By: Chanèle McFarlane

I don’t know about you but there’s nothing I love more than starting the year with a fresh stack of new reads. With my career plan in mind, I always find it super helpful to dive into books that will help me achieve my goals, especially when written by women and women of colour.

We know career advice is not one size fits all. So although, there are countless books on networking, leadership, career building, etc., it is always much more helpful when those books are written by someone who identifies like we do.

I’ve curated a selection of 8 professional development books that are particularly valuable for BIWOC, especially in the early years of your career:

Unapologetically Ambitious by Shellye Archambeau

Written by one of the first Black women CEOs in Silicon Valley, this book is filled with gems from beginning to end. Through sharing stories from her childhood through to her professional careers, Shellye Archambeau covers everything from goal-setting, imposter syndrome and reputation building to leadership and networking.

The Art of Gathering by Priya Parker

Although this book was released in 2018, it has made a resurgence because of course since we can’t gather in-person, we must be more intentional about our virtual gatherings. It provides such an interesting perspective as to why we should all be more thoughtful about how we gather and equips you with super practical tips. If you are responsible for organizing virtual meetings, networking events, or even a Zoom call with family, this is a book you’ll want to pick up and refer back to again and again.

More Than Enough by Elaine Welteroth

As the first Black Editor-in-Chief of Teen Vogue, this book is an inside look of Elaine’s upbringing as a biracial woman, her career journeys and what it took to get to where she is today. It’s honest and so incredibly inspiring. Here’s one of many amazing quotes from the book: “There is no glory in a grind that literally grinds you down to dust.”

The Myth of the Nice Girl by Fran Hauser

In a society where women are often told that they shouldn’t be too “nice” in order to get ahead, The Myth of the Nice Girl is an absolutely refreshing read. Author Fran Hauser reminds us that we don’t have to give up our niceness to be powerful, instead we should own it and leverage it in a way that complements our ambition. A must-read!

Brag Better by Meredith Fineman

You can have all the credentials, accolades and success in the world but if you don’t communicate it effectively, it’s pretty much impossible to land opportunities. I’m sure most of us would agree that bragging feels quite icky but trust me, after reading this book, it will completely change the way you see self-promotion. It’s extremely actionable with recaps and questions to answer at the end of each chapter. 

You’re Not Listening by Kate Murphy

I always considered myself to be a good listener but after reading this book, I truly realized how much better I could be! Author Kate Murphy shares that great listening is an acquired skill that takes awareness, focus and experience. It’s a timely read considering how important active listening is in our current virtual world and I highly recommend it to help improve your work and networking conversations.

Yes She Can: 10 Stories of Hope & Change from Young Female Staffers of the Obama White House – Compiled by Molly Dillon

If you’re looking for a quick dose of empowerment, this book is it! Yes She Can is a collection of essays written by the many young women who worked in the Obama White House. You rarely get to hear the perspectives of young women in government so I personally found this book to be so fascinating. I think you will too.

Lead from the Outside by Stacey Abrams

I only stumbled on her book at the end of January 2021 and I’m very upset that it took me so long to discover it. I always knew Stacey Abrams was incredible but after reading her story, that sentiment is even stronger. This book is a honest and practical take on navigating ambition, especially when faced with the double bind of being a woman and a person of colour. She shares her upbringing and educational journey to provide insight on how she has become the trailblazer she is today. Each chapter also ends with several reflection questions so that by the time you finish the book, you can hit the ground running with a clear action plan.