5 books to take your career to the next level

by Mar 22, 2021

Are you a 10-books-a-month or a 10-books-a-lifetime reader? Bookworm or movie buff? Paper purist or e-reader?

No matter where you fall on the reading spectrum, there is boundless knowledge and advice to be found between pages, especially when it comes to your career. Studies show that reading, even infrequently, reduces stress, improves your language skills, boosts creativity, and might even add years to your life!

Grab your Goodreads app or a pen and paper, you’re going to want to jot down these titles to add to your to-read list!


When you need…motivation

David and Goliath (Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants) by Malcolm Gladwell

One question prompted Malcolm Gladwell to write this 2014 bestseller: what if we were telling the tale of David and Goliath wrong? What if, this entire time, David actually had the advantage all along?

It’s an interesting question, and prompts the reader to rethink commonly held ideas about power dynamics. We’re guided through stories about ordinary people who faced extraordinary challenges, and came out the other side grinning. From basketball to revolutions, David and Goliath takes us on a rollicking ride.

This book shows us that the powerful aren’t always as formidable as we may think, and that we have the ability to have extraordinary strength – more than we could ever imagine. It’s a great read that will bound to have you ready to go tackle your life and career long before you finish the last page.


When you need… advice

The Third Door: The Wild Quest to Uncover how the World’s Most Successful People Launched their Careers by Alex Banayan

Ever wondered how the world’s most successful people got to where they are today? When he was 18, that question plagued author Alex Banayan, so he set out to answer it. What followed was an incredible journey that took Banayan from a nightclub with Lady Gaga to discussing how Bill Gates sold his first piece of technology.

With one-one-one interviews with larger-than-life industry leaders (we’re talking Maya Angelou, Jane Goodall, Bill Gates, Steven Spielberg and so many others), The Third Door decodes the successes of icons and gives us step by step advice on how to follow suit.

What Banayan found was that in order to break through and kick-start your career, the key is to take the third door. Forego the main entrance where most of society waits in stagnation, ignore the VIP second door where only the social elites have access, but always strive for that often secret third door: the one with no secret password or open sesame access, the one that’s hidden behind bushes or only available through a tiny crack, you just have to find a way.

This book is full of valuable advice from the world’s best and brightest. If you’ve got big goals and want to see them realised, this read is for you.


When you need… an escape

Being There by Jerzy Kosiński

The only fiction book on this list, Being There is the perfect tome for when you want an escape from real life but still want a career-related read.

A satiric piece of writing from Polish author Kosiński. It follows the story of Chauncey ‘Chance’ Gardiner, a simple and enigmatic gardener who somehow unwittingly fools his way to the top to become embroiled in the world of Wall Street, a policy adviser for the President, and media star.

It’s a pretty short read and fabulously strange. Chance is so enigmatic (seemingly by accident) that by saying little he manages get industry leaders to fill in the blanks and imagine him as wiser, clever, and more distinguished than he ever could be.

Being There reminds us that we are capable of anything in our careers, because if Chance can do it, we certainly can too.


When you need… inspiration

Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg

Described as a “landmark manifesto” by the New York Times, “business manual” by the The Times, and “guide to cracking the glass ceiling” by Independent, it’s safe to say Lean In has truly earned all the accolades it’s received.

While workplaces and individuals are making great strides for gender equality in the workplace, it’s an unfortunate fact that many women are systemically disadvantaged in their careers. Whether it’s not feeling able to ask for a raise or promotion, the presence of imposter syndrome, or just not seeing female representation in larger industries, equality certainly seems to be lagging.

In Lean In, Sandberg walks through her own experience in working with and for some of the world’s most successful businesses. She creates a powerful example for advocating for yourself and your career, and shows how we can act on an individual level to make small changes that have big impacts. A must read for women looking to start and excel in their careers.


When you need… to plan

Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans

So you’ve got books for career motivation, advice, inspiration, and for when you just want to read a rollicking tale of faking it till you make it. Now what? You’re telling me I actually have to enact all these things?? Blocked and deleted.

That’s where authors Bill Burnett and Dave Evans come in! Their book, Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life, shows how you can plan for your life, future, and career using design-thinking strategies. We’re talkin’ experimentation, prototyping, and repeated iteration.

It’s a powerful and effective way of planning for the future you want, arming you with the confidence and strategies to succeed in creating a life filled with creativity, productivity, joy, and surprise.

And lucky for you, UTS Careers is here to help you design your life as well! Join us in one of our How to design your career sessions, where you’ll be able to learn how to create a career that is meaningful and fulfilling.


These career-optimising books are packed with hard-won knowledge and advice for people at all different stages of their careers. So grab a cup of tea, a cosy spot, and get reading!


Featured image courtesy of Unsplash

Lily Cameron

Lily Cameron

Communications Assistant

Lily Cameron is a writer and editor based in Sydney. She is a UTS Communications (Creative Writing) graduate, and current Communications Assistant at UTS Careers. She is passionate about telling stories, both hers and others’, and the way digital and social media is changing the literary landscape. Her writing has appeared in Voiceworks, The Brag, and elsewhere.