26 Summer Reads for the Career-Minded Student
When you think summer reads, your mind probably falls back to the latest fiction bestseller. After all, we love summer because it allows us to escape from school for a few months. And what better way to escape than with escapist literature.
But business and career books of today are not the stodgy exercises in tedium they once were. Some of them are even quite entertaining. Knowing that some of you always have your mind toward the future, we thought now would be a good time to share our picks for the top summer reads for the career-minded students.
We’ve come up with 26 of them, so curl up and get ready to lose yourself in a good book!
1. Believe It to Achieve It by Brian Tracy and Christina Stein
What You’ll Learn: You’ll learn how to adopt the mindset of an achiever. You’ll hear why people get stuck, learn about what’s holding you back, and how to let go of the past. Furthermore, the book will show you how to change your life by changing the way you think. It will make you comfortable with change. Teach you how to expect more (and get more) from the people in your life. And give you an action plan for making it all happen.
What the Critics Think: Soundview writes that “Tracy has written previously of success habits such as goal-setting and time management. In this book, with the valuable collaboration of Stein, Tracy focuses on the mindset of success and achievement, how to “fill your mind with what you want to be.” Of course, unloading the negative thoughts that clutter most of our minds is easier said than done — but the inspirational roadmap in Believe It to Achieve It will help readers develop the positive beliefs that, the authors compellingly argue, lay the foundation for achievement.”
2. This Is How We Rise by Claudia Chan
What You’ll Learn: Chan’s book covers why you can and must lead change in the world. It talks about gender equality and the priority to lift women. It also discusses how to include, engage with, and empower men in this new world, ultimately setting the roadmap for how we get to a new breed of leaders. Then, Chan discusses the 13 foundational pillars of personal leadership. These include purpose, vision, faith, resilience, productivity, energy, humility, gratitude, grace, community, self-love, courage, and mindfulness. She closes with a discussion on how to treat your whole life as an organization and how to lead from where you are.
What the Critics Think: “This Is How We Rise challenges the core of the ‘me’ mentality and proposes a ‘we’ movement. In football, we say football, family, and faith to promote success by playing for something bigger than the individual. Claudia masterfully crafts this philosophy into a strategy for empowering women and kickstarting movements. Together, we can all rise. For the love of progress, read this book today.” — Dr. Jen Welter, first female coach in the NFL
3. Inventing Joy by Joy Mangano
What You’ll Learn: Jennifer Lawrence played this female inventor in a movie. This is better. It’s the story in her own words. While framed more as an autobiography, it still manages to deliver a lot of practical advice for how to live your best life. Ignore at your own risk.
What the Critics Think: “Light, enjoyable…Mangano discusses familiar business-book themes such as creative thinking and a willingness to speak up for oneself, but what sets her story apart from other entries in the genre is her wholehearted embrace of the messy but rewarding process of including family and friends — even her ex-husband — in her work. Ending with an eclectic collection of inspirational quotes and an invitation to contact her about inventions, Mangano will leave would-be entrepreneurs feeling encouraged, as well as entertained.” — Publishers Weekly
4. Do Over by Jon Acuff
What You’ll Learn: Acuff’s book gives you the tips and tricks for reinventing your career when you’re stuck. It’s particularly useful to students eyeing a change of major. The book is broken down into four “investments.” These include relationships, skills, character, and hustle. But Acuff goes much deeper than that with real-world examples of the mentors that are hiding in your own life and the “invisible skills” you need to get ahead.
What the Critics Think: “This is the best career book ever written. I’m not even sure what book comes in second. This is practical, human, touching, urgent, vulnerable, universal, actionable truth, all in a well-written, handy package. Go!” — Seth Godin, author of What to Do When It’s Your Turn
5. Bored and Brilliant by Manoush Zomorodi
What You’ll Learn: Zomorodi discusses what boredom really means and touches on timely topics like digital overload, the effects of too many apps in your life, how to get back to making memories and reclaiming the wonder that life has to offer. She talks about the values of getting lost and how that can lead to a more creative and productive you.
What the Critics Think: “Bored and Brilliant shows the fascinating side of boredom. Manoush Zomorodi investigates cutting-edge research as well as compelling (and often funny) real-life examples to demonstrate that boredom is actually a crucial tool for making our lives happier, more productive, and more creative. What’s more, the book is crammed with practical exercises for anyone who wants to reclaim the power of spacing out – deleting the Two Dots app, for instance, or having a photo-free day, or taking a ‘fakecation.'” — Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project
6. The Million-Dollar One-Person Business by Elaine Pofeldt
What You’ll Learn: The title is surprisingly self-explanatory as Pofeldt takes you into the concept of creating small million-dollar businesses. She gives you ideas for how to make them work, the types of businesses you can start, tips for how to make it happen, and some advice on how to continue your education so your business avoids expiration dates.
What the Critics Think: “Running a high-revenue one-person business isn’t just about the money—it’s about gaining the freedom to live your life in a way that matters to you and to give back to others in meaningful ways. In The Million-Dollar, One-Person Business, author and veteran small-business journalist Elaine Pofeldt draws on the stories and strategies of real entrepreneurs to create a highly readable and instructive roadmap for achieving these goals.” — Anne Field, journalist and author of the Forbes blog Not Only for Profit
7. Entering StartUpLand by Jeffrey Bussgang
What You’ll Learn: Entering StartUpLand just breaks down every position that you’re going to need for your startup. These include the product manager, business development manager, marketing, growth manager, sales, finance, and the search process. When startups first, well, start up, these jobs can be handled by anywhere from one to a few. Of course, the goal is to hire enough competent people to where you can step away from the operational side of your business and focus more on growth and prosperity moves (while getting back your quality of life).
What the Critics Think: “Joining startups early in my career changed the trajectory of my career, and my life, in ways I never could have imagined. For those curious and brave enough to take a detour from the more predictable path of corporate life, Entering StartUpLand is a valuable guide to making the leap and understanding how startups work. I wish this book had been around for me, my coworkers, and my employees these past ten years.” — Danielle Morrill, cofounder and CEO, Mattermark
8. Great at Work: How Top Performers Work Less and Achieve More by Morten Hansen
What You’ll Learn: This book covers the secrets of great performance. It also hits on doing less, obsessing over results, redesigning your work, finding passion and purpose, and what to avoid when collaborating with other people.
What the Critics Think: “The typical book about management or careers requires a heavy dose of faith because you don’t know where the recommendations come from. Morten Hansen brings beautiful data from a massive research project that reveals how stars at work, in dozens of industries, actually do their work. The data and Hansen’s analysis will surprise you, change you, and make you better at work… no leaps of faith required.” — Chip Heath, Professor Stanford Graduate School of Business, and author of Switch
9. Disrupters by Patti Fletcher
What You’ll Learn: Disrupters tackles the rarity of the female CEO (only 4 percent) and digs deep into what made those women successful in spite of all the systemic cards being seemingly stacked against them. The book offers too many strategies to list here, and while it’s written about women and for women, a lot of the advice is applicable no matter your gender.
What the Critics Think: “Inspiring! Dr. Fletcher has written the new business bible for professionals wanting to break free, break through, and break out to follow their own path to success!” — Jeffrey Hayzlett, primetime TV and radio host, speaker, author, and part-time cowboy
10. How to Ace a Job Interview by Shannon Poblete
What You’ll Learn: How to Ace a Job Interview deals with what your resume and cover letter should do before getting into how you should physically and psychologically prepare for the interview. They talk about the little things like arrival, answers to the most common questions, rapport-building, salary negotiation, etiquette, and follow-up tactics.
What the Critics Think: A verified reviewer on Amazon calls the book a “valuable tool for anyone searching for a new job or considering a career change,” adding that it “provides very specific steps to be taken during each phase of a job search, complete with easy-to-follow examples.”
11. Career, Content, Community by Alex Ivanov
What You’ll Learn: Ivanov’s book is really about networking, and as a web guy, he talks a lot about the intricacies of your web presence, what your site should have (and you should have one), how to grow your network, what to do when you get stuck or make a mistake, and how to make your community a rising tide to float all ships. The book is a short read at just over 115 pages, so it shouldn’t take too much time away from the other summer reads on our list.
What the Critics Think: Averages a 5-star rating on Amazon.
12. Passion Projects for Smart People by Michael R. Wing, Ph.D
What You’ll Learn: The synopsis to this one sounds all too familiar (from Amazon): “You loved your college major. You worked hard to earn your degree. And now your day job doesn’t fully use your education, engage your mind, or feed your soul. But there are still limitless opportunities to do intellectually serious work―work that will win you professional recognition, travel opportunities, and even publication in peer-reviewed journals. All you have to do is create your own academic opportunities, and Passion Projects for Smart People will show you exactly how to do it.
“The perfect career guide for the era of the Ph.D. barista, the underpaid adjunct, and the gig economy, Passion Projects for Smart People will help you take charge of your career and your life.”
What the Critics Think: “This upbeat, can-do book is delightful to read and energizes you to get up and out to learn and teach science. The book is a guide that provides much practical advice on where to start and become involved in a myriad of ways to make the world a better place, and have fun too! The book has great detail with step by step guidance on how to maximize opportunities, where to seek support and how to cultivate your passions.” — Sarah Allen, Ph.D., wildlife biologist
13. 101 Ways to Find Work … and Keep Finding Work for the Rest of Your Career! by Dr. Charles Michael Austin
What You’ll Learn: The 101 ways are covered in 16 comprehensive parts that include context, 21st Century job-seeking approaches, the importance of passion, the employer’s perspective, communication, resumes and cover letters, networking, time management, organization (yours and theirs), making a name for yourself, and continuing education, among others.
What the Critics Think: Another 5-star book on Amazon.
14. The Leadership Manifesto by Bill Hicks
What You’ll Learn: The Leadership Manifesto teaches you how to be yourself, particularly when it comes to building your personal brand and culture. It gives you the confidence to speak up and gain confidence. It also shows you how to get involved with social growth outside the workplace. Other items include how to influence others through service, how to manage people, guide/organize a team, and create relationships.
What the Critics Think: One reviewer refers to the book as a “wonderful source of highly practical and impactful leadership lessons,” adding that they are the “kind of lessons you only learn with years of experience, if they are learned at all. Yet, the benefit of that knowledge is now available to young leaders and first time managers.” The book carries a 5-star rating on Amazon.
15. Entrepreneurial You by Dorie Clark
What You’ll Learn: Entrepreneurial You deals with how you can monetize your expertise and extend your reach and impact online. It gives you helpful tips on how to turn your own ideas into products. It also shares advice on how to leverage your platform by creating an online course; how to create digital products and online communities; and how to leverage intellectual property to your advantage as well.
What the Critics Think: “When I need advice, I call Dorie Clark. When I have a question about entrepreneurship, I call Dorie Clark. When I want to read a book about monetizing ideas I have, I read Entrepreneurial You.” — James Altucher, author of Choose Yourself and Reinvent Yourself
16. Turn Right by Inez Natalia
What You’ll Learn: In Turn Right, Natalia shows you how to find yourself, gives you helpful benchmarks, and teaches you how to design the life that you want to live. Along the way, you’ll learn about NOT blindly following your passion as well as how to get the universe to do the work for you (to an extent).
What the Critics Think: 5-star-rated book on Amazon. One reader says the Talent chapter “really says the thing that we’re afraid to say before, to our parents, society and ourselves. It discovers that all of us have inborn gifts and we should not hesitate to unleash it. While starting my first ever journaling journey with this book, needless to say, this is a really strong and important book to read.”
17. What Color Is Your Parachute 2018: A Practical Manual for Job-Hunters and Career-Changers by Richard N. Bolles
What You’ll Learn: Subtitled as a “practical manual for job-hunters and career-changers,” What Color Is Your Parachute? covers the death of the traditional resume (and what has replaced it), job interview tips, how to take a useful self-inventory, and how to deal with and address any handicaps that you may have.
What the Critics Think: “[One of the] Books that Shaped Work in America. How could I not put this on the list? … In print since 1970 and revised every year since 1975, it has not only informed and educated job seekers and job changers in the United States, but also had a global impact through publication in more than twenty languages. It’s basically the bible of career advice.” — US Department of Labor
18. The Art of Work by Jeff Goins
What You’ll Learn: The Art of Work is a great book for students unsure of what to do next with their lives. It’s a great book for individuals working a job but not yet finding their preferred career. It teaches you how to listen to your life, how to harness your current situation to find “accidental apprenticeships,” when/how to pivot from a failure, and how to build and leave a legacy.
What the Critics Think: “Today, unlike any previous time in history, we have options about the work we do and the role it plays in our lives. But it is precisely here that so many of us get stuck. With so many choices, we struggle to figure out what we really want or where to start once we do. In The Art of Work, Jeff Goins provides a clear framework for discerning our calling, developing our mastery, and maximizing our impact. This is the plan we’ve been waiting for–from a guide we can trust.” — Michael Hyatt, New York Times best-selling author and former CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers
19. Job Hunting: The Insider’s Guide to Job Hunting and Career Change by Emily Anderson
What You’ll Learn: Job Hunting walks you through how to begin your job hunt, network online, what to include in your resume, what to look for in recruiters, how to find them, and how to navigate networking events. There also are sections on interviewing, changing careers, and five-year plans. You’ll also learn about the latest technologies that can help you find a job faster. It’ll even teach you how to leave a job when the time comes.
What the Critics Think: This 5-star effort is summed up by one reviewer like this: “This book is more like a life coach book than anything. From what jobe you would be good at, to how to apply, to job interview questions, it has you covered. If your biggest fear is the interview this is especially useful. If you can get a friend to ‘interview you’ using the sample questions and get used to answering them well, then you are ahead of the game going in.”
20. Lean In for Graduates by Sheryl Sandberg
What You’ll Learn: Lean In for Graduates is authored by top-level Facebook executive Sheryl Sandberg. In it, she challenges graduates to ask themselves what they would do if they weren’t afraid. Her prose covers mentorships, building beneficial working relationships that can get you ahead, and how to manage work-life balance, particularly for young women.
What the Critics Think: Sandberg’s book rates 4.5 stars on Amazon. Sir Richard Branson of the Virgin Group says that “If you loved Sheryl Sandberg’s incredible TEDTalk on why we have too few women leaders, or simply believe as I do that we need equality in the boardroom, then this book is for you. As Facebook’s COO, Sheryl Sandberg has firsthand experience of why having more women in leadership roles is good for business as well as society. Lean In is essential reading for anyone interested in righting the injustice of this inequality.”
21. The Motivation Myth by Jeff Haden
What You’ll Learn: Jeff Haden’s book argues that motivation is not the spark that sets the greats on their path to success. It also casts doubt on the idea that focus does the trick. Other bits of insight: your goal must always choose your process. Happiness comes to serial achievers. Wishing and hoping is the most unrealistic approach of all. And you can gain incredible willpower by needing less of it.
What the Critics Think: “Sometimes, your computer gets stuck, and the pros know you can press Command+Option+ESC to break out of the loop. Jeff Haden’s book is like that, but for your life. Read it and learn how to break out of your negative loops without needing a complete shut-down.” — Dharmesh Shah, Co-founder and CTO of HubSpot
22. The Quarter-Life Breakthrough by Adam Smiley Poswolsky
What You’ll Learn: The Quarter-Life Breakthrough talks about inventing your own path, finding meaningful work, and building a life that matters. How do you get there? Embrace fear. Define meaningful work. Kickstart a meaningful job search effort. You wake up to these things by the time you’re 25 years old, and this is a book that can help you through it.
What the Critics Think: “This awesome book is chock full of smart, practical, relatable, and timely tips for meaning-makers. If you want to make a bigger impact in others’ lives, connect with a community you love, and find greater fulfillment even in an ever-changing career landscape, buy this book. And then re-read it whenever you need to turn a breakdown into a breakthrough.” — Jenny Blake, author of Pivot and Life After College
23. All Work, No Pay: Finding an Internship, Building Your Resume, Making Connections, and Gaining Job Experience by Lauren Berger
What You’ll Learn: Working for free isn’t always a bad idea. This book will show you how to find the internships that matter. It will show you how to build your resume, make connections, and gain job experience.
What the Critics Think: One of he many good reviews claim the book is a “great guide to keeping and benefitting from an internship,” adding that it “covered the new ways to make contacts such as LinkedIn, video interviews, etc. without ignoring the in-person and personal parts of the process. An excellent guide for a young person who might not want to communicate except by text, and an eye-opening guide for anyone from the generation of snail mail.”
24. Networking for People Who Hate Networking by Devora Zack
What You’ll Learn: Networking is hard, especially when you are not mentally geared that direction. Introverts have been living with this for decades. For the last 20 years, however, the Internet has broken down some of the walls. In Networking for People Who Hate Networking, you learn practical solutions to overcome the restrictions of your personality.
What the Critics Think: “Reading this incredibly enjoyable book is the next best thing to having Devora whispering in your ear, coaching you through events, and then leaving when you need time to yourself! You’ll gain perspective, confidence, and the willingness to take risks.” — Peter Borden, Vice President, Sapient Corporation
25. Career Change by Joanna Penn
What You’ll Learn: Career Change helps you diagnose problems with your existing work situation. It shines a light on what might happen if you allow these problems to go unchecked. It then shows you how to improve the situation and how to develop yourself into something more. Other details include the career change process, the fork-in-the-road of either working for yourself or finding a new job, and how to not lose touch with your creativity along the way.
What the Critics Think: Rated 4.5 out of 5 stars on Amazon, this book is described as “practical advice” and a “great read” by several reviewers. One says, “I appreciated Joanna’s authenticity in telling us her career story and learning along the way. What I enjoyed most was reading about her journey: the frustrations; the mistakes she made, the doubts she had, the transition period and the eventual path to a workable model of author-entrepreneur.”
26. Knock ‘Em Dead Secrets & Strategies for First-Time Job Seekers by Martin Yate
What You’ll Learn: The simple goal of Knock ‘Em Dead is to turn job interviews into job offers. To help get you there, it shows you the five secrets behind every hiring decision, the foundations of success in any career, how to build understanding between what you’re selling and what the “customer” is buying, and why interviewers do the things they do.
What the Critics Think: “Martin is brilliant when it comes to his depth and breadth of expertise, he stands above the rest when it comes to his knowledge of career issues.” — Chris Duncan, Director, Customer Operations, CareerBuilder.com
What Summer Reads Are on Your List?
If you’re the type of person who enjoys fast, breezy summer reads, you can’t do much better than the items on this list. That said, you may have your own list built out already. Are there any career-focused books you have your eye on? Which ones are they? Share your picks in the comments section below.
[Featured Image by Pixabay, fair use]