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Advice / Succeeding at Work / Break Room

The 9 Highest-Rated Career Books of 2018, According to Goodreads

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Imagine getting to spend a few hours with a career expert—just you two—and learning all their secrets to success.

That’s exactly what you can do by reading a great career book! (Sure, it’s not exactly the same thing, but it’s close.)

But which one should you pick? To help you find the best ones, we looked at data on Goodreads to identify nine books of 2018 recommended by our community of 75 million readers. Each of these career books come with high ratings and rave reviews, and you’ll find tips on building great cultures, overcoming common work problems, and getting more done without working more hours.

Happy reading!

Infographic designed by Mary Schafrath.

1. Lost and Founder: A Painfully Honest Field Guide to the Startup World by Rand Fishkin

Rating on Goodreads: 4.52/5

If you’ve ever been tempted to start your own company or work for a startup, read the illuminating and sometimes painful lessons shared by Rand Fishkin as he charts the rollercoaster of running a venture-backed company. Goodreads members say it’s a story about “company culture, heartbreaking layoffs, toxic employees, and [the] dangers of lack of transparency” and that it’s “part startup tutorial, part deepest confession.”

2. The Myth of the Nice Girl: Achieving a Career You Love Without Becoming a Person You Hate by Fran Hauser

Rating on Goodreads: 4.50/5

This book is full of hard-won wisdom from Fran Hauser, a startup investor who spent 15 years in the digital media space. Drawing on her own experiences, she lays out how to be strong and successful without sacrificing kindness. Goodreads members say reading the book “felt like I had a mentor speaking to me” and that it’s “filled with solid, frank advice.”

3. The Culture Code: The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups by Daniel Coyle

Rating on Goodreads: 4.38/5

Daniel Coyle shares inspiring and entertaining stories about Navy SEALS, Pixar, and even World War I to help you understand the often subtle or misunderstood behaviors that make a team successful. If you’re a manager or leader, this is a book to inspire ways to strengthen your team culture. Goodreads members say “As I was reading this book I could see practical ways that my employer could apply these principles better; especially in meetings and coming together for a common goal” and “it highlights those essential emotional connections that we all crave as human beings.”

4. Powerful: Building a Culture of Freedom and Responsibility by Patty McCord

Rating on Goodreads: 4.21/5

Imagine joining Netflix right from the start as the HR lead and carpooling to work with the CEO each day. Then imagine coming together to build a company based on a different approach to people. Patty McCord shares how they challenged old management theories to pioneer new ways to work together. Goodreads members say “Powerful is beautifully written and Patty has an engaging, irreverent style” and that it’s a “brutally honest book by someone with serious experience from the field.”

5. How Women Rise: Break the 12 Habits Holding You Back From Your Next Raise, Promotion, or Job by Sally Helgesen and Marshall Goldsmith

Rating on Goodreads: 4.15/5

For women who are wondering why they seem to be stuck while other people (especially men) get promoted ahead of them, business coaches Helgesen and Goldsmith lay out 12 habits that could be holding you back and how you can tackle them. Goodreads members say this is “a very easy read with lots of actionable tips,” and “my career path has changed for the better because of this book!”

6. Off the Clock: Feel Less Busy While Getting More Done by Laura Vanderkam

Rating on Goodreads: 4.09/5

Laura Vanderkam—a journalist, speaker, wife, and mother of four—explores, through more than 900 time diaries collected on a single day, why some busy people feel relaxed about time while others don’t. If you’re feeling overwhelmed or lost in “busyness,” Vanderkam teaches you how to live a life that’s not only productive, but enjoyable in the moment. Goodreads members say it’s “highly recommended as a starting point for changing your view of time management” and that it’s an “excellent, quick read, chock full of great ideas for how to enhance the way you experience time and still be productive (more productive than before, even).”

7. Ask a Manager: How to Navigate Clueless Colleagues, Lunch-Stealing Bosses, and the Rest of Your Life at Work by Alison Green

Rating on Goodreads: 4.02/5

Looking for no-nonsense advice for dealing with common challenges with bosses, co-workers, and interviewers? Alison Green walks you through how to navigate sticky situations in a humorous and down-to-earth way. There’s also a section for how to handle things when you’re a manager—helpful for people who have just been promoted. One Goodreads member says that “you’re nearly guaranteed to find some good advice that you can take away to apply, whether it’s a carefully-worded script to use or just a new way of thinking about the problem.”

8. The Right—and Wrong—Stuff: How Brilliant Careers Are Made and Unmade by Carter Cast

Rating on Goodreads: 4.04/5

Reading Carter Cast’s book is like sitting down for a series of insightful conversations with an experienced, supportive leader. While today’s business world is leaning into “focusing on your strengths,” Cast wants to help people avoid the kinds of things that can derail or limit a career. His “Derailer Assessment” was developed and tested with MBA and executive students at the Kellogg School of Management to understand which traits and behaviors are holding you back. Goodreads members say “this book provides so many insights regarding strengths, weaknesses (pitfalls!), and drivers” and “if you work in a corporate environment and want to move up the ladder, this book is a must read.”

9. When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing by Daniel Pink

Rating on Goodreads: 3.73/5

Timing is everything. You’ve heard that before, and now Daniel Pinks shares the research to back it up. Learn about the best times to tackle different kinds of work, the power of restorative breaks, when to do your best work depending on your own natural rhythms, and even when to drink coffee! Goodreads members say they “found it to be helpful—inspiring me, surprising me, making me think” and that Pink “does a great job describing social studies and uncovering results and tips that can help people be better—at work and in life.”