18 Best Self-Confidence Books Reviewed and Ranked (2021)

These are the best self-confidence books, carefully reviewed and ranked.

We also have separate book guides on self-esteemsocial anxiety, and body language.

Top picks

There are 18 books in this guide. To help you choose, these are my top picks.
Top pick overall
Top pick self-esteem
Top pick success in life
Top pick dealing with people
Top picks specifically geared toward women

Top pick overall

1. The Confidence Gap

The Confidence Gap: From Fear to Freedom

Author: Russ Harris

Of all the books on confidence I’ve reviewed, this is hands down the best one. Why? It has the opposite approach to traditional pep-speech books.

It’s science-based: It helps you apply ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy) which is well supported in hundreds of studies to make people feel significantly more self-confident.

My only critique would be that the author condemns many other methods to develop confidence that might still have some value, like visualizations. But this is a minor complaint, and it’s hands down my top recommendation for this list.

Do get this book if…

1. You want to build your overall confidence and self-esteem.
2. You dislike peppy self-help.

Do NOT get this book if…

You want a book that focuses specifically on a certain area in life. (Well, I still think you should get this one, but there are other books you can read first). See my other top picks below.

4.6 stars on Amazon.

Top pick self-esteem

2. The Self Confidence Workbook

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

Author: Barbara Markway

GREAT book with advice that’s been thoroughly proven in studies to build up 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.

Read my review of this book in my guide on self-esteem books.

Top pick success

3. The Magic of Thinking Big

The Magic of Thinking Big

Author: David J. Schwartz

Cult book on how to set up a system for daring to think bigger and feel motivated. It’s on how to overcome fear of failure, set up goals that help you grow, and how to think positively.

This is the previous generation of self-help (And was published in 1959): Less research-based and more bravado. If you have oversight of this, it’s still a great book.

Do get this book if…

You want a confidence book specifically to be more successful in life.

Do NOT get this book if…

You want something up-to-date, using only well-researched methods. If so, get The Confidence Gap.

4.7 stars on Amazon.

4. Psycho-Cybernetics

Psycho-Cybernetics: Updated and Expanded

Author: Maxwell Maltz

This book also belongs to the previous-generation self-confidence books that lacks many of the ideas you’ll see in newer books like The Confidence Gap.

However, compared to the other old classics (like The Magic of Thinking Big or Awaken the Giant Within) this one is a bit different.

It focuses on visualization exercises. It helps you visualize yourself in a more confident state.

Later studies have backed up that there’s some truth to this. And this is still, 40 years after it was written, a well-renowned book.

Verdict: Don’t read this book INSTEAD of The Confidence Gap or The Self Confidence Workbook. But if you want to, you can read it TOGETHER with those books.

4.8 stars on Amazon.

5. Awaken the Giant Within

Awaken the Giant Within : How to Take Immediate Control of Your Mental, Emotional, Physical and Financial Destiny!

Author: Tony Robbins

This is a classic on self-confidence. Still, much of it builds on The Magic of Thinking Big (that came out 33 years before this one).

Verdict: Read The Magic of Thinking Big first. If you want more, or if you’re a big Tony Robbins fan, read this book.

4.6 stars on Amazon.

6. The Power of Self-Confidence

The Power of Self-Confidence: Become Unstoppable, Irresistible, and Unafraid in Every Area of Your Life

Author: Brian Tracy

Another cult classic on confidence. However, like the two books above, it belongs to a previous generation of self-help that is less science-based and more about pep talk.

Verdict: This is an amazing book. But if you feel too low, it just creates a disconnect. Instead, I’d recommend any of the top books on this list first.

4.5 stars on Amazon.

Top pick on dealing with people

7. How to Have Confidence and Power in Dealing with People

How to Have Confidence and Power in Dealing with People

Author: Leslie T. Giblin

This book is from 1956 – so it’s a 50s view on society. However, basic human psychology doesn’t change so the principles are still surprisingly well-aged.

This book is focused specifically on confidence in interacting with people. However, it’s not written for people with social anxiety but rather for those who want to improve from already being okay, and especially in a business setting.

Do get this book if…

If you’re already OK off socially and want to be more confident in business settings.

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Do NOT get this book if…

You have social anxiety or nervousness around people that holds you back. Instead, see my book guide on social anxiety.

4.6 stars on Amazon.

8. The Ultimate Secrets of Total Self-Confidence

The Ultimate Secrets of Total Self-Confidence: A Proven Formula That Has Worked for Thousands

Author: Robert Anthony (Not to be confused with Anthony Roberts, hehe)

Another one of the previous generation confidence books that’s not based on science. Much of what is taught in this book is great. But it has nothing to do with science.

It talks about personal magnetism as if it was some kind of magic force. Sure, there is something we can call personal magnetism, but it comes down to acting in a way socially that people respond favorably to, not magnetic fields or quantum physics.

Verdict: If you’re OK with giving the author a pass for these ideas and just pick up on the good stuff, this book will still be a valuable investment. But before you read it, there are better books you should read, like the Confidence Gap.

4.4 stars on Amazon.

Confidence through body language

9. Presence

Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges

Author: Amy Cuddy

This is a great book on confidence, but it’s a niche that won’t be for everyone. This one doesn’t focus on that general nervosity we can feel around new people or self-doubt. It’s more about how to be confident at certain challenges like holding a speech etc. And it’s focused on her research field on power posing.

Also, there are much more actionable books on the subject.

Other research has shown that if you’re self-conscious, the idea of focusing on your posture can make you MORE self-conscious.

Do get this book if…

You’ve already read other books on self-confidence, like the ones higher up in this guide.

Do NOT get this book if…

1. You want advice on how to be more confident around new people.
2. You are held back by self-consciousness today. Instead, read The Self-Confidence Workbook.

4.6 stars on Amazon.

Confidence books specifically for women

These are the books where the author talks specifically to women.

For women in their career

10. The Confidence Effect

The Confidence Effect: Every Woman's Guide to the Attitude That Attracts Success

Author: Grace Killelea

This book focuses on how women often feel less confident than men even if they are just as competent, which has been confirmed in many studies.

Be aware that it does contain a lot of self-promotion of her company that can be annoying at times. Overall, a great book.

Verdict: This is the best book on the topic of confidence in career for women. However, I still think The Self Confidence Workbook is a better read on self-doubt. But if you want something on career, you should definitely get this one, too, as it covers work-related issues that the workbook doesn’t.

4.6 stars on Amazon.

11. Wire Your Brain for Confidence

Wire Your Brain for Confidence: The Science of Conquering Self-Doubt

Author: Louisa Jewell

This book actually wouldn’t have had to be marketed only toward women because the science behind it is universal.

Overall, this is a great book. It focuses on positive psychology. Personally, I still prefer The Confidence Gap over this one. The reason is that this book takes some liberties in how it interprets studies that are made in one area of life and translates it straight off to another area of life.

The Confidence Gap is more thorough.

Do get this book if…

You want a positive psychology confidence book specifically for women

Do NOT get this book if…

You want something that covers self-confidence, and self-doubt more thoroughly. If so, rather go with The Confidence Gap.

4.2 stars on Amazon.

For women in the middle of their career

12. The Confidence Code

The Confidence Code: The Science and Art of Self-Assurance---What Women Should Know

Authors: Katty Kay, Claire Shipman

This is a good book even though it’s clinical and can be a tough read. The main idea is that women have less self-confidence than men and that it’s 50% genetics and 50% in your control.

The book seems to fit women in mid-life best.

Do get this book if…

You’re a woman in mid-life who are interested in the theory behind confidence

Do NOT get this book if…

You want a pure step-by-step guide. If so, get The Self Confidence Workbook.

4.5 stars on Amazon.

For young girls

13. The Confidence Code for Girls

The Confidence Code for Girls: Taking Risks, Messing Up, & Becoming Your Amazingly Imperfect, Totally Powerful Self

Author: Katty Kay

This book is specifically for girls in their tweens and teens. It has stellar reviews and is one of the best-ranked books during my research. Research-based.

Verdict: If you have a young daughter and want to help her improve her self-confidence, get this book.

4.7 stars on Amazon.

Honorary mentions

14. The Art of Extraordinary Confidence

The Art of Extraordinary Confidence: Your Ultimate Path To Love, Wealth, and Freedom

Author: Aziz Gazipura

This book starts off OK but just doesn’t deliver. It’s too rudimentary, like if he’d hired a freelancer to just finish the book.

Verdict: There’s for sure some valuable advice in this book, but there are much better books on the topic (Like the ones I recommend earlier in this guide)

4.5 stars on Amazon.

15. Confidence Hacks

Confidence Hacks: 99 Small Actions to Massively Boost Your Confidence

Author: Barrie Davenport

This is a list of 99 pieces of advice on how to be more confident. Because each tip is just a 200-word nugget, it doesn’t go in-depth into anything.

Verdict: If you really love lists and don’t want to commit to something more in-depth, sure, get this book. But be aware that it doesn’t have the same potency as the book at the beginning of this guide.

3.62 stars on Goodreads. Amazon.

16. You Are a Badass

You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life

Author: Jen Sincero

This book targets millennial women and encourages them to be more assertive and get what they want. It’s high on pep and low on well-researched strategies.

Verdict: If you dread workbooks and want something easy to consume with a sassy language, I think you can appreciate this book. However, if you do follow the principles of, say, the Confidence Gap, I’m certain that you’ll come out a more confident person at the other end.

4.7 stars on Amazon.

Books to be cautious about

These are books that have little evidence of working.

17. Ultimate Confidence

Ultimate Confidence: The Secrets to Feeling Great About Yourself Every Day

Author: Marisa Peer

I know that a lot of people like this book, but it’s based on the idea that you can hypnotize yourself into confidence.

There’s just no evidence for that you can become permanently confident through hypnosis. Yes, she has great reviews, but she’s also written a book on how to hypnotize yourself into losing weight.

In-between the pseudo-science there’s some good advice. But if you want to be confident, there are much better books.

18. Instant Confidence

Instant Confidence: The Power to Go for Anything you Want

Author: Paul McKenna.

Another popular hypnosis book. The author claims that hypnosis will make you confident.

However, I can’t find any study that shows an effect beyond placebo.

But if you believe in it and you feel more confident (even if it’s just placebo) it has still helped you, so why not.

However, CBT and ACT are proven in hundreds of studies to work, so I’d go with that instead. (With for example The Confidence Gap or The Confidence Workbook)

Beyond the hypnosis part, the book does contain some valuable advice, but nothing you won’t find in any other self-help book.

This author has also written the books “I can make you rich”, “I can make you thin”, “I can make you happy” and “I can make you sleep”, which to me makes him less trustworthy. I prefer books written by experts that focus on a specific area.

Is there any book that you think I should review? Let me know in the comments below!

David Morin is the founder of SocialSelf. He's been writing about social skills since 2012. Follow on Twitter or read more.

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