Best Social Work Books – Reviews and Recommendations

Best Social Work Books – Reviews and Recommendations

As a social worker or a student in the field, staying informed is crucial for professional development and effective practice. One of the best ways to gain insights and expand your knowledge is through reading relevant literature. In this article, we’ll explore some of the best social work books that come highly recommended by experts and can provide valuable guidance for both newcomers and seasoned professionals.

Understanding the Social Work Landscape

Before diving into the world of social work literature, it’s important to understand the current landscape. Social work is an ever-evolving field that addresses complex social issues such as poverty, mental health, and child welfare. The right books can offer both theoretical frameworks and practical applications to navigate these challenges effectively.

Top Picks for Social Work Reading

  • ‘The Body Keeps the Score’ by Bessel van der Kolk – This book dives into the understanding of trauma and its treatment, which is invaluable for social workers dealing with clients who have experienced traumatic events.
  • ‘The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down’ by Anne Fadiman – A compelling read about cultural competence and the often complex relationship between healthcare professionals and their clients.
  • ‘Social Work ASWB Clinical Exam Guide’ by Dawn Apgar – An essential guide for those preparing for the ASWB Clinical Exam, offering a comprehensive overview of the necessary knowledge for future social workers.
  • ‘Days in the Lives of Social Workers’ by Linda May Grobman – This book provides real-life narratives that give readers a window into what the daily work of a social worker might entail.

Reviews: What Readers Are Saying

Each of the recommended books has garnered positive reviews for their depth of information and practical advice. ‘The Body Keeps the Score’ is praised for its groundbreaking approach to understanding and treating trauma. ‘The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down’ is often recommended for its poignant exploration of cultural differences in healthcare. Those studying for the ASWB exam have found ‘Social Work ASWB Clinical Exam Guide’ to be a trusted resource. And ‘Days in the Lives of Social Workers’ is lauded for its engaging and insightful stories.

How to Choose the Right Book for You

When selecting a social work book, consider your field of interest, professional needs, and areas where you want to grow. Look for books that are well-reviewed by trusted sources and that offer a balance between theory and practical application.


What books are essential for a social work student?

‘The Body Keeps the Score’ and ‘The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down’ are often considered essential reading for students. Textbooks specific to your coursework will also be critical.

How often should I read social work literature?

It’s beneficial to read regularly to stay updated on the latest practices and theories. Aim for at least one book every few months.

Can reading social work books improve my practice?

Absolutely. Reading can enhance your understanding of complex issues and introduce new techniques and perspectives.

Are there books tailored to specific social work fields?

Yes, there are books tailored to various fields, such as clinical social work, child welfare, and mental health.

Where can I find recommendations for social work books?

Professional organizations, academic institutions, and online forums for social workers are great places to find book recommendations.


In conclusion, the books reviewed here offer a wealth of knowledge that can be instrumental in shaping a compassionate and effective social work practice. Whether you are studying for exams or looking to deepen your professional expertise, these recommendations provide a strong starting point for your reading list.