This is not a book designed to be read. It is, rather, a program of self-study and self-actualization. That is its greatest strength, but may also point to a potential problem with its conception. It may also indicate that this brief response can only be partial, since in what follows I'm only going to address the basic conception of the book. I've read it, but haven't seriously attempted to put it into practice in my own life.
Most self-help books are predicated on the assumption that we know, basically, what we want, and just need some good advice to get there. It is assumed, further, that what we want is basically okay, that who we are is alright and we should just "be ourselves." The core message of philosophy since at least Socrates, by contrast, is that getting clear about who one is and what is real and what we ought to work towards are the hardest tasks, tasks for a lifetime. We can't assume that we know who we are or that what we think we want to begin with is legitimate.
The notion of authenticity is an ambiguous one, that splits the difference between the naive self-help attitude that I'm more or less okay as I am and the more rigorous philosophical attitude that only the self won through self study is valid, only the examined life is worth living. The real merit of "Steps of Essence" is that it aims to lead the reader on the path of self-scrutiny, away from the automatic valorization of values inherited from others and from society and the media, and towards the discovery and actualization of values that are authentically one's own.
The book outlines two basic stages towards authentic living: the inward process of self-discovery and the outward process of self-actualization. Importantly, the author makes clear that this does not mean that first one should figure out who one is and only then begin to actualize oneself. These two stages, or "acts," are interconnected, since one can only fully realize oneself in action. The author draws upon classical and contemporary philosophy, most notably the work of Heidegger, as well as psychology and the work of cultural theorists such as Joseph Campbell. One thing that turned me off slightly was some of the jargon, some drawn from Campbell's approach to the hero's quest but some from the author's original coinage - such as the capitalization of ACT as an acronym where "A" stands for the idea of finding an Appropriate way, and for Acceptance, and so on, and "C" stands for ... you get the picture. On the other hand, a strength of the book is the focus on language, and the way that words carry rich layers of meaning, and that attending to these strands of significance in the words we employ can help us to reorient our self-understandings and our sense of the world.
Overall, the book is designed as an impetus and guide to the quest for meaning, with the basic premise that finding your own authentic path is the path to good living. It is in this premise that I see a potential problem. Basically, it can be put like this: isn't it possible that finding out who I am and being true to myself could turn out to be a mistake? The 19th Century German philosopher Hegel identified the extreme position that "authenticity" is all that matters with what he called the "Beautiful Soul" - who is so convinced of his legitimacy that he fails to acknowledge the legitimate criticisms coming from others. I don't think this book advocates that extreme, and Porr certainly acknowledges the importance of others (what he calls "the council of the wise") to the personal quest for self-"ACTualization," but I think there may be a too easy identification in the book of authenticity (the modern, existential ideal) with the "Good life" (the ancient philosophical ideal, according to which self-knowledge was inseparable from the discovery of universal truths, applicable to all). In any case, this book strikes me as offering a number of rich resources for anyone who is ready to seriously undertake the task of self-study and self-actualization. Recommended.
Disclosure: this book was given to me, with the request that I review it honestly.