With the way the last year played out, books served as an essential resource to help people living through the pandemic continue to learn from stories of leadership, reflect on challenges, build resiliency and even escape from the news, even just for a little while.
1. âCanât Even: How Millennials Became the Burnout Generationâ
ByÂ Anne Helen Petersen
Claire Wasserman, founder of theÂ Ladies Get PaidÂ career-development community and author of aÂ forthcoming book, says this book is a good way to reflect on the shifts in social and work culture that have contributed to the burnout epidemic.
Stemming from PetersenâsÂ viral BuzzFeed article in 2019, Â âCanât Evenâ examines how millennials reached the current state of burnout due to forces including capitalism and changing labor laws, and how burnout impacts various aspects of living, including how people work, parent and socialize.
Wasserman adds these are crucial themes to consider during the pandemic and beyond.
2. âDesigning Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Lifeâ
ByÂ Bill Burnett and Dave Evans
The authors, both part of the design programat Stanford, discuss how the same kind of design thinking responsible for innovative technology, products and spaces can be used to build your career and life.
Wendy Braitman, a certified career coach at the outplacement firmÂ Randstad RiseSmart, says sheâs used a lot of the exercises included in the book with clients as they figure out their next job move or major career transition.
3. âEssentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Lessâ
ByÂ Greg McKeown
This book discusses how essentialism can be channeled as a discipline to regain control over how you use your time and energy â at work and in life. McKeown explains that itâs not necessarily a productivity or time management strategy, but rather an outlook that can help readers do less, but better.
âItâs a âdecluttering your life bookâ thatâs helped me tremendously,â says Jackie Mitchell, founder ofÂ Jackie Mitchell Career Consulting. âItâs about doing things that make sense, which could be small things, that help you get to where you want.â
âI read it in one weekend â I couldnât put it down,â she adds.
4. âDaring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Leadâ
ByÂ Brene Brown
Sarah Sheehan, co-founder of the career coaching appÂ Bravely, considers herself a âhuge Brene Brown fan,â and recommends her 2012 book, which sheâs found helpful to read during the pandemic.
In the book, Brown rejects the idea that vulnerability is a sign of weakness, and instead argues that it is a measure of courage. Vulnerability, she writes, can come from both a place of fear, as well as a place of empathy that can spark innovation and creativity.
âIt really drives home why vulnerability can be transformative in all areas of our life,â Sheehan says. âFor those who canât find the time to read right now â me! â I also recommend her podcast.â
5. âA Contrarianâs Guide to Leadershipâ
ByÂ Steven B. Sample
Alexi Robichaux, CEO and co-founder of the professional coaching platformÂ BetterUp, considers this âone of the most under-rated leadership books.â
In the book, formercollege president Sample, who turned the University of Southern California into one of the most highly rated universities in the country, challenges many of the traditional principles of leadership and offers alternative ways to empower workers. For example, he suggests, among other things, that leaders should sometimes compromise their principles, not read everything that comes across their desks and always put off decisions.
âItâs a fresh and breathtaking view of leadership as it diverges from the traditional leadership model,â Robichaux says.
He adds the book helped him when was a first-time manager 10 years ago in addition to other reading he did on the subject: âNo leadership book is be-all and end-all, but itâs a good counterbalance where youâre encouraged to think more radically about what youâre trying to affect. We used it at an offsite with the leadership team recently and geeked out over two chapters.â