, Professional Development

10 Books to Read for Success in 2019

three books stacked on top of each other with coffee, a doughnut and flowers nearby

If you’re the “new year, new you” type, or the kind of person who curates an annual book bucket list, you might have a few professional development books on your radar to work through in 2019.

But how do you narrow down which books to focus on? Will 2019 be the year you lean in, dare greatly, become the boss, win friends and influence people, or finally figure out who moved your cheese?

Let us — and our bibliophile friends at local libraries and Oklahoma City bookshops — be your professional development sensei, sifting through those stacks of how-to’s and self-help bestsellers for you, and guiding you through a short list of good reads that’ll help you find success in the coming year.

1. “Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead” by Brené Brown

There’s a reason for all the buzz around Brené Brown. This research professor at the University of Houston is a bestselling author who’s helped thousands find the courage to better themselves with several development books like “Daring Greatly,” “Dare to Lead,” and “Rising Strong,” to name a few. The accomplishments don’t stop there. Brown’s TED talk, “The Power of Vulnerability,” is one of the top five most viewed in the world, with over 35 million views. In other words, she’s kind of a big deal. We checked in with Ben Nockels, owner of Commonplace Books in Oklahoma City’s Midtown district, to see what the buzz was about.

“Professional development begins and ends with personal development,” Nockels said. “Our organizations are only as healthy and whole as the individuals who make them up, exponentially so for the leaders among us. This book reframes leadership by redefining strength and weakness and the vulnerability that courage requires. I rarely put a book in the ‘everyone must read’ category, yet this one lands squarely within those bounds. It’s hands down the most transformative book I’ve read in six years. It’ll stand the test of time; I guarantee it.”

2. “Becoming the Boss: New Rules for the Next Generation of Leaders” by Lindsey Pollack

If there’s one thing we know about leadership, it’s that you don’t need to be in a position of power to lead. For the folks in the back of the room: Anyone. In any role. Anywhere. Can lead. That’s why Pollack’s “Becoming the Boss” resonates with so many. It helps fledgling leaders find their way. As baby boomers retire, many more millennials are gunning for and nabbing managerial roles in their late 20s and early 30s. That shift presents some fascinating issues young leaders need to work through, like how to manage those older than themselves, how to conduct themselves on social media (and why LinkedIn is the most important social network for a majority of industries), and how to motivate and manage employees from any generation.

3. “Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action” by Simon Sinek

Rose State College Raiders can appreciate a good self-development book, too. The Rose State Library features several, and employs a few librarians with some soft spots for the genre. Check out what Rose State librarian Andrew Soliven had to say about his pick by Simon Sinek, a motivational speaker who, like Brown, went down in TED Talk history with his presentation on “Why” in 2009.

“Simon Sinek’s book takes a look at critical factors that lead to success,” Soliven said. “Often times, organizations get caught up in what they do and how they do it, but sometimes overlook the reason why. Starting with and understanding the ‘why’ is the reason people buy into any organization, company, or product. Throughout the book, Sinek explains success through several case studies and examples, such as the Wright Brothers, Martin Luther King Jr., and Apple. Although these three subjects may have little in common on the surface, their understanding of why they do what they do leads them to achieve great things.”

4. “The Upside of Stress: Why Stress is Good for You, and How to Get Good at It” by Kelly McGonigal

The Upside of Stress book on a table beside tea and a raspberry tart

Before you go thinking you’ll eliminate stress in 2019, hear us out: A little stress can be a good thing, especially if you ask Kelly McGonigal, a health psychologist and lecturer at Stanford University. McGonigal — also a TED Talk champ — wants to help her readers achieve personal success through her findings in psychology and neuroscience. So, what’s that mean?  This book walks readers through how to embrace stress, how to use it to find focus and energy, how to strengthen relationships through stress, and how to increase your brain’s ability to learn from challenging experiences. What do you say, are you ready to use stress for good in 2019?

5. “When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing” by Daniel H. Pink

Sure, timing is everything. But, how do you master timing? Is it even possible? In “When,” Pink — a New York Times bestselling author and former host of “Crowd Control,” a TV series about human behavior on the National Geographic Channel — covers the scientific secrets of timing. In this book, he answers questions like: When is the ideal time to quit a job? Switch careers? Get married? For a perfectly timed testimonial, we turned to Todd Podzemny, library manager at Southern Oaks Library in the Metropolitan Library System.

“Pink summarizes a great deal of recent research on human biological rhythms,” Podzemny said. “There are many helpful tidbits to help you structure your working day more efficiently and work more effectively with others by identifying their individual patterns. For example, there’s a surprisingly in-depth analysis of how often you should take breaks to maintain your best quality of work, and identify the times of day when you should avoid making important phone calls or decisions. It’s a very readable introduction to a complex set of human behaviors.”

6. “Mastering Civility: A Manifesto for the Workplace” by Christine Porath

Maybe you’re already a fan of Robert I. Sutton’s “The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn’t.” Or maybe you just have a lot of jerks in your office. Whatever the case, we’re getting behind “Mastering Civility” by Christine Porath, a Georgetown University management professor, and we consider it one of the most needed reads in 2019. When toxic behavior seeps into workplaces, Porath’s rallying cry is: “The way we treat each other at work matters.” If you’re looking to effect positive change in your workplace, and wiping out rudeness and incivility is at the top of your to-do list, this one’s for you.

7. “Rejection Proof: 100 Days of Rejection, or How to Ask Anything of Anyone at Anytime” by Jia Jiang

Jia Jiang might sound a little familiar (he’s the guy who went viral for requesting Krispy Kreme make doughnuts in the shape of Olympic rings). Jiang’s incredibly entertaining “Rejection Proof” takes readers on a 100-day ride in which the author makes some Olympic-sized asks, and some small ones too, pushing the limits with others and himself. If you’re looking for a confidence builder or tactics to steel yourself from rejection, you might have something to learn from Jiang. Meg Wilson, engagement manager at the Del City Library, gives this one five stars.

“This book was my first exposure to ‘Jackie the Krispy Kreme Lady,’ who gave me an awesome new lens for considering outstanding customer service with my team,” Wilson said. “Jiang’s book focuses on what and how we would ask of others if we had no fear of rejection. Early on in his experimental process, Jackie delivers by showing what can happen when, as customer service professionals, we do not pause to consider whether or not something is doable — only to consider how something is doable. I like that shift in thinking.

8. “Radical Candor: Be a Kick-Ass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity” by Kim Scott

the book Radical Candor on a table beside a matcha latte and three macarons

“Radical Candor” by Kim Scott is on the bookshelf of remote worker and Oklahoma City resident Ruth Burr Reedy, who offered some tips on working remotely in our “How to Stay Balanced When You Can Work From Anywhere” blog post. Burr Reedy now subscribes to Scott’s work-life integration (notice, it’s not work-life balance), which means giving time and energy to your work doesn’t have to take away from your personal life, and vice versa. Scott filled the book with tips on how to build, lead, and inspire teams, making this a New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller.

9. “Writing Without Bullshit: Boost Your Career by Saying What You Mean” by Josh Bernoff

Saucy words aside, Bernoff’s writing guide is essential for those who want to cut clutter from their communication. And let’s face it, you don’t have to be a “writer” to write. Whether you’re looking to improve your newswriting, emails to clients or coworkers, presentations, reports, or social media posts, Bernoff’s book has some actionable advice for you. He doesn’t just tell you to ditch the jargon or passive voice, but he walks you through what that looks like and how you can pack these tips into your writing toolbox.

10. “The Effective Manager” by Mark Horstman

What does an effective manager look like? Sure, walking around with a “World’s Best Boss” mug might fit some people’s idea of a great leader, but author Mark Horstman knows there’s more to it than that. In short, effective managers get results and retain their team members. Ben Mead-Harvey, library manager at the Downtown and Wright libraries, recommended “The Effective Manager” by Horstman, co-founder of the internationally acclaimed “Manager Tools” podcast, as an essential book to help anyone in their careers.

“‘The Effective Manager’ is a hands-on guide for how to be a great manager at every level,” Mead-Harvey said. “Horstman focuses on practical application of what works, not philosophical ideals about how a company ought to be run — you won’t find the word ‘should’ anywhere in this book. You will learn easy-to-understand actions that you can implement the moment you set the book down to transform your management style and get results.”

Looking for more advice on upping your professional development? Take a look at our blog and see what other improvements you can tackle in 2019.