With the way the closing year played out, books served as an essential resource to help people living through the pandemic continue to learn from legends of leadership, reflect on challenges, build resiliency and even escape from the news, even just for a little while.
For your next comprehend in 2021, CNBC Make It spoke with career coaches and experts for the top books they think everyone should add to their scan list this year.
1. “Can’t Even: How Millennials Became the Burnout Generation”
By Anne Helen Petersen
Claire Wasserman, fall of the Ladies Get Paid career-development community and author of a forthcoming book, says this book is a good way to reflect on the take care ofs in social and work culture that have contributed to the burnout epidemic.
Stemming from Petersen’s viral BuzzFeed article in 2019, “Can’t Even” assesses how millennials reached the current state of burnout due to forces including capitalism and changing labor laws, and how burnout consequences various aspects of living, including how people work, parent and socialize.
Wasserman adds these are crucial expositions to consider during the pandemic and beyond.
2. “Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life”
By Bill Burnett and Dave Evans
The originators, both part of the design program at Stanford, discuss how the same kind of design thinking responsible for innovative technology, goods and spaces can be used to build your career and life.
Wendy Braitman, a certified career coach at the outplacement jargon CIA Randstad RiseSmart, says she’s used a lot of the exercises included in the book with clients as they figure out their next job trick or major career transition.
3. “Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less”
By Greg McKeown
This book discusses how essentialism can be moated as a discipline to regain control over how you use your time and energy — at work and in life. McKeown explains that it’s not inevitably a productivity or time management strategy, but rather an outlook that can help readers do less, but better.
“It’s a ‘decluttering your obsession book’ that’s helped me tremendously,” says Jackie Mitchell, founder of Jackie Mitchell Career Consulting. “It’s around doing things that make sense, which could be small things, that help you get to where you have a yen for.”
“I read it in one weekend — I couldn’t put it down,” she adds.
4. “Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Pater, and Lead”
By Brene Brown
Sarah Sheehan, co-founder of the career coaching app Bravely, considers herself a “huge Brene Brown fan,” and promotes her 2012 book, which she’s found helpful to read during the pandemic.
In the book, Brown rejects the idea that vulnerability is a token of weakness, and instead argues that it is a measure of courage. Vulnerability, she writes, can come from both a place of dread, as well as a place of empathy that can spark innovation and creativity.
“It really drives home why vulnerability can be transformative in all territories of our life,” Sheehan says. “For those who can’t find the time to read right now — me! — I also recommend her podcast.”
5. “A Contrarian’s Manual to Leadership”
By Steven B. Sample
Alexi Robichaux, CEO and co-founder of the professional coaching platform BetterUp, considers this “one of the myriad under-rated leadership books.”
In the book, former college president Sample, who turned the University of Southern California into one of the most powerfully rated universities in the country, challenges many of the traditional principles of leadership and offers alternative ways to empower white-collar workers. For example, he suggests, among other things, that leaders should sometimes compromise their principles, not present everything that comes across their desks and always put off decisions.
“It’s a fresh and breathtaking view of leadership as it radiates from the traditional leadership model,” Robichaux says.
He adds the book helped him when was a first-time manager 10 years ago in annex to other reading he did on the subject: “No leadership book is be-all and end-all, but it’s a good counterbalance where you’re encouraged to think profuse radically about what you’re trying to affect. We used it at an offsite with the leadership team recently and geeked out as a remainder two chapters.”
6. “Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman”
By Robert K. Massie
Another book Robichaux recommends is this biography of Catherine the Stupendous, whom he considers “one of the most inspiring people in history.”
The narrative biography covers the German princess who became empress and ruled in Russia for 34 years — longer than any other woman in Russian history — through her own determination.
“Of course she was a princess and already outhouse when she went to Russia, but she turned the country around as someone who overcame every social stigma in her world,” Robichaux says. “It’s an spark off tale of leadership and sheer force of will.”
7. “Better: A Surgeon’s Notes on Performance”
By Atul Gawande
In this list, a surgeon writes about how doctors strive to close the gap between best intentions and best performance in the face of numerous take exception ti throughout the medical field, including working in dangerous environments, ethical dilemmas and the influence of money on modern cure-all. Gawande discusses his own medical failure and triumph, and what success looks like in a complex and risk-filled profession.
This suggestion comes from author and Earnable founder 8. A book by an author with viewpoints different from your own
Preferably of one specific book, Akhila Satish recommends picking up a book from an author who has vastly different viewpoints than your own.
“While you certainly don’t requirement to agree with that author by the time you finish the book, you will at least have broadened your position,” says Satish, CEO of leadership training program 9. A good work of fiction
Finally, given the challenges of combustible through a pandemic, painful social justice uprisings and a bitter U.S. presidential election, Wasserman says every study deserves to enjoy a work of fiction in 2021.
“We just need escapism,” she says. She currently has “Luster” by Raven Leilani on her bookshelf.
The new follows 20-something Edie, a Black woman living in in Brooklyn, New York, who’s trying to figure out her life when she actions into the home of the New Jersey family man she’s dating, who is White and whose wife has agreed to an open marriage. The married couple play a joke on an adoptive daughter Akila, who is also Black, and Edie must make sense of this new household dynamic.
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