Best Books to Improve Low Self-Esteem

You know you are worthy, but somehow you don’t feel this way.

For some reason, you kept feeling inferior and not good enough no matter what you do.

If you are constantly having critical and negative thoughts about yourself, you probably have low self-esteem. Low self-esteem is a perception of oneself in a negative light. It is usually developed during childhood when we interact with our parents.

Below is a mixture of self-help and cognitive psychology books on low self-esteem. These books not only help you build self-esteem and overcome your inferiority complex. They also help you understand how your low self-esteem is developed.

Choose the one which is the best suited for your situation.

Bonus: My Book on Low Self-Esteem

Note: The way I look at my books will never be the same as the way I look at other books, so to be fair I rather keep them off the list. :)

Empty Your Cup by Yong Kang Chan

Struggling with low self-esteem? Still feeling inferior, unworthy and not good enough despite all your effort to change?

Most people think that by being successful and confident, we will feel good about ourselves. But low self-esteem is a perception problem, it has nothing to do with our success or confidence. You can be wealthy, beautiful, or well liked by others and still don’t feel good about yourself.

The purpose of this book is to help you empty everything you believe about yourself and change your perception of self.

If you are looking for a simple book that helps you understand mindfulness and how it can help you to be more self-compassionate, this is the book for you.

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10 Best Self-Esteem Books

Disclosure: Please note that the links below are affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate and Bookshop Affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases. I will earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase, but it will be at no additional cost to you.

1. The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem by Nathaniel Branden

You can’t build your self-esteem step-by-step. It’s a cumulative result of what you do every day. In this book, the author offers six practices to support the growth of healthy self-esteem:

  1. Live Consciously
  2. Accept Yourself
  3. Take Responsibility for Your Experiences
  4. Assert Who You Are
  5. Live Purposefully
  6. Maintain Your Integrity

This book is also praised for its 31-week sentence-completion exercises. Here’s an example: “If I bring 5% more awareness to my insecurities, I’ll… (complete the sentence).”

If you need a book which guides you to take action, this is the book for you.

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2. Self-Esteem by Matthew McKay and Patrick Fanning

“Judging and rejecting yourself cause enormous pain.”

This book is about stopping self-judgments and healing wounds from self-rejection. It helps you deal with your inner critic and self-loathing thoughts.

Drawing upon therapy techniques, the authors present a comprehensive approach to addressing self-esteem issues.  What makes this book appealing is its flexibility and ease of tailoring to meet the individual needs of the reader. By implementing the techniques in the book, you will make an active change in your life.

This book is most appropriate for self-motivated readers. To receive the full benefit of this book, be sure to do the exercises.

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3. The Self-Esteem Workbook by Glenn Schiraldi

If you are a reader who loves practical book, this is the book for you.

As the title of the book suggests, this book is full of exercises and activities to help you build the skills needed to improve and sustain a healthy level of self-esteem.

“Self-esteem is not positive thinking, where you tell yourself how wonderful and perfect you are, hoping that you will thereby become so.”

First published in 2001, this workbook has been a staple in the self-esteem genre for years. Apart from its exercises, this book is rather comprehensive and informative, yet easy-to-understand.

If you are willing to spend time and effort to work through the workbook, this book will be of great value to you.

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4. Self-Compassion by Kristin Neff

What if you can opt out of the self-esteem game?

Unlike most other books which tell us to get a higher self-esteem, this book encourages us to be kinder towards ourselves.

The author says that self-esteem is not just an evaluation of our worthiness. It is also the perceived judgments of others and other people’s perceptions of us are not the truth.

Comparing the difference between self-esteem and self-compassionate, the author challenges us if worthiness is what we are truly seeking for. Do we really want to be better than others, or do we want to be more connected with ourselves and others?

If you are a heart-centered person and believe in self-compassion, this book is for you. Not only does the author shares personal stories, it also include practical exercises which help you heal destructive emotional patterns.

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5. The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown

“What will people think if I fail or give up?”

This book is about embracing who you are and letting go of who you think you’re supposed to be. The author believes that self-esteem is to be cultivated through nurturing and loving yourself. Using the term “wholehearted living”, she encourage us to engage the world from a place of worthiness.

If you have a problem loving yourself and don’t know where to begin, this book provides you 10 areas which you can cultivate wholehearted living.

Instead of living up to some ideal, perfect image conditioned by our society, this book encourages you to live authentically and be yourself. This book is for you if you are ashamed of your flaws or have a difficult time accepting your imperfections.

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6. Breaking the Chain of Low Self-Esteem by Marilyn Sorensen

You may have low self-esteem and not even realize it.

Depression, anxiety, failed relationship. Most of us see the problems, but we don’t know what causes the problems. The author suggests that sometimes mental illnesses such as depression are actually symptoms of low self-esteem. Resolving the symptoms isn’t really resolving the primary problem — low self-esteem.

If you want to find out more about low self-esteem and how you may have developed it in your childhood, this book will be suitable for you. Apart from exercises, the author uses a fictional character, Jane, to help you understand about your self-esteem issues.

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7. Ten Days To Self-Esteem by David Burns

Do you have depression or anxiety? Get this book.

Low self-esteem can eventually lead to depression and anxiety. If you seek to address self-esteem issues without medication or lengthy therapy, this book offers an effective alternative. It tackles the main symptom of depression and low self-esteem — negative thoughts.

Written by one of the foremost authorities on mood and relationship issues, you will find strategies and writing exercises to change your negative thought processes. The author believes by changing the way you think, you change the way you feel.

If you have trouble coping with your negative thoughts, this book is definitely for you.

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8. Self-Esteem by Jean Illsley Clarke

“Self-worth is a gift we give our children, a greater gift than computers or designer clothes or automobiles.”

Your childhood affects your self-esteem. It’s difficult to understand your self-esteem without looking at your childhood. Even though this is a parenting book, this book will give you a better understanding of your low self-esteem from a family perspective.

If you are struggling to maintain a healthy relationship with your family, read this book. The author offers an array of effective strategies to deal with family members in different situations. It doesn’t matter if you are the child or the parent. This book will help you improve your interaction with your family while support your own well-being.

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9. Radical Acceptance by Tara Brach

“It doesn’t take much — just hearing of someone else’s accomplishments, being criticized, getting into an argument, making a mistake at work — to make us feel that we are not okay.”

People with low self-esteem believe that there’s something fundamentally wrong with them. Any small triggers will create suffering in their lives.

This book is about healing your lack of self-worth and letting go of self-judgment. It’s about accepting who you are, instead of running away from yourself. Using her personal stories, exercises and meditations, the book is insightful and full of wisdom.  

If you enjoy meditation and Eastern influences, you will enjoy this book. But you don’t need to be a Buddhist or a highly spiritual person to receive the benefits of this book.

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10. Overcoming the Rating Game by Paul Hauck

Stop rating yourself! What others think of you is not as important as what you think of yourself.

Insightful and well-written, this book approaches feelings of inferiority as a function of our tendency to “rate” or “compare” ourselves to others. When we don’t measure up, we feel bad about ourselves.

In this book, the author discourages individuals from rating themselves and encourages self-acceptance. You will find strategies to stop the rating game, improve skills and gain respect from others.

This is a short book on self-esteem, so it is suitable for anyone especially teens, who wants a quick read on the topic.

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Yong Kang

Yong Kang

Hey there, I’m Yong Kang, best known as Nerdy Creator. I’m an author of seven books. I write about spirituality, self-compassion, and mindfulness. I love reading books, especially non-fiction. The list above is a combination of what I have read and my research. Each year, I create a Top 10 list of my favorite books.