The best books for boosting business writing skills

Who am I?

After spending years as a freelance writer and content marketer, I turned my attention to exploring the inner workings of why writing works and how it fails. I’m an unabashed nonfiction geek on a mission to help people make a positive impact with their words—whether they’re writing emails, blog posts, or nonfiction books. 

I wrote...

33 Ways Not to Screw Up Your Business Emails

By Anne H. Janzer,

Book cover of 33 Ways Not to Screw Up Your Business Emails

What is my book about?

Love them or hate them, everyone writes business emails. Too often, we screw them up. We move too fast, leaving out necessary or sending them to the wrong people. Our messages are misunderstood, misfiled, or ignored.

If you do nothing else to improve your business writing, work on your email skills. This short book is stuffed with practical advice and tips you can use immediately. Learn how to rise above the inbox clutter. Your teammates, clients, and everyone will appreciate it. Your career may thank you, too.

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The books I picked & why

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

Why did I love 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.

By Ann Handley,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked Everybody Writes as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Finally a go-to guide to creating and publishing the kind of content that will make your business thrive. Everybody Writes is a go-to guide to attracting and retaining customers through stellar online communication, because in our content-driven world, every one of us is, in fact, a writer. If you have a web site, you are a publisher. If you are on social media, you are in marketing. And that means that we are all relying on our words to carry our marketing messages. We are all writers. Yeah, but who cares about writing anymore? In a time-challenged world dominated by…

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

Why did I love 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.

By Josh Bernoff,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Writing Without Bullshit as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Joining the ranks of classics like The Elements of Style and On Writing Well, Writing Without Bullshit helps professionals get to the point to get ahead. It's time for Writing Without Bullshit. Writing Without Bullshit is the first comprehensive guide to writing for today's world: a noisy environment where everyone reads what you write on a screen. The average news story now gets only 36 seconds of attention. Unless you change how you write, your emails, reports, and Web copy don't stand a chance. In this practical and witty book, you'll learn to front-load your writing with pithy titles, subject…

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

Why did I love 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.

By Erica Dhawan,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Digital Body Language as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

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

The book we all read right now: the definitive guide to communicating and connecting wherever you are.

Email replies that show up a week later. Video chats full of 'oops sorry no you go' and 'can you hear me?!' Ambiguous text-messages. Weird punctuation you can't make heads or tails of. Is it any wonder communication takes us so much time and effort to figure out? How did we lose our innate capacity to understand each other?

Humans rely on body language to connect and build trust, but…

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

Why did I love 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. 

By Erin Lebacqz,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked High-Value Writing as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Write to both inform and connect, and use intentional word choice to avoid misunderstandings and build strong relationships. Get confident about your business writing, emailing, posting on socials, and all the other ways you connect with the people you know through writing.

Down-to-earth, conversational, and brief, High-Value Writing: Real Strategies for Real-World Writing helps you manage the writing challenges you face at work and elsewhere in life. The book provides strategies, tips and tricks, examples, revision examples, and lots of practical advice you can apply in your writing this week.

Learn to make writing choices you feel good about; and…

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

Why did I love 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.

By Jennifer Aaker, Naomi Bagdonas,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Humor, Seriously as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

WALL STREET JOURNAL, LOS ANGELES TIMES, AND USA TODAY BESTSELLER • Anyone—even you!—can learn how to harness the power of humor in business (and life), based on the popular class at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business.
Don’t miss the authors’ TED Talk, “Why great leaders take humor seriously,” online now.

“The ultimate guide to using the magical power of funny as a tool for leadership and a force for good.”—Daniel H. Pink, #1 New York Times bestselling author of When and Drive

We are living through a period of unprecedented uncertainty and upheaval in both our personal and professional lives.…

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