The Best Books on Confidence and Character-Building

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How can you become more confident? Is confidence a personality trait or a skill you can develop with practice? 

The first step towards becoming more confident is believing that confidence is something that can be attained, that it’s a skill that can be cultivated and honed with practice. Then, the question becomes: how exactly do you practice something as elusive as confidence? 

There are many answers to this million-dollar question, and these books on confidence offer perspectives worth exploring.

Building Confidence

People who are confident have the best chance of establishing beneficial relationships and creating opportunities for personal and professional success. Unfortunately, many people lack confidence, which prevents them from living life to the fullest and seizing opportunities that come their way. If this sounds like you, check out these books on confidence-building from our library.

The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem

How can you improve your self-esteem? In The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem, psychotherapist and self-esteem expert Nathaniel Branden argues that the key lies in your behavior: What you do is the most important factor that determines your self-esteem. You’ll learn exactly how to behave to improve your self-esteem, including by living with awareness and taking responsibility for your life and actions. You’ll also learn why so many techniques people recommend for raising self-esteem just don’t work. 

The Confidence Code

In The Confidence Code, journalists and authors Katty Kay and Claire Shipman examine the art and science of confidence—what it is, why it matters, why women have more trouble accessing it than men, and how this shortage affects professional success, personal achievement, and even happiness. Biology plays a role, and so do systemic inequalities, but confidence is also largely a choice.

The Confidence Gap

In The Confidence Gap, psychotherapist Russ Harris provides an approach to dealing effectively with the negative, limiting thoughts and fears that prevent you from achieving your goals. Rather than trying to speak to, tamp down, or ignore negative thoughts—all ineffective methods—Harris recommends you relate differently to your thoughts. This will allow you to pursue your goals without your thoughts interfering with your efforts. 

Awaken the Giant Within

Many people assume their ideal life will never be more than fantasy, but in reality, you have the power to create the life you dream about. In Awaken the Giant Within, life coach and self-help guru Tony Robbins provides insights and strategies to help you take control of every aspect of your life, from your emotions to your focus. In many cases, you can make transformational changes to your life through small adjustments, such as swapping out just one word in your vocabulary.

How to Win Friends and Influence People

How to Win Friends and Influence People is one of the best books on confidence- and character-building of all time. It contains universal principles of interacting with other people to get them to like you and have them see your way of thinking. This isn’t about manipulation – it’s about sincerely approaching people, believing they’re important, and treating them likewise. Learn how to become a confident conversationalist, how to make other people feel important, and how to change other people’s minds without offending them.


You have powerful beliefs that affect what you want in life and whether you get it. In Mindset, psychologist and researcher Carol S. Dweck argues that the way you think determines the course of your life, starting as early as your preschool years.

You learn one of two mindsets from your parents, teachers, and coaches: that personal qualities such as intelligence and ability are innate and unchangeable (the fixed mindset) or that you and others can change and grow (the growth mindset). Understanding and adjusting your mindset can change your career, relationships, the way you raise your children, and your overall life satisfaction.

The Fine Art of Small Talk

Do you avoid small talk because you find it intimidating or lacking in value? If so, The Fine Art of Small Talk is your ticket to conversational confidence. According to Debra Fine, small talk is a skill well worth developing because our careers, romantic prospects, and social lives depend on connecting with other people. Indeed, it’s difficult to succeed socially without small talk because it establishes the emotional tone of our interactions and helps us gauge how deeply we’d like to connect with each other.

The Gifts of Imperfection

Released in 2010, The Gifts of Imperfection is a New York Times bestseller by researcher, speaker, and author Brené Brown. The book explores the theory and practices behind “Wholehearted living”: a concept Brown devised after years of research into shame, vulnerability, and self-worth. According to Brown, living Wholeheartedly will help you to cultivate worthiness: the conviction that you are good enough as you are and that you deserve to be loved.

You Are a Badass

You were born to be a badass, but are you getting the most out of your life? In You Are a Badass, author Jen Sincero helps you identify and change the self-sabotaging thoughts and behavior patterns that are stopping you from living up to your potential.

Creating a better life requires only one simple shift: Going from wanting to change your life to deciding to change your life. This book will explain why you are the way you are, how to change what you don’t like, and how to love yourself as you create a new, awesome life.

The Game

Author Neil Strauss had always assumed that it took natural charisma and confidence to pick up women—and that he simply didn’t have it. That all changed when he discovered the world of seduction and pickup artists (PUAs), a community of men who exchanged tips and advice for seducing women.

Over the course of two years, Neil learned pickup lines, approach tactics, and even hypnosis from the top PUAs in the seduction community. Neil started picking up, dating, and having sex with more women than he’d ever imagined possible. But, over time, Neil realized that mastering the game wasn’t about memorizing lines and routines in order to get women into bed—it was about developing inner confidence.

Final Words

Books on confidence-building are standard fare on the shelves of bookstores these days—and for a reason: Lack of confidence plagues many people. If you want to boost your confidence, these books will help you get off to a good start.

The Best Books on Confidence and Character-Building

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Darya Sinusoid

Darya’s love for reading started with fantasy novels (The LOTR trilogy is still her all-time-favorite). Growing up, however, she found herself transitioning to non-fiction, psychological, and self-help books. She has a degree in Psychology and a deep passion for the subject. She likes reading research-informed books that distill the workings of the human brain/mind/consciousness and thinking of ways to apply the insights to her own life. Some of her favorites include Thinking, Fast and Slow, How We Decide, and The Wisdom of the Enneagram.

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