There are times when self-love can feel elusive. We seem to be “programmed” to search for the approval of others, but when it comes down to the most important opinion—our own—it becomes more difficult to show ourselves kindness. It’s hard to look inward and love what you see. Fortunately, everyone is on this same journey, and some are further along than others, meaning they can provide wonderful advice based on research and personal experience.
The following list of books includes some of the best self-help books on the topic of self-love. They’re separated into two subgroups: general guides and interactive workbooks.
General Guides to Self-Love
Read through the following collection of ten books to find general guides on self-love for both men and women with a focus on psychological health, confidence, acceptance, and body positivity.
1. The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are
Brené Brown, the New York Times bestseller, researcher, and motivational speaker, has sold The Gifts of Imperfection in more than 30 languages, and Forbes calls it one of the “Five Books That Will Actually Change Your Outlook On Life.” Its main focus is giving readers confidence to propel themselves past paralyzing self-doubt into a world where they know their own worth and limitless potential. It also offers a way forward that embraces the perfection in imperfection.
2. The Self-Love Experiment: Fifteen Principles for Becoming More Kind, Compassionate, and Accepting of Yourself
This book by Shannon Kaiser maps out a game plan to guide readers toward self-acceptance. Her aim is to help people know that they can and should put themselves first and chase their own dreams with fear of being selfish. The Self-Love Experiment has guided reviewers through the struggle of things like escaping debt, recovering from an eating disorder, drug addiction, corporate burnout, depression, and more.
3. You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life
Reviews call this book, “the self-help book for people who desperately want to improve their lives but don’t want to get busted doing it.” It’s a fun and entertaining guide, served up in bite-sized chapters full of personal stories from author Jen Sincero as well as advice, exercises, and inspiration. By its close, you’ll have a better appreciation for yourself, flaws and all, and a plan to live this life to its fullest.
4. The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem: The Definitive Work on Self-Esteem by the Leading Pioneer in the Field
Nathaniel Branden’s classic, Six Pillars of Self-Esteem functions as a culmination of his clinical practice and studies that gives insight into human motivation and behavior. It demonstrates how self-esteem is the bedrock on which psychological health, achievement, and overall happiness is built upon. Branden also talks about what he describes as six pillars for self-esteem, exploring their importance in the workplace, parenting, education, psychotherapy, and general culture. It’s an excellent guide for people who in some way make self-esteem part of their career or life’s purpose whether they’re teachers, parents, managers, or therapists.
5. I Heart Me: The Science of Self-Love
You can attain a greater sense of happiness and fulfillment when you learn to love yourself, connect with yourself, and increase your own self-worth and self-esteem. It’s an essential practice to help you navigate the ups and downs of life, making you feel secure and inspired to make choices that work for you. Before writing this book, author and scientist David Hamilton realized this his low confidence and lack of self-love was holding him back. So, he conducted an experiment using concepts of brain chemistry, neuroscience, psychotherapeutic, and personal development. I Heart Me details his interesting findinging and includes 27 exercises that he tested on himself.
Author Glennon Doyle wants to help readers find themselves, and the great success of her book, Untamed, seems to suggest she has done just that. People magazine calls her the “patron saint of female empowerment,” and hails her call to trust the voice inside as phenomenal. For many years, Doyle says she ignored her own discontent with life, burying herself beneath addictions, cultural conditioning, and institutional allegiances until she found her voice and power. In this memoir, you learn her story and discover how to follow suit and bring your whole self the table
7. Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends On It
For author Kamal Ravikant, committing to the daily practice of saying “I love myself” out loud had a profoundly positive impact. Even if you don’t mean it at first, he says, you’re connecting neurons and laying the appropriate groundwork. He found that self-love is a lot like going to the gym. It’s a habit that needs to be incorporated into your everyday life, not practiced sporadically or as some kind of quick fix. It takes hard work—a process Ravikant breaks down into three steps he calls 1) Mental Loop; 2) Meditation; and 3) One Question.
8. Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself
In this book, you’ll learn how to limit self-criticism, leave insecurity behind, and live a more fulfilling life.Self-Compassion offers expert advice from Kristin Neff, PhD, focusing on self-compassion versus plain old self-esteem. It provides action plans and exercises for dealing with the emotional struggle that comes hand-in-hand with many common human experiences like parenting, weight loss, addiction, and the trials of everyday life.
9. What a Time to Be Alone: The Slumflower’s Guide to Why You Are Already Enough
What a Time to Be Alone shows readers that being alone is not the same as being lonely. As a matter of fact, being alone and knowing your worth is powerful. Using a three part approach to gaining self-confidence and self-love that is full of sass and wit, author Chidera Eggerue delves into topics like deciding your own self-worth, avoiding toxic friendships, finding unity and togetherness with the rest of the world, and writing your own narrative.
10. The Body Is Not an Apology, Second Edition: The Power of Radical Self-Love
This book by activist and poet Sonya Renee Taylor says that systems of oppression gain power from humanity’s struggle to accept our differences or make peace with our bodies. The Body is Not an Apology claims that, once mastered, self-love is the solution. Plus, pulling ourselves out of our own shame puts us in a position to help others do the same. On a global scale, self-love could lead to an opportunity to create a more compassionate world for everyone.
11. Pretty Sure You’re Fine: The Health and Wellness Guide for Hypochondriacs, Overthinkers, and Worrywarts
In this hilarious yet practical guide you will receive the assurance you need that, in the midst of a world that celebrates fads and wellness trends (and maybe even pushes them), you are actually doing alright. In fact, you might not be the train wreck the world seems to want you to be. All about listening to and trusting your gut, Pretty Sure You’re Fine is as comforting as it is funny, with advice from mental and physical health experts on how to live confidently and love yourself fully.
12. How to Love Yourself (and Sometimes Other People): Spiritual Advice for Modern Relationships
This smart guide to loving yourself and others is meant for folks with a spiritual side. Authors and spiritual teachers Meggan Watterson and Lodro Rinzler use their knowledge about Christian mysticism and Buddhism to create a rich collection of lessons on how to stay open-hearted even during heartbreak. In the process, they share their personal stories to illustrate their points. This thoughtful guide offers multiple perspectives on self-worth, promoting self-love through all the ups and downs that life throws at you.
13. Radical Self-Love: A Guide to Loving Yourself and Living Your Dreams
If you have been craving a little more happiness and fulfillment in your life, Radical Self-love is for you. Gala Darling, well-known author and motivational speaker, pulls from her own personal experiences of triumph over hardship. Including exciting illustrations about style and self-expression, this book will help you manifest limitless happiness without the weight of expectation and self-judgment. Every day should be a celebration!
14. Unfu*k Yourself: Get Out of Your Head and Into Your Life
The best way to describe this book is “BS-free.” Unfu*k Yourself cuts through the noise of modern self-help, providing a no-nonsense, tough-love approach to self-esteem, self-worth, and self-betterment. Gary John Bishop provides all the tools and tricks you need to become the best version of yourself and to stop participating in debilitating negative self-talk. Bishop leads readers down an entertaining path, teaching a series of seven assertions:
- “I am willing”
- “I am wired to win”
- “I got this”
- “I embrace the uncertainty”
- “I am not my thoughts; I am what I do”
- “I am relentless”
- “I expect nothing and accept everything”
Workbooks on Self-Love
The next five books are interactive guides to learning self-love. They include prompts, exercises, and space to journal, taking the genre of self-help to the next level do-it-yourself.
15. Self-Love Workbook for Women: Release Self-Doubt, Build Self-Compassion, and Embrace Who You Are
Treating yourself with compassion can be difficult. However, with help from this interactive workbook by Megan Logan, readers can rediscover self-love, embrace their true self, and develop the confidence required to tackle life’s many challenges. Peppered throughout Self-Love, you’ll find tools, exercises, quizzes, affirmations, and more to help you reach your highest potential and prioritize self-care over people pleasing. Nurture your own happiness and lean into self-love.
16. The Self-Love Workbook: A Life-Changing Guide to Boost Self-Esteem, Recognize Your Worth, and Find Genuine Happiness
The Self-Love Workbook operates based on the belief that people need love from themselves just as much as they need love from others. It allows readers to become aware of their unique needs, discovering how to accept, appreciate, and love their true selves. Author Shainna Ali provides interactive activities, prompts for reflection, ongoing lessons, and helpful advice to conquer self-doubt.
17. Start Where You Are: A Journal for Self-Exploration
This interactive journal is designed to help people nurture their levels of self-love, self-motivation, creativity, inspiration, and mindfulness. By taking the time to know yourself, you can better navigate the chaos of life. Author Meera Lee Patel’s beautiful book features hand-lettering and art mixed with inspirational quotes, prompts, exercises, and plenty of room for reflection, appealing to those with a love of color and in need of positive change.
18. The Self Confidence Workbook: A Guide to Overcoming Self-Doubt and Improving Self-Esteem
The Self-Confidence Workbook by licensed psychologist Barbara Markway and writer Celia Ampel offers more strategies to get to know yourself, face debilitating fear, practice acceptance, and see results that are reflected back into your daily life. These two women help readers battle inner demons, navigate relationship landmines, determine their underlying values, and take necessary risks with a 5-step program that starts with setting goals and leads to checklists, interactive exercises, and quizzes to foster confidence.
19. The Self-Love Workbook for Teens: A Transformative Guide to Boost Self-Esteem, Build a Healthy Mindset, and Embrace Your True Self
Self-love is a unique journey for teenagers, but equally if not more important for them than anyone else. Whether you’re reading this list of books as a teen yourself, or you know a teen who could use perspective and advice, take comfort in the fact that it is possible to change your attitude, love yourself, and navigate an intimidating world. The Self-Love Workbook for Teens offers fun, creative, research-backed exercises, lessons, and advice for those embarking on the lifelong journey of self-love.
20. Keep Moving: The Journal
Renowned poet Maggie Smith created this healing journal as a way to get through her own heartbreak, pain, and loss by writing each and every day. The main goals of Keep Moving are learning how to look toward the future, find beauty in the present, reflect on joy, embrace change, and forgive yourself for mistakes of the past. Describing the book-writing process, Smith says, “I wasn’t offering wisdom from on high; I was talking to myself at the bottom of a dark well, trying to climb up into the light, little by little, day by day.”
21. Beautiful You: A Daily Guide to Radical Self-Acceptance
These days, society pushes an unrealistic beauty standard on women and young girls. The world of social media and modern media in general tells them they are not enough, but Beautiful You teaches readers to love themselves exactly as they are. Author Rose Molinary offers inspiration and practical tips to incorporate self-awareness, creativity, and mind-body connections into your daily life and shore up self-confidence and a healthy self-image.