15 Career Books That Will Change Your Life

By Jessica Best
18th May 2022

If charging up your career game has been a priority this year, then you’ve come to the right place. Sure, Barefoot Investor definitely copped the limelight for a fair while but we’ve compiled an epic list of books that will not only inspire you to get a hold of this whole “savings” thing but also live your best employment life.

Spanning all things like money management, how to not become a bazillionaire (but something close to it), emotions in the workplace and even how to actually switch off and stop obsessing over emails during annual leave, these reads will be your answer to road-mapping your best ever career (whatever that might be).

Here are all the most inspiring career books worth reading now.

Seize The Yay

By Sarah Davidson

If your entrepreneurial mind needs a bit of a kick to get it started this year, turn your attention to Sarah Davidson’s Seize The Yay. If this name sounds familiar, it’s because yes—this is the same legend that founded Matcha Maiden, Matcha Mylkbar and the famous podcast by the same name. Sarah started her first business after suffering from a case of complete adrenal exhaustion. As a young lawyer looking for a caffeine-free fix to supplement her serious coffee habit, she ordered ten kilos of tea from Japan by accident. Starting up a side hustle to shift the nine kilos of matcha she didn't need, Matcha Maiden was born. This book spills Sarah's best practice tips and life advice to help you realise your own career and life dreams while staying grounded.

Women In Leadership

By Julia Gillard And Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

While this might sound like a book about women in leadership, it’s definitely a book made to be read by all. Clocking up a broad life on the world stage of politics, economics and global not-for-profits, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and Julia Gillard have some strong ideas about the impact of gender on the treatment of leaders. The two have brought together their own experiences in a practical and inspirational book which also features the words of Jacinda Ardern, Hillary Clinton, Theresa May and a whole heap more. Women In Leadership is an action agenda for change, meant to spark anyone and everyone to take control and combat gender bias. This is easily one of the best career books of 2021.

The Four Hour Work Week

By Timothy Ferris

We hate to hit you with the C-word right now but look if Covid taught us anything, it’s that we’re more flexible than we know. The Four Hour Work Week is a book that harnesses that very concept, the idea that your life doesn’t have to revolve around work, especially if it’s the kind of routine slowly digging you into the ground. This book has actionable tips, tricks and templates you can use to live more and work less. It also contains a number of new “life blueprints”, think the kind that trades in your long-haul career for short bursts of work and “mini-retirements”.

Tribe Of Mentors

By Timothy Ferriss

Another great book for a little touch of career guidance by Timothy Ferris, is his iconic Tribe Of Mentors read. Ferriss basically tracked down more than 100 experts to feed you a bunch of short, action-packed profiles sharing secrets for success, happiness and more. You’ll find career and life advice from the likes of Maria Sharapova, Kelly Slater, Tony Hawk, David Lynch, Jimmy Fallon, Yuval Noah Harris, Ben Stiller and more.


By Alexa Shoen

This book honestly makes saying “Alexa, find me a job I love”, an absolute reality. Written by artist Alexa Shoen, #ENTRYLEVELBOSS is the read for you if you’ve been banging your head with job searching or you’ve got no idea how to get out of your current role and into something you actually love. Shoen’s book is basically like personal training for your career and includes step-by-step guides giving you hyper-specific advice including templates for networking emails, CVs, and cover letters plus, straight-to-the-point guidance about what not to do. Mixed with a solid dose of humour and emotional support, this one is a great career self-help book.

The Sickie

By Jason Hazeley And Joel Morris

This visual manifesto is a plan of attack for life, an epic and light-hearted career book for high school students or uni students maybe hitting full-time work for the first time. The Sickie comes from the record-breaking phenomenon series—The Ladybirds For Grown-Ups, and it’s stocked with neat nuggets of wisdom in a funny and easy-to-read way. Think large clear scripts and original Ladybird artwork alongside brilliantly funny text.

Show Your Work

By Austin Kleon

Show Your Work is about why generosity trumps genius. It's about getting findable, about using the network instead of wasting time networking. Filled with illustrations, quotes, stories, and examples, Show Your Work offers ten transformative rules for being open, generous, brave, productive. This career book is basically a manual for your creative life on how to embrace the communal nature of creativity in what Kleon calls the ecology of talent. 

You’re Not Broke, You’re Pre-Rich

By Emilie Bellet

Sink your mitts into this modern-day money manifesto stat. You’re Not Broke, You’re Pre-Rich is the handy little life hack that will absolutely annihilate your brain cells (in a good way) on all things to do with renting, buying a home, getting a better salary, managing a credit card, understanding your net worth, saving more money, living within your budget, building a pension, investing and paying off any accumulated debt (we’re looking at you HECS). This gem is easy to read, even while you’re working your sweet time through Netflix.

Iced Beer And Other Tantalising Tips For Life

By Lee Lin Chin (And Chris Leben)

She’s as much of a style icon as she as the face of SBS and world news in general but Lee Lin Chin is also the absolute metaphorical archdiocese of nailing post-uni life and amping up your career game. If you’re wanting an accurate no-frills description of what it’s like reading this book, it’s like diving into the diary of an absolute queen who didn’t nab a Gold Logie. And we love it. Written with all the wit and flair, Iced Beer And Other Tantalising Tips For Life is the ultimate guide to living your best employed (or funemployed if that’s where you’re at) life.

Go Fund Yourself

By Alice Tapper

You can thank Alice Tapper for harnessing all the mean and actionable tips on how to be a damn champion at managing money. Not about cutting back coffee or becoming a bazillionaire overnight (let’s be reasonable here folks), Go Fund Yourself is the basic read on what you pretty much should have been taught at school but you know… weren’t. We love this one because it also delves into some big my important financial challenges if you’re working today, from what the #RichKidsofInstagram have to do with you and your money and why spending no longer means owning.

No One Is Too Small To Make A Difference

By Greta Thunberg

In August 2018 a 15-year-old Swedish girl (oh yell yeah, we're talking about Greta Thunberg), decided not to go to school one day. Her actions ended up sparking a global movement for action against the climate crisis, inspiring millions of people to go on strike for our planet, forcing governments to listen, and earning her a Nobel Peace Prize nomination. This 80-page godsend (which is in no way an exaggeration), brings you Greta in her own words and trust us, it sits at the very top of the inspiration scale. It's a glorious collection of her speeches that have made history across Europe, from the UN to mass street protests. No One Is Too Small to Make A Difference is a rallying cry for why we all need to wake up and fight to protect the living planet, no matter how powerless we feel and it'll 100 per cent light a fire in your soul. 

Empire State Of Mind

By Zack O’Malley Greenburg

You’ve got to admire any human who has literally turned their own self into a lifestyle. Enter Jay-Z. You can stream every one of his songs in seconds on Spotify, spritz yourself with his latest cologne, slip on a pair of his Rocawear jeans, lace up your Reebok S. Carter sneakers, watch baseball star Robinson Cano smack a couple of hits in an afternoon game, and grab a feed at The Spotted Pig (if you’re somehow out New York way). Yep, this guy profits at every turn of your day. Empire State of Mind reveals the story behind Jay Z's rise as told by the people who lived it with him, from classmates at Brooklyn's George Westinghouse High School and the childhood friend who got him into the drug trade, to the DJ who persuaded him to stop dealing and focus on the music. Now with new interviews with industry insiders like Russell Simmons, Alicia Keys, and J. Cole—more than one hundred in total—this book explains just how Jay Z propelled himself from the bleak streets of Brooklyn to the heights of the business world.

7 Habits Of Highly Effective People

By Stephen R. Covey

We get it. You’ve heard about this read one too many times in casual conversation or on an awkward Bumble date but rest assured, she isn’t underrated. Just like how Frank Ocean’s Blonde is a stone’s throw from any passionate artist, 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People is more or less a designated rule-book to living out your best career worth having within arm’s reach. Or at least somewhere on your bookshelf. Written back in 1989 (your favourite Handmaid’s Tale first saw the light back in 1985 before you pass any judgement), this worldwide best-seller has made its mark across cultures. It’s made up of a juicy 432 pages which influenced presidents, CEOs, educators and individuals to not only up their career game but live out their lives with integrity, dignity and success in all areas.

No Hard Feelings

By Liz Fosslien And Mollie West Duffy

Let’s be honest, emotions in the workplace can be a weird topic of conversation but we love this sneaky 300-pager because it’s a hilarious and illustrated roadmap (there’s an actual BINGO for meetings) on how to tackle it firsthand. No Hard Feelings works through how you can stop an office grouch from ruining your day, how to actually switch off and enjoy a vacation without obsessing about the unanswered emails in your inbox and if you're a boss, what you should do when your new, eager hire wants to follow you on Instagram.

Shoe Dog: A Memoir By The Creator Of Nike

By Phil Knight

Ever wondered what it would be like to be the big brain behind the world’s most famous “swoosh”? Of course you have. Nike founder and board chairman Phil Knight (notorious for being media-shy) spills all the tea on the early days of Nike as an intrepid start-up and its evolution into one of the world’s most iconic, game-changing and profitable brands. This bad boy also just happens to be one of Bill Gate’s favourite books too.

Thirsty for more reads? Check out these cookbooks that will change your life.

Design credit: Dom Lonsdale

Editor's note: Urban List editors independently select and write about stuff we love and think you'll like too. Urban List has affiliate partnerships, so we get revenue from your purchase.

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