Book Recommendations on Attachment Psychology and Theory

Books on Attachment Theory

Here is a list of recommended books on attachment theory and why we form the types of attachments that we do from both secure ones to insecure ones (anxious  or avoidant).

If you'd prefer a more curated list, that's more tailored to your needs, interests and reading preferences you might find our Personalised Book Prescription helpful. You might also find it helpful to undertake a bibliotherapy session or our online Bibliotherapy, Literature and Mental Health course where you can discuss/explore whatever you're going through in more depth. 

Attached (Non-fiction) by Amir Levine and Rachel Heller

Attached: Are you Anxious, Avoidant or Secure? How the science of adult attachment can help you find – and keep – love by [Amir Levine, Rachel Heller] 

An insightful look at the science behind love, Attached offers readers a road map for building stronger, more fulfilling connections.

Is there a science to love? In this groundbreaking book, psychiatrist and neuroscientist Amir Levine and psychologist Rachel S. F. Heller reveal how an understanding of attachment theory – the most advanced relationship science in existence today – can help us find and sustain love.

Pioneered by psychologist John Bowlby in the 1950s, the field of attachment explains that each of us behaves in relationships in one of three distinct ways:

Anxious people are often preoccupied with their relationships and tend to worry about their partner’s ability to love them back.

Avoidant people equate intimacy with a loss of independence and constantly try to minimize closeness.

Secure people feel comfortable with intimacy and are usually warm and loving.

With fascinating psychological insight, quizzes and case studies, Dr Amir Levine and Rachel Heller help you understand the three attachment styles, identify your own and recognize the styles of others so that you can find compatible partners or improve your existing relationship.

Why Love Matters (Non-fiction) by Sue Gerhardt

Why Love Matters: How affection shapes a baby's brain by [Sue Gerhardt]

Why Love Matters explains why loving relationships are essential to brain development in the early years, and how these early interactions can have lasting consequences for future emotional and physical health. This second edition follows on from the success of the first, updating the scientific research, covering recent findings in genetics and the mind/body connection, and including a new chapter highlighting our growing understanding of the part also played by pregnancy in shaping a baby’s future emotional and physical well-being.

The author focuses in particular on the wide-ranging effects of early stress on a baby or toddler’s developing nervous system. When things go wrong with relationships in early life, the dependent child has to adapt; what we now know is that his or her brain adapts too. The brain’s emotion and immune systems are particularly affected by early stress and can become less effective. This makes the child more vulnerable to a range of later difficulties such as depression, anti-social behaviour, addictions or anorexia, as well as physical illness.

Healing Your Emotional Self (Non-fiction) by Beverly Engel

Healing Your Emotional Self: A Powerful Program to Help You Raise Your Self-Esteem, Quiet Your Inner Critic, and Overcome Your Shame by [Beverly Engel]

Beverly Engel makes a link between self-esteem and childhood psychological abuse, be that minor or major. Through case studies and personal accounts, she accurately reminds us that the defences that we form as children (often as a way to avoid painful experiences) hold us back in later life, including the way we view ourselves and our ability to build the foundations of inner self-esteem. One of my favourite techniques for building self-esteem is outlined in this book:  the Mirror Therapy program to overcome shame and self-criticism. It invites more compassion and acceptance of ourselves and enables a more positive self-image.  

Parents are mirrors to children, showing them who they are. Throughout one’s childhood there are many mirrors, but the one we often refer to is our original mirror – the one our parents hold up. We use this to determine our goodness, importance, and self–worth. There are seven mirrors specifically that emotionally abusive or neglectful parents hold up – Engel articulates this perfectly offering recovery strategies for each one, from creating a positive self-image separate from your parent(s), separating emotionally from our parents, to helping us meet unmet needs in childhood, to embarking on a journey of self-discovery, learning who we really are (likes, dislikes, values, goals and dreams) and overcoming tendencies towards self-blame and self-hatred, opening up ourselves to more self-nurture and self-acceptance. 


Looking for something more specific? Get something more tailored with our personalised book prescriptions within 48 hours. 

You might also find it helpful to explore these feelings in a bibliotherapy session or learn some bibliotherapy techniques to help you process these feelings by completing our online Bibliotherapy, Literature and Mental Health course or our book Bibliotherapy: The Healing Power of Reading.

A big hello and thank you for reading! Passionate about literature, psychology, and life I launched Book Therapy as an alternative form of therapy using the power of literature. I train mental health professionals, librarians, teachers as well as readers on using bibliotherapy in their own work through our online Bibliotherapy, Literature and Mental Health course. We also curate reading lists/personalised book prescriptions for clients based on their individual needs. This is our signature personalised reading service.

You can also check out Book Therapy’s other free reading lists and A- Z of book prescriptions (covering both fiction and non-fiction). These suggest books based on your existing life situation (e.g. anxiety, job change, relationship heartache) as well as interests (e.g memoir, historical fiction, non-fiction, crime etc). There’s also a Children’s A — Z of Book Prescriptions. Feel free to check out the blog for more literary gems. There’s also a post on my personal story of how I entered the world of bibliotherapy and book curation.

In this role, I have had the opportunity to publish two books called Bibliotherapy: The Healing Power of Reading and The Happiness Mindset, and write various literary essays and pieces for newspapers and magazines. I have undertaken bibliotherapy workshops for The United Nations, various libraries in New York and corporate organisations in the UK and US. My book recommendations have featured in the Guardian, Marie Claire, NBC News, Asian Voice, New York Observer, Sydney Telegraph and various other publications. If you are a parent you might enjoy a podcast I’ve recorded with speech and language therapist Sunita Shah on Raising A Reader & Storyteller. And if you’d like to connect, email me at or

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