It’s easy to plummet down the internet rabbit hole. Whether deciding if a celeb is dateable or the reason a college chum’s start-up failed, online explorations can consume your time with little reward. That’s why books remain amazing. They demand focus. They are sui generis –– unique and singular, providing tons of information while having a beginning and an end. Believe me, I love the internet. It’s just tucking into a book often feels more rewarding. Whether you prefer the printed page or a Kindle screen, here are some of the best books for career guidance. Four were published recently, two others are evergreens. Because it doesn’t matter when a book comes out –– if you’ve never read it, then it’s new to you!
By Anne Helen Petersen
Some of my most-read blogs deal with burnout. It’s my generation’s often dismissed affliction. Esquire described Can’t Even as “razor sharp…[W]with blistering prose and all-too vivid reporting,” noting that “[author Anne Helen] Petersen lays bare the burnout and despair of millennials, while also charting a path to a world where members of her generation can feel as if the boot has been removed from their necks.” Stemming from a 2019 Buzzfeed article about “errand paralysis,” that went viral, this book expands on her discovery that rather than being amusing an inability to complete simple tasks is tellingly a frequent symptom of burnout. An essential tome for 2021, this book explores the tragedy of the condition in the 21st century.
By Adam Davidson
There are two schools of thoughts to the “follow your passion” advice. New Yorker staff writer, and cofounder of the podcast Planet Money, Davidson presents a compelling case that the often disruptive advances of the past two decades are connected to what he calls the “passion economy.” In an interview with Behavioral Scientist, he compared thisit to “… what I call the widget economy of the twentieth century.” Examining how the “the modern career path” forced people to discard anything that went against “the requirements of being a worker…” he further pointed out that, “A ton of both academic literature and just literature talks about suppressing your own nature for the sake of your work. The idea that this [new] economy rewards or can reward the opposite—that you can look inward and find or develop those things that drive you forward, and specifically those things that make you different from other people—that was the idea I originally was heading toward.”
By Maya Grossman
Marketing executive, blogger, speaker, podcast host, and career coach May Grossman focuses on the soft skills employers increasingly demand. Technical training can become obsolete. By mastering talents like “Develop an Owner Mentality,” “Become a Fixer,” and eight others addressed in the book, readers render themselves irreplaceable. If you’re on a challenging career quest, you owe it to yourself to get a copy of Invaluable.
By Grant Baldwin
If you’ve ever wondered about becoming a paid speaker, this book lays out the path. A straightforward five-step roadmap, it provides guidance for bloggers, influencers, and anyone else who hopes to deliver their message to the wider world. Books are no substitute for mentors but when you can’t find someone who is doing what you want to do, guidebooks like this one are invaluable –– easily one of the best books for career guidance.
Last year’s lockdowns produced more than a few new readers. If you hadn’t picked up a book in years, you may have found yourself digging through online lists or friend’s recommendations. Here are a few that might have escaped your notice.
By Greg McKeown
There are tons of books focused on time management but how many are about adopting what seems like a radical new outlook? The idea is to do less, but do it better. Or as fellow author Daniel H. Pink wrote on Amazon, “Do you feel it, too? That relentless pressure to sample all the good things in life? To do all the ‘right’ things? The reality is, you don’t make progress that way. Instead, you’re in danger of spreading your efforts so thin that you make no impact at all.” Although published in 2014, Essentialism has valuable lessons for today’s oft over-scheduled millennials.
6. Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead
by Brené Brown
Counterintuitively, Brown suggests that vulnerability isn’t a display of weakness but rather bravery. Or as Sarah Sheehan, co-founder of the career coaching app Bravely, puts it, “It really drives home why vulnerability can be transformative in all areas of our life.”
While I consider these some of the best books for career guidance, that doesn’t mean your literary diet should be exclusively nonfiction. Give George Elliot’s Middlemarch a try, a book coaching and consulting company Frable founder Alex Durand calls, “…a book about adulthood; it sheds light on the human psyche, our motivations, our desires, our paradox, our endless non-closures. Who we are as professionals depends on who we are as human beings, not the other way around. This is a must read for anyone who aspires to be a ‘professional’ adult.’”
One of the 19th century’s most successful authors, Elliot was the pen name of Mary Ann Evans –– a writer who used a masculine moniker to be taken seriously. A more recent book about a young woman’s similar quest for respect, I highly recommend last year’s Godshot by Chelsea Bieker. Happy reading!
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