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.


The Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Workbook

by Matthew McKay

Originally developed for treating borderline personality disorder, The Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Workbook is a great resource for those suffering a variety of mental health problems. For those characterized by overwhelming emotions, these step-by-step exercises will teach you the skills you need to improve your ability to handle distress without losing control and acting destructively. By focusing on four key areas – distress tolerance, mindfulness, emotion regulation, and interpersonal effectiveness – readers will be able to build the skills they need for real and lasting change.


4 Weeks to An Organized Life with ADHD

by Jeffrey Freed & Joan Shapiro

Applying practical strategies and visual thinking, Jeffrey Freed & Joan Shapiro offer an innovative program for readers to maximize their brain functions that work well and learn day-to-day skills that would otherwise be too challenging to master. Within 4 weeks, you will learn how transform what would normally be challenging and successfully master it in everyday situations.


Faster Than Normal: Turbocharge Your Focus, Productivity, and Success with the Secrets of the ADHD Brain

by Peter Shankman

It’s natural to feel overwhelmed by the ever-growing to-do lists in our lives. Faster Than Normal is an inspiring, yet also practical book that looks at ADHD as a secret weapon to success, not a hindrance. With Shankman’s insights and daily hacks, you can make the most out of your ADHD and live a full and deeply satisfying life.


The Smart but Scattered Guide to Success: How to Use Your Brain’s Executive Skills to Keep Up, Stay Calm, and Get Organized at Work and at Home

by Peg Dawson

The Smart but Scattered Guide to Successis a fantastic tool to help map out your own executive skill set and take the next steps you need to boost your organizational and time management skills, emotional control, and more. It’s packed with science-based strategies, concrete examples and downloadable practical tools you can use to create your own personalized action plan for both home and work life.


Taking Charge of Adult ADHD

by Russell A. Barkley

Russell A. Barkley provides some of the best step-by-step strategies for managing all the common symptoms of ADHD such as attention and planning difficulties, problem-solving and controlling emotions. For adults with ADHD, daily life can be a struggle. By applying the techniques found in this book, you can overcome the challenges found in work, finances, relationships and other aspects of your life.


Driven to Distraction: Recognizing and Coping with Attention Deficit Disorder from Childhood Through Adulthood

by Edward M. Hallowell & John J. Ratey

Showcasing a variety of patient stories, Drs. Hallowell and Ratey demonstrate that ADD takes form in many different ways – from childhood all the way through adulthood.


FAST MINDS: How to Thrive If You Have ADHD (Or Think You Might)

by Craig Surman, MD et al

This 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.


You Mean I’m Not Lazy, Stupid, or Crazy?!: The Classic Self-Help Book for Adults with Attention Deficit Disorder

by Kate Kelly

A majority of the literature written about ADD focuses on children with ADD. Kate Kelly and Peggy Ramundo shift the focus to adults in You Mean I’m Not Lazy, Stupid or Crazy?! They provide practical how-to’s for adults with ADD from adults with ADD. They also explain the distinguishing symptoms from ADD and normal lapses in memory, lack of concentration or impulsive behavior. For readers who need a comprehensive overview of ADD, including medications, meditation and more, this book is a perfect resource!


The Mindfulness Prescription for Adult ADHD: An 8-Step Program for Strengthening Attention, Managing Emotions, and Achieving Your Goals

by Lidia Zylowska, MD with forward by Daniel J Siegel, MD

Physician-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.


Getting Unstuck

by Don Kerson

Being “stuck” is a mental health problem that affects thousands of adults; however, the concept is still widely misunderstood and unrecognized. In Getting Unstuck, Kerson argues that adults who are stuck are suffering from a complete and multi-faceted interaction of depression, ADD, and trauma. Getting Unstuck addresses the need of separating the three in order to overcome the problem and lead more productive and satisfying lives.


The ADD Myth: How to Cultivate the Unique Gifts of Intense Personalities

by Martha Burge

Though there is no real objective method of diagnosing ADHD, a high number of children and adults in the United States are prescribed medication for treating it. Unfortunately, this can lead to serious side effects including amphetamine psychosis. The ADD Myth offers a different look at ADHD. Using her own story and the serious reactions her children had with ADHD drug treatment, Martha Burge aims to raise awareness of the underlying condition and provide alternative solutions. What society has commonly understood as ADHD is actually five intense personality traits: sensual, psychomotor, intellectual, creative, and emotional and when those traits are understood and managed properly, they can become invaluable gifts.


The Couple’s Guide to Thriving with ADHD

by Melissa Orlov

ADHD is not only a medical diagnosis affecting every facet of an individuals life, it’s also a fairly complex term that’s widely misunderstood. Many times, individuals who suffer from ADHD, also experience struggles in their relationships but fail in understanding the connection between the two. The Couple’s Guide to Thriving with ADHD lays out the most important strategies couples can use to rebuild and improve their relationships.


Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead

by Brene Brown

Brené Brown does an amazing job debunking the cultural myth that vulnerability is a sign of weakness. Not a day goes by where we don’t face uncertainty, risks, and emotional exposure. And to be truly courageous is to dare greatly – to be vulnerable and take the chances we are too scared to take, regardless of the outcome.


The Mindful Way Through Depression: Freeing Yourself form Chronic Unhappiness

by Brene Brown

Being mindful is a simple yet powerful way to get in touch with your most difficult emotions and life experiences. Our usual attempts to “think” our way out of a bad mood or just simply “snap out of it” actually lead us into a cycle of chronic unhappiness. The Mindful Way Through Depression demonstrates how to overcome the mental habits that lead us down this vicious downward spiral so you can face life’s challenges with greater resilience.


New ADHD Medication Rules: Brain Science & Common Sense

by Dr. Charles Parker

Diagnosing ADHD is already a challenge, but determining the best treatment is an even bigger challenge. Patients often suffer from missed brain and body diagnoses that result in a variety of reactions to ADHD medications. Dr. Charles Parker explains how insightful communication with professionals can dramatically improve diagnostic treatment.


You Are Not Your Brain: The 4-Step Solution for Changing Bad Habits, Ending Unhealthy Thinking, and Taking Control of Your Life

by Jeffrey M. Schwartz

The brain is the most complex, yet powerful organ in the body. Schwartz explains how the brain works and why we often feel trapped by overactive brain circuits. More importantly, he shows readers how to identify negative impulses and channel them through focused attention so they can ultimately lead a more fulfilling and empowered life.


More Attention, Less Deficit: Success Strategies for Adults with ADHD

by Ari Tuckman

Those who have ADHD know how quickly their attention can be diverted to something else. Ari Tuckman created this guide with that in mind. Catering to the tendencies of adults with ADHD to jump around, this guide allows the reader to jump around based on his or her needs. From diagnosis to treatment and solutions, this guide lays the foundation of the process and provides a general overview of everything ADHD entails.


Is It You, Me, or Adult ADD? Stopping the Roller Coaster When Someone You Love Has Attention Deficit Disorder

by Gina Pera

We commonly misattribute the symptoms of AD/HD to anxiety, depression, laziness, selfishness or moodiness, but AD/HD is real and those who suffer from it, know the magnitutude of it’s affects. AD/HD is s real diagnosis that leaves individuals in a mentally restless state and the origin is not always clear. Is It You, Me, or Adult ADD? provides a comprehensive guide to recognizing the behaviors of AD/HD where you would least expect them.


Understanding Girls with ADHD

by Kathleen Nadeau

ADHD does not affect everyone the same. Understanding Girls with ADHD looks at the different ways ADHD can manifest itself across different people, families, and ages.


Path of Least Resistance: Learning to Become the Creative Force in Your Own Life

by Robert Fritz

A great read to ignite and fuel your creativity. A majority of those that suffer from ADHD view their symptoms and condition as debilitating characteristics but Robert Fritz demonstrates how everyone has the innate ability to create, regardless of the mental state you may be. Path of Least Resistanceoffers a program unlike any other.


Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action

by Simon Sinek

Everyone should read Start With Why ! By asking a simple question of “why”, Simon Sinek started a movement that helps people become inspired and in turn, inspire others. Leaders who have had the greatest influence in the world all think, act, and communicate the same way – a way most of us don’t. Whether you are an entrepreneur, a manager, or an entry level professional, Start With Why will transform the way you operate.


The Gift of Adult ADD: How to Transform Your Challenges and Build Your Strengths

by Lara Honos-Webb

To most, whether diagnosed or not, ADD is seen in a negative light. Afterall, ADD is a disorder by technical means. But the same way ADD leads you to act impulsively, daydream, and struggle with focusing, it can also lead you in discovering exceptionally creative breakthroughs. In many ways, ADD can be a gift and many successful individuals who also have ADD attribute their success because of it, not in spite of it.


Smart but Stuck: Emotions in Teens and Adults with ADHD

by Tom Brown, PhD

This 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 Giwerc

I 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 LMFT

I 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 Done

by Ari Tuckman, PsyD, MBA

This 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 Power of Habit

by Charles Duhigg

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.

The Framework:

  1.  Identify the routine
  2. Experiment with rewards
  3. Isolate the cue
  4. Have a plan

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