It's that time of year where we start thinking about goals and growth for the next 12 months, and one of the easiest (and most inexpensive) ways to grow personally and professionally is to load up our Kindles and get to reading the best business and personal development books.
There are so many career books out there, but what are the best career books for women to read in 2020?
Aside from Lean In (which don't get me started on), there are a bunch of books out there for women, but so many are superficial and offer no real advice or wisdom, which leaves you wondering: what the best career advice books & self-help books women should read?
In this post best books for career guidance to add to your reading list for success!
Quick Note: The links in this post are all affiliate links. Using these links does not impact what you pay but earns me a tiny percentage of the sale. If you prefer not to use affiliate links, no worries, Google and Amazon have you covered!
But First, a Confession
In my early twenties, I would roll my eyes at business books; you can't learn how to do business in a book, amirite?
I was so incredibly naive.
Luckily, since then I've gotten a lot smarter and realized how important reading business and a professional development books is to career success. Books have so much to teach us - nd obviously the more that you read, the more you learn about the ditches that other people have fallen into so that you can avoid falling into those same ditches yourself.
Since on an annual basis, I now consume more books than water, I get asked a lot about what career books I would suggest for women. And since I'm asked this question so often I thought that I would just write this post (and shoot this video) about the books that I actually read on a regular basis and the ones that I recommend every woman should read.
Make sure you read all the way to the end because the last book that I'm going to mention is going to be the book that absolutely every woman who has any level of ambition in her career absolutely must-read. Now, if you're ready, go grab your coffee, and let's get right into it.
The Best Business Books for Women
Nice Girls Don't Get the Corner Office by Lois P Frankel.
This book is one of the first women in business books that I ever picked up; quite honestly, I probably bought it because it was on sale at a bookstore. There was no other book that I can kick this list off other than this book because this is one that it honestly throughout my twenties it stayed on my nightstand.
It is basically 133 mistakes that women make it work that really hold them back at work (phew, that's a lot of mistakes). I know that that sounds overwhelming, but a lot of these are unconscious mistakes, or mistakes that are just common practice, that we don't really think about and actually can really hold us back in our career.
There are so many ways this book impacted me and my career: one of the simplest: from what I learned in this book I stopped using my short name professionally - I went from going as Jenni to Jennifer at work. I am also now hypersensitive about abbreviating or shortening others' names as a direct result of this book.
There are so many truth bombs and gems, and it has remained in circulation for this long because it is accurate and actionable.
Earlier in my career, I referred to it so frequently it lived on my bedside table. I lost my copy in a move, so I recently picked up the revised and updated copy; I haven't read it yet, but I'm excited to revisit it and because it's an older book I'm sure the revisions are probably very welcome as so much has changed in the past decade.
No matter what, this book is packed with lots and lots of great advice, and I think it's a lot of food for thought for professional women to make us more mindful, especially about our presence and how we're being perceived at work.
If you think you might be making some unconscious mistakes that are sabotaging your career, whoa Nelly, you need to read this book.
The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor.
If you watched my how to stay positive at work video, you have heard me mention this one before... and I know that you're thinking,this is a career books for women list, what's a dude book doing on there?
Well, the thing is this is just honestly a really great book.
I credit this book to being one of the ones that rocket launched my career, so I would legitimately be breaking the girl code if I didn't make sure that it was on your reading list for 2020. There's so much good information in this book about cultivating happiness, its connection to productivity, gratitude.
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey.
If you've ever spoken to me, you know that I'm going to at some point in our conversation drone on and on about all of the things from this book that you need to apply *right away*.
The first time I read this book was by force. A company I worked for in university made us read certain books when we were onboarding, so honestly, it was with a lot of hostility that I read this book - and I I almost made it a point to take absolutely nothing away from it.
It wasn't until years later when I ended up in a leadership training seminar that was hosted by the Covey Institute that I really deep dove meaningfully into the seven habits.
To say that those seven principles transformed my career would be a drastic understatement.
It was after that seminar that I literally went from an entry-level role into an executive-level role within three years, and I would directly connect so many of my successes in my career to my application of the seven habits.
This is one that I honestly I come back to and I read it at least once a year. Luckily, my husband got the audio version, and since I have now become an audiobook person, I will be listening to it much more frequently.
The Myth of the Nice Girl by Fran Hauser.
I know you're thinking, "What's up with that? You told me the first book was nice girls don't get the corner office..." That first book has a lot of great insights, advice and strategies in it and again, helps us identify those subconscious things that we do that can really hold us back at our careers.
What I love about the Myth of the Nice Girl though, is that it actually shows us that we can be our authentic kind selves at work and actually still succeed.
One of the things that so many of the women that I work with struggle with is that they feel like they have to be outside of themselves. They feel like they have to be the mean girl at work in order to be taken seriously and get the respect they deserve, nevermind the opportunities they want to get into the next level (and the level after that).
Fran's career story is phenomenal. And I love how she's injected her own personal story and her own personal successes into the narrative of the book. Throughout the book she is very successful in demonstrating how you can be both nice and successful ofessionally.
Ultimately I really like heading into the new decade with the idea that nice girls do finish first.
Reset: My Fight for Inclusion and Lasting Change by Ellen Pao.
I read this one right when it first came out a few years ago, and I think that every woman - especially women in tech - should read this.
Ellen has swam in the bro-y-est of waters; if you've been in tech for a while, you have probably have come across Ellen Pao because she had a very high profile lawsuit against her former employer, who is one of the most powerful VCs in the tech industry, and is now the CEO of Project Include.
Her story and struggles is not just relatable for any woman in a male-dominated industry, especially in tech, but her story about how she has moved up and on. And her determination and dedication to making real change in the industry are absolutely inspiring.
The Confidence Code by Katie Kay and Claire Shipman.
I was a little bit behind the ball on reading this, and it's actually another book that I read recently. What I love about this book is that so many of the women that I know and that I work with really struggle in terms of finding their confidence.Kay and Shipman do an exquisite deep dive into confidence; what it is, and how to establish it.
There are so many actionable takeaways from this book, and I feel like this is going to be one that ends up on my read it again and again and again reading list, because I think even if you are someone that has a lot of confidence, there's always going to be moments where we experience imposter syndrome.
How Women Rise by Sally Helgesen and Marshall Goldsmith.
If you only read one book from this list, make it this book. Marshall Goldsmith wrote another book that's also very good, What Got You Here Won't Get You There, however some of the things in his book actually didn't map to the career strategy that would work for women, so he and Helgesen coauthored this book.
Personally, I love that these two amazing career strategists and coaches have collaborated to author something that is so actionable.
In this book, you can expect to learn about 12 habits that hold women back from getting the pay, the promotions and the praise that they really deserve to have at work. It's one of those books that as I was reading it, I was blown away by how much it was hitting the nail on the head.
I personally felt like I actually even got a few takeaways from this one, which I honestly wasn't expecting. And that's the whole point of reading a book. If you don't own this book yet, if it's not already living on your nightstand, go and get it now.
What's on your nightstand?
Now you know business book for women recommendations for 2020, I would love to hear yours! What career or business book have you read that you really enjoyed that you would add to this list?
PS: Do you want to win these books? There is a giveaway on my YouTube Channel between December 19th and December 26th where you can win the whole set! All you have to do is subscribe to my channel, leave a comment and share the video.