The most recommended books about courage

Who picked these books? Meet our 94 experts.

94 authors created a book list connected to courage, and here are their favorite courage books.
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What type of courage book?


Book cover of Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts.

Elias Aboujaoude Author Of A Leader's Destiny: Why Psychology, Personality, and Character Make All the Difference

From my list on the psychological quest for meaning.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a psychiatry professor, researcher, and author at Stanford University. Besides OCD, my research has focused on the interface between technology and psychology, both in its negative manifestations (e.g., video game addiction, online narcissism, cyberbullying) and positive applications (e.g., telemedicine, virtual reality therapy, AI digital therapeutics). My reading tastes and non-scientific writing topics reflect the same interests—deep and highly personal psychological explorations of individuals on a quest for meaning or facing seemingly insurmountable obstacles, symptoms, or character tests.  

Elias' book list on the psychological quest for meaning

Elias Aboujaoude Why did Elias love this book?

How-to books are typically far from my favorites. They are often reductive and play fast and loose with psychology–pretending, for example, that personality traits are easily moldable—so I typically stay away.

Still, it was hard to resist the uplifting pull of a book that turns courage into a set of seemingly teachable and achievable skills, ultimately encouraging people to break through their inhibitions and step up and lead. 

By Brené Brown,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Dare to Lead as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • Brené Brown has taught us what it means to dare greatly, rise strong, and brave the wilderness. Now, based on new research conducted with leaders, change makers, and culture shifters, she’s showing us how to put those ideas into practice so we can step up and lead.

Don’t miss the five-part HBO Max docuseries Brené Brown: Atlas of the Heart!


Leadership is not about titles, status, and wielding power. A leader is anyone who takes responsibility for recognizing the potential in people and…

Book cover of The Testament of Jessie Lamb

Peter Kalu Author Of One Drop

From my list on bleak urban futures that give you a sense of hope.

Why am I passionate about this?

I spent most of my childhood hiding under the table reading science fiction and fantasy books to avoid having to communicate with the weird people claiming to be my family up in the world above. After a while, the local library turned me away saying they had no more books left on those shelves, so I started writing my own. I like a mix of urban themes like in Angie Thomas’s The Hate U Give and dystopias like George Orwell’s 1984. That said, I love most futurist novels that have a love story at their centre, because despite everything I’m a romantic.

Peter's book list on bleak urban futures that give you a sense of hope

Peter Kalu Why did Peter love this book?

An under-recognised gem of a novel, The Testament… showcases Jane Roger’s character-building talents and has at its core a troubled moral position about how to deal with the calamity humanity is faced with, owing to some bio-engineered terror that has been unleashed.

There is no middle ground for this book. You will either love it or hate it. Same goes for the main character, Jessie. She will strike you as the epitome of heroic self-sacrifice, else the height of stupid, navel-gazing, teenage self-indulgence.

By Jane Rogers,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Testament of Jessie Lamb as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

 Longlisted for the Man Booker Prize

“The novel does not set up an elaborate apocalypse, but astringently strips away the smears hiding the apocalypses we really face. Like Jessie’s, it is a small, calm voice of reason in a nonsensical world.” ―The Independent

Set in a world altered by an act of biological terrorism, comes The Testament of Jessie Lamb, a chilling dystopian novel that follows a 16-year-old girl who is driven to the ultimate act of heroism. 

The Testament of Jessie Lamb, is the breakout novel from award-winning author Jane Rogers. Its cunningly drawn characters and riveting vision of…

Book cover of Courage Is Calling: Fortune Favors the Brave

Steve Fenton Author Of Pro TypeScript: Application-Scale JavaScript Development

From Steve's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Software punk Programmer Thought recycler Musician Reader

Steve's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Steve Fenton Why did Steve love this book?

Ryan Holiday is a modern advocate for ancient ideas. He makes the works of the stoics relevant and accessible to a contemporary audience. Courage Is Calling examines fear and how we might show bravery in daily situations.

Instead of approaching fear with a mask of bravado, this book is about making real, lasting differences, whether in the workplace, at home, or on the streets of our own cities. I sometimes re-read sections of this book to rekindle my courage.

By Ryan Holiday,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Courage Is Calling as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An inspiring anthem to the power, promise, and challenges of courage, the first in a series examining the timeless Stoic virtues from #1 New York Times bestselling author Ryan Holiday

Fortune favours the bold. All great leaders of history have known this, and were successful because of the risks they dared to take. But today so many of us are paralysed by fear.

Drawing on ancient Stoic wisdom and examples across history and around the world, Ryan Holiday shows why courage is so important, and how to cultivate it in our own lives. Courage is not simply physical bravery but…

Book cover of Embattled Courage: The Experience of Combat in the American Civil War

Lesley J. Gordon Author Of A Broken Regiment: The 16th Connecticut's Civil War

From my list on the Civil War and the soldiers who fought in it.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been reading, researching, writing, and teaching Civil War military history for nearly thirty years. I first became interested in soldiers and their experiences as a teen, and went on to earn a PhD in American History at the University of Georgia. I’ve always been fascinated by the anti-hero, and the ways in which everyday people coped (or failed to cope) with this violent conflict. I am currently writing a book about regiments accused of cowardice and how those searing allegations cast a shadow over their military record. From 2010-2015, I served as editor of the scholarly journal Civil War History, and I was recently elected President of the Society for Civil War Historians (2022-2024).

Lesley's book list on the Civil War and the soldiers who fought in it

Lesley J. Gordon Why did Lesley love this book?

This book, first published in 1987, was (and is) harshly attacked by some scholars including James McPherson who blasted the book for its overreliance on postwar, published sources. Yet Linderman’s central thesis, that war negatively affected Civil War soldiers and for some, alienated them from families and communities at home, remains valid. It is not true that all Civil War soldiers were negatively affected by war, but many were, and Linderman was one of the first to challenge the mythology of the all-heroic and stoic Civil War soldier. For a book that makes you think differently about the war and the mythologies that continue to linger about it, I’d still go back to Linderman.

By Gerald Linderman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Embattled Courage as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Linderman traces each soldier's path from the exhilaration of enlistment to the disillusionment of battle to postwar alienation. He provides a rare glimpse of the personal battle that raged within soldiers then and now.

Book cover of The Glory Wind

Sylvia McNicoll Author Of Revenge on the Fly

From my list on friendly, feel good historical fiction.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I was invited to write a historical fiction that appealed to male readers, I wanted to showcase the struggles and dramas in peacetime rather than in war. Scientists vilifying the fly in order to demonstrate the connection between microbes and disease—and enlisting children to kill the flynow that was a battle I could get behind. Revenge on the Fly, in all the forty books I’ve written, is my only foray into historical fiction. However, like most writers, I read across the genres voraciously. What I most love to read and write about are strong characters who demonstrate unwavering resilience.

Sylvia's book list on friendly, feel good historical fiction

Sylvia McNicoll Why did Sylvia love this book?

The Glory Wind is set on the prairies in 1940 and is a wonderful story for the reader who enjoys a good cry. Eleven-year-old Luke is attracted to an imaginative and impulsive new classmate Gracie. Their innocent friendship is tried and tested by small-town prejudices over Gracie’s mother’s morality and Luke struggles to stay true. Then tragedy in the form of a tornado throws Luke’s heart to the wind.

By Valerie Sherrard,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Glory Wind as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 10, 11, 12, and 13.

What is this book about?

A young boy must come to terms with the moral prejudices of his small town in rural 1950s Ontario when he befriends the daughter of a young widow who moves in next door. Gracie is unlike anyone Luke has ever met – fun, charming, imaginative and full of life. But when the townsfolk discover that her mother’s past is less than completely honourable, they set out to isolate both mother and daughter. This striking new novel from Valerie Sherrard explores themes of friendship, loyalty, hypocrisy, and forgiveness.

Book cover of Sticky Icky Vicky: Courage over Fear

Deanie Humphrys-Dunne Author Of My Life at Sweetbrier: A Life Changed by Horses

From my list on encouraging children to believe in themselves.

Why am I passionate about this?

My parents encouraged me to become a children’s author when I was very young. At first, I thought that was the silliest idea ever, but I found creating stories to be fun and inspiring. I’ve been an award-winning published author since 2009, when I had an intuition to try writing stories for children. I love being a role model for children; someone who can show them that they can achieve much more than they imagine if they persevere. My personal story, My Life at Sweetbrier; A Life Changed by Horses, is a testament that remarkable things can be accomplished through perseverance. I’m honored my work has earned many literary awards. 

Deanie's book list on encouraging children to believe in themselves

Deanie Humphrys-Dunne Why did Deanie love this book?

Sticky Icky Vicky is an educational, entertaining, well-written book for children. The big, bright illustrations will help engage readers. They will want to know why Vicky is so terrified of water that she even hates bathing. What happened to make her fear water? How did Vicky overcome her fear? Readers will want to keep turning the pages to see how Vicky changes her thought process. What occurs in the story that helps Vicky make an important choice? Readers will cheer for Vicky as she tackles her fear.

By Alysia Ssentamu, Michael Ssentamu, Noor Alshalabi (illustrator)

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Sticky Icky Vicky as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 5, 6, 7, and 8.

What is this book about?

Meet Sticky Icky Vicky, a girl who wants to get over her fear—once and for all
In Sticky Icky Vicky: Courage over Fear, the first book in the Sticky Icky Vicky™ series, authors Alysia and Michael Ssentamu introduce readers to Vicky, a fun-loving girl who doesn't mind getting a little sticky and icky. She loves rolling down hills and playing in mud—but when it comes to water, Sticky Icky Vicky's fear prevents her from joining in the fun. Then Vicky gets an invitation for a waterpark party, and she decides that she really wants to go—even if it means ignoring…

Book cover of Chirp

Shelly X. Leonn Author Of The Ghost and the Wolf

From my list on girl MCs who are owning life.

Why am I passionate about this?

My novel choices were part of the Afterschool Literacy & Building Modules for an organization called LitShop. It encourages growth in literacy, making, building, and leadership in girls ages 10-15 in St. Louis, Missouri. I’m honored to lead the writing classes. All of the LitShop books feature strong girls who believe they can make and build their way to a better world, and I aim to include similar characters in my stories. Stories can provide us with motivation, inspiration, and companionship, and all of these books have done just that… for the girls of LitShop as well as myself.

Shelly's book list on girl MCs who are owning life

Shelly X. Leonn Why did Shelly love this book?

This pick has the distinguished honor of convincing me to try cricket flour. It also manages to present a layered storyline, one that combines an almost classic mystery plot with a traumatized character’s journey of self-healing. This book serves as a powerful reminder that we are more than the incidents that victimized us. And yes, even an insect hater like me enjoyed learning so much about the many uses of crickets! 

By Kate Messner,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Chirp as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 10, 11, 12, and 13.

What is this book about?

"[A] deftly layered mystery about family, friendship, and the struggle to speak up." - Laurie Halse Anderson, bestselling author of Speak and Shout

From acclaimed author Kate Messner comes the powerful story of a young girl with the courage to make her voice heard, set against the backdrop of a summertime mystery.

When Mia moves to Vermont the summer after seventh grade, she's recovering from the broken arm she got falling off a balance beam. And packed away in the moving boxes under her clothes and gymnastics trophies is a secret she'd rather forget.

Mia's change in scenery brings day…

Book cover of Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear

Dr. Caroline Brookfield Author Of The Reluctant Creative: 5 Effortless Habits to Expand Your Comfort Zone

From my list on trying new things even if you are scared.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was driven to become a veterinarian for as long as I could remember. Then, in high school, I developed a love of performance. I felt stuck. Should I choose art or science? I chose science, and despite a great career, I felt like something was missing. When I reconnected with my creativity through stand-up comedy, entrepreneurship and other non-artistic creative outlets, I found out what I had been missing. Why do we drop creativity for science? It was a common story. I dove into the research on creativity, and was blown away by how a bit of creativity can make us happier, more resilient, and make workplaces more effective.

Dr.'s book list on trying new things even if you are scared

Dr. Caroline Brookfield Why did Dr. love this book?

In this book, I loved the way the author explains the creative process and what it takes to engage your muse and catch ideas. In a different way from The War Of Art, I learned what holds us back from expressing ourselves creatively and how we can overcome this fear of being seen.

Elizabeth Gilbert shares stories and philosophies about how to be more creative every day in a funny and optimistic way.

By Elizabeth Gilbert,

Why should I read it?

18 authors picked Big Magic as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Readers of all ages and walks of life have drawn inspiration from Elizabeth Gilbert's books for years. Now, this beloved author shares her wisdom and unique understanding of creativity, shattering the perceptions of mystery and suffering that surround the process - and showing us all just how easy it can be. By sharing stories from her own life, as well as those from her friends and the people that have inspired her, Elizabeth Gilbert challenges us to embrace our curiosity, tackle what we most love and face down what we most fear. Whether you long to write a book, create…

Book cover of Freedom

Lauren Walker Author Of The Energy to Heal: Find Lasting Freedom From Stress and Trauma Through Energy Medicine Yoga

From Lauren's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Curiosity Courage Honesty Integrity Compassion

Lauren's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Lauren Walker Why did Lauren love this book?

This is a book I reread every year. It is so powerful, and poignant, and unexpected. 

It is a deep rumination on what freedom really means, why it is valuable, and what we can do to achieve and protect it.

The writing is simple and eloquent, and the storytelling so deep that you look up breathless every once in a while just to get your bearings again before diving back in for more.  As soon as it’s over you want to read it again.

By Sebastian Junger,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Freedom as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A profound rumination on the concept of freedom from the bestselling author of The Perfect Storm

'Sebastian Junger bears witness to a hard-won and an uncertain new world, framed in vital and brilliant prose: a true and honest accounting of everything that underlies the frantic performance of life' Philip Hoare, author of Albert and the Whale

Throughout history, humans have been driven by the quest for two cherished ideals: community and freedom. The two don't coexist easily: we value individuality and self-reliance, yet are utterly dependent on community for our most basic needs. In this intricately crafted and thought-provoking book,…

Book cover of Three Ways to Be Brave: A Trio of Stories

John Micklos Jr. Author Of Raindrops to Rainbow

From my list on recent picture books with a message.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have written 60 books over the past 20 years. My titles include picture books, poetry books, and dozens of nonfiction books covering a wide range of history and social studies topics. My picture books deal with concepts such as counting and colors. I enjoy rhyming and wordplay and conveying ideas in simple terms. 

John's book list on recent picture books with a message

John Micklos Jr. Why did John love this book?

This engaging book presents three young children being brave in three scary situations—a thunderstorm, the first day of school, and getting a shot at the doctor’s office. Using very simple rhyming text, Karla Clark captures the fear of these events and shows the children overcoming that fear. This is a great book for parents to use with preschoolers in discussing ways to deal with being frightened. Jeff Őstberg’s artwork effectively portrays the children’s fear, as well as their pride in overcoming it. The cover art is especially striking.

By Karla Clark, Jeff Östberg (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Three Ways to Be Brave as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 3, 4, and 5.

What is this book about?

Told in gentle, rhyming couplets, this collection of stories presents relatable moments of unease and the strength found in conquering fears. A roaring nighttime thunderstorm, the first day of preschool, and a doctor's visit, in turn, encourage young readers to forge their own paths of strength in times of distress. Illustrated in rich, emotional scenes that depict vignettes of daily life, this book provides comfort and empowerment for resilience and resolution.