10 Books on Confidence to Boost Your Self-Esteem

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Deanna deBara
Deanna deBara
April 17, 2024 at 2:57PM UTC

Want to channel the inner girl boss that lives inside you but lacks the self-assurance to do so? Maybe it's time to add some books on confidence to your nightstand! 

There is a variety of works available for all types of readers—from straight-to-the-point guides to philosophical perspectives. Some will help you understand your behavior, while others offer a journey to overcome self-doubt and achieve more success. But one thing all these books have in common: your self-perception will likely never be the same after reading them.

1. The Courage to Be Disliked: The Japanese Phenomenon That Shows You How to Change Your Life and Achieve Real Happiness

Ichiro Kishmi and Fumitake Koga, 2018

Choosing and pursuing your own happiness can be challenging—especially when you need to navigate through your past experiences, doubts, and traumas. The Courage to Be Disliked, which is written as a conversation between a philosopher and a young man, uses the theories of Alfred Adler—a 19th-century psychotherapist who stood beside Freud and Jung—to teach you how to determine the direction of your own life.

The lessons taught by The Courage to Be Disliked will help you learn and apply concepts like self-forgiveness, self-care, and mind decluttering to get past any limitations placed on yourself—and become a happier, more confident person.

2. Gravitas: The 8 Strengths That Redefine Confidence 

Lisa Sun, 2023

When, during her first review as a business analyst at McKinsey & Company, Lisa Sun read the suggestion to “seek to have more gravitas,” it sent her on a decades-long journey to understand what it means to be truly confident. 

Sun’s path to self-discovery and growth eventually led to success, including launching the lifestyle brand Gravitas—but it also gave her a deeper understanding of how women can build their own self-worth on their own terms.

Gravitas: The 8 Strengths That Redefine Confidence helps women debunk the narrow view of confidence that society has imposed on them, offering strategies to redefine their confidence by recognizing their inner strengths, identify and tap into the source of their self-belief, and use their strength to excel and surpass expectations. 

These tips—combined with and supported by first-hand research, real-world examples, and anecdotes from other successful women—provide valuable advice for helping women at any stage and in any role find their own gravitas and step into their own confidence.

3. The Confidence Code: The Science and Art of Self-Assurance—What Women Should Know

Katty Kay and Claire Shipman, 2014

While women are more qualified than ever before, men are still overrepresented in the corporate world. Part of that issue comes down to an imbalance of confidence, with men often being more confident than women—even if those women are more educated, experienced, or qualified.

In The Confidence Code, authors Katty Kay and Claire Shipman combine research in genetics, gender, behavior, and cognition with personal experience and examples from successful women in politics, media, and business to provide women with inspiration and actionable advice to build more confidence. 

Kay and Shipman’s science-backed insight and first-hand advice help women close the gap in the workplace and secure the careers they desire and deserve.

4. Unstoppable Self Confidence: How to create the indestructible, natural confidence of the 1% who achieve their goals, create success on demand and live life on their terms

Andrew Leedham, 2019

Most people struggle with self-perception, finding it challenging to feel happy with themselves and their achievements. Without enough confidence, it's not uncommon to settle for an unhappy life, never striving for more.

When author Andrew Leedham realized he was one of those people, he started to look for the reasons why the top 1% who achieve their goals are so successful, driven, and confident—and how he could replicate that success and live life on his own terms. 

In Unstoppable Self Confidence, Leedham shares actionable insights to help readers unlearn their bad programming and wrong thinking. 

While avoiding self-destructive techniques and suggestions, Leedham provides no-nonsense, application-specific advice for women to develop the same permanent, indestructible, and natural confidence of the top 1%—helping them learn how to live life on their own terms and build the confident mindset needed to thrive.

5. The Confidence Gap: A Guide to Overcoming Fear and Self-Doubt 

Russ Harris, 2011

People who lack self-confidence often miss out on opportunities and fall short of their goals—largely because of self-doubt and a fear of not having what it takes to hit those goals. 

In The Confidence Gap, therapist, coach, and bestselling author Russ Harris uses techniques from Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), a form of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), to help women overcome feelings of low self-confidence, shyness, and insecurity.

Harris teaches women to form new relationships with their fearfulness, helping them understand what confidence truly is—and, just as important, how to build it. 

He also teaches women techniques to deal with fear and anxiety, how to use mindfulness to handle negative thoughts and feelings, and how to identify their core values—which become inspiration for living a happier, more confident, and more productive life. 

6. What Confident Women Do: Daily Challenges to Set Boundaries, Establish Self-Worth and Crush Self-Doubt

Kate Richardson, 2021

Many authentic, highly skilled, and well-qualified women aren't confident, regardless of the fact that they have everything to be confident about. According to Kate Richardson, author of What Confident Women Do, this lack of confidence is a large reason why women are paid less than men for the same type of work—and why so few women make it to the C-suite. 

By overcoming anxiety and self-doubt, women can embrace who they are inside to become strong, self-assured, and more successful—and demand the titles and compensation they deserve.

In What Confident Women Do, Richardson teaches women how to build/regain their self-confidence and techniques for managing stress and anxiety, and how to effectively navigate situations that may be out of their control. 

This actionable feedback helps women thrive in challenging environments, make changes to get out of negative thought spirals and the fear of failure, and fully step into their confidence.

7. The Art of Extraordinary Confidence: Your Ultimate Path To Love, Wealth, and Freedom

Dr. Aziz Gazipura, PsyD, 2016

Confidence is the cornerstone of a successful life; it plays a significant role in helping you achieve each of your goals. However, self-confidence can also be difficult to develop and embrace—especially if you’re a person that deals with self-doubt, negative thinking, and fear. 

In The Art of Extraordinary Confidence, the subject expert and bestselling author Dr. Aziz Gazipura, PsyD, explores strategies for overcoming obstacles, building confidence, and moving forward on your path to success with stories, jokes, and actionable techniques. 

This includes ways to overcome fear, how to gain the self-assurance to speak to anyone, and how to leverage confidence to build wealth—all of which can lead to a happier, more satisfying, and more prosperous life.

8. The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are

Brené Brown, 2022

The Gifts of Imperfection is a guidebook for women on the journey to wholehearted living—or which Brené Brown, PhD, MSW defines as courage, compassion, deliberate boundaries, and connection. 

In The Gifts of Imperfection, Brown taps into her two decades of experience studying courage, vulnerability, shame, and empathy to provide readers with 10 guideposts for personal introspection—or, as the title suggests, for letting go of who you think you’re supposed to be and embracing who you actually are.

Each guidepost teaches women how to foster a positive, confidence-boost quality, lie authenticity, self-compassion, or resilience—and often includes stories from Brown’s life and research. Chapters also provide useful definitions and terms, quotes from a variety of diverse sources, and suggested activities that may help the reader improve her life and build confidence in spite of her imperfections.

9. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life (Mark Manson Collection Book 1)

Mark Manson, 2016

According to author Mark Manson’s philosophy, staying positive isn’t always the key to a happy and successful life. Sometimes, you need to learn how to deal with bad situations, unwelcome feelings, and a lack of confidence—and identify what it is you actually care about. In The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, Manson shares ways to figure out what really matters—and how to foster more confidence, courage, and authenticity in the process.

The book is an in-your-face guide that fuses research, humor, and stories designed to help you identify and confront your fears and limitations, building up the courage and foundation to live a better and more fulfilling life. (Just keep in mind that, as the title suggests, you can expect some adult language.)

  1. Untamed

Glennon Doyle, 2020

Many women, instead of pursuing their own hopes and dreams, find themselves struggling to meet the demands and expectations of others—from the micro (like family) to the macro (society). 

Activist, bestselling author, and host of the podcast We Can Do Hard Things Glennon Doyle realized she was one of those women at a conference, when she heard her inner voice proclaim that the world’s projections held her back from her true and untamed self.

In Untamed, Doyle documents the way her life started to change when she abandoned others’ ideas of what she should be and started living life according to her own rules, goals, values, and desires—finding more confidence, courage, and strength along the way. 

Untamed also shows women how to do the same, with insights on how they can be braver, set boundaries, make peace with their bodies, honor their emotions, and become their untamed selves—and enjoy the confidence that comes along with it.

How to apply what you read to actually increase your confidence

Choosing the right books on building confidence is the first step, but it's essential to go beyond.

“Reading books is great; I've learned some of my best tools and frameworks from books,” says  leadership coach Bryan Daigle. “But at some point, one has to take action and practice a behavior for it to actually change one's life.”

So, what does that action look like? Here are steps to help you put what you read into practice—and boost your confidence in the process:

Start small

Many of the best books on self-confidence are packed with valuable information, offering tips, strategies, and exercises. But if you try to incorporate everything into your life at once, it can feel overwhelming—and in that overwhelm, you might abandon the effort to be a confident person altogether.

That’s why it’s important to “start by taking action in small steps,” says Daigle. For example, you might choose one confidence-boosting exercise and commit to doing it every day for two weeks. Then, once you’ve successfully accomplished that, you can move forward and add on another exercise; that way, you’re building habits over time—which is, for most people, a more sustainable approach.

The good news? Those small steps will add up to big results. “Confidence is a positive upward spiral,” says Daigle. “Building confidence in one area of your life, creates confidence in other areas of your life.”

Create accountability

Some people (particularly those who are extrinsically motivated) may find it challenging to work towards goals if they try to do so alone. If you fall into this group, one of the best things you can do to put what you learned in your books on confidence into action in your own life? Involve other people. 

“Creating a support system, whether it's through mentors, peers, or accountability partners, significantly impacts one's ability to apply newfound knowledge,” says Jeff Mains, CEO of leadership development company Champion Leadership Group.

Building external accountability can keep you committed to working on your confidence-boosting strategies—and that can keep you moving forward, even when it gets hard or you want to give up. “Regular check-ins and discussions about progress and challenges foster a sense of responsibility and encourage continued growth,” says Mains.

How you create that responsibility is up to you; for example, you might set goals with a friend who is also working on building their confidence and schedule a weekly check-in where you can share how things are going, ask your partner to check in on your progress every night, or join an online support group that encourages members to share their goals.

Notice and celebrate

Applying what you learned in books on confidence takes time, energy, and patience. It’s a process—and sometimes progress can be slow. Which is why it’s important to notice (and celebrate) every win you have along the way.

“Take time to reflect on how the knowledge you've gained has impacted your actions and outcome,” says Mains—and then find a way to acknowledge your progress and celebrate the hard work you’ve put in to get there.

The more you celebrate each step in the journey towards confidence (even the small ones!), the more encouraging that journey will feel—and the more incentivized you’ll be to keep moving forward.

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