The Best Books on Authenticity [15+ Books for Being Yourself]

Table of Contents

I Know I'm in There Somewhere: A Woman's Guide to Finding Her Inner Voice and Living a Life of Authenticity by Helene Brenner

As a social worker, and also as a man who tries to be self-aware, I know how often women are forced to be something they're not. My wife reminds me that men don't have to deal with mansplaining or taking up too much space.

this is a book for woman who have been let down by our society.

Dr. Brenner takes the path of acceptance, which I find always works better than trying to be something I’m not.

Very interesting idea of the Inner Voice vs. the Outer Voices. And it’s not just for women.

I found this Amazon review heartwarming:

For background, I am a twenty-something queer cis man. I have had over a year of therapy, and read countless self-help (or adjacent) books. Nothing has affected me to the degree that this book has. I am writing this review in 2020, after reading the book several months ago, and coming back to it during various kinds of life struggles. The wisdom in this book still holds true!

Spirit Paths: The Quest for Authenticity by Gerry Starnes

A Master-of-Education degree-holder focusing on shamanic practices? That right there was enough to pique my interest. This book emerged from the author’s work over six years of providing live workshops, and it focuses on two key questions:

1) What do you really want?

2) Who do you want to be when you die? When I was younger, I never thought I would become a spiritual person, but now I know there is a link between authenticity and trusting my inner voice.

The Authenticity Code: The Art and Science of Success and Why You Can’t Fake It to Make It by Dr. Sharon Lamm-Hartman

Dr. Sharon Lamm-Hartman has degrees from both Columbia and Cornell, but does she have the secret formula for being success in business. The reviews of this book would suggest she does. I’m typically not a fan of business books written in parable format, although I think writers, like Patrick Lencioni, can make it work without being corny. If you’re looking to make some moves in the business world, or whatever ladder you’re trying to climb, this book could be for you. Some claim that the book is just trying to sell the author’s course, but that’s a common complaint for business books.

Authenticity: A Guide to Living in Harmony with Your True Self by David Posen, M.D.

Dr. Posen is a medical doctor, but he’s also able to weave in other ways of thinking to approach authenticity from multiple angles. I love doctors who take a holistic approach, as it’s how I tend to approach my own life. In the book, he analyzes five types of conflict and helps readers address them through the lens of authenticity. Here’s what one happy reader had to say: The author writes with a foundation of his own experiences in career path. With head AND heart, he describes all aspects within us and outside of us that can influence our life path.

The little book on authenticity by Dr. Nina Burrowes

This was just too interesting of a find not too include because it was written by a psychologist who also did the cartoons, some of which are on the wacky cover. The Little Book On Authenticity lives up to its name, as it’s only 94 pages. A therapist sings its praises in the Amazon comments, and it’s hard to say you don’t have enough time for this short and quirky take on being yourself.

Meditations: A New Translation by Gregory Hays

You might be wondering why I included a book about Stoic philosophy in a list of the best books on authenticity. I did it because I believe that authenticity and virtue are connected. It all comes down to figuring out what is right for you, and there is likely no philosophical text that has had a bigger impact on me than this one-of-a-kind book by the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius. It was never supposed to see the light of day—it was just a journal of his private thoughts—which makes it even more fascinating. If you’re struggling with what it means to give a good, authentic life, this book absolutely can help.

Seeking Authenticity: Essays and Stories on Values and Travels by Flint Mitchell

If you’re looking for a personal story of authenticity, you might want to give this one a try. Follow along as Flint Mitchell shares his stories of travel and what he learned from it. Sometimes the best way to find your own authenticity is to peer over the shoulder of someone going on the same search.

From the author: "Seeking Authenticity began as a modern stoic’s journal dedicated to distilling the time-tested ideas of some of the greatest literary figures of the past several centuries into actionable information. Despite initial skepticism of his friends and confidants' desire for these essays and narratives to be formally published, Flint paid beta readers to offer explicitly honest feedback."

The Ethics of Authenticity by Charles Taylor

This one stood out to me because it takes a nuanced look at authenticity through an ethical lens. If you want to take a deeper dive into what it means to be authentic in a challenging modern landscape, you should consider this book. Taylor is a professor at the esteemed McGill University in Canada, and he has written widely about being yourself. Sometimes, to know yourself, you need to inject a dose of scholarly criticism.

The Authenticity Project: A Novel by Clare Pooley

Just read the reviews of this novel. Several readers claimed they didn’t want this book to end, and that’s the sign that the words are poignant. And the most highlighted passage by Kindle readers is an indication of what to expect: ”Surely it would be better to live a messy, flawed, sometimes not very pretty life that was real and honest, than to constantly try to live up to a life of perfection that was actually a sham?” If you’re looking for a gripping story and relatable characters, check this one out.

Choose Yourself! by James Altucher

Now, James Altucher is not for everyone with his eccentric, meandering style. But he is for me—at least, most of the time. Like any good entrepreneur, the author has learned by doing and failing. A lot. He tells his story with candor, and he also weaves in other examples that you can apply to your life. This book is irreverent, practical, and actionable. If you have no idea what to do next, take a page out of this book.

Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Brené Brown

Brene Brown is now a household name, but before that, she was a social work professor researching shame. And did she ever. She learned that shame is absolutely people back. And it’s only by being vulnerable that we can move through our shame and onto the other side. I first came across Brown when a therapist recommended I watch a TED Talk she gave about dealing with shame. It’s stayed with me to this day, and I’ve recommended it countless times. Few books will help you deal with your shame like this one does. Shame only disappears when it is brought to light. Authenticity only emerges when it is brought to light.

Live True: A Mindfulness Guide to Authenticity by Ora Nadrich

If you’re not being mindful, you can’t be authentic. Why? Because you’re on autopilot, going through the motions. Ora Nadrich is a mindfulness teacher and so much more, and she explains why the practice of mindfulness is at the core of being true to yourself. Unlike other books on this list, this one contains meditations to help you discover your authenticity. A quote that gets to the heart of what this is all about: "We ask for more time, realizing that the moments diverted from living in the present are gone forever, wasted. That's why it's so important to love all moments of your life, even the ones that seem unlovable.”

The Art of Authenticity: Tools to Become an Authentic Leader and Your Best Self by Karissa Thacker

This book sits at the intersection of leadership and authenticity. It’s definitely geared towards business people and those who help others work through change in their lives, but readers have claimed that its lessons are universal. Many have claimed that it’s a practical book, and each chapter ends with workouts you can use to deepen your understanding of authentic leadership.

Authentic Happiness: Using the New Positive Psychology to Realize Your Potential for Lasting Fulfillment by Martin Seligman

Martin Seligman is one of the most well-known psychologists in the world. Maybe you know his books Flourish or Learned Optimism, but that doesn’t mean Authentic Happiness isn’t worth your time. I like that this explicitly focuses on happiness, a thing so many want but struggle to find. What better way to learn about authentic happiness than from the former head of the American Psychological Association and the director of the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania.

Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl

This book stands alone, and it’s one of the best I’ve ever read. I’ve read it multiple times because it’s that good. Viktor Frankl survived the horror of Nazi concentration camps, and he used the experience to create logotherapy, a highly influential framework about creating meaning in life. As a top review on Amazon states: If you're in pain, read this book. If you're scared, read this book. If you are lost, read this book. If you are happy, read this book. If you have time, read this book. If you don't have time, read this book. Read this book, read this book.

How to Be Yourself: Quiet Your Inner Critic and Rise Above Social Anxiety by Ellen Hendriksen

What differentiates this book from others is that it looks at authenticity through a social-anxiety lens. Anxiety is so common in this world, yet we hardly talk about it. Many people found this book through Quiet, the world-famous book by Susan Cain, so if you liked that, you’ll most likely enjoy this one as well. Ellen Hendriksen, who is the host of the Savvy Psychologist podcast, uses the cold, hard facts of science to teach people anxiety strategies that work. If you feel your anxiety is holding you back from being your full self, this could be for you.

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