


Lorayne, Harry
Remembering People; The Key to Success
1975; Stein & Day
While the techniques outlined in this book don't work as well for most people as they do for the book's author (who is a natural and can remember hundreds of names at a time), with the appropriate applied effort, they will improve anybody's memory to a noticeable degree.


Maltz, Maxwell
Psycho-Cybernetics; A New technique for Using Your Subconscious Power
1960; Prentice Hall, Inc.
One part of this book I disagree with is the claim that "trying too hard" is the general cause of shyness. I have found from personal experience that when I don't make a supreme effort to overcome my shyness, I don't achieve much in the way of results. However, this book contains generally good advice for straightening out one's thinking. Dr Maltz wrote a whole shelf full of books based on his Cybernetics principles, but this one was the best.

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