This year has been wild, filled with changes, growth and new opportunities. One of the best parts of this year was the time I spent reading books that changed the way we think. I’m sharing the 25 best books to read in 2021 because it’s time for us to step outside the box and become the best versions of ourselves. These books will help you see the opportunities that lay in front of you once you stop doubting yourself — just like my book, “Betting on You: How to Put Yourself First and (Finally) Take Control of Your Career,” which will be available in a new paperback edition in January 2022.
Now, let’s get into the 25 best books that will change your life.
1. “Right Within: How to Heal from Racial Trauma in the Workplace” by Minda Harts
In this book, Minda Harris shares strategies on how women of color can heal and thrive within the workplace. From learning how to speak up during racialized moments with managers and clients to reframing past career disappointments as opportunities to grow into a new path, Minda has advice and strategies to help women of color strengthen their resolve in corporate America.
2. “Dream First, Details Later: How to Quit Overthinking & Make It Happen!” by Ellen Marie Bennett
From working as a line cook to creating a design idea that turned into a multimillion-dollar company, Ellen Marie Bennett dived into the unknown of her dream and never looked back. In this book, readers will learn more about Ellen’s journey and gain insight into her personal playbook for starting before you have a chance to stop yourself. It’s time to stop doubting yourself and instead make your dreams a reality.
3. “Professional Troublemaker: The Fear-Fighter Manual” by Luvvie Ajayi Jones
Fear is something that we all have. We can be afraid of rejection, going into the unknown and even in our own abilities, but we can’t create meaningful change if we let that fear stop us from living free. Luvvie Ajayi Jones is teaching everyone how to be a professional troublemaker by committing to not letting fear get in our way any longer.
4. “Stop Living on Autopilot: Take Responsibility for Your Life and Rediscover a Bolder, Happier You” by Antonio Neves
It’s easier to get lost in the routines of our lives. We get so used to those routines that we stop exploring what could possibly be next in our journeys, but according to Antonio Neves, it’s time to stop living on autopilot. In his book, Antonio reminds us that we control our lives and can find fulfillment right where we are.
5. “You Are The Brand: The 8-Step Blueprint to Showcase Your Unique Expertise and Build a Highly Profitable, Personally Fulfilling Business” by Mike Kim
You can build your business around your expertise, idea and personality, but it’s important to understand that YOU are the brand. To succeed with your personal brand, you have to come forth as your most authentic self with a message or idea that people want to support. In this book, Mike Kim shares his eight-step blueprint that has been proven to help not only his personal brand but also today’s most influential thought leaders.
6. “What Would Frida Do? A Guide to Living Boldly” by Arianna Davis
Frida Kahlo was a force to be reckoned with as she stands as a symbol of daring creativity for her art and her own life. Arianna Davis celebrates Frida’s signature style, outspoken politics and her boldness in love and art — even as she faced hardship and heartbreak. It’s time that we learn how to create fearlessly and stand by our own truths.
7. “Confessions of an HR Pro: Stories of Defeat & Triumph” by Julie Turney
If you’ve lost your motivation, whether you are new to HR and trying to find your path or have years of experience, you are not alone. Julie Turney knew that there needed to be more transparency in the HR community in navigating our careers, which is why she wrote this book. Here you’ll find real-life stories from HR professionals who have been in these places of uncertainty and how they were able to overcome these feelings.
8. “The Likeability Trap: How to Break Free and Succeed as You Are” by Alicia Menendez
As women, we are constantly stuck in an impossible bind that tells us to be nice, but not too nice, to be successful, but not too successful. Quite frankly, it’s time to let go of those old rules. In this book, Alicia Menendez empowers women to examine how they perceive themselves and explores why the concept of likeability is riddled with cultural biases.
9. “Here for It: Or, How to Save Your Soul in America” by R. Eric Thomas
Eric Thomas never considered himself different until the world told him that he was. No matter where he went, he found himself on the outside looking in. In his book, Thomas is reexamining what it means to be an “other” through the lens of his own life experience. This book is for anyone who has ever felt pushed to the margins and struggled with self-acceptance.
10. “Limitless: How to Ignore Everybody, Carve Your Own Path, and Live Your Best Life” by Laura Gassner Otting
What if success doesn’t equal happiness? In Laura Gassner Otting’s book, she helps innovators, idealists and iconoclasts learn how to ignore the rules that created your limits, align your energies and actions, and do what really matters so you can live your best life. This book is the permission you didn’t know you needed to discover and crush those scary personal goals.
11. “You’re Kind of a Big Deal: Level Up by Unlocking Your Audacity” by Erin King
When women have big dreams and confidence, they can get started on the path to professional success, but to get to the finish line, we need a level of audacity that fuels us throughout our path. In her book, Erin King shares strategies, tools and the inspiration you need to power up your potential and make your biggest dreams a reality.
12. “Run to Win: Lessons in Leadership for Women Changing the World” by Stephanie Schriock and Christina Reynolds
For the past 35 years, EMILY’S List has helped the campaigns of thousands of pro-choice Democratic women, but it was always difficult to convince more women to run. In this book, Stephanie Schriock and Christina Reynolds share lessons for women trying to succeed in a male-dominated field. Their arena may be in politics, but their message is universal.
13. “Impact Players: How to Take the Lead, Play Bigger, and Multiply Your Impact” by Liz Wiseman
Every organization has individuals who are indispensable colleagues, can be counted on in critical situations and constantly receive new opportunities. These individuals are called impact players, but what sets them apart from their peers? Liz Wiseman reveals the secrets behind these professionals and what they are doing differently in the workplace.
14. “No Bullsh!t Leadership” by Martin G. Moore
Martin G. Moore rescued a leading energy corporation from increasing debt and a lack of executive accountability by overhauling the company’s culture, redefining its leadership capabilities and increasing its earnings. In his book, he is sweeping away the mystical fog around leadership today and shares essential steps for success.
15. “Show Your Ask! Using Your Voice to Advocate for Yourself and Your Career” by Joyel Crawford
To get to where you want to be in your career, you have to take courageous action and use your voice. Joyel Crawford uses her passion for career and leadership development to help readers build momentum by using their voices to advocate for themselves and their careers.
16. “Introduction to HR Technologies: Understand How to Use Technology to Improve Performance and Processes” by Stacey Harris
With more apps, software and platforms for HR functions being produced than ever before, it can become overwhelming to choose between the variety of available technologies for their company. Stacey Harris addresses these issues in clear, accessible and jargon-free language to help HR professionals navigate the process of choosing the proper HR functions for them.
17. “Latinas Rising Up in HR: Inspirational Stories of Human Resources Professionals Leading, Thriving, and Breaking Barriers” by Priscilla Guasso
Priscilla Guasso has gathered the miraculous stories of aspiring HR professionals who have overcome obstacles and defied statistics to achieve their dreams in the nonprofit sector and corporate America. This book explores why there are not more Latinas in executive leadership and how determination and grit can pave the way for opportunities, no matter your background.
18. “A Minute to Think: Reclaim Creativity, Conquer Busyness, and Do Your Best Work” by Juliet Funt
Do you wish that you could take a minute away from work and life just to think? Juliet Funt has provided us with a guide that will give you the framework, permission and direction you need to regain control of your overloaded and inbox-worshipping workday.
19. “People Operations: Automate HR, Design a Great Employee Experience, and Unleash Your Workforce” by Jay Fulcher, Kevin Marasco and Tracy Cote
It is time to start focusing on the people in your organization. The Zenefits leadership team explains how leaders at small and medium-sized businesses can stop spending time on HR administrative tasks and focus on the people work to fuel employee growth and productivity across the organization.
20. “Come into My Office: Stories from an HR Leader in Silicon Valley” by Mai Ton
Only 10% of women are in executive roles in the tech industry, but why? Mai Ton shares a fresh anecdotal look at why that is, as well as firsthand experience in a startup leadership role, which often left her as the first woman and minority in a senior role. Get a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the most powerful industry today.
21. “The High 5 Habit: Take Control of Your Life with One Simple Habit” by Mel Robbins
Imagine what would happen if you gave the same love and encouragement that you give to your team to yourself — you’d be unstoppable! Mel Robbins is back, and she is teaching readers how to start lifting up the most important person in your life, the one who is staring back at you in the mirror: YOU.
22. “Set Boundaries, Find Peace: A Guide to Reclaiming Yourself” by Nedra Glover Tawwab
We all deserve healthy boundaries to help us cope with the obstacles of everyday life. But what does it actually mean to have healthy boundaries, and how can we successfully express our needs? Licensed therapist Nedra Glover Tawwab explores this complex topic by sharing simple, yet powerful, ways to establish healthy boundaries.
23. “Clarity & Connection” by Yung Pueblo
Understanding our emotions and how past wounds impact our current relationships is a complex concept. Yung Pueblo shares how our intense emotions accumulate in our subconscious and condition is to act and react in specific ways. His poetic style helps guide readers through the excavation and release of the past.
24. “Sparked: Discover Your Unique Imprint for Work that Makes You Come Alive” by Jonathan Fields
We’re all born with a “Sparketype” that tells us when we are doing the work that makes us come alive and motivates us. Jonathan Fields and his team at Spark Endeavors take readers deep into the world of Sparketypes, revealing new depths of insights about what makes people come alive in their lives and what drains them and trips them up at work.
25. “I Will Teach You to Be Rich: No Guilt. No Excuses. No BS. Just a 6-Week Program That Works” by Ramit Sethi
Buy that $5 cup of coffee and spend guilt-free on things you love while choosing accounts and investments so your money grows automatically. In his revised second edition, personal finance expert Ramit Sethi shares a six-week, no-BS program that teaches readers how to save hundreds or thousands of dollars, talk your way out of late fees and more.