11 Best Business Books to Help You Achieve Success on Your Terms

Most books that share the secrets to succeeding in business read like sermons from overconfident bros hopped up on 5 Hour Energy. There’re usually about getting rich, getting promoted, or getting a little blue check beside your Instagram handle. However, the best business books will teach you, first and foremost, how to have a career you love for the sake of a life you’re passionate about. Oh, and they’ll also help guide you toward success.

Here are 11 business books The Manual loves for the sheer fact they don’t read like cheesy business books. Find the right one for you, depending on where you are in life and work:

If You Work With A**holes

The No Asshole Rule by Robert Sutton

best business books the no asshole rule book cover template

Penned by respected Harvard professor Robert Sutton, this book is all about surviving workspaces overrun with, ahem, rude coworkers and the productivity that comes from building environments without these personalities. Sutton is an organizational psychologist and this concept of becoming a toxic asshole simply by being around toxic assholes is a legit phenomenon called “emotional contagion.” We dig how simple the concept is. Assholes suck to be around, so why allow them to soil (pun intended) your profession?

If You Need a Reminder That Struggle Pays Off

Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike by Phil Knight

best business books shoe dog  a memoir by the creator of nike phil knight book cover template

They say great successes come after great failures. Take the case of Phil Knight, the co-founder of Nike, who gives a strikingly honest and non-preachy account of the messy, chaotic, and failure-ridden history that set the groundwork for Nike to become a multibillion-dollar corporation. It takes sacrifice and the willingness to struggle, so keep your chin up, champ.

If You Want to Get In the Zone

Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

best business books flow book cover template

You know that state of seamless, high-focused operation when you knock out assignments and to-dos, fully immersed in and captivated by the work before you? It’s a psychological concept called “flow,” coined by psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. His book of the same name identifies how we are at our happiest in this state, feeling completely fulfilled and engaged. He shares how to get into and stay in that zone so you can be present and produce more work you’re proud of.

If You Have No Time

Essentialism by Greg McKeown

best business books this essentialism book cover template

Running yourself into the ground with myriad tasks won’t make you achieve more. In Essentialism, Greg McKeown gives you a hall pass to drop some of your workload and do less. The idea is that, by doing less, you’ll do what is the most important (aka essential). The rest is little more than static that, frankly, isn’t worth the effort. The big lesson here is to give more value to yourself and your time.

If Your Career Isn’t Going the Way You Hoped

Do Over by Jon Acuff

best business books do over by jon acuff book cover template

Jon Acuff verges on sensationalism in his delivery, but at the heart of Do Over is a golden lesson: you’re more equipped than you think. When we find ourselves at the end of a long-held career, laid off, or in a transition, we tend to doubt our abilities, not just as professionals but as human beings. Acuff issues a reminder that you’re prepared to tackle the next hurdle. A seemingly negative professional experience or step backward is really an opportunity to slingshot higher. This book is not one of those hustle-24/7 narratives, which we appreciate.

If You Want to Be More Creative

Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon

best business books steal like an artist by austin kleon book cover template

Yes, you are an imaginative genius. You, with the pasta stain on your shirt. Austin Kleon cracks open the mechanism of creativity, showing us 10 actionable ways to tap into the world’s ever-flowing source of inspiration and genius. Take this as a sign to be a little more wild and daring.

If You’re Wrapped Up in Getting Rich

Liar’s Poker by Michael Lewis

best business books liar s poker by michael lewis book cover template

From the dude that wrote Moneyball, Liar’s Poker reads like fiction but is a wise career warning to not follow the money. It’s also a scary-accurate look into the mismanagement and shameless greed percolating in Wall Street (the story is equal parts hilarious and horrifying). If you’re feeling down about how much money you make or are wracked with anxiety about getting rich quick, read this and calm down.

If You Don’t Fit Into a Normal Job

Originals by Adam Grant

best business books originals now non conformists move the world by adam grant book cover template

If I didn’t know better, I’d think Originals by Adam Grant was inspired by the movie Office Space. Numbed from the mundane revolving door of carbon copy jobs and tasks? This book is an affirmation for the non-conformist that the people who go against the grain are the ones who move the dial. The great news? We’re all non-conforming “originals” deep down. Major achievers from Richard Branson to Malcolm Gladwell to JJ Abrams agree this is an essential book for your shelf.

If You Think You Don’t Deserve Success

The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women by Valerie Young

best business books the secret thoughts of successfl women by valerie young book cover template

“Imposter syndrome” is an effect in which you don’t believe you are worthy of success and accomplishment. Highly capable people experience this mental deception, and Valerie Young was sick of seeing it. In this award-winning book, you’ll learn to pooh-pooh self-doubt and take ownership (even feel pride!) for your achievements. This lesson translates well beyond work and is not just for women. Almost any other book about owning your success involves too much shouting into mirrors. Young’s writing is provoking, insightful, and pep-free.

If You Want to Learn the Skill of Mind Control

Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman

best business books emotional intelligence by daniel goleman book cover template

For 24 years and counting, Daniel Goleman’s exploration into the power of recognizing and understanding our own emotional landscapes has been available in the form of this groundbreaking business book that puts emotional intelligence above IQ in the hierarchy of skills that bring professional success. Goleman’s book is tremendously bright and inspiring and makes us feel better about our horrible SAT scores. You can learn the five crucial skills of emotional intelligence in about 300 pages.

If You Hate Your Job

Zen and the Art of Making a Living by Laurence Boldt

best business books zen and the art of making a living book cover template

Laurence Boldt is your own personal career consultant and sensei, reminding us that work is not just a place we go to waste the hours in a day. Work must satisfy our souls. Yes, work isn’t always fun and we need to pay the bills, but Zen and the Art of Making a Living might inspire you to finally start doing what makes you feel alive. It’s not all Buddha quotes. Boldt helps you discover what you want to do, then sets a solid action plan to get there.


10 Fun Facts About Fourth of July You Probably Forgot

It's been a while since history class — we get it. But did you know 4th of July actually happened on July 2?
Fashion & Style

The Best Sunglasses for Men this Season

Searching for the best men’s sunglasses needn’t be a chore or too much of a hassle -- it’s all about finding the pair that works for you, whether they be more adventure-minded and rugged or sleek and dressy.
Fashion & Style

The Best Messenger Bags for Men to Lug Around Your Stuff in Style

Messenger bags aren't just for boys and bike couriers.
Fashion & Style

The Best Men’s Watches Under $500, From Stylish to Smart

You don't have to break the bank to own an awesome timepiece. Here are some of the best men's watches under $500, including a variety of styles and mechanisms.

11 Best Pocket Knives for Everyday Carry

Whether you consider yourself a present-day MacGyver or are just looking for a useful piece of gear, we've got you covered.

10 Best Books by Ernest Hemingway, Ranked

"There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed."

What to Do When Your Friend Comes Out to You

Whether it's about gender or sexuality, these are the most important things to keep in mind.

16 Unique Groomsmen Gift Ideas

If you're hoping to make a lasting impression with something unique, or just have no clue where to start when it comes to groomsmen gifts, here are some great ideas.

The Best Podcasts to Listen to in 2019

Whether you’re into politics, sports, true crime, or learning, we got you covered.

How to Write a Best Man Speech: 8 Tips to Help You Prepare

Being asked to serve as best man for a wedding is one of the greatest honors, but it comes with a ton of responsibility and one daunting task that most flub: the best man speech. Here are a few pointers to keep in mind as you take the time…

10 Best Crime Documentaries on Netflix Right Now

If you're like the rest of the country, you're probably obsessed with true crime right now. Here are the best documentaries to get your fix.

Spectacular Failures Tells the Story of Businesses That Went Very, Very Wrong

You don't have to have an MBA to enjoy American Public Media's new podcast, Spectacular Failures, hosted by Lauren Ober.

The 13 Best Stephen King Books, Ranked

Go ahead, argue about #1, just don’t sledgehammer our ankles so we amend the article.

If You’re Just a Grown-Up Kid then You’ll Love these Prime Day Deals on Toys and Games

We've found some great discounts on cool stuff that your inner child will thank you for and your adult brain won't get too upset over -- they're on sale, after all!