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  1. Blog
  2. Reading
  3. May 2, 2024

17 Books That Help You Find Yourself

Destination self-discovery

Woman reading a book to help find herself
Photo courtesy of Gift Habeshaw

Self-discovery is a journey of finding yourself—and one that never truly ends. Sometimes the best way to learn about yourself and how you feel about the world around you is to read books. It’s through other peoples’ perspectives and stories that we come to learn more about ourselves, what we think, how we feel, and what sort of lives we want to be living, and in practicing self-discovery, we can grow our confidence and self-love.

As you embark on the lifelong path of self-discovery, consider adding one of these 17 books to your “to be read” shelf. (Or explore our roundup of self-help podcasts to bolster your success.)

Books that will help you find yourself: Fiction

Book that will help you find yourself #1: The Midnight Library — Matt Haig 

When you’re battling depression, you don’t always see the point in life. This book will transport you, make you rethink your life, and have you asking the hard questions. If you could do it all differently, would you? What makes life truly worth living? The Midnight Library will help you figure it out. Just know this book deals with thoughts of suicide and depression. If you enjoy this one, you’ll want to check out his memoir Reasons to Stay Alive and The Humans, too. 

Book that will help you find yourself #2 The People We Keep — Allison Larkin

You can’t help but love the main character April Sawicki, a songwriter, who is determined to build a life of her own. In the process of leaving home and attempting to make a living as an artist on the road, she has to experience hardship after aftership—and discover who she is in the process. It’s just a really great read. 

Book that will help you find yourself #3: My Sister’s Keeper — Jodi Piccoult

If you’re a teenager who just discovered that you came into this world to be a bone marrow match for your sister, you might start to wonder what your purpose really is. The plot is unique and not that relatable, but the story—and the discovery of self—is really compelling and worth reading, even if you disagree with the fictional ending. Also, if you like this, it’s worth watching the movie (just prepared for tears). 

Books that will help you find yourself: Nonfiction

Book that will help you find yourself #4: The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life — Mark Manson

Mark Manson is a straight shooter, if you can’t already tell by the title of his book. He helps you understand what things are worth spending time and energy on—and what things to let go of. It’s not exactly a self-help book; more of a self-care book. If you want someone to tell you how it is—and sucker punch you into changing your perspective, this book is for you.

Book that will help you find yourself #5: The Road Back to You: An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery — Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile

The Enneagram is basically a personality test that helps identify your motivations, desires, and fears. After reading this, I came to learn my own and my partner’s, which was insightful and interesting. Do I think every part of the Enneagram is 100 percent accurate? No, but this is true of most personality tests. If this provides you a new perspective, which it did for me, then it’s worth the read. 

Book that will help you find yourself #6: Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead — Brené Brown

This is arguably my favorite of Brené Brown’s books as it focuses on vulnerability and what it means to be uncomfortable. As an introvert, I found this to be really, really motivating, but I’m certain that anyone (and everyone) can benefit from reading this book. In addition to using research to aid in her messaging, she also shares stories of others and herself, which makes this such an enjoyable read.

Book that will help you find yourself #7: You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life — Jen Sincero 

We all deserve to live a life we love, but how do you go about creating that? Jen Sincero will help you focus on abandoning things you cannot change, and focus on the things you can change. Sincero upbeat, down-to-earth attitude is invigorating and will have you rethinking the way you approach life.

Book that will help you find yourself #8: How Are You, Really?: Living Your Truth One Answer at a Time — Jenna Kutcher 

Let’s be real: None of us has it “all figured out.” If we did, which we don’t, we wouldn’t be here, trying to learn more about ourselves. This book will inspire you to take greater control of your life. What I love about this book is that Jenna Kutcher, the author, shares her own experiences and lessons and makes you feel like you’re sitting with a friend (a friend who also happens to be a really successful entrepreneur). 

Books that will help you find yourself: Young adult

Book that will help you find yourself #9: Paper Towns — John Green

John Green is one of my all-time favorite young adult novelists. Yes, I cried reading The Fault In Our Stars (who didn’t?) and I actually laughed out loud, multiple times, reading Looking for Alaska. His coming-of-age novels aren’t for teens; they’re for all of us. This one is no different. While Quentin goes in search of Margo, he starts to question who he is, what he knows about others, and ultimately, what it means to be human (spoiler: we’re all flawed).  

Book that will help you find yourself #10: Perks of Being a Wallflower — Stephen Chbosky 

While this book deals with a lot of traumatic subjects, including abuse, assault, drug use, and suicide, it’s a really great coming-of-age story—and one you won’t soon forget. The style of the book is also really unique, as Charlie details his experiences through letters or journal entries, making it feel that much more intimate and surreal.

Books that will help you find yourself: Memoir 

Book that will help you find yourself #11: Eat Pray Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India, and Indonesia — Elizabeth Gilbert

You may not have the luxury of leaving your work, family, and life behind to go travel across the world and find yourself… but you can definitely indulge in this memoir from Elizabeth Gilbert, which will transport you to some beautiful, beautiful places. You might be inspired to take chances, step outside of your comfort zone, and eat the damn pasta.

Book that will help you find yourself #12: The Glass Castle: A Memoir — Jeanette Walls

This was a wildly popular memoir and nearly 20 years later, it’s still highly recommended—and for good reason. Jeanette Walls shares an intimate portrayal of her and her siblling’s unconventional upbringing in a poverty-stricken home. Walls explores what this was like, what she learned in the process, and how she overcame all of this to become a smart, successful adult.

Book that will help you find yourself #13: Between Two Kingdoms: A Memoir of a Life Interrupted — Suleika Jaouad

Following her cancer diagnosis and battle, Suleika Jaouad goes on a roadtrip across the U.S. and encounters others who have their own stories of survival and what it means to be human. This is a beautifully written story of adventure, curiosity, and self-discovery. She also narrates the book, if you prefer audio.

Books that will help you find yourself: Classics

Book that will help you find yourself #14: Jane Eyre — Charlotte Brontë

Victorian novels aren’t for everyone, but I truly enjoyed this one. It has gothic elements and romance, but that’s not why I recommend it. Jane defies expectations at a time when women rarely had the means to do so—and she is strong willed and fiercely independent and she stands up for what she wants, which I love. 

Book that will help you find yourself #15: Man’s Search for Meaning — Viktor E. Frankl 

Considered one of the “most influential books in America,” this memoir explores the psychiatrist’s experience enduring and surviving World War II in Nazi concentration camps and losing his wife, brother, and parents in the process. This is a devastating read, but also a beautiful reminder that we are capable of enduring in the face of life’s most challenging, heartbreaking obstacles.

Book that will help you find yourself #16: The Alchemist: A Fable About Following Your Dream — Paulo Coelho

I should preface this by saying: This isn’t my type of book, but I felt compelled to include. Not only is this a classic story of self-discovery, but it's highly recommended and a popular favorite among readers (with over 80 million copies sold). For those feeling like they’ve lost their purpose, this is one of those books that will have you thinking about your own “personal legend.” 

Book that will help you find yourself #17: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn — Betty Smith

This coming-of-age novel published in 1943 is still prevalent today—and well worth the read. The main character is 11-year-old Francie Nolan and throughout the book we see her face countless challenges (poverty, an alcoholic father, a difficult mother, etc.) amid the backdrop of the early 1900’s. It’s a story of survival and strength. 

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