27 Books to Improve Self-Esteem, Self-Worth, and Self-Image

best self-esteem booksWe are living in an era of confidence and communication.

From the charismatic doctor to the energetic motivational speaker or the loving and friendly teacher, at each level and each age, people are more driven toward those who come across as self-reliant and confident.

Self-esteem, self-worth, and self-image are all counterparts of the umbrella term ‘self-love.’ They are constructs that denote the way we look at ourselves, perceive ourselves as individual entities, and portray our personalities to the world. Confidence is the key to a fulfilling life, and having high self-esteem is where it all begins.

Self-esteem develops from childhood. The way we interact, observe, and listen to others’ communication patterns can play a significant role in shaping how we see and feel about ourselves.

Building self-esteem and self-reliance is a matter of concern today, and thanks to the recent advancements in science and literature, we now have the right answers to it.

This article lists some of the best books available on self-esteem and related topics. The resources are practical and evidence based, and suggest effective ways we can implement the knowledge in our everyday lives.

Before you continue, we thought you might like to download our three Self-Compassion Exercises for free. These detailed, science-based exercises will not only help you increase the compassion and kindness you show yourself but will also give you the tools to help your clients, students, or employees show more compassion to themselves.

The 10 Best Books on Self-Esteem for Adults

Carmen Jacob, a famous life coach and holistic counselor, presented a list of the best books on self-esteem that shouldn’t be missed. Here are the top 10 from her list.

1. The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem: The Definitive Work on Self-Esteem by the Leading Pioneer in the Field – Nathaniel Branden

Six Pillars Of Self-EsteemNathaniel Branden’s lifetime collection of clinical research and observation is collected in the book Six Pillars of Self-Esteem.

The author has creatively presented the benefits of developing self-esteem based on six pillars. The book explains why self-esteem is an essential requirement for a healthy body, mind, and personality, and suggests practical ways for nurturing it.

The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem is a highly recommended book for mental health professionals, teachers, and parents who wish to empower themselves and others with a definite sense of self.

Find the book on Amazon.

2. The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are – Brené Brown

The Gifts of ImperfectionBrené Brown’s bestseller, The Gifts of Imperfection, speaks about wholesome wellbeing and self-acceptance. The book has sold over 2 million copies and has been considered a transformational self-help book by many famous institutions, including Forbes and The New York Times.

The book pleasantly invites readers to know that they are more than what they think themselves to be. The author explains how normal it is to feel unworthy and ‘low’ at times.

Brown offers some meaningful and scientific strategies to accept our inner critic and use it to embrace our ‘imperfect’ life in the best possible way.

Find the book on Amazon or find more self-acceptance books here.

3. What to Say When You Talk to Your Self – Shad Helmstetter

What to Say When You Talk to Your SelfOur inner self-critic often damages our sense of self, and this is what Dr. Shad Helmstetter has addressed in his book What to Say When You Talk to Your Self.

This accessible self-help guide is filled with cutting-edge information on how to practice positive self-talk. It provides practical tips on how to counter feelings of low self-worth and take charge of your happiness.

The book follows a smooth and straightforward approach and is relatable for readers of all ages.

Find the book on Amazon.

4. Ten Days to Self-Esteem – David D. Burns

Ten Days to Self-EsteemIf you have ever felt bad about your achievements in life or are struggling to cultivate productivity in your daily activities, then this book might be what you need.

Ten Days to Self-Esteem by David Burns takes readers through a glorious journey of acknowledgment and self-discovery. The book talks about acceptance, compassion, and innovation as vital components to building a secure self-belief system within oneself.

The methods and examples mentioned here are individualized and embrace human fallibility. The book is practical, evidence backed, and effectively applicable in today’s context.

Find the book on Amazon.

5. What’s Right With Me: Positive Ways to Celebrate Your Strengths, Build Self-Esteem, and Reach Your Potential – Carlene DeRoo and Carolyn DeRoo

What's Right with MeWhen thinking about ourselves, we are more drawn to contemplate the things that went wrong than celebrate the things that worked out well. This book welcomes all the positive self-thoughts and indulges readers in enjoying their lives as it unfolds.

The book is inspirational and helps readers cultivate a firm sense of self. It scientifically explains why positive thinking is the starting point to healthy self-esteem and talks about the different small or big lifestyle tweaks that can help us get there.

Find the book on Amazon.

6. Awaken the Giant Within: How to Take Immediate Control of Your Mental, Emotional, Physical and Financial Destiny! – Tony Robbins

Awaken the Giant WithinMastering our emotions, both good and bad, is the key to a healthy self-system. Internationally acclaimed motivational speaker and author Tony Robbins has presented some life-changing ways to know and accept ourselves better.

The book follows a step-by-step approach to becoming more self-dependent and in control of ourselves. For those struggling to find meaning in their lives, this book can be an eye-opening guide for increased self-love and acceptance.

Find the book on Amazon.

7. The New Psycho-Cybernetics – Maxwell Maltz

The New Psycho-CyberneticsThe New Psycho-Cybernetics has been a bestselling self-help book since the 1960s, with more than 30 million copies sold so far.

This book by Dr. Maxwell Maltz is helpful for goal setting and executing vital life plans. He has frequently updated his work to include contemporary aspects of the resources.

As readers say, ‘from weight management to professional success,’ there is no aspect that is left untouched here.

It is a recommended read for professionals in demanding jobs or students who are about to start their work life.

Find the book on Amazon.

8. The Power of Your Subconscious Mind – Joseph Murphy

The Power of Your Subconscious MindThe subconscious is a driving force behind what we attract into our lives. In his book, The Power of Your Subconscious Mind, Joseph Murphy has shed light on some powerful yet practical techniques on how we can change our destiny by redirecting positive energy from within.

This book follows an entirely new approach, blending parts of religion, culture, literature, and science to explain what happiness means and suggest ways to cultivate it within ourselves.

This enlightening book on self-love and self-power is an excellent read for people from all walks of life.

Find the book on Amazon.

9. Get Out of Your Mind and Into Your Life: The New Acceptance and Commitment Therapy – Steven C. Hayes

Get Out of Your Mind and Into Your LifeSelf-esteem and self-worth start from accepting ourselves, including our weaknesses and under-achievements. And this is what Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) aims to provide to clients.

The process of ACT helps us differentiate between pain and suffering, and the book Get Out of Your Mind and Into Your Life focuses on this aspect of wellbeing. Author Steven Hayes has brought forth some of the most useful scientific techniques to overpower temporary struggles and look at the bigger picture.

This book is a revolutionary approach to dealing with depression, anxiety, and stress disorders. It helps readers learn how we can positively address our pains and discover our strengths within the suffering to enjoy a fulfilling life.

Find the book on Amazon.

10. Healing Your Emotional Self: A Powerful Program to Help You Raise Your Self-Esteem, Quiet Your Inner Critic, and Overcome Your Shame – Beverly Engel

Healing Your Emotional SelfEarly childhood experiences play a vital role in building and shaping our self-system. Emotional abuse, physical abuse, and growing up in a traumatic or unappreciative environment can prove fatal for a child’s self-esteem and overall development.

Healing Your Emotional Self addresses a wide range of early life experiences that profoundly affect a child’s self-esteem and suggests successful ways of dealing with them.

The book is insightful for parents, teachers, counselors, and anyone who deals with childhood and adolescent issues and wants to delve deep into the underlying causes of low self-esteem.

Find the book on Amazon.

3 Good Books That Address Low Self-Esteem

Dr. Berni Sewell, an experienced health scientist, energy healer, and established author, mentioned the following books in her articles on self-love and self-power. These books, as she suggests, are great reads for anyone who wishes to explore their true potential and make the most of their lives.

1. You Can Heal Your Life – Louise Hay

You Can Heal Your LifeThe main idea of this bestselling self-help book is that a person can achieve almost everything in life if they are willing to do the mental work required for it.

Author Louise Hay has shared some significant first-hand experiences, including her life situations, about how people can turn things to their favor by merely thinking and feeling positive about themselves.

Find the book on Amazon.

2. The Art of Happiness: A Handbook for Living – Dalai Lama

The Art of HappinessIf anyone could personify tranquility and a strong self-system, the Dalai Lama would surely be somewhere on the list. His journey is enlightening and teaches us the true essence of being alive.

The Art of Happiness is a collection of the Dalai Lama’s stories, meditations, and messages on the ways we can invite happiness back into our lives.

The book presents a series of one-on-one conversations the author had with different people at different points in life. It is a cornerstone book for endless inspiration, self-love, and meaningful existence – a must-read for all.

Find the book on Amazon.

3. Matrix Energetics: The Science and Art of Transformation – Richard Bartlett

Matrix EnergeticsOut of the various endeavors by different authors to present the idea of self-esteem, Richard Bartlett’s hypothesis was a compelling one.

After experiencing a life-changing event, the author discovered the science of energy transformation, which, according to him, could be a quick and permanent heal for people struggling with self-esteem issues.

The book talks about his research and how readers can apply his rules to get rid of their insecurities and thrive. A different yet exciting approach to building self-esteem, you can find this book on Amazon.

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These detailed, science-based exercises will equip you to help others create a kinder and more nurturing relationship with themselves.

3 Self-Esteem Books for Kids (Incl. Picture Books)

Recommended by The New York Times and other prestigious magazines and newspapers, here are some self-help books that aim to help parents and professionals raise confident and self-reliant kids.

1. It’s Okay to Be Different – Todd Parr

It's Okay To Be DifferentConveying the message of self-love is vital, and author Todd Parr has presented his unique understanding of self-confidence in an exciting way.

His book, It’s Okay To Be Different, is an easy-to-read, accessible, pictorially represented manual with stories and illustrations on how children can love and trust themselves.

The book encourages kids to build character strength, embrace diversity, and learn to accept their minds and bodies.

Find the book on Amazon.

2. The Lion Inside – Rachel Bright

The Lion InsideThis self-help book is full of moral stories and pictures that are easy for kids to relate to and understand.

The primary aim of author Rachel Bright is to cultivate the habit of talking about what a child feels and what drives their actions or reactions.

With inspiring texts that promote self-esteem and confidence, The Lion Inside is a recommended read for kids aged 5–12 years.

Find the book on Amazon.

3. I Am Enough – Grace Byers

I Am EnoughAn award-winning book on self-love, I Am Enough is a sincere effort to spread the word of self-respect and kindness in kids.

Keeping humanity above everything, author and activist Grace Byers has brought us the most essential tips on how children can learn their purpose of living and use rational thinking to perceive life events.

Find the book on Amazon.

Teenagers are often victims of low self-esteem. From having an attractive body to having an ideal relationship, adolescents carry a considerable burden of being ‘perfect.’

Thankfully, we have an affluence of books and resources that address low adolescent self-esteem and suggest scientific ways to overrule them.

The following list of books was advocated by Denise Witmer, a famous parenting coach and author, as some good reads for uplifting self-esteem in teenage girls.

1. Chocolate for a Teen’s Soul: Life-Changing Stories for Young Women About Growing Wise and Growing Strong – Kay Allenbaugh

Chocolate For A Teen's SoulWith over 50 tales of teenage love and romance, this book addresses emotional issues that more or less all adolescent girls have experienced at some point in their lives.

From first love to first jobs and first heartbreak, Chocolate for a Teen’s Soul offers an energetic approach to looking at teenage troubles and preventing them from taking a toll on self-confidence.

Find the book on Amazon.

2. The Real Rules for Girls – Mindy Morgenstern

The Real Rules for GirlsThe Real Rules for Girls follows a straightforward and solution-focused path to handling the emotional troubles that can create turmoil within a youngster’s mind.

The book addresses issues like parental discord, love life problems, menstrual and hormonal ups and downs, and emotion management.

Find the book on Amazon.

3. Get Over It! How to Survive Break-ups, Back-Stabbing Friends, and Bad Haircuts – Beth Mayall

The Real Rules for GirlsCreated by a team of professional teen health writers, the book Get Over It! is a strategic self-help manual with tips and tricks on surviving the emotional trauma that teenage girls experience.

From coping with stress to dealing with academic under-achievements and familial expectations, this book offers straightforward and practical steps that girls can follow to feel better about themselves.

Find the book on Amazon.

3 Books on Self-Worth

Matt Valentine, a self-published and renowned self-help author, mentioned the following books as some of the best resources for enhancing a sense of self-worth.

1. The Magic of Thinking Big – David J. Schwartz

The Magic of Thinking BigIf you are looking to instill unadulterated self-belief in yourself or others, this book is for you. The Magic of Thinking Big is a manual for enhancing and upgrading the self-image.

Author David J. Schwartz believes that unless we are ready to acknowledge our strengths and weaknesses, we can never break loose from the trap of under-confidence.

Written in accessible English and a conversational tone, this book is excellent for self-empowerment at the very core.

Find the book on Amazon.

2. Think and Grow Rich – Napoleon Hill

Think and Grow RichThat richness lies in the heart and not in our pockets is the main idea of this award-winning self-support book.

Author Napoleon Hill has talked about building confidence and generating happiness in life by enhancing mental faculties. The book is all about developing a strong self-system that won’t be easy to break.

An insightful and motivating resource for all ages, this book is available in paperback and digital forms.

Find this book on Amazon.

3. The Power of Positive Thinking – Dr. Norman Vincent Peale

The Power of Positive ThinkingPositive interventions begin with positive thoughts and positive actions. This book by Dr. Norman V. Peale is all about awakening the positive spirit in ourselves and realizing what happens when we consciously replace negative thoughts with positive ones.

The Power of Positive Thinking has a modern approach and follows a personal tone. The author has beautifully explained the value of having our own space and how we can use it for the betterment of ourselves.

From goal setting to executing life plans, this book has everything you need to stand up on your feet again.

Find the book on Amazon or find more goal-setting books.

3 Recommendations on Self-Image

Self-image, or the way we perceive ourselves, is a significant component of our identity. The following books have been suggested as useful resources on improving self-image by eminent authors and researchers like Jon Kabat-Zinn, Jessica Smith, and Diane Ackerman.

1. Who Moved My Cheese? – Spencer Johnson

Who Moved My CheeseA timeless self-help classic, the book Who Moved My Cheese? by Spencer Johnson is a truthful revelation of knowing our strengths and weaknesses and using them to seek happiness and success in life.

The book has components of realism, spirituality, positive interventions, and lifestyle modification tips, all of which aim to show readers how they can adapt to life more efficaciously.

With the quirky metaphor of cheese, the author has taken a deep dig into successfully driving ourselves to a happier life. A highly recommended read and a personal favorite self-help book, this can truly get the ball of self-motivation rolling.

Find the book on Amazon.

2. Mindsight: Change Your Brain and Your Life – Daniel J. Siegel

Mindsight Change Your Brain And Your LifeDaniel Siegel’s works on self-image and positive psychology are milestones texts, and this book is no exception.

He introduced the term ‘mindsight’ to refer to the integration of brain science and psychotherapeutic techniques. Through his writing, Siegel has conveyed how we can use inclusive approaches to address real-life problems and successfully come out of them.

The book comes with a selection of case studies from the author’s practice, and each example is followed by practical measures on how readers can implement the steps in their lives.

Siegel has taken into consideration the problems that come with a poor self-image, including social phobia and relationship distress, and has offered reliable ways to deal with them through mindsight.

Find the book on Amazon.

3. Body Confidence: The Scientific Approach on How to Shine From Within – Dr. Katherine E. Iscoe

Body ConfidenceA significant part of self-image lies in the way we perceive our physical appearance. Especially for youngsters, the way they look often decides the way they see themselves. Coupled with societal norms and standards of beauty, body image affects self-image to no small extent.

Dr. Katherine Iscoe’s book sheds light on cultivating positive body image and celebrates radical self-acceptance. The book is divided into three segments, each addressing a crucial aspect of the self-system.

The author has scooped out vital points on the emotional impacts of criticisms and bullying, and has offered state-of-the-art measures to minimize the harm. It is recommended for adolescents, women, and anyone who wishes to identify their strengths and look beyond short-term failures.

Find the book on Amazon.

2 Audiobook Recommendations

Recommended as top self-help audiobooks by The New York Times and the BABCP Magazine, here are some all-time favorite resources for bringing out the best in yourself.

1. Overcoming Low Self-Esteem – Melanie Fennell

Overcoming Low Self-EsteemA useful guide for therapists and beginners in mental health professions, this audiobook is a clear-sailing initiative by the author to help us appreciate ourselves.

The book emphasizes the importance of self-care and self-recognition.

It runs through the different aspects of high self-esteem and guides listeners to learn and administer the rules on themselves.

Find the book on Amazon.

2. Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone – Brené Brown

Braving the WildernessSelf-esteem is another name for flying solo and being happy about it. This is what author Brené Brown has conveyed in her bestselling book, Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone.

The author strongly points at the fact that if we are happy with ourselves and do not wait for others to approve or disapprove of our actions, we can call on our high self-esteem and courage.

The book navigates through all the mundane problems that can damage the self-system, including money, obesity, relationship abuse, and bullying. It has provided a clear roadmap to dealing with each of them for a better self-understanding. With a personal touch and a storytelling tone, this book can be the silver lining to anyone struggling to thrive.

Find the book on Amazon.

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A Take-Home Message

Self-esteem and confidence hold in all aspects of our lives. From academic achievements to social bonds, with the right self-system, we can flourish and seek happiness from within. As the saying goes, “To fall in love with yourself is the first secret to happiness.”

Knowing about self-reliance and self-esteem can prepare us for the journey and accelerate our success. The books and resources in this article can mark the beginning of building our inner potential and giving ourselves a realistic view of the true meaning of self-contentment.

Whether it’s related to goal setting or self-acknowledgment, the real power lies within us, and this is what most authors and researchers have tried to express in their works. To learn from our mistakes, utilize the learning for future actions, and respect ourselves before we expect others to respect us: that is the real power of self-esteem.

For more practical applications to improve your self-esteem, read our article detailing self-esteem worksheets and activities.

We hope you enjoyed reading this article. Don’t forget to download our three Self Compassion Exercises for free.

Frequently Asked Questions

The five areas of self-esteem, according to Nathaniel Branden’s theory, are (Moss & Maki, 1998);

  1. self-awareness,
  2. self-acceptance,
  3. self-responsibility,
  4. self-assertiveness, and
  5. self-transcendence.

These areas reflect different aspects of self-esteem and can be cultivated through various means, including self-reflection and personal growth activities.

Yes, self-esteem is related to self-image from a scientific perspective. Self-image refers to a person’s perception of themselves, while self-esteem refers to their overall evaluation of their worth or value as a person, and research has found that there is a strong correlation between the two constructs (Matsuba et al., 2012).

The four types of self-esteem are (Bosson et al., 2000);

  1. high explicit and high implicit self-esteem,
  2. high explicit and low implicit self-esteem,
  3. low explicit and high implicit self-esteem, and
  4. low explicit and low implicit self-esteem.
  • Allenbaugh, K. (2000). Chocolate for a teen’s soul: Life-changing stories for young women about growing wise and growing strong. Fireside.
  • Bartlett, R. (2009). Matrix energetics: The science and art of transformation. Atria Paperback.
  • Bosson, J. K., Swann, W. B., & Pennebaker, J. W. (2000). Implicit and explicit self-esteem: A review of conceptualizations, measures, and controversies. European Review of Social Psychology, 11(1), 1-63.
  • Branden, N. (1995). The six pillars of self-esteem: The definitive work on self-esteem by the leading pioneer in the field. Bantam.
  • Brown, B. (2010). The gifts of imperfection: Let go of who you think you’re supposed to be and embrace who you are. Hazelden.
  • Brown, B. (2017). Braving the wilderness: The quest for true belonging and the courage to stand alone.  Vermilion.
  • Burns, D. D. (1999). Ten days to self-esteem. William Morrow.
  • Byers, G. (2018). I am enough. Blazer + Bray.
  • Dalai Lama. (2009). The art of happiness. Riverhead Books.
  • DeRoo, C. (2006). What’s right with me: Positive ways to celebrate your strengths, build self-esteem, and reach your potential. New Harbinger.
  • Engel, B. (2007). Healing your emotional self: A powerful program to help you raise your self-esteem, quiet your inner critic, and overcome your shame. John Wiley & Sons.
  • Fennell, M. (2016). Overcoming low self-esteem: A self-help guide using cognitive behavioural techniques (2nd ed.). Constable & Robinson.
  • Hay, L. L. (1984). You can heal your life. Hay House.
  • Hayes, S. C., & Smith, S. (2005). Get out of your mind and into your life: The new acceptance and commitment therapy. New Harbinger.
  • Helmstetter, S. (2017). What to say when you talk to your self. Park Avenue Press.
  • Hill, N. (2009). Think and grow rich. Sanage.
  • Iscoe, K. E. (2019). Body confidence: The scientific approach to how to shine from within. MyFiziq.
  • Johnson, S. (1999). Who moved my cheese? Vermilion.
  • Maltz, M. (Author), & Kennedy, D. S. (Ed.). (2002). The new psycho-cybernetics. Prentice Hall Press.
  • Matsuba, R. K., Fassett, K. M., & Smith, J. J. (2012). The relationship between self-concept clarity and self-esteem. Self and Identity, 11(4), 409-427.
  • Mayall, B. (2000). Get over it! How to survive break-ups, back-stabbing friends, and bad haircuts. Scholastic Paperbacks.
  • Morgenstern, M. (2000). The real rules for girls. San Val.
  • Moss, W. L., & Maki, D. E. (1998). Nathaniel Branden’s self-esteem theory. Journal of Counseling & Development, 76(4), 394-404.
  • Murphy, J. (2011). The power of your subconscious mind. Martino.
  • Parr, T. (2009). It’s okay to be different. Little Brown Books for Young Readers.
  • Peale, N. V. (2003). The power of positive thinking: A practical guide to mastering the problems of everyday living. Touchstone.
  • Robbins, T. (1992). Awaken the giant within: How to take immediate control of your mental, emotional, physical and financial destiny. Simon & Schuster.
  • Schwartz, D. J. (1987). The magic of thinking big. Fireside.
  • Siegel, D. J. (2012). Mindsight: Change your brain and your life. Scribe.

What our readers think

  1. sean lewis

    awesome list!

    • Kc

      Thanks to you for publishing such an amazing article. I have trouble finding good book recommendations in one place but you listed everything in this one article.

  2. Gift

    Thank you so much, from my heart.

  3. Jenny

    Thank you for your lovely list. I realised I badly needed to work on my self worth but needed a guide through the many books on the subject. Thanks to you I have whittled many down to six. So far so good. Onward and upward.

  4. Rae Smith

    I work with women out of jail and in recovery. I also have a nine year old granddaughter that I would like to help with self esteem

  5. Vanessa Johnson

    Thank you so much! This is exactly what I need.

  6. Sinclair

    Thanks for the list.
    Found so many book that are helpful
    Which i have added to my own reading list as well.

  7. John

    Thanks for putting this list together! Many useful books I’ve added to my reading list 🙂

  8. Ioana

    Very good list! All of your book recommandtaions articles are amazing! I would also add Kristin Neff’s books here, but other than that the list is very good.


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