Reading is important – they told you that in grade school.
But why is reading so emphasized in education?
Here’s what people around the world are saying:
According to Statista, over 80% of Americans believe reading helps them reduce stress, pay attention, become more open-minded, and understand other cultures.
A Stanford study suggests that reading books about the humanities and thinking about the content fosters analytical thought.
Reading for empowerment boosts social mobility.
Readers experience less loneliness, more self-acceptance, and more life satisfaction than those who don’t read. They’re also better at decision-making, planning, prioritizing, and coping with difficult situations.
Stats aside, you’re here for a reason: You want more out of life. For you, it isn’t enough that you have the passion, some digital skills, and a dream to build an online career. You want to start your career with a bang.
Reading books from experts is one way to make that bang.
Written by expert practitioners in the field, these 32 practical books are for those who want to understand themselves, rewire their thinking, build their skills, and find success.
Let’s dive in.
32 Practical Books to Boost Your Digital Skills
Reading takes time – so kudos to you for being here! Even though your schedule is probably packed, you’re still committed to educating yourself through books. Reading for empowerment can take several forms, but these 32 practical books will help build your skills in 7 key areas: personality, entrepreneurship, imposter syndrome, thinking, marketing, productivity, and writing.
Books on Personality and the Enneagram
1. Reading People: How Seeing the World Through the Lens of Personality Changes Everything
Personality is more than just a Harry Potter trope, Anne Bogel says. She digs deeper, helping readers discover themselves more completely through engaging stories, thorough research, and personal insights from her own self-discovery journey. She draws from the biggest personality tests such as the MBTI, StrengthsFinder, and Enneagram. Read this book if you’re ready to go beyond online quizzes to find out who you really are – and how to use that knowledge in all aspects of life.
2. The Honest Enneagram: Know Your Type, Own Your Challenges, Embrace Your Growth
Don’t stop at learning who you are – read this personal, conversational book by Sarajane Case to orient yourself in the world and become better. Sarajane’s writing is easily digestible. She unpacks the 9 Enneagram types, their strengths and struggles, the value you bring to the world, and actionable ways to enrich your day-to-day life. Her H.O.N.E.S.T. framework is simple and memorable for growing self-efficacy through self-compassion. After this pleasure of a read, you’ll understand your Enneagram type, what each type means, and how to grow as a person.
3. The Road Back to You: An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery
This witty, eye-opening page-turner brings you understanding of yourself and others. Authors Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile use the ancient Enneagram types to help you build compassion and strengthen your spiritual life. This timely, spiritually grounded approach to the Enneagram is a fresh experience full of wisdom, humor, and discernment. Unless you know yourself, you could hurt your relationships with others – so be wise and read this book to find out how you’re wired so you can connect with yourself, others, and God.
4. The Wisdom of the Enneagram: The Complete Guide to Psychological and Spiritual Growth for the Nine Personality Types
If you don’t know your Enneagram type, this is a great book to read. Don Richard Riso includes two questionnaires and several exercises to pinpoint your type’s potential weaknesses and improve relationships, habits, and autonomy. The questionnaires are fun and illuminating. Riso also goes beyond the types and delves into the subtypes, wings, and instinctual variants. Though it was published in 1999, this pioneering work is still applicable today as a seamless marriage of psychology and spirituality. You won’t find another comprehensive compendium of Enneagram information like this. Read it, then read it again – you’ll keep finding treasures no matter how many times you revisit it.
Books on Entrepreneurship and Starting a Business
5. Meaningful: The Story of Ideas That Fly
There’s a reason entrepreneurial experts around the world commend Bernadette Jiwa’s book about success. She argues that it’s not ideas themselves, but how we connect them to others’ needs, that causes our ideas to succeed. “Our ideas fly,” she says, “when we show others their wings.” Included in this disruptive, innovative beacon is the Story Strategy Blueprint – a way to earn affinity, rather than buying attention. Read Meaningful to center your ideas – or to figure out why they’re not working. Then go change the world.
Go against the grain – get uncomfortable – go minimalist – with Jason Fried in this trailblazing title. This advice is different: Work smarter, not harder. Normal isn’t always right. Talking isn’t as good as doing. Within the pages of this book are genius ways to improve productivity, gain exposure, and make a difference. True to its nature, it isn’t written in a style typical of a professional business book – rather, it’s easy to read, personal, and provocative. Rework’s straightforward, profoundly practical guidance is a hit in the head for all entrepreneurs – amateur and veteran alike.
7. The Go-Giver, Expanded Edition: A Little Story About a Powerful Business Idea
Ever been told you need to be a “go-getter” to win the job? Bob Burg and John David Mann say otherwise. Told in parable form, this book imparts the law of reciprocity through the adage “Give and you shall receive.” The parable follows ambitious go-getter Joe on his journey with the enigmatic consultant Pindar to discover extraordinary returns from giving. If you choose, you can even bring the conversation to your business friends and fellow learners with the included discussion guide. Read this book to find out why and how to become a “go-giver.”
8. Think and Grow Rich
Want to build your wealth? There’s a secret to it. Read this classic book by Napoleon Hill to find out what to do, how to do it, and where to find the motivation to follow through. Interwoven throughout stories of older millionaires and billionaires are commentaries on the wealth-building philosophies of modern-day moguls like Bill Gates. Though over 80 years old, this landmark bestseller is timeless and relevant due updates to examples and style. Explore the wisdom of this brilliant book – put in the work, and you’ll reap what you sow.
9. The $100 Startup: Reinvent the Way You Make a Living, Do What You Love, and Create a New Future
It’s exactly what the title says and more: a kickstart to your dreams and a way to achieve them. Chris Guillebeau tracks his own business ventures down to the gritty details, showcasing a live example of his principles in action. Written in a funny, thoughtful, and earnest style, this book proves that there are opportunities everywhere, even amid a crisis. It’s jam-packed with data, checklists, models, and examples. If you’re starting a business on a shoestring, dive into this remarkable work to learn how to help yourself live with purpose on your own terms – and then how to help others.
Books on Imposter Syndrome
10. The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women: Why Capable People Suffer from the Impostor Syndrome and How to Thrive in Spite of It
For a woman in business – or anyone just breaking ground in their career – self-doubt is a familiar monster. Even successful women, Valerie Young says, suffer from this “imposter syndrome” – the feeling of faking it. Learn how to recognize and overcome self-doubt through Valerie’s research-based solutions. Don’t listen to the crushing voice inside your head saying your success is not earned – read this book to replace it with the empowering truths that you are successful and can do great things.
11. The Imposter Cure: Escape the Mind-Trap of Imposter Syndrome
Tired of feeling like a fraud? Read Dr. Jessamy Hibberd’s psychology-based cure for the Imposter Syndrome. In this powerful, definitive guide, learn how to shamelessly embrace your achievements. With over 15 years of clinical experience, Dr. Hibberd knows what she’s talking about – and this book will feel like your personal therapy session.
Books to Make You Think
12. The End of Average: How We Succeed in a World That Values Sameness
You already know that “average” doesn’t describe everyone. High school dropout Todd Rose knows it, too – in this mind-blowing nonconformist manifesto, he purports that individual differences and talents are most important. After this provocative read, you’ll discover how to finally liberate yourself from the tyranny of the average and find and use individuality to drive your success.
13. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking
Susan Cain reminds us of the power of introverts and how undervalued they are in a world tailored for extroverts. Complete with a reader’s guide and bonus content, this book is shaped from the real, immutable stories of successful, legendary introverts, including Dr. Seuss, Rosa Parks, and Chopin. After reading this revolutionary book, you’ll look at quieter folks much differently – and, if you are an introvert, you’ll be empowered to be yourself and stop trying to be an extrovert.
14. Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear
For the creative struggling to find the quiet in their loudly creative mind, this is a must-read. Elizabeth Gilbert’s radiant, empathic writing entreats readers to embrace their creativity fully and fearlessly. Using her own process as an example, she encourages readers to find what makes them unique and live the life they’ve always dreamed of. Crack open this pragmatic book to shatter the barriers to habits and attitudes that breed the most creativity. Don’t suffer needlessly in your creative work. Read this book.
Books on Marketing
15. Epic Content Marketing: How to Tell a Different Story, Break through the Clutter, and Win More Customers by Marketing Less
Noise clutters the marketing world. That’s why content marketing godfather Joe Pulizzi wrote this epic guide: to show you how to develop an attractive niche, create valuable content, grow a lasting audience, and raise your ROI. Complete with case studies, this book from the guy who knows the most about this industry tells you everything you need to know about content marketing done right.
16. Content Strategy for the Web, 2nd Edition
Want to learn content strategy? Start here. Kristina Halvorson made content strategy a thing – and she asserts its value in this essential guide. She explains how to create a successful content strategy, pitch it to your company, and go from crisis to success. Many content marketing experts have read it – a sign that you should, too.
17. Clout: The Art and Science of Influential Web Content
In this applicable, pragmatic deep dive by Colleen Jones, learn why “Content is King” and how to leverage that “why” to get results from online content. Practical examples from top influential brands give insight into her principles. This is a digestible book – Jones clarifies and condenses typically complicated jargon into workable principles. Read this before creating content.
18. The Big Red Fez: How to Make Any Web Site Better
It’s Seth Godin. Enough said. In this marketing guru’s must-have manual to web marketing, you’ll learn how to attract and satisfy your website visitors to turn them into loyal customers. If you’re looking for a short, to-the-point book ripe with wisdom, essential truths, and ways to avoid simple mistakes in website building, this is it.
19. Contagious: Why Things Catch On
With counterintuitive, arresting facts and insights, Jonah Berger will teach you how to go viral in this infectious playbook on marketing. Discover six specific, actionable principles to spread information that catches on. This is useful for anyone going into advertising, content marketing, or PR.
20. Buyer Personas: How to Gain Insight into your Customer’s Expectations, Align your Marketing Strategies, and Win More Business
Understanding your buyers is undeniably foundational in any marketing campaign. Without accurate buyer personas, marketers risk producing irrelevant content, wasting resources, and ultimately, losing sales. Don’t rely on guesswork or generic data – use Adele Revella’s expert, step-by-step advice to understand your buyers and meet their expectations. A foundational addition to the marketer’s bookshelf.
21. The SEO Blueprint: How to Get More Organic Traffic from Search Engines Right Now
Did you know there’s an actual formula for ranking #1 in Google? It’s true. Ryan Stewart can save you thousands of hours with this no-nonsense, foundational process for actionable SEO. Included with the book are tools and templates for running seamless campaigns. Read this to get an edge over competitors and start ranking.
22. Known: The Handbook for Building and Unleashing Your Personal Brand in the Digital Age
Every marketer has a brand, but do you know how to make that brand known? If not, marketing veteran Mark Schaefer will teach you. This step-by-step plan uses case studies and inspiring stories from top brands and individuals to show you how to get seen. Anything from Mark Schaefer should be read by every burgeoning marketer. This book is no exception.
23. Practical Content Strategy & Marketing
Crafted by yours truly, this is your real-life field guide to content strategy. My book features several top marketers and covers the six core principles of profitable content marketing. You’ll even have a chance to build your own content strategy using the exercises in each module. Upon completion, you’ll have something tangible to add to your portfolio. Bonus: You get the book free when you enroll in the Content Strategy and Marketing Course.
Books on Productivity and Meeting Your Goals
24. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
This classic bestseller is a must-read for all professionals. Stephen R. Covey presents 7 easy-to-remember principles that will help you increase your effectiveness and reach your goals. The author’s life may have ended, but these timeless principles have endured. Read this impactful book for clarity in your personal and professional life.
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25. Atomic Habits: An Easy and Proven Way to Build Good Habits and Break Bad Ones
Got bad habits? Want to build up good ones? Read this book. James Clear brings clarity to how the smallest changes bring remarkable results in life. With scientifically proven strategies for increasing motivation, making time for new habits, and regaining momentum, this hands-on, engaging read will change how you view progress and empower you to transform your habits.
26. Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World
Deep Work’s series of strategies, philosophies, and techniques will teach you the art of staying focused and productive despite distractions. Within its pages, you’ll find a detailed action plan of the what, why, and how of being a high-performing worker. This deeply enriching, transformative book by Cal Newport is an indispensable guide to all professionals.
27. Eat That Frog! 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time
“I’ll do it tomorrow” isn’t a valid excuse in Brian Tracy’s book. Prioritization, organization, time management – these are all vital skills you’ll learn in this motivating call-to-action to destroy procrastination. With 21 practical steps to achieving productivity, you’ll be able to stop wasting time and start getting things done faster. Don’t put off reading this book.
Books on Writing
28. How to Write Copy That Sells: The Step-By-Step System for More Sales, to More Customers, More Often
This is an essential guide for the conversion copywriter. In this book, Ray Edwards bridges the gap between entrepreneurship and online marketing with formulas to help you quickly write user-friendly, effective copy for emails, websites, social media, sales pages – all without sounding “salesy.” Replete with samples, templates, and checklists, this is all you need to start generating sales from the words you write.
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29. Everybody Writes: Your Go-Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content
Top marketer Ann Handley believes writing matters more now than ever. That’s why she wrote this book, complete with actionable insights to help you write the compelling content that makes your business fly. This is your guide to grammar and usage, credibility, and the use of personal stories to connect with your audience. You’ll also get an inside look at useful content tools and how to write 17 common types of content. This is the most sensible writing guide for the digital age.
30. Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die
In their book, Chip and Dan Heath will teach you six communication principles to make an idea stick. The acronym S.U.C.C.E.S. is itself “sticky” – you won’t forget it. This easy-to-read blueprint is filled with stories of real, normal people who put these principles into practice. If you have great ideas but don’t know how to keep them alive in your writing, this is an essential addition to your bookshelf.
31. Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life
In this modern classic, Anne Lamott offers her best writing advice with a the hilarious, provocative, conversational style. A writer by trade, Anne understands and explores the challenges of being a writer (she gets the struggle). Bird by Bird’s poignant moments, helpful exercises, and elegant prose will make you fall in love with writing all over again – and guide you to a better version of your writer self. This is a treasure trove of valuable advice.
32. So You Think You Can Write? The Definitive Guide to Successful Online Writing
In my lesson-packed beginner’s guide, I use my own success story to detail how to make money as a writer. With a simple approach to today’s online world, I explain SEO, audience selection, meta data, social media marketing, and the 7 common types of online content – and how to write them. Included is a huge list of helpful writing tools I recommend. Even if you’ve never written a word in your life, this is a fundamental book for you. You’ll be excited by the possibilities it opens for you.
How to Make Time for Reading
At this point in the post, you’re probably thinking, “That’s way too many books for me to read.”
At the start of a new career, your schedule is already packed with studying, interviews, work, and other activities to build your resume. And reading takes huge chunks of time. So don’t try to read it all.
My advice? Select one or two books from each category that stand out to you and read them each month. Set aside time every day specifically for reading. Read a chapter or section a day. Eventually, you’ll finish – and you’ll have gleaned the knowledge you set out to learn.
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