The 8 Best Books on Narcissism You Need to Check Out

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Do you have to deal with narcissists in your life? What are the best books on narcissism to fight entitlement?

Self-love is an admirable trait to have, but sometimes people take it too far. Excessive self-love can lead to narcissism, which means someone admires themselves too much and usually lacks empathy for others.

To learn how to deal with selfish people, here are the eight best books on narcissism.

Books on Selfishness and Egos

Narcissists often try to exploit and manipulate people around them. Because they can be persistent, it can be hard to ignore them. These best books on narcissism will teach you the necessary steps to tune selfish people out and rid your life of toxicity.

The Elephant in the Room

Do people donate to charity because they care? Or are they lying to themselves and others about the true reason? In The Elephant in the Brain, software engineer Kevin Simler and economics professor Robin Hanson controversially argue that human behavior is driven by selfish motives—and that your own brain is hiding them from you. These hidden motives shape everything from our conversations and purchasing decisions to our schools and healthcare systems.

Simler and Hanson cover why we’re constantly deceiving each other, why charitable giving is selfish, and why the purpose of education is to certify future employees.

The Road to Character

Shooting selfies on vacation. Posting Facebook updates on our kid’s graduation from pre-school. Garnering awards and promotions to add to our LinkedIn profiles. Guess what, America? We’ve become self-obsessed. In David Brooks’s The Road to Character, the New York Times columnist suggests we take a good hard look at ourselves and remember that we weren’t always so narcissistic. 

Brooks outlines the moral shift that took place after World War II when we transitioned from honoring humility, self-discipline, and public service to worshiping at the altar of “the Big Me.” He also reminds us that our current self-focus isn’t even making us happy. To help us recalibrate our moral compasses, Brooks details the lives of war heroes, civil rights activists, advocates for the poor, writers, and deep thinkers who’ve tackled the work of building moral character.

Ego Is the Enemy

One of the best books on narcissism is Ego Is the Enemy by bestselling author and marketer Ryan Holiday. In this book, Holiday defines ego as an unhealthy belief in one’s importance. He notes that many successful people are famously egotistical, and he contends that as a result, society tends to think that ego is an important ingredient in success, as if ego leads to accomplishment. However, Holiday argues that ego leads far more often to failure and that people find success only when they’re able to control their egotistical impulses. 

To make his arguments, Holiday draws on the philosophies of Stoic thinkers, advising us to resist the urges of our emotions to maintain clarity of thinking. 

Give and Take

People fit into one of three reciprocity styles. Givers like to give more than they get, paying attention to what others need. Takers like to get more than they give, seeing the world as a competitive place and primarily looking out for themselves. And matchers balance and give on a quid pro quo basis, willing to exchange favors but careful about not being exploited.

Of these 3 styles, which do you think tends to be the most successful? You might think that aggressive takers come out on top, but Wharton professor Adam Grant argues givers are actually the most successful. In Give and Take, learn how givers build larger, more supportive networks; inspire the most creativity from their colleagues; and achieve the most successful negotiations. 

The Laws of Human Nature

Even though we’re all human, most of us don’t understand what drives people (including ourselves) to feel and behave the way we do. In The Laws of Human Nature, author Robert Greene looks at several laws that explain, among other things, why we self-sabotage, behave differently in groups, and want the wrong things.

Armed with the knowledge of these fundamentals of human nature, you can manage toxic people, become more empathetic, make people like you, and control your own nature.

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck

In The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, Mark Manson argues that we are frustrated in life and feel like failures because we value and prioritize the wrong things, thanks in part to society’s emphasis on positive thinking, over-involved parents, and our susceptibility to superficial social media messages. This leads us to pursue emotional highs that don’t lead to lasting happiness. 

The solutions are counterintuitive and include: be wrong, fail, tolerate feeling bad, accept pain, practice rejection. Because we can’t care equally about everything, we need to prioritize and focus on what brings us happiness and meaning. In other words, we need to carefully choose what we give our f*cks about.

The Selfish Gene

In The Selfish Gene, evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins argues that all forms of life on Earth begin with genes and that the purpose of life is to make sure those genes survive. He says it makes more sense to look at life from the perspective of a selfish gene doing anything it can to reproduce itself because, outside of random mutations, genes pass from one generation to the next unchanged. 

Dawkins argues that for all of the complex structures and systems they give rise to, genes are still replicator molecules doing whatever they can to keep replicating and survive through the generations. This is the meaning of “selfish gene,” and the reason all biology should be considered from the perspective of genes, not individuals.

The Righteous Mind

Moral psychologist Jonathan Haidt explains why people around the world, including liberals and conservatives in the United States, have different moral frameworks. He argues that moral judgments are emotional, not logical—they are based on stories rather than reason. Consequently, liberals and conservatives lack a common language, and reason-based arguments about morality are ineffective. This leads to political polarization.

The Righteous Mind explores how our divergent moralities evolved, why morality is about more than just fairness, and how we can counter our natural self-righteousness to decrease political divides.  

Final Words

Narcissism is an ugly disorder that most people don’t want to overcome. After reading these books, you might even recognize signs of narcissism in people close to you—or in yourself. Thankfully, now you know how to deal with narcissists and become a more selfless person.

Do you have any recommendations for our best books on narcissism list? Leave us your suggestions in the comments below!

The 8 Best Books on Narcissism You Need to Check Out

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Katie Doll

Somehow, Katie was able to pull off her childhood dream of creating a career around books after graduating with a degree in English and a concentration in Creative Writing. Her preferred genre of books has changed drastically over the years, from fantasy/dystopian young-adult to moving novels and non-fiction books on the human experience. Katie especially enjoys reading and writing about all things television, good and bad.

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