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There are some people that wouldn’t be caught dead reading a self help book in public.
But why are these works of emotional education so often scorned by members of society? Why do people feel embarrassed about their quest toward personal development?
As mental health is becoming an increasingly open topic to discuss in our country, people are turning to self-help books more frequently to address their own emotional concerns.
Well-written self-help books offer great insight using a variety of writing styles to help teach people how to change their mindset in order to improve their lives. Often, self-help books can benefit those who are least inclined to do any kind of self-reflection because these are the people who don’t realize an area of their life needs attention until it’s deeply broken.
Self-help books for women can promote self-acceptance, help women find happiness in their lives, and free women from the reigns of anxiety–among many other things. Whether you have benefitted from reading self-help books in the past or you’re the one who wouldn’t dare pick one up at the library, there is a self help book out there that can guide you in improving your life in some way. I think you would be surprised at how much you can directly relate to what is being said by other women about issues that we face universally, but often don’t talk about.
I urge those of you who haven’t read a self-help book to take a chance with it and pick one up. In this article, I am going to give a quick description of the 25 best self-help books for women to read in 2023.
Pick one of these books to start with–even if you pick it for the humor that it promises–and I think you will find yourself reaching for another once you’ve finished it.
Let’s take a look.
25 Best Self Help Books for Women to Read in 2023
1. Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar by Cheryl Strayed
Cheryl Strayed was once anonymously known as Sugar, an advice columnist for a literary website, The Rumpus. Cheryl comes to us with rich life experiences–as evidenced by her bestselling book, Wild–to offer advice in a variety of facets of life. Strayed compiled the best of her Dear Sugar advice columns for this book, in addition to pieces that never made it to the site.
Readers enjoy Strayed’s insight along with her sense of humor and complete honesty as she offers advice on how to overcome life’s obstacles.
She covers everything from infidelity to the loss of a loved one and also acknowledges the positive aspects of life like falling in love and landing your dream job.
Strayed’s writing is engaging and nonjudgemental, and many readers have found that she has a sense of empathy that seems to be lacking from other self-help books. If you feel lost in life, reading this book will help give you a greater sense of guidance as you learn to see things from a new perspective and take action that will make a difference in your life.
2. I Am That Girl: How to Speak Your Truth, Discover Your Purpose, and #bethatgirl by Alexis Jones
Alexis Jones, who is well known for competing in the Spring 2008 season of Survivor, is now an activist and motivational speaker for girls around the world who want to find their purpose, think for themselves and live up to their full potential.
This book is named after the non-profit organization founded by Jones that currently has 175 chapters worldwide who all fight the media’s perfectionist portrayal of women that the world faces.
In this book, Jones urges readers to stop believing any messages of not being good enough or failing to reach a level of perfection that seems to be expected. She offers stories from 30 women to teach you how to start living the life that you want now, and stop letting people hold you back.
After reading this book, you will have the courage to recognize that anything is possible in your life and you can inspire those around you to dream bigger as well.
3. The Confidence Code: The Science and Art of Self-Assurance—What Women Should Know by Katty Kay and Claire Shipman
Do you find yourself struggling with self-doubt? If you find that confidence is often out of reach, The Confidence Code can help you garner the sense of courage that you so frequently see in other people.
Written by journalists Katty Kay and Claire Shipman, the lessons offered in this book explore the neuroscience behind confidence and how women can actually choose to improve their confidence by being proactive and taking risks. The authors show readers how their actions can help rewire their brains to improve self-confidence, which can then increase success, life satisfaction, and leadership abilities.
After reading this book, you will understand how confidence comes from a mix of nature and nurture, and the things you can do to cultivate self-assurance. Through their insight and inspiring writing style, the authors will show you how following your instincts and being genuine can be transformative steps on your journey to a life of confidence.
4. How to Stop Feeling Like Sh*t: 14 Habits that Are Holding You Back from Happiness by Andrea Owen
In this book, Andrea Owen offers women a matter-of-fact approach to personal development by telling the blunt truth about some of the most frequent self-destructive behaviors that women engage in. Owen addresses everything from imposter syndrome to catastrophizing to the tendency to be a people pleaser and examines what causes these negative behaviors. As a life coach, Owen has been able to help many women throughout her career change their mindset and live a happier life.
Owen’s insight will help you live a more fulfilling life as she will knock you out of autopilot and empower you to create the life that you want to live.
Readers have found this book to be an easy read, as the chapters are short and the writing is approachable. The author writes concisely and to the point, creating a powerful message that excludes deep analysis in favor of on-the-mark self-awareness.
5. The Self Care Prescription: Powerful Solutions to Manage Stress, Reduce Anxiety & Increase Wellbeing by Dr. Robyn Gobin
If you are struggling to find balance or purpose in your life, Dr. Gobin’s The Self Care Prescription can empower you to achieve this.
After reading this book, you will be equipped with solutions-based strategies to take better care of yourself and revamp your life. Using proven self-care techniques, you can improve the personal, professional, physical, spiritual, and emotional areas of your life.
Dr. Gobin helps readers develop an individualized self-care plan to allow for spending more time with loved ones, finding a fulfilling career, and combating life’s hurdles such as anxiety and procrastination. She teaches actionable techniques to help you engage in self-care, including mindfulness meditation and healthy meal planning so you can reach your goals and live your best life.
6. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain
With 30-50% of the population being introverts, this book might apply to you.
In Quiet, Cain offers a well-researched look at how society undervalues introverts and makes a strong argument for how much society loses by doing so.
She explores real-life situations in business, schools, and American culture where extroverts have an immediate advantage over those who prefer listening and working on their own. Cain also references recent neuroscience and psychology research to explain the surprising differences between introverts and extroverts.
Readers are inspired by this book through stories of success from introverts as well as the extremely useful advice that Cain offers to introverts on how to navigate a world that is seemingly dominated by extroverts.
Reading this book can help introverts see themselves in a different light, and help extroverts learn the importance and advantage of seeing the value in introverts.
7. The Self-Love Workbook: A Life-Changing Guide to Boost Self-Esteem, Recognize Your Worth and Find Genuine Happiness by Shainna Ali
If you struggle with low self-esteem, this might be the right book for you. Author Shainna Ali communicates to readers about the importance of loving yourself as much as you love other people and other people love you. If you live without self-confidence, you won’t be able to live your life to the fullest and reach your potential. By reading this book, you will learn how to change your attitude, cultivate self-love, and improve your outlook on life.
The exercises in this workbook will help you recognize your unique needs and learn how to fully accept yourself.
Ali offers constructive advice and actionable tips and techniques to help you cultivate self-love, including interactive activities, prompts for self-reflection, and practical steps to take. Reading this book will help you accept your true self and live your best life.
8. It's OK to Feel Things Deeply by Carissa Potter
This book was written by Carissa Potter to help women get through the tough times in life. Its supportive message helps women develop coping skills when they’re faced with grief, depression, stress, and anxiety.
Readers appreciate feeling a sense of normalcy about their emotions when reading this book, as Potter reminds women that these feelings are normal, and they can be navigated as long as you have the right supports in place.
Potter is able to deliver a positivity boost for women who are facing challenges through practical advice, humor, genuine words of empathy, art, and honesty. Reading this book will help give you the encouragement that you need during the times you need it most.
9. WorkParty: How to Create & Cultivate the Career of Your Dreams by Jaclyn Johnson
After suffering from two immense blows to her career before turning 25, Jaclyn Johnson had no choice but to bounce back and overhaul her professional life. After investing in millions of dollars worth of projects and launching the Create & Cultivate platform, Johnson gained the experience to be able to teach others how to be fueled by their frustrations and turn distrust into a sense of determination.
In reading this book, you will learn the tricks of some of our era’s top businesswomen while developing the sense of passion and determination that you have to have in order to succeed. If you want to promote your career to the next level on your own terms, this is the right book for you.
10. Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg
If you think you might be holding yourself back in your career, this could be the right book for you. Following her 2010 TED Talk, Sheryl Sandberg compiled this book of personal anecdotes, scientific data, and cutting-edge research to help women pay more attention to what they can do than what they can’t do.
In this book, Sandberg offers constructive advice on how to get more out of your career through negotiation techniques and mentoring. She uses humor and insight to offer women tips to incorporate their professional achievement with a personal sense of fulfillment. After reading this book, you will feel empowered to live up to your full professional potential.
11. It's Not Supposed to Be This Way: Finding Unexpected Strength When Disappointments Leave You Shattered by Lysa TerKeurst
This is one of the best self-help books for women who prefer to read faith-based books. In It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way, TerKeurst teaches women how to continue to live with a sense of certainty during times of unexpected turmoil. Readers appreciate TerKeurst’s courage, vulnerability, and an honest sense of humor as she explains how to cope with unmet expectations and difficult situations.
After reading this great self-help book, you will be better equipped to cope with uncertainty and persevere through times when you feel like you have more on your plate than you can handle.
Readers who are disappointed with some facet of their lives because they had higher expectations have felt very validated by TerKeurst’s lessons and advice in this book.
12. Heart-Dreamer: Stepping into Life, Love, Creativity and Dreams-No Matter What by Cheryl Melody Baskin
Baskin, a life coach, motivational speaker, and healing arts specialist, shares her own struggles and insecurities in this book to show women that they’re not alone in their vulnerabilities and doubts.
Readers are offered a variety of self-healing activities in each chapter that revolve around determination, courage, transformation, and strength to help guide them through living the life that they truly want. Readers find Baskin to be an inspiration on their journey to finding a positive path to take in their lives.
Baskin writes in a compassionate and encouraging tone for any woman who needs help to heal, grow, and to live a life of hope, no matter what circumstances are present.
Reading this book will help you follow your dreams–or if you aren’t yet sure what you dream is–you will be inspired to find your life's purpose.
13. Addicted to Unhappiness (Second Edition): How Hidden Motives for Unhappiness Keep You From Creating the Life You Truly Want, And What You Can Do by Martha Heineman Pieper and William J. Pieper
This might be the right book for you if you often find yourself under-motivated and low on hope. In this book, the authors argue that everyone has the potential to live a fulfilling life, but many people have a hard time realizing that potential. By reading this book, you will better understand how you have created a learned tendency to be unhappy.
Readers have felt they can relate to the real-life examples presented in this book and appreciate the practical strategies that are offered to help choose happiness and maintain that positivity in all areas of their lives.
14. You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life by Jen Sincero
You are sure to be entertained when reading You Are a Badass, while also absorbing useful, real-world tips. Sincero empowers readers through her book by teaching ways to stop thoughts of self-doubt and start getting things accomplished. Many women have been able to relate to this book, as Sincero identifies key issues that women face and gives advice on overcoming these hurdles.
Sincero has a down-to-earth sense of humor that will make you feel like you’re talking to a friend when reading this book. She writes from personal experience and includes stories, practical exercises, and advice to help readers create a life they want to live. Most readers love Sincero’s blunt and no-nonsense style of writing, however, some find it to be a bit condescending. All in all, this is an entertaining read that can inspire you to change your life.
15. The Self Esteem Workbook for Women: 5 Steps to Gaining Confidence and Inner Strength by Megan MacCutcheon LPC
Women face unique challenges when it comes to maintaining confidence such as body image and parenting. In this book, Megan MacCutcheon offers women a five-step action plan to build a sense of self-esteem that is maintainable. Upon finishing this book, you will have the tools to improve your confidence in both your personal and professional lives through practical exercises, answering interactive questions, responding to prompts, and reading about true stories from women who were able to overcome criticism.
Readers appreciate the author’s compassionate tone and her delivery of a clear and practical workbook that acts as a roadmap to understanding and garnering self-confidence. The systematic approach that MacCutcheon takes is approachable and easy to follow, which allows readers to greatly benefit from this book.
16. Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert
Elizabeth Gilbert is well known for her ability to inspire others, and in this book, she focuses on the benefits of having a sense of creativity in life. Gilbert’s unique perspective offers insights into the importance of embracing your curiosity in order to let go of suffering. She discusses techniques to live in line with your values and how to overcome the things you fear the most.
By reading this book, you will recognize the attitudes and habits that you need in order to live a creative life and discover the unique traits that are hidden within you. No matter what your goal or dream is, Gilbert can help change your mindset to crack open a new sense of creativity that will help you live a more fulfilling life.
17. When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times by Pema Chodron
This best seller focuses on overcoming some of life’s most difficult times. If you struggle with carrying on with your life when things seem to fall apart, this can be a very helpful book to read. Many women find themselves to be plagued by anxiety and fear, but in this book, Chodron urges women to move toward painful situations and to accept difficult times in ways they never thought they could.
Chodron references traditional Buddhist wisdom to teach life-altering techniques to change suffering into a life of ease and joy. Readers have found Chodron’s messages in this book to be universal, despite one’s faith and beliefs. This is a very easy read, as the chapters are short and digestible. Chodron’s approachable writing style has been helpful for many who are suffering from anxiety.
18. Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person by Shonda Rhimes
Shonda Rhimes, the creator of Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal, teaches readers how choosing to say “yes” was able to change her life and how it can change yours, too.
Readers find this book to be a fun and engaging read, while still being extremely relatable. As someone who has experienced anxiety and panic attacks, Rhimes explains how her life changed when she stopped avoiding challenges and started embracing them.
The writing in this book is honest, heartbreaking, and raw, yet hilarious at times and always relatable. If you find yourself to be a homebody and it’s holding you back from trying new things or exploring the world in some way that you wish you could, reading this book can help motivate you to get out and experience the life that is waiting for you.
19. A Life Full of Glitter: A Guide to Positive Thinking, Self-Acceptance, and Finding Your Sparkle in a (Sometimes) Negative World by Anna O’Brien
This guide to positive thinking can help improve a variety of facets of your life. Through research, anecdotes, and humor, the author teaches techniques to shift your mindset from negative to positive, and how to master overcoming feelings that are holding you back in life. In reading this book, you will learn just how much creativity, exercise, and everyday social interactions can impact your daily life.
Readers appreciate O’Brien’s ability to look at challenges as opportunities and maintain a positive attitude to help fight negativity. Her writing is motivational and will help you change your mindset about temporary problems in order to focus on long-term happiness by using practical tips to improve your sense of positivity. Through personal anecdotes of hilarious teachable moments, O’Brien can help you improve your self-esteem and positivity.
20. The Self-Love Experiment: Fifteen Principles for Becoming More Kind, Compassionate, and Accepting of Yourself by Shannon Kaiser
This is a helpful book for those who tend to not put themselves first or avoid following their dreams for fear of seeming selfish. Kaiser helps fix this problem, no matter what your ultimate goal is. She argues that achieving any goal starts with loving and accepting yourself. After battling drug addiction, eating disorders, professional burnout, and depression, Kaiser shares her personal experience with cultivating self-love and the steps she took to fall in love with her own life.
Readers enjoy Kaiser’s straightforward and compassionate approach to getting rid of fear-based thoughts to change your daily habits, perspective, and your life’s outcome. In reading this book, you will be led on a journey to loving yourself and having a genuine sense of self-acceptance.
21. Present Over Perfect: Leaving Behind Frantic for a Simpler, More Soulful Way of Living by Shauna Niequist
How would your life change if you could abandon any pressure of being perfect and focus instead on being present? Often, we settle for being busy and exhausted in our chaotic lives, and Niequist aims to teach readers that they don’t have to settle for a life without rest, love, or play. Through a collection of essays that focus on her own experience with stopping a frantic schedule to rediscover the person she was meant to be, Niequist reaches out to her readers to release them from the pressure to always work faster, better, and harder while still keeping a perfect image.
The author uses this book as an invitation to embark upon a journey away from constantly pushing and proving yourself to others, and toward the life that you were meant to live before you began having to earn your worth from others. Reading this book will give you a vision for a new way to approach life with rest, grace, silence, and a connection to loved ones.
22. Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Brene Brown
If you’re looking for a book that will inspire you to be more courageous, this might be the right book for you. Brene Brown, a trailblazing researcher, makes a strong argument in this book that one’s willingness to be vulnerable is directly related to their courage. Furthermore, she posits that if we don’t allow ourselves to be vulnerable, we are limiting our exposure to experiences that give our lives purpose.
Readers find this book to be fun to read and many have gone on to read it multiple times due to the amount that Brown’s message resonates with them. Brown’s approach is down-to-earth and easily understood, and her funny anecdotes coupled with extensive research offers readers an enlightening read to help you face your fears courageously.
23. Badass Affirmations: The Wit and Wisdom of Wild Women by Becca Anderson
Some women prefer a self-help book that is easy to pick up and put down as needed.
This book of positive affirmations offers a collection of wisdom and advice from women like Michelle Obama and Madonna to give you an uplifting reminder of your worth.
With all of life’s pressures, demands, and responsibilities, it is important to practice positive affirmations to ensure you’re taking care of yourself and keeping your happiness a priority.
If you need an attitude adjustment because life has gotten too busy or your responsibilities have started to feel endless, you can gain a better sense of control by referencing this compilation of uplifting notes and self-esteem boosters. After reading this book, you will also walk away with new techniques for journaling and talking about your thoughts and feelings in a more focused manner.
24. The Art of Asking: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Let People Help by Amanda Palmer
Amanda Palmer, a seasoned musical performer, and crowdfunding pioneer, has had to ask for a lot of help throughout her career, and she’s never been afraid to garner people’s support. However, despite her experience, she has found that there are a few things that she still can’t ask other people for.
After learning that she is not alone in holding herself back from asking for help for certain things, she recognized that this fear is paralyzing people’s relationships and lives.
In this book, Palmer uncovers these barriers and explores the emotional, theoretical, and feasible components about asking for help.
Some readers have found that the first half of this book contains the bulk of helpful advice that Palmer has to offer, but those who are fans of Palmer’s music and career enjoy the book in its entirety, as Palmer offers personal anecdotes from her experience as an artist and life before making it big. After reading this book, you will feel inspired to rethink your approach to asking and offering help.
25. Girl, Stop Apologizing: A Shame-free Plan for Embracing and Achieving Your Goals by Rachel Hollis
If you want to learn how to own who you are and go after what you want, this book might be right for you. In Girl, Stop Apologizing, Rachel Hollis offers actionable ideas to help women stop defining themselves by the roles they play in other people’s lives (mom, wife, daughter…) Hollis dares women to stop putting their own dreams aside and implement her suggested methods to promote confidence and growth.
Many readers have felt an authentic connection with Hollis when reading this down-to-earth and blunt book. It is written with a lot of energy and motivation to help inspire you to get in the driver’s seat of your own life and stop living according to everyone else’s needs. Some readers found this book to be slightly repetitive of Hollis’s first bestseller, Girl, Wash Your Face, but most readers embrace these additional words of encouragement.
Final Thoughts on Self Help Books for Women
One argument that is commonly made by people who are “anti” self-help books is that none of the information is useful unless readers actually get out and implement what they learn. And this is true–you have to turn your “aha” moments into action and actually live out the strategy that you learn from your self-help book of choice.
The good thing about the books listed in this article is that the authors don’t leave you hanging after giving you that lightbulb moment. They go on to give you the next steps that you need to take in order to improve your life. You will finish each of these books with some actionable ideas and potential strategies to use.
I urge you to pick a few of these self help books for women in 2023 to help you on your journey to personal development. Like many other women, you will find great insight offered from the authors in addition to a lot of laughs.
If you also love to listen to podcasts, here are the best self help podcasts to complement what you've learn from books.
Need some words of inspiration? Read our favorite strong women quotes to empower you.
Finally, if you want to take your goal-setting efforts to the next level, check out this FREE printable worksheet and a step-by-step process that will help you set effective SMART goals.
Connie Mathers is a professional editor and freelance writer. She holds a Bachelor's Degree in Marketing and a Master’s Degree in Social Work. When she is not writing, Connie is either spending time with her daughter and two dogs, running, or working at her full-time job as a social worker in Richmond, VA.