Best Adult ADHD Books
There’s always more to learn about ADHD. Below is our founder Don Baker’s personal shortlist of the best adult ADHD books.
Please rate any that you’ve read. And if you have favorites that aren’t listed here, you can let us know here on Don’s Blog.
Scattered: How Attention Deficit Disorder Originates and What You Can Do About It
by Gabor Maté, MD
Scattered is timeless and relevant today, even with a copyright of 1999. Part Two is particularly helpful. It focuses on how the human brain develops, how heredity and the environment may affect its development, and under what conditions complete maturation of important brain circuits may be impaired.
One of my all-time favorite quotes, on page 320, is a call to action for anyone living with the traits of ADHD:
The irony is that the energy ADD adults expend on their attempts at sameness is wasted, as is the anxiety parents generate over their child’s differentness. The world is much more ready to accept someone who is different and comfortable with it than someone desperately seeking to conform by denying himself. It’s the self rejection others react against, much more than the differentness. So the solution for the adult is not to ‘fit in’ but to accept his inability to conform.
FAST MINDS: How to Thrive If You Have ADHD (Or Think You Might)
by Craig Surman, MD et alThis is the first book I’ve read that shifts away from the disorder/disability model to the model of neurodiversity—a model that values wiring uniquenesses over wiring deficits, where the objective is learning about and optimizing your brain. FAST MINDS is an acronym for some common ADHD symptoms: Forgetful. Achieving below potential. Stuck in a rut. Time challenged. Motivationally challenged. Impulsive. Novelty seeking. Distractible. Scattered. The authors do a great job of taking the emphasis off whether or not you “have” ADHD. They ask only that you recognize if you live with some of the traits of ADHD. If you do, exercises in the book will help you on your path to creating personalized strategies.
Smart but Stuck: Emotions in Teens and Adults with ADHD
by Tom Brown, PhDThis is first book I’ve read that explains the huge role emotions play for those of us living with the traits of ADHD. Dr. Brown explains why even very bright people with ADHD get stuck because they can focus well on some tasks that interest them, but often can’t focus adequately on other important tasks and relationships. Problems with emotions in the ADHD population are not limited to difficulty putting the “brakes” on negative emotions, like anger and frustration. Many of us also struggle with igniting or activating positive emotions, like interest and motivation.
Permission to Proceed
by David GiwercI love personal stories, especially when they’re relevant to my experience, and the stories David Giwerc weaves into this book are invaluable as a means to illustrate his points.
This book is also notable for defining and explaining the paradox of ADHD. A paradox is any person, thing, concept or situation that seems to contradict itself. Giwerc says that ADHD is a paradox because the challenges exhibited by a person living with ADHD are intense, but so are the strengths. Also, the level of focus, engagement and attention many of us bring to our areas of interest can seem over-the-top to others who aren’t familiar with ADHD wiring.
Journeys Through ADDulthood
by Sari Solden, MS LMFTI first met Sari Solden in Seattle in the late 1990s while volunteering for an ADDA conference. I was new to the diagnosis and was doing everything I could to absorb anything I could about this thing called ADHD. She blew me away.
Three things struck me most about this book:
- Solden provides a developmental perspective of the treatment journey. The context/big picture really helped my own journey come into focus. What a relief!
- Her material is accessible to both men and women.
- Her focus on emotional challenges takes you past just understanding your symptoms to discovering and embracing your uniqueness, so you can learn to live true to yourself.
Understand Your Brain, Get More Don
by Ari Tuckman, PsyD, MBAThis book is one of my favorites because it carefully explains the neurobiological underpinnings of ADHD and focuses on the Executive Functions — the brain-based processes that assist in planning, initiating, and carrying out tasks to complete projects.
Tuckman provides lots of exercises designed to identify areas that need addressing, with the objective to “tune up” your executive functions for maximum productivity. This book is also rich in practical strategies for improving distractibility, working memory, attention, organization, time management, and response inhibition deficits.
Chock full of info AND the application of the learning.
The Mindfulness Prescription for Adult ADHD
by Lidia Zylowska, MD with forward by Daniel J Siegel, MDPhysician-researcher Dr. Lidia Zylowska has created an 8-step program for using mindfulness practice (attention and awareness training) to work with the challenging traits of ADHD. The book provides a great education about ADHD, helping the reader understand how their brand of ADHD brain works and how they can use mindful awareness to work with their challenges. She also explains how the mindful approach can be combined with other treatments, including medications, to boost self-improvement.
An extra bonus included at the back of the book includes an audio program of guided mindfulness exercises for successfully managing ADHD. The introduction to the book, titled “Dear Reader,” includes a link to the free downloadable audio files. Couple of great bonuses to add to the already rich information included.
I’ve been using this book in my TRACTION groups for the past several years. Clients resonate with Duhigg’s “Framework”. I highly recommend The Power of Habit.
Habits are what allow us to do a thing with difficulty the first time, but soon do it more and more easily, and finally, with sufficient practice, do it semi-mechanically, or with hardly any consciousness at all.
If you believe you can change—if you make it a habit—the change becomes real. This is the real power of habit: the insight that your habits are what you choose them to be. Once that choice occurs—and becomes automatic—it’s not only real, it starts to seem inevitable.
Change might not be fast and it isn’t always easy. But with time and effort, almost any habit can be reshaped.
- Identify the routine
- Experiment with rewards
- Isolate the cue
- Have a plan