With platforms like Kindle and iPad making e-books so accessible, you’d think we’d be living in the golden age for reading. Though, it seems like fewer people are actually reading books these days: A Pew Research showed that 27% of Americans haven’t finished a book in the last year. So, what’s going on? Why is it that we are reading less?
Well, despite Kindle’s prominence, our lower reading rate does make sense when you consider other players: for as much as Kindle and online books have made reading easier and more available, our attention is simply too scattered to sit down and read at great length. Between social media, streaming services, and group chats we hardly want to break away to snuggle up with a book. In the war for our attention, Netflix usually beats Kindle, and we’ve all been victims of Netflix’s prowess at some point.
However, reading is still one of the most fruitful things you can do.
Reading can do everything from increase self-esteem, promote better sleep, and funny enough, it can make you just overall more pleased with your life— probably because you’re not so cranky from a lack of sleep.
Jokes aside, adults who read for 30 minutes per day are 20% more likely to express satisfaction with their lives. And, even though e-books can be more convenient, this doesn’t mean that old-fashioned hardcovers and paperbacks are totally obsolete. Many studies have even found that reading a paperback book is better for comprehending a text than reading the same material on a screen.
The point is, like exercise or eating healthy, reading is plain good for you. But, it’s also one of the most productive catalysts for innovation, allowing you to engage with new ideas, especially when it comes to professional development.
If you’re looking for the best books for career guidance, you’ve come to the right place. Here are my recommendations for the best books you can read in 2022 that will help you advance in your career… and you might even recognize one of the authors.
- The Harvard Business Review Entrepreneur’s Handbook: Everything You Need to Launch and Grow Your New Business
Starting your own business is daunting for anyone, but if you’re finally ready to get that big idea off the ground, or if you’re looking for some fresh ideas for a business that’s already a few years in motion, then meet your new best friend: The Harvard Business Review Entrepreneur’s Handbook.
The HBR Entrepreneur’s Handbook is an amazing introduction both for someone who is hoping to launch a business and for someone who is already a business owner or entrepreneur. A roadmap to business success with valuable insights from Harvard Business Review cases, the book is the perfect, comprehensive guide for anyone interested in running a business.
What The Entrepreneur’s Handbook does especially well is providing real-world examples. Have you ever found that career advice can sometimes be too abstract to be useful? Well, with case studies of everything from electric cars to data storage companies to eBay, The Entrepreneur’s Handbook doesn’t shy away from talking about real-life, making it easy for you to really visualize and deconstruct how to implement good ideas and practices in your own business.
It’s also worth knowing that the Entrepreneur’s Handbook is one of a series of titles published by Harvard Business Review including the Leader’s Handbook, Manager’s Handbook, and Family Business Handbook. So check these out as well if you think one might be a helpful piece of your professional development!
- Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action by Simon Sinek
As the full title suggests, Start with Why is a book all about leadership and innovation. Through his concept of a golden circle, he explores how the best leaders are able to inspire others to greatness following the path of three simple questions: “Why?” “How?” and “What?”
If you’re at all skeptical, it’s worth knowing that this book eventually inspired his TED Talk that has become the fourth most popular TED video, gaining over 53 million views. So, obviously, he’s onto something.
In Sinek’s eyes, all people know “what they do.” When you attend a cocktail or a dinner party, you can hardly manage to escape the question of what you do. You might say you’re an Executive Assistant, an Analyst, or that you’re a Marketing Coordinator. Regardless of what you answer, everyone knows the “what.”
Only some, though, have the self-awareness to understand the “how” of their operations. That is, what are the mechanisms that help to create and define their day to day? While the “how” is a more difficult question to answer, the quality of a true leader lies in the rare ability to understand “why” they do what they do.
According to Sinek, the “why” is never as simple as to make a profit— the real “why” should be aligned with a deeper sense of self and purpose that isn’t always so easy to tune into. “Why” you do what you do should speak to who you are and what kind of mark you want to leave on this world.
Start With Why is filled with inspiring and fascinating stories of leaders who found a way to tap into the “why,” and in doing so, inspire those around them to innovate and create meaningful change. As far as top career books, it’s a must read.
- Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones by James Clear
We all have a few habits we wish could break, don’t we? Well, now we finally can. One of the reasons Atomic Habits has been met with such appraisal (including my own) is because it taps into and addresses something so universally human: even though it sounds simple, it’s hard to form routines that bring us success.
The thing that resonated so strongly with me is Clear’s message to focus on the little things. It’s very easy for us to get in over our heads and to be more conscious about the big picture— but the best way to meet macro goals is by setting smaller ones that pave the way.
Just like atoms are the tiny building blocks of all matter, good habits can become the foundation for meaningful change. By creating “atomic habits” we can begin to construct the building blocks of the person we hope to become.
Atomic Habits gets down to the nitty-gritty of building good habits and breaking bad ones, and really, the true idea of Atomic Habits rests in the idea that if we can improve ourselves just by 1% a day, we will see exponential growth.
Good habits are helpful in every facet of life, so while Atomic Habits doesn’t necessarily have to be career-oriented, it’s certainly one of the best career books to read in 2022.
- Talk Like TED: The 9 Public-Speaking Secrets of the World’s Top Minds by Carmine Gallo
Public speaking is something very few of us feel comfortable doing— even those of us who are good at it. As a keynote speaker myself, I get it. No matter how many stages I walk onto, my nervous system goes into overdrive and part of the work is actually learning how to manage this.
To some degree, it’s not that I’m getting less nervous; it’s that I’ve developed better skills and coping mechanisms to manage my nerves. I think many professional public speakers would agree with me.
The fact of the matter is that however sweaty your palms may get, you will likely have to confront your fear of public speaking at some point in your professional life. Among workers who did presentations as part of their job, 70% felt that presentation skills were very important to their career potential.
If you’re looking for a book to help you improve your public speaking, then Talk Like TED is the one for you. Author Carmine Gallo looks closely at many of the most popular and successful TED talks and analyzes what techniques those speakers used to create compelling stories.
By unpacking successful public speaking strategies, Gallo is able to synthesize and bestow powerful information on how to be effective as a public speaker, which is a vital skill for many different careers and professional areas.
- You Turn: Get Unstuck, Discover Your Direction, and Design Your Dream Career by Ashley Stahl
Truth be told, I’ve dreamed about being an author since I was young— getting the opportunity to share my career advice to a wider audience in the form of my very own book, You Turn, is truly something that makes me want to say ‘pinch me.’
In this book, my hope is that by sharing how many of my most important self-discoveries have come by realizing that I need to change my direction, I encourage you too to make important ‘you turns,’ as I call it. The fact is that sometimes we’re not heading in the direction we should be, and it takes guts to admit and do something about it.
You Turn holds an 11-step roadmap I’ve been using to help clients in my career get clarity on their next career move. I share a lot from my own story on how I came to find myself in my “dream career,” working in an impressive job at the Pentagon, only to discover that I wasn’t in the right place. Research indicates that you, too, have probably faced a realization like this.
If you feel like you need help discovering your authentic self, or figuring out what your core skill set is, or upgrading your confidence, then You Turn is one of the career planning books you’ll find the most useful.
I believe that examining yourself— looking inward— is the best way to make the right decisions when it comes to career advancement and maneuvering. Exploring your mindsets, attitudes, skills, and purpose will ultimately lead you in the right direction, even if that means making a heck of a You Turn like I did.
Whatever book you decide to read, my hope is that it brings you certain insights that help you learn a bit more about yourself.