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Best Codependency Books: The 20 BEST Books on Codependent Relationships

Ariel Williams
by Ariel Williams
B.A. Psychology, UMHB. Solo-Mother of 3. Expert in Holistic Health and Wellness.
9 MINUTE READ

Looking for the best codependency books of all time?

You’re in the right place.

Here’s what you’ll find on this page…

Who better to talk to you about some great books on codependency than a former codependent?

Codependency is a young term — coined somewhere around the 1970’s.

Since a lot of us haven’t even heard of it or know what exactly it is, let’s quickly remind ourselves…

What Is Codependency?

In short, codependency is a term for a cyclical, dysfunctional relationship in which one person (the “giver”) gives above and beyond of themselves to the other (the “taker”).

The giver needs the other person, and the taker needs to be needed.

Often, the giver’s codependent traits are rooted in their childhood, where their emotions and feelings were ignored or even rejected. As a result, the individual has poor (or nonexistent) self-esteem, and they look to others to fulfil their self-worth.

Hear me now — no one can provide you with self-worth but you.

And no one else is supposed to.

What Does Codependency Look Like?

Since codependent givers often live with low self-esteem and self-worth, they tend to not express their true Self at all.

When they get into a relationship, they often lose themselves entirely in the other person.

And unfortunately, there are certain types of people (those who need to be needed, a.k.a, “takers”) who prey on these folks and eat them up.

The giver in a codependent relationship struggles with:

  • Setting boundaries — they say yes when they really mean no;
  • People-pleasing — codependents make their choices based off of other people’s opinions or wants instead of their own;
  • Caretaking — yes, they’re often caretakers, and usually they give until they can’t give anymore, and even then will continue to give;
  • Identity — they lose themselves in their partner, and adopt all their likes and interests because they haven’t had the freedom or peace to explore and stand on their own; and
  • Making decisions — it’s hard to call the shots when you don’t know what kind of shots you want to call (or fear disappointing or being rejected by another).

To paint a better picture for you, I’ll tell you what my life used to look like.

My Experiences With and Escape From Codependency

I experienced significant rejection and shaming as a child on several fronts and learned to silence my voice and self if I wanted to please and satisfy others.

But this meant losing touch with myself — my passions, my delights, my interests, my desires.

My mental health also suffered — self-harm was my main coping mechanism for years.

So every time I entered into a romantic relationship, the dynamic became more and more unhealthy because I would latch myself onto these men in a desperate plight to find myself and to find love, acceptance, and value.

My favorite movies were their favorite movies. My favorite hobbies were always linked to theirs. I wouldn’t play my music (which is marrow to my bones) when my significant other didn’t like it.

And I would go to extremely unhealthy lengths in the interest of pleasing and loving them.

Until eventually, I found myself married to a man who honestly felt he was doing the work of God every time he hit me.

How Do I Break My Codependency?

I eventually broke free of that relationship. I learned about codependency (from book #2 below). And I’ve been working on remembering I’m enough, just as I am, ever since.

If you’re reading this, it’s likely you’re struggling with codependency.

Maybe you love someone in a codependent relationship.

Maybe you’re in a relationship with a codependent giver.

Maybe you are a codependent giver.

I’m glad you’re reading — because it means you’re on your way to healing and growth.

And I pray you never allow things to get as unhealthy and dangerous as I did.

To start your journey toward healing, wholeness, self-expression, and freedom, take a look at these top 10 books on codependency to see which one(s) speak(s) to you.

They helped me understand and break free of the cycle.

I hope one of them can help you to too.

The 20 Best Codependency Books

Why these best codependency books and not others? The best codependency books below are the top picks from TAoL’s long list of codependency books, ranked by a combination of Goodreads rating, number of Goodreads reviews and first publication date. The aim is to surface what’s most loved, what’s most popular and what’s proven timelessly relevant.

Think something’s missing? Email me and I’ll add it to the next round of updates. I honestly love hearing from you so please, do get in touch!

Books 1-10: The Top 10 Best Codependency Books of All Time

The top 10 best codependency books of all time are…

Best Codependency Books: The Language of Letting Go
1. The Language of Letting Go – Melody Beattie
Daily Meditations on Codependency
A restorative collection of daily meditations for those who struggle to let go of their codependent tendencies — by self-help author and codependent, addiction, and recovery expert Melody Beattie. This book provides rejuvenating inspiration and motivation that reminds us to own our responsibility of self-care — perhaps one of the most important components of breaking codependency.
Published 1990 // 408 pages // Rated 4.3 over 7,600 reviews on Goodreads
Best Codependency Books: Codependent No More
2. Codependent No More – Melody Beattie
How to Stop Controlling Others and Start Caring for Yourself
One of the first books to define codependency and begin to talk about it — by self-help author and codependent, addiction, and recovery expert Melody Beattie. Beattie brought the term “codependency” to the masses with this book. If you are wanting to learn more about the term, are wondering if you have codependent traits and want to break them, and especially, if you are struggling in your relationship with an alcoholic or addict — this is the book to pick up.
Published 1986 // 276 pages // Rated 4.1 over 31,200 reviews on Goodreads
Best Codependency Books: Beyond Codependency
3. Beyond Codependency – Melody Beattie
And Getting Better All the Time
The book to pick up after you’ve finished Codependent No More and are ready to learn how to master self-care and walk into self-sufficiency — by self-help author and codependent, addiction, and recovery expert Melody Beattie. This book takes her previous work one step further and provides practical ways to release old, self-defeating survival tactics so that you can step into life and live.
Published 1989 // 276 pages // Rated 4.2 over 3,100 reviews on Goodreads
Best Codependency Books: Boundaries
4. Boundaries – Henry Cloud (Summary)
When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life
The landmark book that has helped over 4 million people understand boundaries, where they are lacking in setting them, and how to confidently establish them. — by New York Times bestselling American Christian self-help author Dr. Henry Cloud. If you’re exhausted from doing everything for everyone and need help breaking the loop, this book is for you.
Published 1992 // 314 pages // Rated 4.2 over 62,100 reviews on Goodreads
Best Codependency Books: Healing the Shame that Binds You
5. Healing the Shame that Binds You – John Bradshaw
The definitive, #1 New York Times Best Selling book on how shame erodes every area of our lives and how we can comfortably abide in wholeness. — by founding father of the self-help movement, philosopher, counselor, theologian, and educator John Bradshaw. This book outlines how toxic shame is the bedrock to so many of our addictions, compulsions, and codependencies.
Published 1988 // 336 pages // Rated 4.0 over 10,300 reviews on Goodreads
Best Codependency Books: Codependents' Guide to the Twelve Steps
6. Codependents’ Guide to the Twelve Steps – Melody Beattie
New Stories
The New York Times Bestselling self-help book on how to find the right recovery program for you — because Alcoholics Anonymous is not the only program available to us. This book takes the famous 12 steps we’ve all heard of and specifically tweaks them for codependents to apply at home or in a group setting. — by self-help author and codependent, addiction, and recovery expert Melody Beattie, this is the book to turn to for practical, applicable ways to end the cycle.
Published 1990 // 224 pages // Rated 4.3 over 700 reviews on Goodreads
Best Codependency Books: Women Who Love Too Much
7. Women Who Love Too Much – Robin Norwood
When You Keep Wishing and Hoping He’ll Change
The groundbreaking book on the psychology of women who are addicted to toxic relationships with men who are unavailable, incapable of loving, or incapable of taking care of themselves. This #1 New York Times bestselling book was actually credited with birthing a “cottage industry” within the therapy community. — by licensed marriage and family therapist (with an emphasis in addiction) Robin Norwood.
Published 1985 // 336 pages // Rated 4.0 over 16,800 reviews on Goodreads
Best Codependency Books: Stop Caretaking the Borderline or Narcissist
8. Stop Caretaking the Borderline or Narcissist – Margalis Fjelstad
How to End the Drama and Get on with Life
The ultimate guide for anyone trapped in a dysfunctional, self-destructive relationship as a caretaker (particularly for those in relationship with someone with Borderline Personality Disorder or Narcissistic Personality Disorder), this book pulls on the author’s extensive experience as a psychotherapist while using understandable language for the reader. — by licensed marriage and family therapist Dr. Margalis Fjelstad, this book will walk you step-by-step into breaking free of your caretaking tendencies and living your life for your Self.
Published 2013 // 190 pages // Rated 4.3 over 1,000 reviews on Goodreads
Best Codependency Books: Love Is a Choice
9. Love Is a Choice – Robert Hemfelt
The Definitive Book on Letting Go of Unhealthy Relationships
The ultimate guide to living and loving in relationship, regardless of one’s feelings — because feelings change, but love doesn’t have to. This book teaches from a biblical perspective how to love free from a place of codependency and in a virtuous, noble way. — by licensed psychologist and marriage and family therapist Dr. Robert Hemfelt, with help from doctors Frank Minirth and Paul Meier.
Published 2003 // 288 pages // Rated 4.3 over 700 reviews on Goodreads
Best Codependency Books: Facing Codependence
10. Facing Codependence – Pia Mellody
What It Is, Where It Comes from, How It Sabotages Our Lives
The book on loving and healing your inner child, Facing Codependence establishes five primary symptoms of codependency and guides its reader to fully understand their codependent traits and the sources of them. From this place the reader is guided to discover their path of healing. — by Pia Mellody, internationally renowned lecturer and author on childhood traumas that lead to emotional dysfunction.
Published 1989 // 272 pages // Rated 4.1 over 1,900 reviews on Goodreads

Books 11-20: 10 Great Codependency Books to Read Next

Here are the next 10 best codependency books from my database…

11. Broken Toys, Broken Dreams – Terry Kellogg
Understanding and Healing Codependency, Compulsive Behaviors, and Family
Published 1990 // 312 pages // Rated 4.5 over on Goodreads
12. Set Boundaries, Find Peace – Nedra Glover Tawwab
A Guide to Reclaiming Yourself
Published 2021 // 282 pages // Rated 4.4 over 3,600 reviews on Goodreads
13. Psychopath Free – Jackson MacKenzie
Recovering from Emotionally Abusive Relationships With Narcissists, Sociopaths, and Other Toxic People
Published 2013 // 284 pages // Rated 4.2 over 3,300 reviews on Goodreads
14. Facing Love Addiction – Pia Mellody
Giving Yourself the Power to Change the Way You Love
Published 1989 // 272 pages // Rated 4.1 over 900 reviews on Goodreads
15. Out of the Fog – Dana Morningstar
Moving From Confusion to Clarity After Narcissistic Abuse
Published 2017 // 370 pages // Rated 4.5 over 400 reviews on Goodreads
16. The Road Back to Me – Lisa A. Romano
Healing and Recovering From Co-dependency, Addiction, Enabling, and Low Self Esteem.
Published 2012 // 272 pages // Rated 4.3 over 300 reviews on Goodreads
17. Let Go Now – Karen Casey
Embrace Detachment as a Path to Freedom
Published 2010 // 256 pages // Rated 4.2 over 400 reviews on Goodreads
18. Whole Again – Jackson MacKenzie
Healing Your Heart and Rediscovering Your True Self After Toxic Relationships and Emotional Abuse
Published 2019 // 304 pages // Rated 4.2 over 1,100 reviews on Goodreads
19. Codependency for Dummies – Darlene Lancer
Published 2012 // 368 pages // Rated 4.2 over 400 reviews on Goodreads
20. Breaking Free – Pia Mellody
A Recovery Handbook for ‘Facing Codependence’
Published 1989 // 448 pages // Rated 4.1 over 100 reviews on Goodreads

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Enjoyed this list of the best codependency books of all time? Here’s a breakdown of all the book lists and book recommendations on the site…

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Ariel Williams
I'm an avid reader in the time I squeeze between freelance copywriting and snuggling with my three little lion cubs (they’re actually her human babies, but between their wild curls and even wilder nature, you’d call ‘em cubs too). Find me on LinkedIn or my site.

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