Ready to change into your comfies, grab a soft blanket and cocoa, and do some relaxing book learnin?

Oooh, I am with you there!

At Work Brighter, we love books as much as Rory Gilmore loves books, AND as much as we love Rory Gilmore. 😍

From productivity manifestos that change the way we work to inspiring memoirs that change the way we get out of bed in the morning, these are some of our favorites.

Jump to a specific topic to help you work brighter:

This page contains affiliate links, so if you decide to buy anything, I'll receive a commission.

Most content creators say something like "100% of this goes back into the site," but I'm not most creators. Some months it will be used to pay this site's bills, others it will be used to buy inappropriate amounts of chocolate. Remember, working brighter is about balance! 😉 

All my 2019 Reads

  • Atomic Habits - jump to minireview
  • Break the Wheel - a great book about breaking best practices in marketing, and letting yourself get ruled by the norms. I read it when I really needed the reminder to think creatively. Plus, the mindset and values Jay talks about are really similar to working brighter, but focused on marketing instead of productivity
  • Content Inc - this was a reread, but a needed one. This book originally gave me the idea for Work Brighter, and I hadn't reread it since going all-in on this business. It reinforced a lot of my plans and ideas, gave me more confidence in them, and gave me some great new ideas along the way.
  • Make Time - I liked the tone and format, although it was a little entrenched in the Work Smarter mindset I try to avoid these days. But for someone who's just getting started with productivity, it could be a good book to start with.
  • Dot Complicated - another reread that I felt I needed at the time. Randi has great advice for what she calls "tech life balance" that were honestly ahead of its time, with Digital Minimalism only really gaining steam last year.
  • Getting Things Done - another reread, jump to minireview
  • The Body is Not an Apology - jump to minireview
  • Overwhelmed - it was definitely interesting to learn so much about overwhelm as a global epidemic. And that proved I wasn't alone in feeling so much of it. But without covering advice or encouragement, it honestly left me feeling a leeeeettle depressed.
  • I'll Be There For You - SUCH a fun read as a lifelong Friends fan (my old car was named Princess Consuela Bananahammock). And I truly wasn't expecting so much amazing advice about business and creativity along with the historical report of 90's pop culture.
  • Bullet Journal Method - I've been bullet journaling sporadically since I found Ryder's website in 2015. And even though I already raved about it, I apparently still underestimated how life-changing it's been for me. But seeing and relating to other stories and having the dots connected for me in this book made it clear. Plus, even as someone who's bullet journaled for years I finished it with a bunch of new ways to use it.

Mindset and Mental Health Books

Unfuck Your Brain by Faith Harper PhD LPC-S ACS ACN (OMG)

This book changed my world! It helped me see mental illness as a superpower instead of a flaw.

Mental illness has been a shadow I've had my whole life, and despite seeing tons of different therapists, psychiatrists, and psychologists over the years, I don't think I really understood trauma and mental illness until this book.

The author talks to you in a real way, not like a doctor or mental health professional (even though that's what she is), which makes all the difference for me, too.

unfuck your brain
the life-changing magic of tidying up

Yes, this is that book about decluttering and organizing your closet and stuff. Yes, I still consider this a mindset book.

This book defines clutter and organization in a way that's as applicable to digital belongings, and even thoughts and relationships, as it is to physical clutter.

Plus, decluttering is ultimately about prioritizing, which is such a mindset thing!

The Body is Not an Apology by Sonya Renee Taylor

This was another totally life-changing book for me, and will be for you too if your body isn't what society views as a "normal" body. Whether you're fat, visibly disabled, invisibly ill, or in any way feel "othered" because of your body, this will help you forgive an accept it.

This book isn't just about feeling good about your body, it helps you ACTUALLY understand why it's made you feel bad, why that isn't your fault, and how to practice radical self-love instead. 

the body is not an apology
quiet book cover
lucky bitch book cover

Productivity and Time Management Books

getting things done

This one's like "get your shit together 101." It walks you through the GTD methodology, which is like half Bible, half process for organizing your whole life, from work to errands.

But you don't even need to follow the 5-step framework (which yeah, is kind of intense) perfectly to get INSANE value from this book.

If you only read one chapter, like the one on "externalizing your brain" or performing regular reviews, you'll still be able to remove so much stress from your life. 🤓

The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss

Don't let the title scare you away - this book isn't just about working less, it's about changing your whole mindset about work, effort, and money.

This book was the start of my "productivity transformation" from thinking about hours worked to impact made.

Read my longer 4-Hour Workweek review to find out my own favorite parts and what impacted me most.

4 hour workweek

Deep Work by Cal Newport

deep work

Deep Work is the type of effort you need to put in to do *impactful* work instead of just cycling through the easy, shallow items on your to-do list.

Not only will ya learn all about deep vs. shallow work, but you can figure out which *type* of deep work best suits your life, work, and personality!

Read my longer Deep Work review here.

Atomic Habits by James Clear

atomic habits by james clear

A lot of gurus talk about how "just writing down your goals gets you closer to meeting them." After reading Atomic Habits, you'll get why I hate that saying. 😝

A lot has been written about habits already (shoutout to mah dude Charles Duhigg!), but most of them are quite serious, quite boring, and sitting on my bookshelf quite unfinished.

But James Clear writes about habits in an entertaining mix of science and storytelling in a way that could keep my attention. He even uses Lin-Manuel Miranda as one of his examples, and you know how I feel about Lin!

the power of habit book cover
the checklist manifesto book cover
getting things done

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