An illustrated line-up of people of varying occupations and featured books about careers

Recommended Reads

9 career books for success, satisfaction & less stress


Aug 30, 2023

This weekend’s Labor Day holiday marks the unofficial end to the season, summer cookouts and, usually, lots of sales. But it also marks an important time in history for the American worker. First celebrated in the 1800s, it began as a way to recognize workers for their achievements and to take a much-needed break. Thanks to the labor movement, many of us can enjoy weekends, reasonable work hours and the occasional break from the 9-5.

There’s a good chance you might be relaxing between barbeques over the long weekend with summer 2023’s hottest reads or maybe a summer audiobook pick, and I say, go for it! You deserve to unplug from the job. But if you’re feeling extra motivated to get ahead at work, need a little direction, are looking for a way to de-stress or are curious about the history of how we got to the modern workplace, there’s no shortage of career books available on the Libby app to help you learn more and reach your goals.

No matter your age, pay grade, career stage or profession, there’s wisdom in these pages that will set you on the path toward less stress, better work-life balance, improved focus and a satisfying career.

If you’re seeking meaning in your career

Designing Your Life

Designing Your Life by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans

In this book, the authors show us how design thinking can help us create a life that is both meaningful and fulfilling, regardless of who or where we are, what we do or have done for a living or how young or old we are. The same design thinking responsible for amazing technology, products and spaces can be used to design and build your career and your life, a life of fulfillment and joy, constantly creative and productive, one that always holds the possibility of surprise.

If you’re feeling burnt out

The Long Game

The Long Game by Dorie Clark

It's no secret that we're pushed to the limit. Today's professionals feel rushed, overwhelmed and perennially behind. So we keep our heads down, focused on the next thing and the next, without a moment to breathe. How can we break out of this endless cycle and create the kind of interesting, meaningful lives we all seek?

It's about doing small things over time to achieve our goals—and being willing to keep at them, even when they seem pointless, boring or hard. In The Long Game, Clark shares unique principles and frameworks you can apply to your specific situation, as well as vivid stories from her own career and other professionals' experiences. Everyone is allotted the same 24 hours—but with the right strategies, you can leverage those hours in more efficient and powerful ways than you ever imagined. It's never an overnight process, but the long-term payoff is immense: to finally break out of the frenetic day-to-day routine and transform your life and your career.

If you want to become a better boss

Radical Candor

Radical Candor by Kim Scott

You don't have to choose between being a pushover and a jerk. Using Radical Candor—avoiding the perils of Obnoxious Aggression, Manipulative Insincerity and Ruinous Empathy—you can be kind and clear at the same time.

Kim Scott was a highly successful leader at Google before decamping to Apple, where she developed and taught a management class. Radical Candor is about caring personally and challenging directly, about soliciting criticism to improve your leadership and also providing guidance that helps others grow. It focuses on praise but doesn't shy away from criticism—to help you love your work and the people you work with.

If you don’t know what you want to do with your life

Do What You Are

Do What You Are: Discover the Perfect Career for You Through the Secrets of Personality Type by Paul D. Tieger

This updated edition is especially useful for millennials and baby boomers who are experiencing midlife career switches, and even those looking for fulfillment in retirement. This book will lead you through the step-by-step process of determining and verifying your Personality Type. Then you'll learn which occupations are popular with each Type, discover helpful case studies and get a full rundown of your Type's work-related strengths and weaknesses.

If you’re ready for a career change


Pivot by Jenny Blake

What's next? is a question we all have to ask and answer more frequently in an economy where the average job tenure is only four years, roles change constantly even within that time and smart, motivated people find themselves hitting professional plateaus. But how do you evaluate options and move forward without getting stuck? Jenny Blake's solution: it's about small steps, not big leaps—and the answer is already right under your feet. This book will teach you how to pivot from a base of your existing strengths. When you pivot, you double down on your existing strengths and interests to move in a new, related direction, instead of looking so far outside of yourself for answers that you skip over your hard-won expertise and experience. It empowers you to navigate changes with flexibility and strength—now and throughout your entire career.

If you wonder what other people do all day


Working by Studs Terkel

Studs Terkel’s classic oral history is a compelling look at jobs and the people who do them. Consisting of over one hundred interviews with everyone from a gravedigger to a studio head, this book provides a “brilliant” and enduring portrait of people’s feelings about their working lives. - Forbes

If you’re interested in working-class history

From the Folks Who Brought You the Weekend

From the Folks Who Brought You the Weekend by Priscilla Murolo

Praised for its "impressive even-handedness," this book has set the standard for viewing American history through the prism of working people (Publishers Weekly). From indentured servants and slaves in 17th-century Chesapeake to high-tech workers in contemporary Silicon Valley, the book "[puts] a human face on the people, places, events and social conditions that have shaped the evolution of organized labor," enlivened by illustrations from the celebrated comics journalist Joe Sacco (Library Journal).

If you’re looking to get ahead

How Women Rise

How Women Rise by Sally Helgesen

Leadership expert Sally Helgesen and bestselling leadership coach Marshall Goldsmith have trained thousands of high achievers—men and women—to reach even greater heights. Again and again, they see that women face specific and different roadblocks from men as they advance in the workplace. In fact, the very habits that helped women early in their careers can hinder them as they move up. Simply put, what got you here won't get you there and you might not even realize your blind spots until it's too late. Are you great with the details? To rise, you need to do less and delegate more. Are you a team player? To advance, you need to take credit as easily as you share it. Are you a star networker? Leaders know a network is no good unless you know how to use it. Sally and Marshall identify the 12 habits that hold women back as they seek to advance, showing them why what worked for them in the past might actually be sabotaging their future success.

If you need to take a step back

The Good Enough Job

The Good Enough Job by Simone Stolzoff

Journalist Simone Stolzoff traces how work has come to dominate Americans’ lives—and why we find it so difficult to let go. Based on groundbreaking reporting and interviews with Michelin star chefs, Wall Street bankers, overwhelmed teachers and other workers across the American economy, Stolzoff exposes what we lose when we expect work to be more than a job. Rather than treat work as a calling or a dream, he asks what it would take to reframe work as a part of life rather than the entirety of our lives. What does it mean for a job to be good enough?

Borrow these on the Libby app for a long weekend read and enjoy your much-deserved break.


About the Author

Annie Suhy has been working in the book industry since 2006. When she’s not working, practicing yoga, or petting cats, she’s doing paint-by-numbers and buying more plants. An avid poetry fan, her favorite collection is "The Splinter Factory" by Jeffrey McDaniel.


Never miss a post

Get the best in books straight to your inbox weekly!
Unsubscribe anytime!
Stay connected

Follow for updates on TwitterFollow for updates on InstagramFollow for updates on FacebookFollow for updates on TikTok