Books about Connection and Belonging

By Chris Breitenbach

The recent U.S. Surgeon General's advisory report “Our Epidemic of Loneliness and Isolation,” offers a compelling reminder of our fundamental need for social connection. These books from our collection explore the ways in which strong personal and community connections enrich our lives, fostering deeper relationships, better health, and a greater sense of belonging.

  • Palaces for the People: How Social Infrastructure Can Help Fight Inequality, Polarization, and the Decline of Civic Life

    2018 by Klinenberg, Eric

    This book spotlights how libraries actively foster vibrant social connections through their welcoming spaces, diverse resources, and community-driven programs where people of all ages and backgrounds can come together, share their passions, and build a sense of belonging.

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  • Project UnLonely: Healing Our Crisis of Disconnection

    2023 by Nobel, Jeremy

    This groundbreaking book champions creative expression as a powerful tool for combating social isolation and chronic loneliness. By harnessing the power of art, Project UnLonely offers well-researched, practical activities that use creative expression to spark connections and build a sense of belonging for vulnerable communities.

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  • Seek You: A Journey through American Loneliness

    2021 by Radtke, Kristen

    This work of incisive graphic nonfiction, first published during the pandemic, explores loneliness and its adverse effects on our physical and mental health. Drawing from research, writing, and poignant personal stories, Radtke provides a rich, compassionate overview of loneliness and its attending comorbidities.

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  • On Belonging: Finding Connection in an Age of Isolation

    2022 by Samuel, Kim

    This insightful book explores belonging through diverse perspectives, weaving personal stories with powerful principles for fostering community. From Canadian elders to Syrian refugees, Samuel showcases the transformative potential of connection and compassion, urging readers to integrate these values in all aspects of life–from policy to daily interactions. A hopeful book for anyone looking to build deeper relationships and more inclusive communities.

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  • Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants

    2020 by Kimmerer, Robin Wall

    Robin Kimmerer writes about community, belonging, and togetherness by drawing from the interconnected strands of indigenous knowledge, land stewardship, and the natural world. She invites us to see ourselves not as separate from nature, but as integral to it, and offers examples of how we can find our place in both our immediate communities and the larger world around us.

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  • Wired for Love: A Neuroscientist's Journey through Romance, Loss, and the Essence of the Human Connection

    2022 by Cacioppo, Stephanie

    This moving blend of memoir and exploration of the nascent science of love unlocks the secrets of our most profound connection, revealing how love lights up the brain and fuels our well-being.

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  • Design for Belonging: How to Build Inclusion and Collaboration in Your Communities

    2022 by Wise, Susie

    I’ve long been fascinated by how social infrastructure can nurture communities by providing places that can help nudge and foster connection. This slim, practical book uses the tools of design to demonstrate how we all can create spaces (it could be as simple as moving some furniture) that cultivate inclusion, collaboration and respect.

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  • Together: The Healing Power of Human Connection in a Sometimes Lonely World

    2020 by Murthy, Vivek Hallegere

    Written prior to his 2023 Surgeon General report on the epidemic of loneliness, Murthy explored the health impacts of isolation and our deep need to connect. While Murthy paints a stark picture, he also offers hopeful remedies, calling for more robust civic engagement based on kindness. By building mindful connections, he writes, we affirm our own purpose and strengthen society.

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  • The Power of Strangers: The Benefits of Connecting in a Suspicious World

    2021 by Keohane, Joe

    We crave social connection, though we usually stick to familiar faces. This book, in contrast, urges us to "master talking with strangers." Tips are offered. Keohane argues that connecting with and welcoming strangers humanizes both parties, with beneficial side effects of increased empathy, happiness, and even improved cognitive function.

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  • Loneliness: Human Nature and the Need for Social Connection

    2008 by Cacioppo, John T.

    This profound book, written by one of the pioneering researchers of the physical and emotional effects of loneliness, offers a compelling survey of past and current research into how profoundly interconnected we truly are. It ends by offering simple yet constructive suggestions for protecting against loneliness.

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  • Missing Each Other: How to Cultivate Meaningful Connections

    2021 by Brodkin, Edward

    For many, forming authentic, lasting connections with others can prove elusive. This book offers insights and tools drawn from a number of disciplines, happily demonstrating how we can cultivate and sustain more attuned and rewarding social connections.

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