Over the years I’ve recommended these books to many people. Each one has changed how I approach my work, those around me, and myself. The list is unordered, each book was impactful at one point in my life, and the order you choose to read them depends where you are in your life.
I’ve included amazon links to each of the books to make them easier to find and read reviews from others. These aren’t affiliate links; they’re just there for ease, not money.
The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women
This book is all about impostor syndrome; why we feel it, how to recognise it, ways to deal with it. I found it very grounding to hear other women’s experiences and recognise that I’m not alone. For me, The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women was more practically helpful than The Confidence Code. But people are different, so you might want to checkout this one instead.
While it’s written with women in mind, I believe men experiencing impostor syndrome would find value in it. (If you have a male specific version of this book to recommend please do let me know!)
Generally advice about being more confident comes down to “fake it till you make it.” But Dr Cuddy’s book covers the practical details of how to fake it, at least for your body language. I thought this was so interesting and directly useful I gave a talk about it!
The Assertiveness Workbook
This one is a bit different because it’s a workbook. There are exercises throughout the book, and space to write your answers. I recommend getting a physical copy so you can interact with it easily. Reading this book cover to cover is easy enough, but if you take the time to do the exercises you’ll get so much more out of it. That said, it’s hard work and can be emotionally draining. Give yourself plenty of time to go through it. For me, this workbook helped me bring a more authentic self to the table. It helped me stand up for what I wanted without feeling that I needed to apologise for it.
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up
I know this is a strange recommendation, but this little book really did make a difference for me. A core concept of the Konmari method is constantly asking “does this spark joy?” Things that don’t spark joy you thank and get rid of. First you practice with your clothes, then you move on more difficult items in your house. After awhile I found that I asked the same question of many aspects in my life. Would going to this event bring me joy? What about today’s work was the least joyful? The most? When am I deeply satisfied with my experiences and life? Building up this muscle to be able to evaluate choices based on joy rather than social expectations made a big difference to me. The Curated Closet is along similar lines, although not as focused.
The Gifts of Imperfection
Finally, this book came from a friend’s recommendation (thanks Tracy!). It talks a lot about “wholehearted” living, which I think of as being authentic, even when it’s difficult to do so. It deals with deep topics such as guilt, shame, and self-worth, and discusses ways to deal with emotions and difficulties in this area. It can also be quite a hard book to go through; there are exercises at the end of each chapter helping you focus on specific areas in your life and consider how to be more wholehearted in each one.