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10 Books for Building a Better You

A resolutions-reset reading list.

​Remember those resolutions you were so determined to tackle this year?

Well, we don’t remember ours, either. To help clear the haze of a hot summer and start living the life you want to live while developing your career to its full potential, we’ve listed a few of our favorite books. Do you want to reinvent yourself? Are you looking for inspiration, enlightenment and encouragement? We have the books for you.

Happy reading!

The Gifts of Imperfection

The Gifts of Imperfection (Hazelden Publishing, 2010)

Brené Brown challenges us to embrace our uniqueness and own our imperfections. In her down-to-earth manner, she encourages readers to start shedding anxiety as a lifestyle, exhaustion as a status symbol and productivity as self-worth. She also shows us how to cultivate self-compassion, stillness and meaningful work, and how to turn perceived weaknesses into strengths. Brown emboldens you to reset your perspective, ignite your belief in yourself and find inspiration to go bigger―not to mention love wholeheartedly. An especially powerful book for those going through transition in work and life.​

HR On Purpose

HR on Purpose!! (SHRM, 2019)

If you haven’t read Steve Browne’s book, you really should. For some, it’s a timely reminder of the rewards of a career in HR. For others, it humanizes and enlivens the profession by linking accountability with empowerment and creativity with compassion. Still others appreciate the book’s practical principles for leading and managing everyday HR. Whatever the reason, read this to rekindle your passion for our vibrant and vital profession.

Designing your life

Designing Your Life (Knopf, 2016)

Are you in a rut? Why not apply the same approach designers use to explore and solve everyday problems? Bill Burnett and Dave Evans show you how the same design thinking that created your spiffy phone can help you create a meaningful and fulfilling life. This book will help you take stock of the important things―health, work, play and love―and find a balance among them. Perhaps the most important lesson is that the only failure is settling for a life that makes one unhappy.


Presence (Little, Brown Spark, 2018)

Social psychologist and record-setting Ted Talk speaker Amy Cuddy delivers a thought-provoking read that appeals to both heart and head. Based on extensive research on the body-mind connection, the book offers powerful and practical ways to use your body to change your brain and authentically summon courage to handle the trickiest of situations. With great storytelling throughout the book, including the author’s own remarkable narrative, Cuddy persuasively concludes that psychologist William James was right: “Our bodies speak to us. They tell us how and what to feel and even think.”

The 9 Faces of HR

The 9 Faces of HR (SHRM, 2019)

Popular blogger and chief human resources officer Kris Dunn presents a hard but compelling reality: Every HR professional on the planet can be classified as one of nine “faces” of the profession based on their career level and ability to innovate and drive change. The book opens with a behavioral assessment, so readers can quickly identify their own HR face. It then reveals career tracks, behavioral markers and market demand for each face. Which one are you? Which do you want to be? This is your playbook to empowering yourself as an HR practitioner and elevating the world’s greatest profession.

Surrounded by Idiots

Surrounded by Idiots (Vermilion, 2019)

No, this book isn’t about that ill-fated team project. A best-seller abroad (originally published in Swedish), it provides a framework for how we interact with and perceive the people around us. The so-called idiots in our lives are most often people who simply have different behavior profiles and styles of communication, says author Thomas Erikson. He asserts that all communication happens on the listener’s terms, and he details how to identify which one of four communication styles a person has in order to improve interactions based on that insight.

Body of Work

​Body of Work (Portfolio Trade, 2013)

What’s your story? Pamela Slim introduces readers to a compelling concept: viewing your life and career as a body of work. A witty and insightful storyteller, Slim shows readers how to identify their diverse threads of passions, experiences, values and skills and weave them into a cohesive, impactful and inspirational body of work. Written with candor, empathy and clarity, this book is the perfect road map to understanding your awesomeness at any stage in your career or life.

Actualized Leadership

Actualized Leadership (SHRM, 2019)

What motivates great leaders to be great? This groundbreaking book brings to life for leaders Abraham Maslow’s influential theory on human motivation and provides practical strategies to help you develop better leadership skills. The book shows how actualized leaders think, feel and manage differently. William L. Sparks gently takes readers on a journey of self-discovery. What’s holding you back from being the best leader you can be?

Do What You Are

​Do What You Are (Little, Brown Spark, 2014)

Are you still deciding what you want to be when you grow up? Working in the wrong job is like writing with the wrong hand, according to this landmark book, now in its fifth edition. Full of “aha” moments, Do What You Are leads readers through a process to determine their personality type and identifies popular occupations for each type. Whether you’re starting your career or considering a midlife switch, the step-by-step guidance from authors Paul D. Tieger, Barbara Barron and Kelly Tieger will help you find your niche in the world.


​Stretch (Wiley, 2016)

What keeps employees up at night? According to the mountain of research conducted by authors Karie Willyerd and Barbara Mistick on how changes in the global economy will impact the employment and talent marketplace, the No. 1 fear for workers around the world is that they will become obsolete. A smart self-assessment tool for developing future-thinking career strategies, Stretch offers five practices to help readers enhance their careers by anticipating the needs of tomorrow’s workplace. A timely and compelling read as you think about your potential in a changing world of work.

Matt Davis manages the SHRM Book Publishing program. 

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