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Advice / Succeeding at Work / Break Room

8 Super Motivating Career Books Written by Women—for Everyone

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No matter where you are in your career, sometimes you need a little help to really shine at work. Whether you’re looking for friendly advice on meeting a specific challenge or a kick in the pants to totally transform your career, you can often find that help in a great book.

But where to even start? We’ve done the research for you by finding the best books to help you wherever you are in your career (and whoever you are!). In honor of Women’s History Month, they’re all written by women. And bonus: All of them come reader-approved with high ratings on Goodreads.

1. If You Want to Be a Great Boss (Today or Someday): Radical Candor: Be a Kick-Ass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity by Kim Scott

best books by women radical candor

Rating on Goodreads: 4.2/5

A common challenge for any boss is how to deliver feedback in a clear, motivating way without falling into the trap of being an obnoxious jerk or an overly-empathetic people pleaser. In Radical Candor, Scott will help you balance this tricky line by sharing the principles she honed as a manager at Google and Apple. Follow her advice to be the kind of boss that creates a place where people do their best work—and feel really good about it.

2. If You’re in Desperate Need of a Mentor: Playing Big: Find Your Voice, Your Mission, Your Message by Tara Mohr

best books by women playing big

Rating on Goodreads: 4.2/5

We’ve all heard the advice that we should seek out mentors, but if it’s hard for you to find one, this book is the next best thing. There are some excellent chapters on topics such as how to communicate better so you earn trust, how to deal with fear, and the importance of taking a leap. While this book is aimed at women, many of my male colleagues said they’ve found the advice useful, too, and it’s a great book to read with a friend or partner.

3. If You’re Cursed With the Need to Be Perfect All the Time: Brave, Not Perfect: Fear Less, Fail More, and Live Bolder by Reshma Saujani

best books by women brave not perfect

Rating on Goodreads: 4.0/5

Feeling like you have to be perfect at everything can be a real hurdle in your career. It stops you from speaking up in meetings because you’re afraid of being wrong, holds you back from applying for a new role because you don’t meet 100% of the qualifications, and makes you spend hours finessing a document you should have submitted days ago. If you’re someone who often doubts themself, this book will provide you with inspiration and encouragement on how to push through those perfectionist tendencies and take the leap. Author Reshma Saujani, who founded Girls Who Code, will show you that bravery is a muscle; the more you use it, the stronger it will be.

4. If You Want to Earn What You’re Worth: Overcoming Underearning: A Five-Step Plan to a Richer Life by Barbara Stanny

best books by women overcoming underearning

Rating on Goodreads: 4.2/5

We all have a personal story that drives how we think about money. Author Barbara Stanny helps you understand and tackle those inner beliefs that may be sabotaging how much you earn—and how much you keep. It’s full of exercises that’ll help you uncover your true money mindset, and is a great book for anyone who wants to make positive changes to how they think about their self-worth and their relationship with money.

5. If You’re Ready to Share the Load: Drop the Ball: Achieving More by Doing Less by Tiffany Dufu

best books by women drop the ball

Rating on Goodreads: 3.8/5

Research shows that women do more household chores than their male partners. The result is that women are often working a second shift when they get home from work, which can negatively affect the time and energy they’re able to devote to their careers. In this friendly, learn-from-my-experience book, Dufu shares some of her misguided attempts to get her husband to do more and how they ultimately worked together to develop a better balance in their responsibilities. The same principles in this book can also apply in the office, as women (and especially women of color) are more often asked to take on “office housework” than white men.

6. If You’re Constantly Stressed Out: The Upside of Stress: Why Stress Is Good for You, and How to Get Good at It by Kelly McGonigal

best books by women the upside of stress

Rating on Goodreads: 4.2/5

Stress is a natural and frequent part of our lives, whether you’re putting in long hours getting ready for a big product launch, preparing for a difficult conversation, or figuring out how you’re going to get everything done and still make it out of the office to pick up your kids. Author Kelly McGonigal argues that we can use stress to our advantage if we think about it in a different way. If you feel like all that pent-up emotion is holding you back or you just want to deal with it in a healthier manner, this book is for you.

7. If You Feel Like You’ve Stalled in Your Career: How Women Rise: Break the 12 Habits Holding You Back From Your Next Raise, Promotion, or Job by Sally Helgesen and Marshall Goldsmith

best books by women how women rise

Rating on Goodreads: 4.2/5

For women who are wondering why they’re being passed over for advancement while other people (especially men) move ahead of them, business coaches Helgesen and Goldsmith lay out 12 habits that could be derailing your career. I’m a big fan of the chapter on “ruminating” because it’s a very healthy reminder on how to move on from mistakes.This is the kind of book you’ll keep on hand to help you through any tough situation.

8. If You’re Looking to Be a Better Communicator: Communicate to Influence: How to Inspire Your Audience to Action by Kelly Decker and Ben Decker

best books by women communicate to influence

Rating on Goodreads: 3.9/5

Co-authors, business partners, and life partners Kelly and Ben Decker walk you through their method of creating engaging presentations that win people over and lead to the results you want. Each chapter ends with exercises to help you eradicate behaviors that hold you back and adopt a stronger communication style. You’ll learn about the number-one thing you need to do before planning your presentation narrative (hint: it has nothing to do with you), and the power of the rule of three. Make sure you have a highlighter handy once you start reading this one!