Book recommendations for Working Out Loud

Last week, I wrote a short guide to help book clubs for my own book. Now I'd like to celebrate other authors and their work. One of my great joys is opening up a book for the first time and immersing myself in it. To share that joy, here’s a short list of books I included in the appendix of Working Out Loud that shaped my thinking and are related to the book in some way. You can find other books I recommend on

What do you think? What’s missing from this list?

Thanks in advance for your comments. I’ll maintain a books section on the website under Resources for future reference.

Books for working out loud

Books for working out loud

A world view

If you only pick two books from this list, pick these two. They are a joy to read, and they are the most broadly applicable. While I had always thought of myself as a positive person, these books freed me to be more joyful and more open to the wonders in other people:

Are You Ready to Succeed? Unconventional Strategies to Achieving Personal Mastery in Business and Life,by Srikumar Rao

The Art of Possibility: Transforming Professional and Personal Life,by Rosamund Stone Zander and Ben Zander

New approaches to basic skills

These four books helped me rethink how I make my work visible. With their help and a lot of practice, I’ve become better at these fundamental skills, and I’m convinced anyone can do the same:

On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction,by William Zinsser

Reading Like a Writer: A Guide for People Who Love Books and for Those Who Want to Write Them,by Francine Prose

Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery,by Garr Reynolds

Resonate: Present Visual Stories that Transform Audiences,by Nancy Duarte

Developing relationships

These books made me think more deeply about what people need and want in relationships and how I could apply that in building a network to accomplish something:

How to Win Friends and Influence People: The Only Book You Need to Lead You to Success,by Dale Carnegie

Never Eat Alone: And Other Secrets to Success, One Relationship at a Time,by Keith Ferrazzi with Tahl Raz

Who’s Got Your Back: The Breakthrough Program to Build Deep, Trusting Relationships that Create Success—and Won’t Let You Fail, by Keith Ferrazzi

Personal productivity and creativity

These books, shorter and easier to read than the others, gave me a new perspective on how people create great work:

Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus, and Sharpen Your Creative Mind, edited by Jocelyn Glei

Maximize Your Potential: Grow Your Expertise, Take Bold Risks & Build an Incredible Career, edited by Jocelyn Glei

Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative, by Austin Kleon

Show Your Work!: 10 Ways to Share Your Creativity and Get Discovered, by Austin Kleon

Show Your Work: The Payoffs and How-To’s of Working Out Loud, by Jane Bozarth

Thinking about thinking

Having a better understanding of how your mind works is perhaps the most empowering knowledge you can have. These books made it possible for me to control more of my thoughts rather than have them control me:

Thinking, Fast and Slow,by Daniel Kahneman

Your Brain at Work: Strategies for Overcoming Distraction, Regaining Focus, and Working Smarter All Day Long,by David Rock

Self-Esteem: A Proven Program of Cognitive Techniques for Assessing, Improving, and Maintaining Your Self-Esteem, by Matthew McKay and Patrick Fanning

Why we do what we do—and how to change it

These books helped me understand what generally motivates people and how to change my habits. They also empowered me to actively shape my future instead of watching it unfold:

Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, by Daniel Pink

The Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works, Why It Matters, and What You Can Do to Get More of It, by Kelly McGonigal

Driving larger-scale changes

Whether you’re trying to change your firm, change your local community, or change the world, these book offer approaches, frameworks, and heroic examples that will inspire you and make you more effective:

The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses, by Eric Ries

Influencer: The Power to Change Anything, by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, David Maxfield, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzler

The Dragonfly Effect: Quick, Effective, and Powerful Ways to Use Social Media to Drive Social Change, by Jennifer Aaker and Andy Smith, with Carlye Adler

Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard, by Chip Heath and Dan Heath

Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?, by Seth Godin

Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, a Man Who Would Cure the World, by Tracy Kidder

The Blue Sweater: Bridging the Gap Between Rich and Poor in an Interconnected World, by Jaqueline Novogratz

Whatever It Takes: Geoffrey Canada’s Quest to Change Harlem and America, by Paul Tough

Finding happiness

The insights found in this eclectic mix of books allowed me to see the limitations I had placed on myself. They showed me the different ways I was actively making myself unhappy and how to change that:

Be Free Where You Are,by Thich Nhat Hanh

Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life,by Thich Nhat Hanh

The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom, by Jonathan Haidt

A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose,by Eckhart Tolle

Steering by Starlight: The Science and Magic of Finding Your Destiny,by Martha Beck

The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun,by Gretchen Rubin