Two books on a white background, one entitled The Big Life and another Sweet Bitter A Novel

Fake it ’til you make it, or grab one of these inspiring books, hit the beach and get to reading. We asked the professional lady bosses behind Career Contessa, a career advice site for women, to assign some summer reading material that’ll help take our work to the next level — whether that’s a daily nine-to-five or passion project in progress. Snag a stack and start reading for an instant confidence boost (and all the benefits that come with it)…

If you’ve ever felt like you lack self-assurance or confidence in your work and life, you’re not alone. Sadly, it turns out there’s an actual confidence gap between men and women that affects us more than we realize. Despite our own very real accomplishments and unique strengths, we often have a hard time talking ourselves up.

Fortunately, you can build your own confidence through a little self-care and conscious practice. A great way to start? With one of countless books out there that can help you find your voice — no chanting of cheesy mantras required.

7 Books to Boost Self-Confidence

Own It: The Power of Women at Work by Sallie Krawcheck | Think of Own It as this year’s Lean In. It’s a perfect manifesto for any woman looking to lead — and we’re using the term “lead” loosely here. Whether you want to own your career or start speaking up for yourself more in your personal life, you’ll appreciate Krawcheck’s unique and useful advice. She’s raw and honest, totally unapologetic and also optimistic. And she’ll make you feel like she’s speaking directly to you. CHECKOUT

In the Company of Women: Inspiration and Advice from over 100 Makers, Artists, and Entrepreneurs by Grace Bonney | If someone were to ask us that question, “Who’s your dream dinner date?” Grace Bonney, the founder of Design*Sponge, would definitely make it into our top five. Well, turns out she has a few woman crushes of her own — and she’s gathered them all into one glorious book full of honest and diverse insight. Sometimes, the best way to bolster your self-confidence is to immerse yourself in the stories of women who have found their own voices. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. CHECKOUT

The Confidence Code: The Science and Art of Self-Assurance—What Women Should Know by Katty Kay and Claire Shipman | This is the book for anyone, anywhere who feels stuck. Study after study shows that women often lack confidence in their own work, particularly in comparison to their male counterparts. This book will help you isolate those feelings, understand them better and learn how to counteract them. CHECKOUT

The Big Life: Embrace the Mess, Work Your Side Hustle, Find a Monumental Relationship, and Become the Badass Babe You Were Meant to Be by Ann Shoket | This one goes out to any woman who’s ever worried that she doesn’t have it together. Whether you’re stressing about your complete lack of financial planning (we’ve got a solution for that, BTW), wondering why you can’t find a life partner who’s the right fit, or you just feel like you’re sort of a stranger in your own body — you need this book. CHECKOUT

Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler | Inspiration doesn’t have to come solely from self-help books. This novel has taken the literary world by storm for multiple reasons, but here’s why we think you should crack the cover: Reading a 22-year-old woman struggling to find her way in the most stressful industry imaginable (AKA fine dining) will feel deeply personal because you’ve had plenty of moments like those, too. Watching her find her voice despite embarrassing mishaps, bad relationship choices and a few too many glasses of wine feels both relatable and rewarding. CHECKOUT

Postgrad: 5 Women and Their First Year Out of College by Caroline Kitchener | One word sums up our first read of Postgrad: Woah. After graduating from Princeton, the author didn’t just plunge into the insane world of entry-level jobs, she documented the whole experience. And she tracked a few of her fellow grads’ experiences as well. It’s a fascinating read, and one that will remind you that we’re all just trying to figure it out. CHECKOUT

Rising Strong: How the Ability to Reset Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Brené Brown | Maybe you’ve read Brené Brown’s earlier hit, Daring Greatly. And you’ve probably come across her insanely popular TED talk. But it’s her newest book that will leave you feeling both empowered and no longer afraid to fail. The entire book is dedicated to the moments when we fall and what comes after — what Brown calls “the rise.” The perfect book when you’re feeling particularly beaten down by a rough period in your life. After just 20 or so pages, you’ll feel ready to face whatever’s going wrong, head-on. CHECKOUT

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  1. Purchased the Big Life on Audible yesterday…Finished it. Changed woman. Thank you!!

    Bailey | 07.13.2017 | Reply

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