10 best books for self-discovery and finding your own path

From adventure novels to memoirs, here are the best books that will help you take action.

Best books for self-discovery

by Ellen Kinsey |
Updated on

The 'coming of age' or 'finding yourself' plot is a story arc repeatedly told in different ways. Books chronicling self-discovery can be inspirational, comforting, motivating and uplifting and help us become the person we have always known we could be. If you are looking for an inspiring read, we have rounded up the best books for self-discovery, from adventure novels to memoirs that depict a tale from lost to enlightenment.

What does self-discovery mean? To put it simply, self-discovery is the process of understanding your true self: Your principles, your needs and desires, your hopes and dreams and discovering your own path. If this resonates with you and you're not a lover of self-help books, these fictional and biographical novels teach the reader lessons that the protagonist has learnt on their own hero's journey. It can inspire you to make changes in your own life and step into your higher self.

Here are our top 10 self-discovery books featuring classics such as The Alchemist and The Celestine Prophecy to new bestsellers such as The Midnight Library and Untamed that teach invaluable lessons about the world and help you on the spiritual path.

The best books for self-discovery

**“This life is mine alone. So I have stopped asking people for directions to places they’ve never been.” - Glennon Doyle
This powerful book from Glennon Doyle tells the story of why following our inner voice and pushing away the expectations of the world is crucial for finding joy and peace. Sometimes, we need to emancipate ourselves from what other people think of us. Doyle pushes women to be brave, trust themselves and set boundaries in order to start living a life that is for themselves, rather than a life aimed at pleasing those around them.

“The universe is energy, energy that responds to our expectations.” - James Redfield

This spiritual adventure fiction will teach you how to refresh your approach to life with a new understanding, energy and optimism. In this novel, James Redfield discusses various psychological and spiritual ideas rooted in multiple ancient Eastern traditions and New Age spirituality which shows that everything is energy. This adventure and self-discovery plot also functions as a guidebook that demonstrates perceptions of why you are where you are in life will bring in new energy and optimism.

“To lose balance sometimes for love is part of living a balanced life.” ― Elizabeth Gilbert

The bestselling 2006 memoir and hit film by American author Elizabeth Gilbert is a tale about the author's trip around the world after her divorce and what she discovered during her travels through Italy, India and Indonesia. This story of self-discovery is a relatable tale of a woman learning to heal herself from an emotional and spiritual crisis and find her own path.

“Sometimes we love with nothing more than hope. Sometimes we cry with everything except tears. In the end, that’s all there is: love and its duty, sorrow and its truth. In the end, that’s all we have - to hold on tight until the dawn.” ― Gregory David Roberts

This epic is set in the underworld of Bombay in the 1980s and follows an escaped Australian convict, Lin, as he navigates a new life of freedom in India. Lin falls in love with the country and the people as he spends his newfound freedom soul-searching. The adventure novel delves into Indian culture and has a philosophical writing style that tackles themes such as betrayal, revenge, poverty, friendship, values and the search for the self.

Price: $17.80

**“One must find the source within one's own Self, one must possess it. Everything else was seeking -- a detour, an error.” ― Hermann Hesse
Siddhartha is the story of a young Indian noble who embarks on an adventure to understand the meaning of life and the search for self-realisation. This novel teaches us that enlightenment only comes from within and cannot come to us through teachers or worldly possessions. One cannot find the true meaning of life; there is no end goal or resolution, only life itself.

Women Who Run With The Wolves
Price: $17.49

“The psyches and souls of women also have their own cycles and seasons of doing and solitude, running and staying, being involved and being removed, questing and resting, creating and incubating, being of the world and returning to the soul-place.” ― Clarissa Pinkola Estés

Drawing on folk tales and mythology from around the world to explore the themes of the Wild Woman archetype, Women Who Run With The Wolves is a spiritual book containing profound wisdom from Clarissa Pinkola Estés, exploring the journey of reconnecting and rediscovering your inner ‘wild woman’.

“When we love, we always strive to become better than we are. When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better too.” - Paul Coelho

A novel that has affected the lives of millions, The Alchemist tells the story of a young shepherd from Andalusia who musters the courage to escape his humble life and follow his dreams. Throughout the novel, each obstacle faced by the young shepherd serves as an important lesson, with the underlying theme of overcoming fear and following your heart. Throughout, Coelho teaches us that failure is part of our journey, but the key to life is never to lose hope.

“All grown-ups were once children... but only few of them remember it.” ― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
This story follows a young prince who visits different planets in the Universe, including Earth and discusses themes of loneliness, friendship, love, and loss through the eyes of a child. Despite its style as a children's book, The Little Prince makes observations about life, adults and human nature.

**“Between life and death there is a library, and within that library, the shelves go on forever. Every book provides a chance to try another life you could have lived. To see how things would be if you had made other choices… Would you have done anything different, if you had the chance to undo your regrets?”― Matt Haig
The Sunday Times Bestselling novel, The Midnight Library, is about a young woman named Nora Seed, who lives an ordinary life and feels unwanted and unaccomplished. One night she overdoses and finds herself in the midnight library, a strange limbo land between life and death. Based on the author's own journey through self-discovery, this novel guides readers on their own journey of reflection to ensure regrets don't move forward.


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“I’m a free spirit who never had the balls to be free.” - Cheryl Strayed
Wild is based on the true story of Cheryl Strayed, who decides to make great changes in her life after the sudden death of her mother and a series of extramarital affairs. In this remarkable story of self-discovery, Cheryl decides to hike the Pacific Crest Trail to process her emotions, find purpose again and heal. Alternating between tales of her journey and the significant events in her life that brought her to the trail, this book isn't your basic 'find yourself' tale. Plus, there is also a film adaptation featuring Reese Witherspoon to watch as well.

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