The best books for boosting business writing skills

The Books I Picked & Why

Everybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content

By Ann Handley

Book cover of Everybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content

Why this book?

Ann Handley makes business writing look effortless and fun. But, being a generous soul, she shares her writing secrets freely in this book, which has become something of a classic in the business world. I love her message about having “pathological empathy” for the reader. 

This book is valuable to nearly everyone, no matter what phase of your career you’re in. Everybody writes, as the book says, and we can all do it better.


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Writing Without Bullshit: Boost Your Career by Saying What You Mean

By Josh Bernoff

Book cover of Writing Without Bullshit: Boost Your Career by Saying What You Mean

Why this book?

As you might have guessed from the title, Josh Bernoff calls it like he sees it. And he sees a lot of sloppy business writing! Let this be your direct wake-up call to clean up your writing act. The book is a terrific guide to effective business writing, filled with stories and concrete examples. 

I believe firmly in Bernoff’s Iron Imperative: “Treat the reader’s time as more valuable than your own.” Invest a little time in this book to serve your readers better.


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Digital Body Language: How to Build Trust and Connection, No Matter the Distance

By Erica Dhawan

Book cover of Digital Body Language: How to Build Trust and Connection, No Matter the Distance

Why this book?

Have you ever found that you unintentionally offended someone with an innocuous message? Or perhaps no one responds to your emails, even when you think they should.

We lose so much meaning and context when we interact online rather than in person. In a world of virtual and hybrid work, it’s not enough to write well. We must also master the non-verbal signals that accompany our words. This book is an essential guide to mastering the subtle ins and outs of writing emails, messages, texts, social media posts, and more.


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High-Value Writing: Real Strategies for Real-World Writing

By Erin Lebacqz

Book cover of High-Value Writing: Real Strategies for Real-World Writing

Why this book?

Erin Lebacqz is an experienced business writing teacher, and her practical and practiced bent shows in this book. It offers solid advice for clear and effective writing, covering topics like word choice, sentence structure, and more. The numerous examples will serve people new on the job as well as those who simply want to sharpen their skills and tighten their prose.

Even as someone who writes about writing, I found fresh approaches and ideas in this book. For example, Lebacqz suggests that as writers, we should act like “hosts” for our readers. I love that. 


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Humor, Seriously: Why Humor Is a Secret Weapon in Business and Life (and How Anyone Can Harness It. Even You.)

By Jennifer Aaker, Naomi Bagdonas

Book cover of Humor, Seriously: Why Humor Is a Secret Weapon in Business and Life (and How Anyone Can Harness It. Even You.)

Why this book?

Why include a book about humor in a business writing list? Because it can make a major impact on the business environment. This book shares research about how humor influences behavior, affects negotiations, and strengthens bonds. That’s all relevant to the workplace!

You’ll find advice here that might inspire you to infuse a little levity into your emails. And, as you might expect, the book itself is entertaining to read.


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