10 Best Self-Esteem Books Ranked and Reviewed

These are my top recommendation on how to improve your self-esteem.

As a behavioral scientist, I read a lot about self-esteem. I’ve also reviewed what people think about the books online, and compared that with my own experience. I’ve done this to create a comprehensive guide to help you choose the right self-esteem book for you.

Also, see our separate book guides specifically for self-confidence and social anxiety.

Top Picks

Top pick overall

1. The Self Confidence Workbook: A Guide to Overcoming Self-Doubt and Improving Self-Esteem

Author: Barbara Markway

This is my top recommendation in this guide. No questionable ideas – the entire book is based on methods that have been shown in studies to increase self-esteem. Barbara Markway is a renowned psychiatrist in the field. Even though it’s a workbook it’s not dry but encouraging and positive.

Because it is a workbook there are lots of exercises and step by step-guides. (No weird out of your comfort zone exercises, etc, though).

I can’t really come up with anything negative to say about this book even if I’d would want to for the sake of a nuanced review. If you want to improve your self-esteem, this is my top pick.

Do get this book if…

You want to improve your self-esteem.

Do NOT get this book if…

You don’t like a workbook-format. Instead, get The Gifts of Imperfection.

You want something focused more on self-acceptance. If so, get The Confidence Gap.

4.8 stars on Amazon. (This is NOT an affiliate link. I recommend this book only because I think it’s good.)

Top pick self-acceptance

2. The Confidence Gap: From Fear to Freedom

This book is my colleague David’s top recommendation in his reviews of confidence books.

It’s also my top recommendation on how to be more accepting of yourself.

Do get this book if…

If your biggest struggle is self-acceptance and that you’re harsh on yourself, I’d recommend this book over the Self Confidence Workbook.

Do NOT get this book if…

Your main challenge is that you want to improve your self-esteem but you’re already able to be compassionate with yourself. If so, get the Self Confidence Workbook first.

Read David’s full review of the book here.

Top pick non-workbook

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

Author: Brené Brown

This is a good book on self-esteem and improving self-image. However, it’s written from a mother’s perspective so some might have a hard time relating, even though the principles are universal.

There’s a lot of talk about herself and less focus on the reader.

It is a well-liked book, but In my opinion, workbooks give better results if you are serious about improving your self-esteem. Therefore, I recommend you to first read the books by the start of this guide.

4.6 stars on Amazon. (This is NOT an affiliate link. I recommend this book only because I think it’s good.)

4. The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem: The Definitive Work on Self-Esteem by the Leading Pioneer in the Field

Author: Nathaniel Branden

This is a highly applicable and step-by-step book on how to increase your self-esteem. It’s not as to the point as books higher up in this guide and you can skip some chapters that become more philosophical if you want to cut straight to the chase. The book came out in 1995 so the way of writing is a bit dated. Still today, this is a valuable book.

However, it’s not as to the point as The Self Confidence Workbook.

Do get this book if…

  • You are fine with an older language and want to learn more about self-esteem rather than just how to improve it.
  • You dislike workbook-formats.

Do NOT get this book if…

  • You want something that’s ONLY about how to improve your self-esteem (and no backstory and philosophy). If so, get The Self Confidence Workbook.

4.5 stars on Amazon. (This is NOT an affiliate link. I recommend this book only because I think it’s good.)

5. The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom (A Toltec Wisdom Book)

Author: Don Miguel Ruiz

This is a cult classic on how to overcome limiting beliefs, and that’s why I cover it here. It gives you a set of rules for how to not worry about what others think and be yourself.

However, it’s not a workbook, and it doesn’t give you strategies for how to internalize a new mindset. If you have self-esteem issues, it’s unlikely to make a lasting impact like more recent books can.

I recommend you to read it, but don’t let it be your only book on self-esteem. Read the two first books of this guide first. Then, if you want more flavor to the idea of self-esteem, you can read this one.

4.6 stars on Amazon. (This is NOT an affiliate link. I recommend this book only because I think it’s good.)

6. The Psychology of Self-Esteem: A Revolutionary Approach to Self-Understanding that Launched a New Era in Modern Psychology

Author: Nathaniel Branden

This is the second book from Nathaniel Branden on this list.

This is another cult classic on self-esteem. However, there are better books if you just want a step-by-step plan for self-esteem. This one teaches you all the underlying principles that you don’t HAVE to know. This is the perfect second or third book on self-esteem, but I wouldn’t recommend it as the first one.

4.4 stars on Amazon. (This is NOT an affiliate link. I recommend this book only because I think it’s good.)

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Top pick for teens

7. The Self-Esteem Workbook for Teens: Activities to Help You Build Confidence and Achieve Your Goals

Author: Lisa M Schab LCSW

This book uses a scientific approach to self-esteem. In fact, the underlying psychology is the same as other self-esteem books that use scientifically researched techniques like CBT and ACT, but this one is for teens: The exercises are adapted to teens situations and minds.

Because it is a workbook, your teen has to be motivated to put the work in to improve.

4.4 stars on Amazon. (This is NOT an affiliate link. I recommend this book only because I think it’s good.)

Honorary mentions

8. Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear

Author: Elizabeth Gilberg

This is NOT a workbook with exercises or steps for you to improve your self-esteem. It’s more a memoir of Elizabeth’s way of being creative without being held back by fear. This book is aimed specifically toward women.

Do get this book if…

You prefer the biography-format over the workbook-format.

Do NOT get this book if…

You want something actionable for more self-esteem. Instead, go for The Self Confidence Workbook or The Confidence Gap.

4.6 stars on Amazon. (This is NOT an affiliate link.)

9. The Self-Love Experiment: Fifteen Principles for Becoming More Kind, Compassionate, and Accepting of Yourself

Author: Shannon Kaiser

The focus of this book is to help like yourself so that you feel worthy. If you don’t, you risk self-sabotaging. This book is also aimed specifically toward women.

Unfortunately, this book is not as good as it could be. The Confidence Gap is a much better book to develop self-love – that book contains loads of strategies that are proven to be more self-compassionate. This one doesn’t.

4.1 stars on Amazon. (This is NOT an affiliate link.)

10. The Power of Self-Esteem: An Inspiring Look at Our Most Important Psychological Resource

Author: Nathaniel Branden

This is a later book by the same author as the book with the similar name “The Psychology of Self-esteem”. I think Nathaniel wrote this one later as a more actionable book as his previous one was criticized for being too theoretical. Not as comprehensive as the 6 pillars of self-esteem, so I’d recommend getting that one first and this one as your second read.

However, The Self Confidence Workbook and The Confidence Gap are more up to date books on the topic.

3.6 stars on Goodreads. Amazon. (This is NOT an affiliate link.)

These are books that have little evidence of working.

Books to be cautious about

These are books that have little evidence of working.

Unstoppable Confidence: How to Use the Power of NLP to Be More Dynamic and Successful

Author: Kent Sayre

Personally, I’m not in love with NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) because it contains a lot of pseudoscience. Also, this book is a bit trivializing for people who have confidence issues.

If you’re a fan of NLP, check it out. But I would prefer the guides by the start of this guide over it.

3.8 stars on Amazon. (This is NOT an affiliate link.)

Also, you might be interested in our other books guides on the following topics:

  1. Best books on self-confidence
  2. Best books on social skills
  3. Best books on  conversation skills
  4. Best books on social anxiety
  5. Best books on making friends
  6. Best books on body language

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Viktor is a Counselor specialized in interpersonal communication and relationships. He manages Socialpro’s scientific review board. Follow on Twitter or read more.

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