The best books to accelerate your career

People always ask me what it was like to start a business like Bossed Up. But to me, the much more interesting story is actually what occurred in the nearly two years prior. I had just moved to DC after finding myself completely burnt out, broken-hearted, with a boatload of breakup debt on my credit cards, and feeling totally lost.

Before I could launch a creative business like Bossed Up, I needed to rebuild my foundation. But from the outside, the inner revolution I was going through probably looked rather calm. I was spending a lot of time alone, getting back in touch with my inner voice, so I could stop living my life in pursuit of pleasing others, and get a sense of what direction I was most drawn towards.

I’d already known what it felt like to make my life choices like a perfectionistic student, waiting for someone to give me an A on life. It wasn’t fulfilling. It wasn’t sustainable. And to live a different way, I was going to have to do things differently. But I didn’t know what that meant just yet. So it was during this calm before the creative storm that I was figuring out how to live differently.

I spent a lot of time running and hiking with my four-legged companion, Teddy the dog. I started meditating. I was journaling regularly. I was seeing a therapist. And yea, I was reading more books than I’d ever read before in my life.

I think it’s Warren Buffet, the prolific investor, who once shared that he spends about 80% of his days simply reading and thinking. It sounds almost maniacal, I know, but he’s onto something. Reading is such a life-changing, accessible way to grow your knowledge and engage in powerful self-discovery. And now with audiobooks and podcasts on the rise, written material is more accessible than ever, even for folks who struggle with reading ability.

I’ll be honest, reading regularly didn’t come naturally to me. I’m a hyperactive person. I love playing outside, always have. And in the third grade, I remember when my very kind teacher, Mrs. Rosen, called home to tell my mother that the picture book I’d chosen to do my book report on didn’t quite meet the third grade standards of reading chapter books. I hated reading, because I hated sitting still, quiet, and alone with myself.

And at twenty-five years old, that was worth exploring. What was I so afraid of learning about myself?

Books have since become a regular accelerator for my career, my life, and my business, which is why I’m so honored and excited about sharing my bossed up journey via the book I published with the Public Affairs Books earlier this year.

But in the meantime, I wanted to share with you some of my favorite books for accelerating your career and life, too.

Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes

For when you’re in need of courage, confidence, and a swift kick in the behind, Shonda Rhimes’ Year of Yes is a reminder that even folks who are crushin’ it, by all means, in their career can struggle with stepping into their greatness. Her inspiring memoir will leave you ready to say hell yes to whatever comes your way next.

Mistakes I Made at Work by Jessica Bacal

Jessica Bacal’s series of short stories submitted by another cadre of incredible women across industries in her book, Mistakes I Made at Work, has always been one of my favorites, too. In a single sitting, you’ll glean different lessons from women who persevered through setbacks to create high-impact careers. This is way more helpful than cliche quotes about grit and resilience – these stories provide nitty-gritty details behind how real women bossed up after screwing up.

Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin

And for those who really enjoy data, research, psychology and running little experiments in your own life, Gretchen Rubin’s Better Than Before is a must-read. I learned so much from Gretchen, who also hosts a great podcast called Happier, about the power of habits, And, at a time in my life when I needed to break out of old habits that were no longer serving me, Gretchen’s book was a really helpful resource that helped me recognize that change is possible.

Now, there’s a lot more where that comes from in terms of my favorite books for your career. For the full list of 15 of my favorite books to accelerate your career and life, you can download my reading recommendations guide complete with short summaries about what to expect out of each book here.

These are the books I used to crawl into bed early with and read a chapter or two before bed each night. After I met Brad the Boo in the spring of 2013, he and I would regularly meet up, books in hand, in a DC park somewhere just to lay next to each other in silence, reading books that would go on to change the course of our careers and lives. When he was reading zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance, I would be reading something like Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg. And, our careers have transformed since then, in no small part, due to the mentors who imparted their knowledge to us via book.

Even for the book-reticent amongst us, like me, remember that not being a bookworm earlier in your life does not prohibit you from trying it on for size now. Start small. Read what you love, and ditch the rest. To be totally candid with you, I’m the kind of person who quits reading books halfway through all the time if I’m not getting anything more out of them. Life’s too short to read books you don’t love. And remember, no one is giving our girl scout badges for finishing a book – it’s about what a good book can give to you.

Are you a fan of nonfiction like me? What role has reading played in your career and life as an adult? What’s the latest book that’s totally changed the game for you? I wanna hear about it.

Share your experience in the Bossed Up Courage Community on Facebook.

And if you want the full list of my top 15 book to accelerate your career, you can download my free guide to the best books for your career here.

This article first appeared on Bossed Up.