11 Books That Will Help You Build Better Self Esteem, Because Everyone Could Use A Boost Sometimes

It's often hard to feel good about yourself. Hell, most women are taught not to feel good about themselves. We have to lean in, and demand what we want, but that's not always easy, especially when we see ourselves as [insert every negative adjective you've ever called yourself]. It's all enough to make me want to hide under a blanket for a week (at least) and watch Project Runway. Which can, unfortunately, make the cycle even worse. WHAT IS GOING ON?

Well, that's all B.S., and deep down, you know it. You know that you're smart and you're driven. You know that you're beautiful both inside and out, because beauty is always in the eye of the beholder and standards of beauty are pretty silly. But knowing it and feeling it are two different things. These books will help remind you why you're awesome, how to be cool in your own skin.

Image: Kiran Foster/flickr

by Ilana Masad

'Holes' by Louis Sachar

Click Here To Buy

Surprised? Well, if you’ve read Holes before, you might remember that a child who thinks he is doomed learns to overcome those fears throughout the course of the story, which is genuinely frightening. But it is also a metaphor, one you can take to heart: sometimes it takes digging a lot of holes to find out who you are and what you want, but you can get there.

'Self-Esteem' by Matthew McKay and Patrick Fanning

Click Here To Buy

This well-known and classic self-help book takes the reader through exercises that reduce self-judgment, help to define the reader’s identity, and that help the reader respect and accept herself. Seems helpful, right?

'You Are Doing a Freaking Great Job.'

Click Here To Buy

Sometimes all you really need is an encouraging word, and You Are Doing a Freaking Great Job: And Other Reminders of Your Awesomeness is absolutely perfect for that. With inspirational quotes, meditations, and daydreaming exercises and happy typefaces and colors, this is a good book to carry around with you for those gloomy moments of self-doubt.

'Rock My Soul: Black People and Self-Esteem' by bell hooks

Click Here To Buy

bell hooks is one of the most well-known African American scholars of our time, and in this book she tackles the decades — and, indeed, the centuries — of black oppression and the symptomatic self-esteem problems that many people of color have due to such oppression. Incredibly intelligent, and incredibly worth a read.

'The DUFF: (Designated Ugly Fat Friend)' by Kody Kepplinger

Click Here To Buy

The heroine of this book, Bianca Piper, takes no B.S. from anyone. She is clever, cool, and has a great group of friends. High school can be an awful place for so many girls who don’t fit the standard of beauty, but this book shows a different side — one in which you’re liked for who you are, not just for what you look like.

'It Wasn't Your Fault' by Beverly Engel

Click Here To Buy

This book’s subtitle, Freeing Yourself from the Shame of Childhood Abuse with the Power of Self-Compassion, describes the problem so many of us have. It is not only the current society that makes women become self-conscious and apologetic, but also often damaging and traumatic events from the past. It Wasn’t Your Fault helps guide you through to a place where you can not only forgive yourself, but become stronger in the process.

'The Skin I'm In' by Sharon Flake

Click Here To Buy

Maleeka’s difficulties at school and her admiration of a new teacher with blotched skin shines a light on how the skin we’re born in affects us. It determines things about how we handle our bodies, and the relationship we have with our ethnicities. This book helps to remind you about the confidence you can project by being comfortable in your own skin.

'Selfish' by Kim Kardashian West

Click Here To Buy

Kim Kardashian (now Kardashian West, although I doubt many of us will ever think of her that way) isn’t shy about herself and her body. In this book (and on its very cover!) she shows images of herself that are questionable regarding their attractiveness. She’s a brand, but her well-titled book of selfies shows us that she is a human being, too. If Kim is allowed to have a bad hair day, and can still be proud of herself, so can you.

'The Midwife's Apprentice' by Karen Chushman

Click Here To Buy

A young girl in during the middle ages renames herself (from Brat to Alyce) when she manages to find a place for herself in the world of midwifery. She gains self-esteem and knowledge of who she is, what she can do, and who she can be through her apprenticeship. By learning what contentment feels like after a lacking childhood, Alyce becomes herself, a strong, opinionated, and complex young woman.

'The Mona Lisa Stratagem' by Harriet Rubin

Click Here To Buy

It isn’t only young women who have self-esteem issues. In Hollywood, once you reach the age of 45, you’re basically only fit to play grandmothers or crazy old aunts. Getting older is difficult when standards are constructed the way they are, but Harriet Rubin uses stories of older women throughout history in order to put together a variety of strategies for how to raise your self esteem — and accept your crow’s feet at the same time.

'Luna' by Julie Ann Peters

Click Here To Buy

Self-esteem for transgender women is often hard to come by. People often think that all it takes is clothes, attitude, and surgery for transwomen to feel safe and right in their bodies, but there is a lot more to it. Luna, Liam’s chosen name when he decides to finally come out as she, faces many challenges, but she overcomes them, slowly, and learns to allow herself to love herself for who she, not he, is.