Whether you’re looking for better work-life balance or hoping to get a promotion, these books offer indispensable nuggets of wisdom.
The idea that a ‘career-boosting’ book has to be one that helps you maximise productivity, or is otherwise oriented towards the pursuit of money, acclaim or achievement, is pretty myopic.
The metric of success isn’t easy to define, and it’s very much influenced by where you are in your life. Success may mean a raise for one person, but for someone else it could mean managing to make all of their lunches in advance for one week.
Perhaps you have everything worked out – the job, the salary, the lunches, the pre-work workouts – and yet you can feel busyness eroding your physical and mental wellbeing. What might make a difference would be finding a way to give yourself a break and cut down on your stress.
Keeping this in mind, we in the Careers section have compiled some recommendations of books that could help you get the kind of career and life you want, whatever that might entail.
Drop the Ball – Tiffany Dufu
After Tiffany Dufu had her first child, she quickly realised that a) reaching the holy grail that is ‘having it all’ wasn’t going to be easy and b) more than anything, the women around Dufu wanted to know how she budgeted her time and delegated home tasks to make her hectic schedule work.
It was this that led her to author Drop the Ball, which advocates a very simple and powerful piece of advice: do less. If you learn to let go of the impossible standards to which you hold yourself, your life will improve and things will get easier.
Sometimes, the best thing you can do for yourself is allow yourself to fail, and Dufu’s guidance is beneficial not only for working mothers, but for anyone looking for a strong guiding voice to help give themselves a break.
Thrive – Arianna Huffington
Arianna Huffington has always been driven, but when she one day found herself so exhausted and stressed by overwork that she collapsed in her bathroom and hit her head, she knew she needed a change.
In Thrive, Huffington weaves personal anecdotes in with cutting-edge scientific research, making the case for redefining success in a way that accounts for the importance of being healthy and happy.
It is said that we as a society are suffering from an overwork crisis. Driving yourself into the ground with stress is often misidentified as industrious, and celebrated in a misguided fashion. If this sounds familiar, and you want to release yourself from this, Huffington’s book could offer a lot.
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying – Marie Kondo
While keeping your work and living spaces clean is advisable (and, if your desk is anything like mine, could do you a lot of good), this book is a great way to realign your priorities and clear some of the mental clutter that could be holding you back.
Mess and hoarding are both pretty psychologically loaded. When we hoard – be it by refusing to throw anything out, or letting a pile of flagged emails pile up that we swear we’re going to get back to – it can be an indication of anxiety about the future or that we have unrealistic expectations of how productive we can be.
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying can help you organise your drawers, and could also help you be happier, more energetic, and more focused and present in all aspects of your life, including your working life.
The Power of Habit – Charles Duhigg
It would be nice to be able to channel the energy and consistency with which you, say, bite your nails, into something productive. With the help of The New York Times business reporter Charles Duhigg, perhaps you can. In The Power of Habit, Duhigg goes through some of the most cutting-edge research on how we form habits and how we can change them, explaining how the right habits have enabled some of the most influential figures in our time to succeed.
The New Rules of Work – Alexandra Cavoulacos and Kathryn Minshew
It’s a brave new (working) world in which we’re living. The rules that helped parents achieve career success won’t necessarily work for their children. If you find yourself unsure of how to proceed and feeling as if the wisdom of yesterday is turning to ash in your mouth, look no further than this book, brought to you by the founders of online career platform The Muse.
In The New Rules of Work, Minshew and Cavoulacos hand you everything you need to navigate the modern job-seeking process, teaching you how to build a career that best speaks to your passions and skillset.
Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? – Seth Godin
One of the most standout features of this aforementioned new world of work is the importance of establishing a ‘personal brand’, so to speak. A large part of developing a brand is establishing your niche. With Linchpin: Are You Indispensible?, author Scott Godin asks you to undergo a personal inventory and determine if you possess abilities that give you a unique role and perspective in an organisation. It also provides guidance on to how to achieve said abilities if you find yourself wanting.
Weird In A World That’s Not – Jennifer Romolini
The prevalence of ‘30 Under 30’ lists generates momentous pressure and perpetuates the myth that you haven’t achieved anything if you haven’t done it before your 26th birthday.
If you find yourself in need of some reassurance that everyone can go at their own pace and still end up doing extremely well, look no further than Jennifer Romolini’s Weird In A World That’s Not.
The book, part memoir and part handbook, is a career guide for “misfits, f*ck-ups and failures”, inspired by Romolini’s own experience of picking herself up after dropping out of college, going through a divorce and being broke.
Romolini waded into the New York media scene as a 27-year-old “awkward misfit” and went on to hold a number of senior editorial positions. It’s a refreshing digression from the typical twee, privilege-laden success story.
Best Place to Work – Ron Friedman
Freakonomics fans will quickly warm to Ron Friedman, an award-winning psychologist who leverages behaviour science, neuroscience, and research on motivation and creativity to reveal the key to success at work in Best Place to Work.
Deftly juggling science with anecdotes, Friedman presents a compelling case for making changes in your working life to fulfil your potential.
Updated, 12.53pm, 18 December 2017: The headline of this article has been updated to clarify that the list contains eight book recommendations, not seven.