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The Perfect Books for Friends and Colleagues

Holiday reading for the techies, the go-getters, the frazzled and everyone in the office.

Books, like matching pajamas and Aunt Susan’s mincemeat pie, are the gifts that keep on giving, so whether you’ll be reading in front of the fire with a cup of hot chocolate this holiday season or crammed in the middle seat en route to visit far-flung relatives, here are 15 new books to consider gifting your friends and colleagues.

Happy holidays, and happy reading! 

Anxiety at Work

For the First-Time Manager

Bringing Up the Boss: Practical Lessons for New Managers

A bestseller at the SHRM Annual Conference & Expo 2021, Bringing Up the Boss masterfully covers the most important aspects of managing teams in an understandable, practical and memorable way. Rachel Pacheco’s book is not only fun to read, but also well-organized to prioritize the behaviors that matter most to effective managers. 

Culture Puzzle

For the Frazzled

The Long Game: How to Be a Long-Term Thinker in a Short-Term World

We all know success requires persistence and effort, but culture often compels us to settle for what’s easy, what’s guaranteed or what looks good now. In The Long Game, Dorie Clark argues for a different tack: Success is about doing small things over time to achieve your goals—and being willing to keep at them, even when they seem pointless, boring or hard.


For the People Person

Beyond Happiness: How Authentic Leaders Prioritize Purpose and People for Growth and Impact

Co-founder and CEO of Delivering Happiness Jenn Lim shows how bringing your whole self to work allows you to do your best work every day, regardless of what role you play at your company or what calamity might occur next. She explains how real happiness comes from living your true purpose and shows how organizations can help individuals align their purposes with their companies’ missions. 

How to change
For Leaders of All Stripes

Reset: A Leader’s Guide to Work in an Age of Upheaval

Reset challenges business leaders’ underlying assumptions about workers and the workplace to deliver practical strategies for finding and keeping great talent. Now is the time, says author and SHRM President and Chief Executive Officer Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., SHRM-SCP, for leaders to reimagine, reorganize and reset their operations to create a more daring, resilient and sustainable future. 

I Love it Here

For the Techies

The Exponential Age: How Accelerating Technology is Transforming Business, Politics and Society

Azeem Azhar, well-known technology analyst and host of the Exponential View podcast, offers a new model for understanding how technology is evolving so fast and why it fundamentally alters the world. Azhar offers policy solutions that can prevent the growing exponential gap from fragmenting, weakening or even destroying our societies. 

Just Work
For the Book Club at Work 

Impact Players: How to Take the Lead, Play Bigger and Multiply Your Impact

Liz Wiseman’s smart follow-up to her bestselling book Multipliers takes on the age-old question: Why do some people make an impact while others get stuck going through the motions? She shows what influential players do differently, how seemingly insignificant differences in how we think and act can make an enormous impact, and how―with a little coaching―this mindset is available to everyone.

Managing Without Fear

For the Go-Getters

The Authenticity Code: The Art and Science of Success and Why You Can’t Fake It to Make It

A brisk, engaging read, Dr. Sharon Lamm-Hartman’s book tells the story of a corporate vice president who, disappointed in the puffed-up pitches from two talented protégés, shows them how to decide who you truly are and what you really want from life and work―and how to go about getting it.

Performance Conversations

For the Perpetually Stuck 

Designing Your New Work Life: How to Thrive and Change and Find Happiness at Work

Stuck in a rut? Bill Burnett and Dave Evans show you how design thinking 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 all. This version is updated with tools, tips and design ideas that show you how to navigate disruption and create new possibilities for the post-pandemic work world and beyond.

Power of Trust

For the Uncertain

Nudge: The Final Edition

This new edition of Richard H. Thaler and Cass R. Sunstein’s groundbreaking book, which showed how people can be nudged toward decisions that will improve their lives, has been updated to address the issues that we face today—COVID-19, health, personal finance, retirement savings, credit card debt, home mortgages, medical care, climate change and more.

Happiness to Work

For the Mentors and Mentees

Unlocked: How Empowered Women Empower Women

Author and advocate Jane Finette asks readers who the first empowered woman who empowered them is. Empowering as it is inspirational, Unlocked is filled with incredible stories of women working to advance women around the world, plus 10 practical ways every woman can help another thrive.

Anxiety at Work
For the Hesitant

Provoke: How Leaders Shape the Future by Overcoming Fatal Human Flaws

The most effective leaders are provocateurs, say renowned consultants and strategists Geoff Tuff and Steven Goldbach, who deliver a compelling argument that “wait and see” is the worst thing we can do in a world of accelerating change. Instead, they convincingly advocate for why taking action, or “provoking,” reduces uncertainty by providing real-world feedback.

Culture Puzzle

For the History Nerds 

The Dawn of Everything: A New History of Humanity

Drawing on paradigm-busting research in archaeology and anthropology, authors David Graeber and David Wengrow offer fascinating new perspectives on the lore of human origins. In all its 700-page glory, The Dawn of Everything is a wide-ranging rethinking of the human past.


For the Skeptical 

The Data Detective: Ten Easy Rules to Make Sense of Statistics

Tim Harford has a gift for explaining complicated ideas, and in The Data Detective, he uses new research in science and psychology to establish 10 strategies for using statistics to eliminate our biases and replace them with virtues such as patience, curiosity and good sense to better understand ourselves and the world.

How to change

For the Stressed Out

Put Happiness to Work: Seven Strategies to Elevate Engagement for Optimal Performance

Based on cutting-edge positive psychology and neuroscience research in the workplace, author Eric Karpinski delivers strategies to help leaders unlock the employee engagement that organizations must have to thrive. This book is full of practical strategies for increasing engagement and empowering leaders with fresh and positive ways to think about stress and find more meaning in their daily lives.

I Love it Here

For Everyone

Beyond D&I: Leading Diversity with Purpose and Inclusiveness

Diversity and inclusion (D&I) is not about legal compliance or HR box-ticking; every organization needs a diversity and inclusion strategy to achieve peak performance and sustainability. Whether you’re a leader, HR practitioner, sponsor of a D&I initiative or an employee, author Kay Formanek explains the strategic case for diversity and shares practical steps for locking in diversity gains while closing key performance gaps.

Matt Davis is publisher, SHRM Books.

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