Is it just me or is 2018 the year of doing some serious ground work when it comes to self love, dropping emotional baggage and doing some core confidence building? Solo travel has been a major factor in getting my bearings after hitting a critical low with my depression and anxiety.
I wrote a lighthearted book about the many hoops I had to jump through but only now do I actually get to dig deeper. So if you want to level up too, here are my personal favourites when it comes to the best books for confidence building. (And the best quotes for confidence, too). It is never too late!
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How to Be a Bawse by Lilly Singh
Hey you unicorns out there, Lilly Singh is a true gift. Having started her insanely successful youtube career out of a need to feel something during a severe period of depression, she has made it to the top. Millions of rabid followers. Fans who sell out her performance and book tours in minutes. Big brand face. Roles in Hollywood. And a kickass book. Lilly truly is a Superwoman.
You can get daily inspo from her vlog in which she chronicles her excessive hustle. But don’t be intimidated. She isn’t a mere showoff, she has grit and loves spreading the love. Hence her empoweringment book guiding us through every step of her career.
But don’t mistake this for an inspirational autobiography! It is a solid feel good, gosh-dang-yeah-I-can-do-this piece of literature with clear guidelines and hands on mentality. The book is seriously heavy (both in weight and content) as it is filled to the brim with tips, quotes and case studies.
Not one word is wasted, Lilly is winning. And you’ll be winning after reading this. (And yes, her book tour was epic as well. I was there and have a photo to prove it!) It is one of THE best books for confidence building I have read so far.
“So if you’re drowning, keep your life jacket on and fight. But once you’re able to swim, don’t convince yourself you forgot how to. Take your life jacket off, front-crawl your way to the shore, walk off that beach, and set your GPS to the top of a hill, because you WILL conquer the climb.”
― Lilly Singh, How to Be a Bawse: A Guide to Conquering Life
What a Time to Be Alone by Chidera Eggerue
Ever heard of Slumflower? Of the saggy boob movement? All of this was conceived by the wonderful Chidera Eggerue. She is a true teacher of embracing you the way you are, of taking no shits from anyone about your very own business (or body or mind).
The book itself is a true artwork. Each page is wonderfully designed with Chidera’s own drawings and edgy geometrical shapes in warning colours. She means business and she’s gonna tell it straight at you.
Spiced up with no nonsense Nigerian quotes and brutal yet loving truths about life and building self confidence, you will feel like hit by enlightenment. It’s sometimes so to the point and obvious, that you need to hear it still. The book should be passed from woman to woman, it’s full of wisdom and life lessons that everyone needs to hear. Best book for self confidence – and not just for women.
“Most of us feel like being alone means nobody wants to be around you or you’re unattractive. But being alone is just as important as being in any relationship. That’s an opportunity to learn and grow. If you don’t give yourself enough time to do that, you end up in harsh, aggressive toxic cycles.” – Chidera Eggerue
Bossy Pants by Tina Fey
If you didn’t know, Tina Fey is a real master of comedy TV. Her career started as a writer for Saturday Night Live, where she quickly became the lead writer and soon appeared herself. Her autobiography is just as funny and self deprecating as she is and full of hilarious anecdotes.
Besides standing up for yourself and following your gut, what I got from the book was to just embrace all your flaws and follies. Those make for the greatest stories and when you make people laugh, it’ll bring a smile to your face as well. Don’t we take life too seriously anyway?
Just a gentle warning: don’t read (or listen to the audiobook) in public unless you are fine with laughing and crying fits. But reading that book, you probably will be. Who knew a comical autobiography could be a book for confidence as well?
“Don’t waste your energy trying to educate or change opinions; go over, under, through, and opinions will change organically when you’re the boss. Or they won’t. Who cares? Do your thing, and don’t care if they like it.” ― Tina Fey
#GirlBoss by Sophia Amuroso
Sure, Sophia Amuroso empire of Nasty Gal got bankrupt but that doesn’t negate the fierceness of her venture. Building a global clothing empire based on her unadulterated love for extravagant vintage clothing and ebay sales from her room and later a garage. That is pretty damn impressive!
Her book is full of unapologetic badassery. Sophia Amuroso seemed to have always been the odd one out but proudly embraces it. Plus, the book is super easy to read, filled with inspirational quotes and beautiful little drawings. It’s just a gem. I felt empowered every time I completed a chapter and that is already a win in my book. (Pun intended.)
For all female entrepreneurs out there, it is one best self confidence books for your career building and getting into the right business mindset. It really is all about attitude and Sophie Amuroso has plenty of that.
“Abandon anything about your life and habits that might be holding you back. Learn to create your own opportunities. Know that there is no finish line; fortune favors action. Race balls-out toward the extraordinary life that you’ve always dreamed of, or still haven’t had time to dream up. And prepare to have a hell of a lot of fun along the way.” ― Sophia Amoruso
Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin
Gretchen Rubin is on a mission to conquer and share happiness. Through her blog and book series, she unrevels layers of what it means to be happy. And with that, she isn’t dishing out just general and wholesome wisdom. No, she gets into the nitty gritty and delivers hands-on practical tips.
With “Better Than Before”, she sets the foundation for a life full of measuable success both in personal and professional situations. It’s all in your habits! The little thigns you do (or don’t do) have a tremendous impact. Changes doesn’t come over night but how it puts itself together and how you can tackle it according to your personality, that’s a whole other issue.
Exactly that is also covered. Gretchen has figured out a set of questions to determine what type of habit person you are and how you respond to different ways of setting habits. (Or whether you just traight up rebel against everything like I do.) It’s wildly helpful!!
“The desire to start something at the “right” time is usually just a justification for delay. In almost every case, the best time to start is now.” ― Gretchen Rubin
So Much I Want to Tell You by Anna Akana
If you don’t know Anna Akana, have you even been on Youtube? Having been on the popular video platform for over a decade, the LA actress and overall video making wunderkind is a tour de force when it comes to insightful. While most of her videos have an entertaining finish and light tone to them, there are plenty of darker topics.
In fact, Anna Akana has been struggling with depression for years herself. Her sister committed suicide as a result of it and Anna has suffered and questioned life ever since. In this book, Anna lays it all bare, opens up raw and real about her struggles with emotional health, with heartbreak, abortion and the grueling world of castings in Hollywood.
The book might be written for her sister but it hits straight into everyone of her readers. It is a reminder to seize life each and every day and make it your own. To have faith and self confidence because it’s your life and legacy.
“If you want to be the star, create the show. Don’t wait. Make your own opportunities. There’s no better time that to start today.”
― Anna Akana
Is It Just Me? by Miranda Hart
I never knew I could like autobiographies so much but female comedians just have something that I can really relate to. They get into ridiculous situations like everyone but they manage to urvive and tell the tale in the most hilarious way.
And isn’t attitude the most important part in navigating life? You can mope around and feel like a victim or just take the wind out of a problem’s sails. (Wait, is that a proper way to say this? Who cares?) The bottom line is: never take yourself too seriously.
And with all the daily struggles, the changes in life, the rejections and failures and silly fauxpas. If you can still stand up and laugh about anything. You’re golden! And Miranda Hart really hits the nail on the head and made me laugh out loud (and relate so hard).
“Look in the mirror and say, ‘There is none other like you and for that reason alone you are beautiful.” ― Miranda Hart
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F**ck by Mark Manson
Don’t be put off by the blunt language, this book really dishes out tough love truths left and right. The tone is unapologetic and Mark Manson really gets his point across: there are zero fucks left to give when it comes to truly being who you are.
BUT to be able to not give a damn you need to pick a battle. This isn’t an ode to the unfazed cool devoid of feelings. No, it’s all about being selective where to place your priorities. It’s knowing what matters and what really just wastes your (mental) energy.
For instance, it’s about not being wounded by how bad you are at something and how often you get criticized when you start a new path or learn a new skill. It’s about making decisions and committing to something to really dive in deep into the experience and avoiding a shallow life full of indecisiveness.
In the end, it’s about shaping a life YOU want and not letting anyone talk you out of it and into something that’s not for you.
“The truth is that there’s no such thing as a personal problem. If you’ve got a problem, chances are millions of other people have had it in the past, have it now, and are going to have it in the future. Likely people you know too. That doesn’t minimize the problem or mean that it shouldn’t hurt. It doesn’t mean you aren’t legitimately a victim in some circumstance. It just means that you’re not special.” – Mark Manson
The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks
This book is an eye opener. Ever heard of the tall poppy syndrome? It’s when your success is cheered on and tolerated up until a certain point. Once you get too high, you are cut down and put in place.
Whether we know it or not, we often do it to ourselves, feeling like we don’t deserve it. Maybe we don’t want others to feel bad in comparison. Maybe we feel we are unworthy in general. He calls it the Upper Limit Problem.
The book really breaks down all these harmful thought patterns and gently but firmly dismantles them. There is no reason to dim your light for others. There is no benefit for anyone in this. But no matter what you learn from it, the main lesson is to gather the courage and take that leap.
The leap of faith in yourself. The leap of faith that you got this even if you fail. And that failing is ok. Growing is too. The book should be a must read in schools across the world, if you ask me.
“In my life I’ve discovered that if I cling to the notion that something’s not possible, I’m arguing in favor of limitation. And if I argue for my limitations, I get to keep them.”
― Gay Hendricks
The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle
Eckhart Tolle has quite an interesting approach to it all. It seems very ethereal, spiritual, almost hippie at times and needs some getting used to. But his truth really is powerful when he talks about how we find comfort and familiarity in our pain, in the life we constructed around us to keep up from truly leaping into the unknown.
He talks of the painbody, about how life slows down and you reach your inner peace by tuning out of everything. Out of the noise around you. Out of your own thoughts. It’s like a super hard mediation in written form. But it’s a very helpful practice to just start and really see, feel and experience a very moment.
How often do we feel left ungrounded? And how little does it take to just stop and appreciate what we have right now? Why do we relive the past in our minds or work for the future if those don’t exist anymore or yet? It’s such a strange thing when you come to think of it.
“Any action is often better than no action, especially if you have been stuck in an unhappy situation for a long time. If it is a mistake, at least you learn something, in which case it’s no longer a mistake. If you remain stuck, you learn nothing.”
― Eckhart Tolle
How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie
This is the perfect book if you are entering the job world. Dale Carnagie is just such a gentle coach and seems to understand human nature effortlessly. But he keeps it real and relatable through personal and other people’s anecdotes and never becomes preachy or holier-than-thou.
Essentially, he is all about taking a step back and allowing empathy, allowing others to be seen, heard and understood. Yes, his advice could easily be used to manipulate people but likewise it helps understand yourself and become so much better at communication.
And great communication skills is something so many lack. (I certainly need to keep working on it.) If nothing else, this book will give you more compassion for others and yourself. And that’s quite a great feet. Plus, it keeps on giving and you should read it over and over again.
“Success in dealing with people depends on a sympathetic grasp of the other person’s viewpoint.” – Dale Carnegie
How to Stop Worrying and Start Living by Dale Carnegie
Similar to Eckhart Tolle, Dale Carnegie encourages us to be fully present and live in the moment. He sees worry as the root cause for anxiety, stress and problems. Worries are futile as they don’t bring about change but breed negativity, turning this into a vicious cycle.
His anecdotes make one thing very clear: If you have a goal and faith in everything working out (be it thanks to God, the universe, karma or whatever you want to call it), it will. Stress only breeds more stress.
Once you really give in (not up) and just accept the way things are without playing victim, feeling disadvantaged or entitled, your entire attitude changes. And with it your life. It’s a great book!
“Our thoughts make us what we are.” – Dale Carnegie
Healing Your Aloneness: Finding Love and Wholeness Through Your Inner Child
That’s quite a big title and the book is quite bold and fresh in its thesis about where we failed with self confidence. We all have an inner child and adult within us and they are in discord. It’s an imbalance between what we experienced and grew to learn when we were still frail and dependent, scared of the world and unsure of ourselves.
To be really broad: With some people, the inner child is dominant. Meaning, they are very emotionally unstable, feel weak and left to forces outside our control. A dominant adult will often speak with harsh voices, have unyielding expectations and finds it hard to let people in.
The essential message is to both unleash your inner child, your joy and creativity while also being gently protective of yourself and compassionate in navigating challenges and life. To be fully accepting and enough with yourself.
It teaches you to stop sabotaging yourself, build meaningful relationships and conquer conflicts. This book is incredibly helpful and healing and I encourage you to entertain its thesis and see how you feel about it after the read. I was super sceptical at first but it makes so much sense.
Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert
This book has truly struck a deep chord with me. Elizabeth Gilbert’s theory of inspiration being like actual magic, like a living being that transfers creative energy to manifest ideas is wild but oddly convincing. No matter what you think of it, the book has undeniable takeaways.
The book is part writer’s autobiography, in which she shares her journey and fierce determination on her path of becoming a bestselling author who still can’t believe her success (and what a life of its own Eat pray Love has taken).
It’s also part pep talk for anyone in the creative industry. Or anyone really who wants to channel their inner creative self and build self confidence. Because, Elizabeth Gilbert argues, we all have that potential and yearning in us to express ourselves. But we are afraid to follow it or have tuned out of the conversation. It isn’t a competition, there isn’t a grand prize but the one of personal fulfillment.
“You do not need a permission slip from the principal’s office to live a creative life. Or if you do worry that you need a permission slip- THERE, I just gave it to you. I just wrote it on the back of an old shopping list. Consider yourself fully accredited. Now go make something.” – Elizabeth Gilbert
Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
Haha, don’t kill me with trolling comments but I relished Eat Pray Love. It took me forever to actually decide reading it because of all the ridiculous stereotyping this book (and movie) has gone through.
What makes an autobiography written by a woman suddenly chicklit? With a man, this might have been travel literature because Elizabeth Gilbert literally just lays down her very own personal path through three countries and consequent path to finding to herself, to find peace in spirituality and love after life changing breakups.
That aside, her very open dialogue and analysis of herself and the various stages she finds herself into are very real and honest. It’s admirable and inspiring. This is no book that preaches you should relocate to an Indian ashram or eat your way through Italy.
Though these things seemed to have worked very well for Elizabeth Gilbert. It’s about being true to yourself and attracting the right things with the right mindset. And that is a universal truth.
“This is a good sign, having a broken heart. It means we have tried for something.”
― Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love
More Amazing Books on Confidence
- Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office by Lois P. Frankel
- You Are a Badass by Jen Sincero
- Choose Wonder Over Worry by Amber Rae
- Feminine Genius by LiYana Silver
- Hardcore Self Help: F**k Anxiety
- Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes
- Unf*ck Yourself by Gary John Bishop
Can a Book Really Build Confidence?
Yes and no. The first step is to realize that your confidence is subpar. The second why. But you don’t necessarily have to go all deep and arm chair psychology with this. (Though there’s no shame in with pairing your path of self discovery, confidence building and self love with actual therapy. We are all screwed up in our own ways.)
The third and super important one is to take action, to dismantle toxic habits and thought patterns and relearn better affirmations. To be your own best friend and hear about other people’s experiences and advice.
There constantly are new books for self confidence and there is no best book for confidence building. It is all different for everyone and every situation. Heck, rereading some of these books I get different takeaways every time as you change, your lessons change and how you interpret things. Plus, they make you smarter. And that’s a pretty good enough reason as any to start reading again.
What are your favourite mood boosting best books for self confidence?
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