Self-Discovery Books to Read This Year

Today, we’re sharing 26 self-discovery books to read this year!

If you’ve read any of our From the Front Porch posts, you’ve likely seen us share the self-discovery books my accountability partner and I read each month. 

But you may not know why we started reading those books in the first place though.

An Unexpected Aha Moment…

Several years ago, I was working at a home décor store that also offered design services. 

It was a long drive from my house, but I learned so much. 

I’m talking about everything from the reason scale is so important to what happens when you make an expensive design mistake to how furniture is shipped in crates from France to dealing with clients that have a variety of different budgets.

It was a fantastic experience.

But it was also incredibly draining at times because the company was relatively new and the stakes in this particular area of town were very high.

I thought I was handling the drive and demands of the job well. Until one day, I had a life-changing aha moment while cleaning up after a Christmas event.

The irony of this story is that I did not actually attend this party. It was held on the same night as my sister’s birthday.

I knew the event was a big deal though.

Every detail had been well thought out from the exquisitely catered food and desserts to the cases of bubbly lining the floor of the stock room.

A floral team had been brought in the day before to make sure the store was at its best, bathed in fresh greenery, twinkling lights, and festive Christmas cheer.

When I arrived at the store early the following morning, it looked like the party had been a success.

Cocktail napkins, bits of confetti, and glitter held court on the floor.

The floral arrangements, Christmas trees, tables, and chairs were all still in place.

The linens were wrinkled from someone sliding trays of food across the top of the table in a late-night attempt to tidy up before deciding it was just too much to deal with.

And the bar was littered with half-empty bottles of top-shelf liquor and champagne.

With the store set to open in less than thirty minutes, I grabbed a big garbage bag and frantically started cleaning up the showroom.

Five minutes before I was set to turn the sign on the front door over from closed to open, I found myself broom in hand, completely panicked and rushed.

“Why am I sweeping the floors of someone else’s dream?” I wondered.

I would love to say that aha moment immediately woke me up. 

But the truth is that it quietly simmered on the back burner of my heart while I became an unexpected caregiver following S’s accident.

Thankfully, the dawn of a new decade also marked over a year of healing and recovery for S, which seemed like the perfect time to begin my own self-discovery journey.  

We had no idea at the time the pandemic would all but force us to manage our expectations differently, to adapt to a new normal, and to overcome countless struggles.

Looking back though, I can’t imagine a better time to celebrate a year of true growth.

Here’s a list of 26 self-discovery books to consider if you’re on a growth journey too…

**(Amazon Affiliate links have been provided for your convenience. Any sales made through such links will support us with a small commission at no extra cost for you. You can read our full disclosure policy here)

*This post has been updated to include 2021 and 2020 Book of the Month selections

January:

The Home Edit Life: The No-Guilt Guide to Owning What You Want and Organizing Everything by Clea Shearer and Joanna Teplin

This is the second book by the ladies of The Home Edit. While I didn’t think it was quite as relatable as their first book, there are still fabulous nuggets of organizing wisdom and home care system management ideas to try.

If you’re still on the fence about the book, you might want to check out their Netflix series. It’s a good one. Bonus, they have a new product line at Walmart too!

February:

Dirt: Growing Strong Roots in What Makes the Broken Beautiful by Mary Marantz

Before I share my review, let me just say, I love Mary Marantz. She is a fabulous writer, speaker, and podcaster. I’ve learned so much from the online conferences she’s been a part of.

That said, this was a really, really tough book to get through.

I think part of it was the subject matter. I felt like it should have come with a trigger warning. It kept me up at night at times and I put it down wondering if I was ever going to be able to finish it more times than I can count.

The thing is, you have to get through the first part of the book to appreciate the second half of the book, which is a story of love, redemption, grace and never giving up.

March:

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

This was one of the most recommended books by fellow creatives.

There were parts of it that were totally woo-woo. But learning how to “follow the breadcrumbs” was a technique I still use today.

Also, in the past, I would allow creative thoughts to come and go thinking they would return again. I write them down immediately now because I know they’re actually gifts.

If want to learn more about how to honor the creative process, this book is for you.

April:

The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz

This was another woo-woo book but it was also short and impactful.

Almost a year later, I still say one of the four agreements out loud at least once a week.

Especially when reminding myself not to assume or take things personally. For those of you who are a recovering perfectionist or a chronic overthinker, I know you get what I’m saying.

May:

Sacred Rest by Dr. Saundra Dalton Smith

I found Dr. Saundra Dalton Smith via her TedxAtlanta Talk called The Real Reason We Are Tired and What To Do About It when I was searching for answers to help explain my poor sleep patterns.

The talk was such a good one, I immediately bought her book and signed up for her email list too.

Her words are not only encouraging, but they’re also completely relatable. They’ve caused me to reevaluate my schedule on more than one occasion and taught me the true value of sleep and rest.

Rest is also an area of growth I hope to expand on more this year so I know I’ll be revisiting this book again and again!

May-Book-of-The-Month-Sacred-Rest-The-Crowned-Goat

June:

Fear Is Not the Boss of You: How to Get Out of Your Own Head and Live The Life You Were Made For by Jennifer Allwood

I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED this faith-based book! It will probably go down as one of my all-time favorites and every time I need a pep talk, I’m going to reach for my copy.

If I learned one thing from this book, it was about the importance of taking action and stepping into your purpose even when it seems scary.

And even when you’ve spent YEARS believing assumptions or lies that just aren’t true.

July:

The Magic of Thinking Big by David J. Schwartz is an old but goodie that has been recommended to me several times over the years. 

I’ve already read it once, but I felt like I could use a refresher so I dove in again! 

Truthfully, I never realized how small my ideas actually were until I read this book. Looking back though, I was just too scared to dream big dreams.

Each and every time I read this book I learn something new. The chapters and topics are easily digestible and cover everything from work scenarios to relationships to finances.

August:

Living the Simply Luxurious Life by Shannon Ables

This was my accountability partner’s favorite book of the year and I totally agree! I discovered Shannon through her blog so I was familiar with her writing style. She also has a podcast as well.

Truthfully, I wish I had read this book in my 20s because it’s a fabulous guidebook that covers so many different topics on how to live a simple yet luxurious life.

It feels like an older sister sharing her best advice tips and the pitfalls she’s experienced so we can learn from them.

Shannon also made me look at quality over quantity in a completely different way.

Even now when going to Fresh Market, I take extra time to pick up the best grapes…fresh flowers… and amazing cheese to enjoy with dinner so we can linger longer.

While the book doesn’t have any pictures, it still has great advice about living a fabulous life.

September:

The Joy of Missing Out: Live More by Doing Less by Tanya Dalton

The first time I picked up this book, I thought it was going to give me permission to stop saying yes to all the things.

It definitely does that but it’s also so much more!

This book also encourages you to decide what things in your life are most important and to give them your whole heart.  

It helped me to let go of the guilt I’d been carrying around for years for pushing not myself to say yes to every out-of-town family function, friend dinner, and work invitation I was offered so I could show up fully focused on those relationships I deeply value.

October:

On Purpose by Tanya Dalton

Full disclosure, I was on the launch team for this book and we had a great time. I also really LOVED this book!

Nearly every week, Tanya, offered insights and nuggets of wisdom into her writing process and gave us a behind-the-scenes peek at what an author really goes through to get a book published.

As someone who dreams of writing a book one day, I found this process totally fascinating!

On Purpose is a great book because it gives you fundamental and applicable ways to live an extraordinary life in nearly every chapter.

I think we’ve all read books with similar topics, that talk about how to live a life on purpose. But this one is like a guidebook – it literally walks you through how to do it.

I’ve revisited the exercises in the book several times already and they really help to keep me focused. Especially, when there are so many demands on my time.

November:

Feels Like Home by Marian Parsons

I was also on the launch team for this book! I’ve followed Marian on her blog, Miss Mustard Seed for years so it was fun to be able to give back and support her in this way.

While this book features Miss Mustard Seed’s signature style and stunning photographs, it’s also filled with stories and encouragement, practical tips, and DIY ideas, on how to truly create a warm and inviting home.

I’ve gotten to know Marian more through this experience and I can definitely say she’s not only an amazing creator she’s also an amazing person.

Decemeber:

Cozy White Cottage Seasons: 100 Ways to Be Cozy All Year Long by Liz Marie Galvan

Every time I read Liz Marie’s blog, I’m reminded that creating a cozy home can also be found in the art of slowing down.

I have no idea how she does it all with a busy family, farm, brick, and mortar store, best-selling books, and collaborations with big-time brands.

But Liz Marie makes it look seamless all while cozying with a generous mug of coffee, plenty of cable-knit blankets, throw pillows, vintage finds, and heavy doses of creamy whites.

This was another great book!

Need even more inspiration? Check out our favorite self-discovery Book of the Month picks from 2020…

**(Amazon Affiliate links have been provided for your convenience. Any sales made through such links will support us with a small commission at no extra cost for you. You can read our full disclosure policy here)

January:

You Are the Girl for the Job: Daring to Believe the God Who Calls You by Jess Connolly

If you’ve ever struggled with self-doubt, comparison-itis, or weren’t sure you were on the right path, this book gently reminds readers we’ve already been equipped with the gifts we need to fulfill our purpose.

It’s still a favorite! 

February: 

The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy

I don’t know why it never dawned on me every single decision we make collectively compounds throughout our lives in a positive or negative way until I read this book. 

If you wrestle with an “all or nothing” mentality, The Compound Effect will show you how smart choices and persistent progress lead to a transformational life even on the days you feel off track.

March:

The Next Right Thing: A Simple, Soulful Practice for Making Life Decisions by Emily P Freeman

Hand down one of my favorite self-discovery books of the year!

As a creative, life-long problem solver and deep thinker, I grapple with decision fatigue a lot. 

It seems like my mind never really shuts off or slows down until I reach the point of burnout. Even while sleeping, I have very vivid dreams.

This book offers practical tips and techniques you can use in a variety of situations from deciding what to say no to, choosing between two things you really enjoy, looking for arrows, finding clarity, and why you should just buy the bigger pants already just to name a few.

April:

Rhythms of Renewal: Stress and Anxiety for a Life of Peace and Purpose by Rebekah Lyons

This book made me realize slowing down was a necessity, not a luxury. It reveals how our seasons of life are interrelated, the pitfalls to avoid, and how taking care of ourselves is a gift we can choose daily.

May:

The Lifegiving Home: Creating a Place of Belonging and Becoming by Sally and Sarah Clarkson.

I read a lot of home décor and DIY books, but none have explained the art of hospitality and the simple act of welcoming someone into your home quite as this one does.

While at times it felt like the authors lived in a completely different world than I do and the scriptures and quotes were hard to get through, I really appreciated how they honor special occasions throughout the year and celebrate the people in their lives so freely.

It made me realize the heart of hospitality has more to do with how you serve those gathered around the table than Pinterest-worthy menu items and Instagram-able table decor.

June:

Get Out of Your Head: Stopping the Spiral of Toxic Thoughts by Jennie Allen

I’ll be honest this book was the hardest for me to digest. I can only surmise it’s because my graduate degree is in counseling and I’ve done a lot of work in this area personally. 

My accountability partner said this self-discovery book definitely helped her, but I barely got through it.

As someone who has struggled with an anxiety disorder since age 19, the text felt dismissive at times and made the idea of taking your thoughts captive seem far easier to achieve than it actually is.

My biggest takeaway from the book is to stop, take a breath and ask yourself “What part of this thought is actually true?” whenever you feel yourself starting to spiral.

July:

The Art of Showing Up: How to be There for Yourself and Your People by Rachel Wilkerson Miller.

I first picked this book up because I thought it would help me appreciate my flakey friends in a different way.

What I found instead was a book that not only helped me define my own boundaries but also shared how to become more aware of how we’re spending our time, money, energy, and resources.

It also reinforced the power of non-verbal communication and how being aware of your own needs can help you become more aware and considerate of the needs of others.

There is a ton of salty language in this book that I could have absolutely done without. But if you can get through the bad language, it’s a good one.

August:

Love Does by Bob Goff

The stories in this book are relatively short. But the lessons are ones that stay with you long after the last chapter is finished.

While I can’t even imagine a life as adventurous as Bob Goff’s, this book, is a reminder to show up each day with courage and faith.

September:

Eat That Frog: 21 Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time by Brian Tracy 

I’ve always considered myself an organized person, even at a young age. I know I still have lots to learn though.

This book, filled with so many practical tips and tricks! It showed me how to prioritize my to-do list, work more efficiently, prepare for success through thoughtful planning, and finally take action on ideas I’ve been putting off for months.

It was also my accountability partner’s favorite self-discovery book of the year!

October:

Welcome Home: A Cozy Minimalist Guide to Decorating and Hosting All Year Round by Myquillyn Smith

We thought this book would be a great way to kick off the holiday season!  It’s an easy read filled with insightful ways to celebrate your home throughout the year. 

From season to season, the author invites readers to consider how they use the items and spaces in their homes while encouraging them to declutter and simplify along the way.

November:

Present Over Perfect: Leaving Behind Frantic for a Simpler, More Soulful Way of Living by Shauna Niequist

My best takeaway is truly how important it is to keep the Sabbath sacred, how we need to show up for ourselves so we can show up for others and how taking time to get away and refocus will always be a great investment even if it feels at times, inconvenient.

December: 

Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand in the Sun and Be Your Own Person by Shonda Rhimes

When I asked my accountability partner what she thought of the book, she said, “This book was a good one because it was so relatable.  I really appreciate how she [the author] overcame obstacles with laughter and courage.”

My Favorite Self-Discovery Book of 2020…

Admittedly, The Powerful Purpose of Introverts by Holley Gerth never made the original Self-Discovery Book of the Month list. 

And for that, I apologize.

It’s been a life-changing read for me and if you’re an introvert or love an introvert, I suspect, it will be for you too.  

For the past few years, I couldn’t figure out why being around my family felt so taxing. 

I love them dearly and with all my heart.

Yet gathering after gathering, my shirt would be soaked in sweat, my nerves would be frayed from the constant and loud activity, my back would ache without explanation, I felt grumpy like my sugar was too low and the minute I got in the car I immediately got a migraine without fail.

Each and every time, I assumed it was because I struggled with horrible anxiety in the car. 

After all, when you’re “the one without kids” you’re expected to be the one that always drives, goes along with the game plan set for you by others, not be “so sensitive,” to “let the kids be kids,” to take a “Frozen approach” and “let it go,” all while managing life and job-related stressors “like a lady.”

Most of the time, I felt like I was doing ok.

But one day while driving to a birthday party, I looked at S and said, “Something is wrong with me. It makes no sense I get this clammy and keyed up before being with 10 people I absolutely adore.”

S very quietly said, “We already know your anxiety in the car needs to be addressed.  It’s become disruptive. I think by the time you get where you’re going your emotions are already high. But I also think you’re an introvert living in a family of extroverts. And you’ve been expected to adapt and overcome for years.”

That day was as much of a lightbulb moment for me as the day I found myself sweeping up after the Christmas party. 

Only this time, I didn’t hesitate to take action.

The Powerful Purpose of Introverts does a fantastic job explaining everything from the special gifts and skills introverts possess to the physical changes that come with being overstimulated.

It made me appreciate hard-won resilience, understand being sensitive is not something to be ashamed of, the risks of burnout, what it means to have intentional energy, and the sacred importance of self-care.   

This book made me feel so normal and dare I say validated, I devoured it in a single day, and I can’t recommend it highly enough.

I know this time of year we’re setting goals and making sure we have a crystal-clear path to achieving our dreams.

I also know the past few years have been such a wild ride, some of you might not feel like setting goals, daring to dream, or even choosing a word of the year. 

Believe me, I completely understand where you’re coming from.

The thing is, the days are going to pass anyway.

So, you may as well spend them doing the things you love. 

If you’re on the fence about starting a self-discovery journey of your own, I’d encourage you to start with just one book and see how it goes.

You never know the kind of perfectly imperfect gems waiting to be uncovered.

Let us know what self-discovery books you’re reading this year and how your journey is going! Until next time, I’ll see you on Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest.

Many blessings,

CoCo

Similar Posts

20 Comments

  1. Great post CoCo. So many of us start a New Year’s goal and end up failing. I think everyone should read this blog post. Thanks for sharing.

    1. I really appreciate your sweet words, Terrie, thank you so much. Hope your 2021 is off to a great start so far. Hugs, CoCo

  2. I was very encouraged by reading about each book. It really does pay to slow down and take some time to understand ourselves and others better!

    1. That is so true, Heidi! It’s hard to make time for intentional rest but the efforts are always worth it. Hugs and Happy New Year, CoCo

    2. I love this list of books. I don’t seem to have time to read anymore

      Miss Mustard Seed is definitely on my list

      Adorable picture again

  3. Thanks so much for the terrific post! I love self-discovery books, and this is a great selection. I especially appreciate your annotations, to help me decide which to delve into next! Now I’m eager to read your post on favorite decorating books!

    1. I really appreciate it, Karen Mary, thank you! We had such a great time picking out a book each month and we learned so much along the way too. Hope you find some that help you as well. Happy New Year, CoCo

  4. Highly recommend Tama Kieves “Thriving Through Uncertainty” – has lots of encouraging thoughts and done with gentle humor. Love her style of writing, just makes one feel better.

    1. I’m writing that one down right now, Linda, thank you so much for the recommendation. I really appreciate it! I hope your weekend has been a relaxing one. Hugs, CoCo

  5. I have followed the Clarksons since I first started homeschooling years ago. I’ve been to two of Sally’s conventions that used to be held here in So Cal. They were my ‘mentors’ for homeschooling and so many other things for ‘home’. I’m interested to know what was ‘hard’ about getting through the Scriptures and quotes, if you feel like expounding. I haven’t read this book, so it’s always interesting to know other perspectives. (I also see Beholding and Becoming… another of my fave and on my nightstand right now!)
    My daughter is definitely introverted, and has had similar experiences to you. As I get older, I feel more like an introvert and according to personality tests, I’m right on the fence. 😉 So I get the noise and many other things you expressed. 😉 Thanks for the book list… great post!

    1. Thanks so much, Julie! I’m glad to hear the Clarksons have ‘mentored’ and meant so much to you over the years. They definitely have many positive and helpful things to say about family life and raising strong children which I know lots of people find helpful. I absolutely appreciate how dedicated they are to transforming families across the globe. I read a completely different translation of the Bible than was used in the passages of the book. So, I had to sit with the translation they reference most plus my own Bible while I was reading this book. Beholding and Becoming was AMAZING! I loved that book so much and used it as a morning devotional. Super excited to hear your daughter is an introvert too! If she hasn’t checked out Holley Gerth she definitely should. I’ve also heard Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain is a good one for introverts but I haven’t read it yet. It’s on my list though 🙂 Hope your weekend was a happy one, CoCo

  6. I think we all could use a little self-discovery after the year we’ve had – and still seem to be having! Thank you for sharing at Party In Your PJ’s, CoCo.

    1. Speak to my heart, Ann, I couldn’t agree more! I know last week was a rough one but I’m hoping little by little things will get better. Sending you hugs, CoCo

  7. I think the first one on your list is the one for me. I hope to read more this year! One of my daughters suffers from anxiety on top of sometimes debilitating IBS and it’s been a long road of self-realization and acceptance. But today she’s doing better than ever:) Here’s to a greater year for all of us. Thanks for sharing at Vintage Charm. xo Kathleen

    1. That is so exciting to hear about your daughter, Kathleen! I know firsthand this journey is not an easy one but taking the first step is so important. It took me a long time to realize I was worth the effort and I’m thankful your daughter is doing so well. Sending you big hugs for a peace-filled and exciting year ahead, CoCo

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.