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Celebrate Book Lovers' Day With These 15 Career Books

A photo of an open book.

Looking for some books to add to your mid-summer reading list? Preparing for a career makeover for Fall? Or maybe, like us, you're excited to celebrate Book Lovers' Day (August 9th) with a few good reads. In any case, check out our recommended career books list for some inspiration!

To create this list, I first looked at my own bookshelf for works that had struck a chord with me or instilled a flutter of inspiration towards my career growth. Some were recommended by friends and colleagues, authored by experts I’ve been following, or are currently on my “to be read” list and waiting in my online shopping cart as you’re reading this!

Whether you prefer to voraciously read a hand-held bound book, or take your content in via audio file, these selections are bound to give you the boost you’re seeking:

Explorations and Transitions:

So Good They Can’t Ignore You, Cal Newport

Struggling with finding your passion- or finding a career in the area of your passion? Heed the advice of Cal Newport by mastering your skill first, gaining expertise in your field, and enhancing your ability to foresee new opportunities important to the world that you can effectively solve!

Love Your Job: The New Rules for Career Happiness, Kerry Hannon

Recently published in 2015 this book by Kerry Hannon, AARP Job Expert promises that it is possible to have a job you love and get your groove back. You’ll learn how to celebrate small successes, develop new habits, and discover the routines you currently have that may have created your dissatisfaction in your career in the first place!

What Color is Your Parachute?, Dick Bolles

This job search book is written by Dick Bolles, who is credited with founding the field of modern career counseling. The book is revised annually and is considered so popular all around the world that it’s considered the “Job Hunter’s Bible”. The 2016 edition will be available mid-August 2015.

The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry, Kathleen Flinn

In this particular book, author Kathleen Flinn recounts her story of following her passion to a Paris cooking school. If you’re in a period of transition and asking yourself “what do I want and how do I get it?”, try reading this memoir! It might help you make your way through the muck and discover methods for making your transition not only palatable, but more flavorful!

Do What You Are, Paul D. Tieger, Barbara Barron, and Kelly Tieger

Another classic, this best-selling guide to personality type will help you find satisfying career success. You will need to know your Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) personality type. To take the “official” inventory, you must purchase the multiple-choice questionnaire, but there are many variations online that you can take at no cost (try 16 Personalities). Also, the MBTI site itself offers guidance in determining your type based on descriptions of each.

Who Moved My Cheese? An Amazing Way to Deal with Change in Your Work and in Your Life, Spencer Johnson

Experiencing a lot of change at work or in life? This is a great book for helping readers reframe their attitudes when change is imminent. Spencer Johnson is known for his style of taking what seem to be complex, multi-faceted issues and explaining them in simple, manageable bits.


The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable, Patrick Lencioni

Office politics driving you crazy? Give this book a read. Author Patrick Lencioni portrays lessons in teamwork told through a fictional story. Added bonuses- a questionnaire that you can use for assessing the teams you work with and commentary on how to overcome any deficiencies and discover areas for improvement.

Start With Why, Simon Sinek

What makes a person able to spark the loyalty of others on their team? According to Simon Sinek, the most effective and compelling leaders are those who have the curiosity to ask the question, “why?” By knowing your “why”, you can discover what to do based on what causes and beliefs inspire you to act.

Fish! Tales, Stephen C. Lundin, John Christensen, Harry Paul, and Phillip Strand

Looking to improve morale in your workplace? This might be your book! It’s another publication that makes use of fiction to share its message, but also adds true-life stories from the famous Pike Place Fish Market. Also check out this fun trailer and more details about the whole Fish! Philosophy. Want more Fish!? Try Fish! Sticks and Fish! For Life.

On the Job:

Asperger’s on the Job: Must-Have Advice for People with Asperger’s or High Functioning Autism and their Employers, Educators, and Advocates- Rudy Simone, Temple Grandin

Whether you are on the spectrum, or care about or work with someone who is, this book gives insights and advice. Read detailed lists of what employees should do to navigate their workplace. Co-written by Rudy Simone, an adult with Asperger’s Syndrome and Dr. Temple Grandin, the book outlines solutions to difficult challenges in the workplace that go beyond the carrying out of tasks- social graces, emotional intelligence, and preventing office bullying.

People Styles at Work...And Beyond: Making Bad Relationships Good and Good Relationships Better, Robert Bolton, Dorothy Grover Bolton

This comprehensive guide provides proven methods for working well with hard-to-work-with people and people with whom you wouldn’t typically get along. You’ll also learn how you might be coming across to your coworkers too. Each style is outlined with its strengths and weaknesses, and the self-assessment included in the book allows you to determine yours!

Job Search in the Nonprofit Sector:

Jobs That Matter, Heather Krasna

You’re probably familiar with the sound, expert advice that Heather frequently shares on Idealist Careers. If you’re looking for a book to not only help you pinpoint the area of public service that works for your interests and talents, but also provide nitty-gritty guidelines for resume writing and interviewing, check out Heather’s!

Mission Driven: Moving from Profit to Purpose, Laura Gassner Otting

In this new (published April 2015) book by nonprofit expert Laura Gassner Otting, you will have the opportunity to learn how to begin your transition and what skills will transfer to the nonprofit sector. Laura is the founder and president of a search firm that works exclusively with nonprofit organizations and nonprofit job seekers. If you’re looking for insights from a specialized recruiter, read this book.

Note: Ms. Otting's older book, Change Your Career: Transitioning to the Nonprofit Sector, was originally included in this article. 

Compassionate Careers: Making a Living by Making a Difference, Jeff W. Pryor, Alexandra Mitchell (Forward by Archbishop Desmond Tutu)

Read inspiring stories of people making a difference in cause-focused organizations. Included is the opportunity to take an online assessment that identifies the type of organizational culture that will suit you best, as well as exercises for hands-on career exploration.

The Idealist Guide to Nonprofit Careers for First-time Job Seekers, Meg Busse, Steven Joiner (contributor)

Our own comprehensive guide for emerging nonprofit professionals seeking their first gig in the sector. The book is chock-full of expert advice, strategies, and nonprofit resources. And of course, you have the wealth of insights on the Idealist Careers blog to get you through your current questions and career concerns.

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By Victoria Crispo

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