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  1. Blog
  2. Reading
  3. March 27, 2024

20 Self-Love Books to Boost Confidence & Happiness

Empowered to be you

Woman who loves herself
Photo courtesy of Vanessa Kintaudi

Do you feel empowered to ask for a promotion? Are you comfortable sharing your accomplishments with coworkers? Are you satisfied with your job? It all starts with self-love. Studies show that one in two women feel more self-doubt than self-love.

When you love yourself (regardless of what others think or say), you’re going to feel more confident and you’re going to boost your self-esteem. 

With higher self-esteem, you’re able to achieve better work outcomes, including higher job satisfaction, income, and occupational prestige. Women with higher self-esteem also find themselves in a better position of finding higher quality work, which impacts day-to-day satisfaction and supports a more successful career.

As if those aren’t reasons enough to prioritize yourself, know that self-esteem can help lower anxiety and improve your overall mental health and well-being.  

Want inspiration for self-love? Here are 20 books worth reading. Plus, explore our books on confidence roundup to add even more books to your TBR.

Read more: 11 Motivational Books for Working Women, by Working Women

Must-read self-love books

Book on self-love #1:  Becoming — Michelle Obama 

Michelle Obama gives a firsthand account of her life—from growing up as a young Black girl in the Midwest, to attending Princeton and Harvard Law, to entering the White House, to starting the Let’s Move! Initiative. She explores countless personal tragedies, motherhood, marriage, and other relatable life challenges, giving us a rare glimpse into the life of a tenacious First Lady.

Book on self-love #2: Phenomenal Woman: Four Poems Celebrating Women — Maya Angelou

This is a classic and one worth keeping in an easy-to-reach spot on your bookshelf—or gifting to a friend who needs a pick-me-up. This short poetry collection showcases and celebrates the strength of women—and our ability to rise from failure, overcome hardship, and persevere. 

Book on self-love #3: Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail — Cheryl Strayed

After her marriage ends and her mother dies, Cheryl Strayed makes the impulsive decisions to hike the Pacific Crest Trail on her own. What follows is an eye-opening and empowering trip through the Pacific Northwest. It’s no wonder so many have followed in her footsteps and taken on the same journey. Once you read this, follow it up with the movie. 

Book on self-love #4: Revolution from Within: A Book of Self-Esteem — Gloria Steinem

This was published many, many years ago, but messages are as true today as ever before. As Gloria Steinem writes, “Like the spider spinning its web, we create much of the outer world from within ourselves. The universe is a joint product of the observer and the observed.” This book amplifies the message that we’re all unique—and we can use our gifts to change the world for the better.

Memoirs on self-love

Book on self-love #5: The Urgent Life: A Memoir — Bozoma Saint John

The former Chief Marketing Officer at Netflix explores grief and the ability to recover from a traumatic loss. Bozoma’s story is extraordinary, because she is extraordinary. This story will touch any reader who has loved, mourned, and overcome hardship. Saint John proves that we’re stronger than we think and more than capable of overcoming life’s hardest moments.

Book on self-love #6: Untamed: A Memoir — Glennon Doyle Melton

I read and loved Love Warrior (who didn’t!), but the messages in Untamed are unmatched. Glennon Doyle Melton reminds all of us why we’re cheetahs—and why it’s always better to follow our intuition than to continue living the status quo. In this memoir, she discusses the challenges of promoting a book of love while going through a divorce, falling in love with her partner Abby, and learning to parent better.

Book on self-love #7: Class: A Memoir — Stephanie Land

Author of the bestselling book The Maid, Stephanie Land explores the difficulty in graduating from college and embarking on a writing career while still parenting and living below the poverty line. This is a unique perspective on class, but also a story of tenacity for a woman who's being challenged on her path to literary success. Her story serves as a reminder that it doesn’t matter where you come from or what obstacles stand in your way; you have the power to follow your passions.

Book on self-love #8: Private Equity — Carrie Sun

Carrie Sun is independent, brave, and eager to make it in a male-dominated field. She rejects her boyfriend’s proposal, takes on a full-time job in finance, and embarks on a journey to self-discovery—and lucky for us, finds herself in the world of writing. You’ll quickly learn that money can solve a lot of problems, but it doesn’t solve everything—and it doesn’t buy happiness.

Book on self-love #9: Finding Me: A Memoir — Viola Davis

Viola Davis considers this book a “love letter to the self,” and I would agree. This is such a lovely, inspiring book. Davis tells us how she eventually stopped running from her past, found her truth, and overcame obstacles to become the acclaimed actor we know today. How to preserve and succeed in the face of hardship? Follow her advice.

Book on self-love #10: The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun — Gretchen Rubin 

When Gretchen Rubin realizes how short life is—and how time she’s been wasting—she decides to dedicate one year to happiness. She offers lessons, tips, and stories to readers who want to change their habits, set goals, and build a happier life. 

Nonfiction self-love books

Book on self-love #11: Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear — Elizabeth Gilbert

As Gilbert explains in this book on building a creative life (whatever that looks like for you), “The universe buries strange jewels deep within us all, and then stands back to see if we can find them.” This book is for anyone looking to pursue a passion (whether it be gardening, launching a business, or writing a book) and wanting to change their attitude, approach, and habits. It’s also a book you’ll find yourself returning to over and over again.

Book on self-love #12: The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are — Brené Brown

This world renowned researcher has published seven phenomenal books. Among my favorites are Daring Greatly and this one, which dives head first into “wholehearted living” and living your own authentic life. If you’ve ever struggled with perfectionism or imposter syndrome, this is the book for you. Best of all, it's a practical and quick read that you can return to when you need some inspiration. 

Book on self-love #13: Keep Moving: The Journal — Maggie Smith

I’m in the middle of reading You Could Make This Place Beautiful, which I’m really enjoying, but if you’re new to Maggie Smith, start with Keep Moving: Notes on Loss, Creativity, and Change and Keep Moving: The Journal, which includes weekly exercises for living in the present moment, embracing changing, and building a more meaningful life.

Book on self-love #14: The Self-Love Experiment: Fifteen Principles for Becoming More Kind, Compassionate, and Accepting of Yourself — Shannon Kaiser 

If you’ve ever engaged in negative self-talk, Shannon is here to tell you she’s been there, she gets it. If you want to make changes to yourself or your current situation… you can, but it’s critical that you love yourself through the process. This is an easy, practical read for those wanting step-by-step guides to self-love.

Book on self-love #15: Unfu*k Yourself: Get Out of Your Head and into Your Life — Gary John Bishop

This is a no-nonsense guide to engaging in positive self-talk, finding purpose, and improving your day-to-day life. Life is hard, especially when you’re balancing work with personal obligations, but Gary John Bishop reminds us that it’s possible to take action on your goals, no matter how small or minor that action may seem. 

Fiction self-love books

Book on self-love #16: Joan Is Okay: A Novel — Weike Wang 

This is a really moving story. Joan, a 30-something ICU doctor and the daughter of Chinese parents, is happily devoted to work and living a solitary lifestyle when a series of events unfolds, forcing her to step outside of her comfort zone and establish her voice. This is a short, fun read that will remind you that it may be hard, but it’s always best to stay true to yourself.

Book on self-love #17: Happiness for Beginners: A Novel — Katherine Center

Following her divorce, 32-year-old Helen decides to sign up for a wilderness survival course. Only, she’s never done anything like this before and her little brother’s best friend happens to be joining her. This book is part love story, part adventure story. For Helen, it’s life-changing, as she learns to trust herself, to be brave, and to open her eyes to new possibilities.

Self-love books related to careers

Book on self-love #18: More Than Enough: Claiming Space for Who You Are — Elaine Welteroth

I just love this book and this author’s perspective on life. Former editor-in-chief of Teen Vogue, Elaine Welteroth has an incredible story of being resilient, determined, and self-aware. For those early in their careers—and anyone needing a reminder that they’re capable of achieving anything—this is the book for you.

Book on self-love #19: Buy Yourself the F*cking Lilies: And Other Rituals to Fix Your Life, from Someone Who's Been There — Tara Schuster 

Behind her successful career, 20-something Tara Schuster was battling anxiety and depression, binge drinking, and trying to reconcile with her past. This is a funny, uplifting, and raw look at one woman’s messy journey to self-love and all the lessons she learned along the way. 

Book on self-love #20: The Beauty in Breaking: A Memoir — Michele Harper 

There’s no imposter syndrome in this memoir. Michele Harper, a Black woman working as an emergency room physician, explores the challenges of working in a male-dominated field and overcoming systemic barriers. Throughout, she explores the importance of healing others, and herself.

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