13 Self-Discovery Books to Read This Year

Today, we’re sharing 13 self-discovery books to read this year!

It’s great to be back with you after a much needed holiday break.  I hope your holiday season was a blessed one too.  Happy New Year! 

Truth be told, I was planning on writing a completely different post today. 

But I’ve just finished an amazing book and it seemed like the perfect time to share my self-discovery journey and to encourage you on your self-discovery journey this year too.

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. 

I’ve never really shared why we started reading those books in the first place though.  

Until now.

An Unexpected Aha Moment…

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

While it was a long drive from my house, I learned a lot.  I’m talking 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 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 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 deep in thought, broom in hand.

“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 13 self-discovery books to read this year…

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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.  

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 better 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 like 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

I’m still trying to process how I feel about this self-discovery book, to be honest. 

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

Full disclosure, I had every intention of finishing this book after the holidays. But S surprised me with a book (more on it below) that I couldn’t put down and so I haven’t finished it yet.

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 the Year…

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 last year was 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.

Other Book Related Posts to Enjoy:

Many blessings,

CoCo

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19 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

  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

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