Books on Courage and Confidence: Three of My Favorites

Do you run towards, or away from, books on courage and confidence? If you want to say “towards” but the real answer is “away from”, you’re in good company. 

Plenty of women want to develop their courage and expand their self-confidence, but the shame of their starting point prevents any forward motion whatsoever. We beat ourselves up with our “shoulds” (see related post here) and never leave the starting gate. 

Now, what if I told you that women worldwide are picking up these three books to help them grow into courageous, confident women? 

I like to think of them as a “Courage Cocktail”, only without the nasty hangover. The afterglow from this cocktail- from reading these three books on courage and confidence– has the power to catapult you past your limiting beliefs and towards a life of strength and grace.  

Sit down & tuck in- your time is well-invested here!

Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis 

The first ingredient for your cocktail is “Girl, Wash Your Face” by Rachel Hollis. If you haven’t bumped into Rachel Hollis yet, prepare to be blown away by her energy, drive, and determination. She moved to Los Angeles when she was 18 and has since built a multi-million dollar media company. She often reminds interviewers that she has done so with “a high school diploma and a Google search bar”.  #impressive 

Why this is a must-read on your journey to build confidence

  • First, the book is an easy read that is broken down into bite-sized chapters, each of which focuses on a lie we (women) tell ourselves. 
  • Second, Hollis’s stories illustrate lies are relatable to most, if not all, women. The fact that her stories are so accessible paints a grim picture of the work we have to do to lean more fully into who we are called to be. 
  • Third, it’s motivating. The familiarity of the twenty (20!!) lies that hold women back is a call to action. By naming them, Hollis calls us out (yes, me AND you) and demands that we take action to overcome these destructive narratives. 
  • Bonus: If you’re into audiobooks, Hollis herself reads it. It’ll get you up and out of your seat!

Mic-drop line 

  • “I cannot continue to live as half of myself because simply because it’s hard for others to handle all of me.”

Imperfect Courage by Jessica Honegger 

When it comes to books on courage and confidence, there is no substitute for Jessica Honegger’s Imperfect Courage, making it the perfect second ingredient to your courage cocktail.

Honegger is the founder and co-CEO of Noonday Collection, the socially conscious fashion brand. More than that, she is a mom to three kids; she started her business (accidentally) by pawning heirloom gold jewelry in order to fund her son’s adoption from Rwanda. Intrigued? You’ll get the full story in the book, along with plenty of inspiration for daily acts of courage.

Why this book is a must-read on your journey to develop courage 

  • First, she paints a picture that is rich with privilege and devoid of purpose that many women in the privileged West can relate to more than we’d like to admit. We’ve found ourselves on the couch, night after night, scrolling our digital feeds and looking for our purpose (hint: it’s not on Instagram). We’ve observed others living rich lives of meaning and impact; we have found ourselves wanting more but lacking the courage to get up off the couch and move.
  • Second, Honegger illustrates acts of courage small and large that are universally understood by her female readers. Whether the topic is our (un-) acceptance of our bodies (body type, body weight, or pant size) or our sudden burst of assertiveness in speaking up for the voiceless, Honegger goes through enough examples to grip the reader’s attention and simulate a “me, too” reaction. 
  • Third, Honegger demonstrates how courage can come to us easier when we are acting on someone else’s behalf. Are you able to advocate for your child but stutter when you’re advocating for yourself? Do you promote downstream coworkers, but find yourself speechless when you have the rare opportunity to self-promote? Read this book! 
  • Fourth, you’ll take a mental trip to other parts of the world, peeking behind the curtain of extreme poverty and despair while being inspired to do something to help. 

Bonus: Honegger herself narrates the audiobook. In contrast to Hollis’s energetic style, Honegger’s narration is deep, soulful, and full of authenticity. Her plea is genuine, as is the audible lump in her throat in certain passages. Her passion for this topic and plea for the reader to find her courage is both urgent and sincere.

Imperfect Courage is deserving of the place it has earned on this list of books on courage and confidence. 

Quotes that hit me right in the gut

  • “Something in us clings to these places of safety and makes it difficult to stand even as something deeper within us longs to stand up, to eventually rise.  Here on the couch, you and me, we can’t make a misstep, we can’t break a limb here, we can’t get shamed here. And yet- here is where I may gently tug that cozy blanket off you. We know that we were made for more.”
  • “Impact doesn’t come from the couch dweller, right? It comes from those with imperfect courage who choose to go scared. In the same way that a toddler learns to walk by walking, we get our courage legs underneath us when we stand up to our feet – and move.”
  • “There comes a time when each of us is called to use our one and only life to risk big and use our one and only life to act boldly on behalf of someone or something we prize.”

Once you’ve completed Imperfect Courage, you will be ready to add the third and final ingredient to your courage cocktail, a.k.a., your stack of books on courage and confidence.

“Impact doesn’t come from the couch dweller, right? It comes from those with imperfect courage who choose to go scared.”

Jessica Honegger

Imperfect Courage

Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist

After getting a kick in the pants from Hollis and sincere calls to courage from Honegger, you’ll be ready for the empowering message and encouragement that Niequist has to offer. 

Shauna Niequist describes her book like this: “Present Over Perfect is an invitation to this journey that changed my life. I’ll walk this path with you, a path away from frantic pushing and proving, and toward your essential self, the one you were created to be before you began proving and earning for your worth.” 

This book is not about developing the courage to go skydiving or some other extreme example. Rather, this book is about developing the courage to live into your essential self. It’s about letting go of pretense and soulless busyness and leaning into soulful one-ness.

Why this is a book on courage and confidence that you MUST READ 

  • First, Niequiest’s writing style is magnetic. At some points, it’s like you’re chatting with a close friend; at others, it’s as if the wisdom from generations of women pours forth in one beautiful yet simple, eloquent yet accessible sentence.
  • Second, the messaging is on point. You will find yourself thinking, “Of course! I knew this all along.” while concurrently wondering, “If I knew this then and I’ve been reminded of it now, then WHY not DO something about it?!”
  • Third, it’s like a warm hug and a cup of coffee.  Read this book and be reminded of your self-worth; rediscovering yourself is aking to discovering the courageous child you once were.

The following passages made me say “Amen!”

  • “But what I’ve learned the hard way is that you don’t’ answer to a wide swath of people and their opinions, even if they’re good people, with good opinions. You were made by hand with great love by the God of the Universe, and he planted deep inside of you a set of loves and dreams and idiosyncrasies, and you can ignore them as long as you want, but they will at some point start yelling. Worse than that, if you ignore them long enough, they will go silent, and that’s the real tragedy.”
  • “What’s changing everything for me is a new understanding that we get to decide how we want to live … You get to make your life. In fact, you have to. And not only can you make it, you can remake it.” 
  • “The world will tell you how to live, if you let it. Don’t let it. Take up your space. Raise your voice. Sing your song. This is your chance to make or remake a life that thrills you.”

Waiting until later to read these books is like waiting until later to live your life. It’s happening anyway, whether you’re living it well or not. Why wait? Buy these books, read them, then DO  the thing your soul is calling you to do. 

Living a life of fear, second-guessing, adapting, modifying, and editing who you are is no life at all. 

Live a life of courage and confidence. These authors will get you there.

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