100 books like Yes to the Mess

By Frank J. Barrett,

Here are 100 books that Yes to the Mess fans have personally recommended if you like Yes to the Mess. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of The Speed of Trust: The One Thing That Changes Everything

Marianne Broadbent Author Of The Agile Executive: Embracing Career Risks and Rewards

From my list on aspiring women leaders.

Why am I passionate about this?

My passion for leadership and aspiring women leaders comes from my own leadership experiences and working with women and men executives and aspiring executives, every day. I had to make some difficult work choices in my 20s and 30s (with four young children) and was wonderfully supported by some wise women. Many of my choices were different from my peers and we continue to have to make more difficult choices than our male colleagues. We need to help each other, every day. I lead a blended life co-leading an executive search and leadership advisory firm, while also being a mother, grandmother, wife, mentor, friend, and lover of good music, theatre, food, wine, and curious people. 

Marianne's book list on aspiring women leaders

Marianne Broadbent Why did Marianne love this book?

Covey’s book unlocks the nature of Trust and its critical value in life and leadership.

He explains that trust is about confidence in a person or relationship. To be trusted we need to be credible and he illuminates the four cores of credibility in two categories – our confidence in someone’s Character and our confidence in their Competence. The two core attributes of Character are Integrity and Intent. The two core attributes of Competence are Results and Credibility.

This clear explanation, and some of Covey’s diagnostics, have been very helpful to me in really understanding the notion of Trust and then working with executive to enable them to build greater trust and vulnerability with each other. Trust is the bedrock of great teams and great relationships. 

By Stephen M. R. Covey, Rebecca R. Merrill,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked The Speed of Trust as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From Stephen R. Covey's eldest son come a revolutionary book, now in handy B-format, that will guide business leaders, public figures and their organizations towards unprecedented productivity and satisfaction. Trust, says Stephen M. R. Covey, is the very basis of the 21st century's global economy, but its power is generally overlooked and misunderstood. Covey shows you how to inspire immediate trust in everyone you encounter - colleagues, constituents, the marketplace - allowing you to forego the time-killing and energy-draining check and balance bureaucracies that are so often relied upon in lieu of actual trust.


Book cover of Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead

Marianne Broadbent Author Of The Agile Executive: Embracing Career Risks and Rewards

From my list on aspiring women leaders.

Why am I passionate about this?

My passion for leadership and aspiring women leaders comes from my own leadership experiences and working with women and men executives and aspiring executives, every day. I had to make some difficult work choices in my 20s and 30s (with four young children) and was wonderfully supported by some wise women. Many of my choices were different from my peers and we continue to have to make more difficult choices than our male colleagues. We need to help each other, every day. I lead a blended life co-leading an executive search and leadership advisory firm, while also being a mother, grandmother, wife, mentor, friend, and lover of good music, theatre, food, wine, and curious people. 

Marianne's book list on aspiring women leaders

Marianne Broadbent Why did Marianne love this book?

For me, Sandberg’s book remains a major and critical contribution to how women lead, how we are perceived, and how we can improve as leaders.

It is also one of the most misquoted and maligned books which I find disappointing. Those who are overly critical probably have not read the book or are biased because of Sandberg’s employer. When I read Lean In, I thought, ‘Great, I don’t need to do all that research as it has been done.'

It inspired me instead to share my own story and that of others who inspire me every day. Sandberg reminds us that so much that is in our hands, to not be dissuaded, but to ‘lean in’ and create our own agendas at work, home, and everywhere.  

By Sheryl Sandberg,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Lean In as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Sheryl Sandberg's Lean In is a massive cultural phenomenon and its title has become an instant catchphrase for empowering women. The book soared to the top of bestseller lists internationally, igniting global conversations about women and ambition. Sandberg packed theatres, dominated opinion pages, appeared on every major television show and on the cover of Time magazine, and sparked ferocious debate about women and leadership.

Ask most women whether they have the right to equality at work and the answer will be a resounding yes, but ask the same women whether they'd feel confident asking for a raise, a promotion, or…


Book cover of The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else In Business

Marianne Broadbent Author Of The Agile Executive: Embracing Career Risks and Rewards

From my list on aspiring women leaders.

Why am I passionate about this?

My passion for leadership and aspiring women leaders comes from my own leadership experiences and working with women and men executives and aspiring executives, every day. I had to make some difficult work choices in my 20s and 30s (with four young children) and was wonderfully supported by some wise women. Many of my choices were different from my peers and we continue to have to make more difficult choices than our male colleagues. We need to help each other, every day. I lead a blended life co-leading an executive search and leadership advisory firm, while also being a mother, grandmother, wife, mentor, friend, and lover of good music, theatre, food, wine, and curious people. 

Marianne's book list on aspiring women leaders

Marianne Broadbent Why did Marianne love this book?

The Advantage lays out a compelling case that if an organization has strong organizational health it is well placed to succeed in its goals and in its industry.

Good organizational health embraces great teamwork, clear and consistent company culture and goals, and how to have effective meetings. Lencioni brings together many pragmatic and practical perspectives through many years of working with executive teams.

The key element for me is his articulation of the ‘five dysfunctions of teams’ and then how to address these. That one chart has been pivotal to my facilitation of many challenging executive discussions with clients, particularly when paired with Covey’s approach to trust and trust building.

Modelling Trust is the first step in building effective executive teams. 

By Patrick M. Lencioni,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Advantage as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

There is a competitive advantage out there, arguably more powerful than any other. Is it superior strategy? Faster innovation? Smarter employees? No, New York Times best-selling author, Patrick Lencioni, argues that the seminal difference between successful companies and mediocre ones has little to do with what they know and how smart they are and more to do with how healthy they are. In this book, Lencioni brings together his vast experience and many of the themes cultivated in his other best-selling books and delivers a first: a cohesive and comprehensive exploration of the unique advantage organizational health provides. Simply put,…


Book cover of Women and Leadership: Real Lives, Real Lessons

Marianne Broadbent Author Of The Agile Executive: Embracing Career Risks and Rewards

From my list on aspiring women leaders.

Why am I passionate about this?

My passion for leadership and aspiring women leaders comes from my own leadership experiences and working with women and men executives and aspiring executives, every day. I had to make some difficult work choices in my 20s and 30s (with four young children) and was wonderfully supported by some wise women. Many of my choices were different from my peers and we continue to have to make more difficult choices than our male colleagues. We need to help each other, every day. I lead a blended life co-leading an executive search and leadership advisory firm, while also being a mother, grandmother, wife, mentor, friend, and lover of good music, theatre, food, wine, and curious people. 

Marianne's book list on aspiring women leaders

Marianne Broadbent Why did Marianne love this book?

Gillard and Okonjo-Iweala both have stellar careers in political and community leadership in their own countries and now globally.

They share their experience and that of other amazing and high-profile leaders they interviewed, such as Jacinda Ardern, Hillary Clinton, and Christine Lagarde. They share their passion for gender equality and their concerns that we ‘aren’t there yet’. The authors introduce themselves and the eight other leaders and their ‘pathways to power’.

They posit a series of hypotheses and lessons in a very relatable and accessible way. It is both educative and informative to realize that no matter how resilient they seem, high-profile women leaders have faced many of the same issues – and often more – as the rest of us females. Learn how to deal with it and turn it to your advantage!  

By Julia Gillard, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A powerful call-to-action for gender equity that offers 10 key lessons for women aspiring to a leadership role—be it in politics, business, law, or their local community.

Featuring words of wisdom from female leaders like Hillary Clinton and Theresa May, this empowering study reads like a You Are a Badass volume on world leadership.

Women make up fewer than 10% of national leaders worldwide. Behind this eye-opening statistic lies a pattern of unequal access to power. Through conversations with some of the world’s most powerful and interesting women—including Jacinda Ardern, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Christine Lagarde, Michelle Bachelet, and Theresa May—Women…


Book cover of Big Potential: How Transforming the Pursuit of Success Raises Our Achievement, Happiness, and Well-Being

Anne Jacoby Author Of Born to Create: How Creativity Sparks Connection, Innovation, and Belonging in Our New World of Work

From my list on organizational culture to spark creativity and connection.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m on a mission to cultivate creativity at work! After starting my career in the performing arts, I made a pivot to corporate life over 20 years ago and haven’t looked back. What I’ve discovered is how essential creativity is in any workplace, and how its impact on organizational culture is underrated. Effective leaders prioritize connection, creativity, and make culture a strategic priority. After learning from hundreds of artists, entrepreneurs, and business leaders, I wrote this book to highlight their stories—unpacking how they bring creativity to life in their work. My hope is readers leave with tools to spark more meaningful connection and creative work experiences.

Anne's book list on organizational culture to spark creativity and connection

Anne Jacoby Why did Anne love this book?

Many of us are looking for the secrets to a happy life, so I was delighted to discover Shawn Achor’s book, Big Potential, include a bundle of them.

Combining ample scientific research and compelling narrative, this book is packed with memorable stories and strategies to immediately apply to work environments. I often return to its dog-eared pages to get inspired and isolate the behaviors that lead to greater connection.

For readers who aim to develop talent in others or are looking to tap into their own potential, this is a thoughtful and generous read.  

By Shawn Achor,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Forget everything you thought you knew about being your best. It's not about your own skills or talents. Instead, real success in work and life comes from your connections and relationships - the teams you build around you, the friends you make - and getting the best out of them. You hugely amplify your own potential by helping others around you to realise theirs.

A TED talk star with over 16 million views, Shawn Achor is one of the world's leading experts on happiness and personal success - and author of the positive psychology classic The Happiness Advantage. Now, in…


Book cover of The Staff Engineer's Path: A Guide For Individual Contributors Navigating Growth and Change

James Stanier Author Of Become an Effective Software Engineering Manager: How to Be the Leader Your Development Team Needs

From my list on engineers that want to become fantastic managers.

Why am I passionate about this?

Ever since my teenage self stumbled into the world of computer programming, I’ve been fascinated by how technology is built. This isn’t limited to just how the software or hardware is architected; I’m just as fascinated by how teams and companies work together in order to get the job done. I’m currently Director of Engineering at Shopify, and previously I helped grow Brandwatch from start-up to scale up to successful acquisition. Along the way I’ve blogged what I’ve learned and have published two books: one being the subject of this list, and the other being Effective Remote Work. I live in Cumbria, UK.

James' book list on engineers that want to become fantastic managers

James Stanier Why did James love this book?

It heartens me to see that more and more excellent material is being produced about how to be an effective senior individual contributor, and Tanya’s book is a fantastic guide for growth-minded engineers that want to become technical leaders in their organization.

More importantly, as a manager, you get a blueprint of how to turn your senior engineers into true leaders and partners.

I almost see this book as a sibling of my own that I wrote for managers: it skillfully dances between making yourself better, making your team better, and making your company better. Essential reading for any senior engineer to understand what lies ahead.

By Tanya Reilly,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Staff Engineer's Path as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

For years, companies have rewarded their most effective engineers by suggesting they move to a management position. But treating management as the default (or only) path for an engineer with leadership ability doesn't serve the industry well. The staff engineer path allows you to contribute at a high level, with more free time to drive big projects, determine tech strategy, and raise everyone's skills.

With this in-depth book, author Tanya Reilly shows you ways to master strategic thinking, manage difficult projects, and set the standard for technical work. You'll learn how to be a leader without direct authority, how to…


Book cover of Creativity: The Psychology of Discovery and Invention

Claudia Kalb Author Of Andy Warhol Was a Hoarder: Inside the Minds of History's Great Personalities

From my list on how our chaotic, imperfect minds crackle with genius.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a kid, I read the New Yorker—first, just the cartoons; later, the articles—and dreamed about becoming a writer. Sentences danced in my head as I fell asleep. I’ve always been especially interested in human behavior and the match-up between our insides and outsides. How do the roadmaps in our brains inform the way we act around others? Over the years, I’ve read hundreds of studies and interviewed countless experts to inform my writing about well-known figures like Leonardo da Vinci, Abraham Lincoln, Marilyn Monroe, and Maya Angelou. But I’m just as captivated by everyone outside the spotlight. We all have stories to tell.

Claudia's book list on how our chaotic, imperfect minds crackle with genius

Claudia Kalb Why did Claudia love this book?

Hungarian-American psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi tackles a colossal question in Creativity: how do people come up with new ideas?

I love the scope of this book, which journeys from breakthroughs in science to experimentation in jazz. I love the myths the author debunks, including the out-of-nowhere “aha” moment: Ideas don’t just burst into consciousness, they emerge from a lifetime of knowledge and experience that comes before them.

And I love that Csikszentmihalyi concludes his book with a chapter about how we, his readers, can enhance our own creativity. Key takeaways: cultivate curiosity; look for surprises in the ordinary; allow yourself to sit still and reflect; create a space that nurtures your soul. 

By Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Creativity as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“Although the benefits of this study to scholars are obvious, this thought-provoking mixture of scholarly and colloquial will enlighten inquisitive general readers, too.” —  Library Journal (starred review)

The classic study of the creative process from the bestselling author of Flow.

Creativity is about capturing those moments that make life worth living. Legendary psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (“The leading researcher into ‘flow states.’”  — Newsweek) reveals what leads to these moments—be it the excitement of the artist at the easel or the scientist in the lab—so that this knowledge can be used to enrich people's lives. Drawing on nearly one hundred…


Book cover of The Creative Mind: Myths and Mechanisms

Keith J. Holyoak Author Of The Spider's Thread: Metaphor in Mind, Brain, and Poetry

From my list on the creative mind.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a professor of cognitive psychology at UCLA, and also a poet. Growing up on a dairy farm in British Columbia, I immersed myself in the world of books. My mother showed me her well-worn copy of a poetry book written by her Scottish great-great-aunt, and I longed to create my own arrangements of words. Later, as a student at the University of British Columbia and then Stanford, my interest in creativity was channeled into research on how people think. I’ve studied how people use analogies and metaphors to create new ideas. In addition to books on the psychology of thinking and reasoning, I’ve written several volumes of poetry.

Keith's book list on the creative mind

Keith J. Holyoak Why did Keith love this book?

What is creativity, and what makes it possible? If a new idea came from nothing, would it be magic? If a new idea were generated by recombining old ones, would it really be “creative”? In this book, Margaret Boden, a distinguished philosopher of science, thinks through what creativity really is, whether it takes the form of a world-altering advance in science or a novel jazz improvisation. To help understand human creativity, the book compares it to the workings of computer programs—ones capable of generating art or music that at least appears creative. Readers who have followed more recent developments in artificial intelligence will be able to consider for themselves whether machine creativity is, or could be, a reality. The book helped me think about what it means to create an “authentic” poem.

By Margaret A. Boden,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Creative Mind as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

How is it possible to think new thoughts? What is creativity and can science explain it? And just how did Coleridge dream up the creatures of The Ancient Mariner?

When The Creative Mind: Myths and Mechanisms was first published, Margaret A. Boden's bold and provocative exploration of creativity broke new ground. Boden uses examples such as jazz improvisation, chess, story writing, physics, and the music of Mozart, together with computing models from the field of artificial intelligence to uncover the nature of human creativity in the arts.

The second edition of The Creative Mind has been updated to include recent…


Book cover of How to Be a Brilliant Writer

Leon Conrad Author Of Story and Structure: A complete guide

From my list on writing without killing creativity.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a writer, I love words and am continuously fascinated by the way they work. In terms of writing manuals, I particularly value the work of writers who combine knowledge and understanding of writing techniques while also providing inspiration and keys to freeing the imagination. I’ve found these books brilliantly complement my professional interest in story structure and how story works, and match my own approach to combining theory with practice; craft with art in my work on story. I hope you find they inspire creativity in you, too.

Leon's book list on writing without killing creativity

Leon Conrad Why did Leon love this book?

If you’re in need of inspiration, this book will either make you fall in love with writing or fall back in love with it again. Although it’s a book for the younger writer (aged 9-12), it’s a perfect book for the young-at-heart, grown-up kid. It’s full of energy and verve – just the thing to boost creativity and confidence. Although it’s one of the shortest books on my list, its content packs a punch. It contains exercises to spark the imagination, helpful hints and tips from established authors, and plenty of advice on writing both fiction and nonfiction.

By Jenny Alexander,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked How to Be a Brilliant Writer as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A lively and humorous self-help book for children aged 9-12 on being a writer. It shows them how to develop writing practice as part of their everyday lives, rather than just in the classroom. The book offers advice on avoiding unhelpful feelings such as anxiety, impatience and self-rejection and shows how writing is a brilliant tool for building self-confidence, understanding and effectiveness throughout life. "Aimed at schoolchildren, here is a book that should capture their imagination, make them realise that writing can be fun, and inspire them to create their own written material." Writing Magazine


Book cover of He Saw that it was Good: Reimagining your Creative Life to Repair a Broken World

Craig Detweiler Author Of Honest Creativity: The Foundations of Boundless, Good, and Inspired Innovation

From my list on creativity and deepening your spirituality.

Why am I passionate about this?

I blame my mother. She took us to the public library every week and let us check out as many books as we could carry. Consequently, reading was a joy rather than a burden. The writing came after I got over my false assumptions about English Lit and Modern Poetry. As a screenwriter, I craft silly stories to make audiences laugh. That’s why I watch movies after an exhausting week. As an author, I gravitate towards non-fiction–trying to reconcile my artistry with my faith. I’ve written about movies, music, video games, technology, and art–with an eye toward lifting our spirits and comforting our aching souls.

Craig's book list on creativity and deepening your spirituality

Craig Detweiler Why did Craig love this book?

I wonder about the relationship between art and activism. I’ve long loved the sharp and prophetic songs of Sho Baraka.

Like his raps, Sho’s book simultaneously enlightened and entertained me. It has rhythm and flow, interweaving short stories and poems with insightful and enduring truths. I appreciated how he explained where hip-hop comes from and connected it to Scriptural roots. He discusses how flawed so many of our heroes may be, and yet they still accomplish amazing things.

After reading Sho’s provocative work, I want to practice the same kind of integration of faith and action. 

By Sho Baraka,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked He Saw that it was Good as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A deep exploration of the intersection of faith, creativity, and justice from acclaimed hip-hop artist and creative polymath Sho Baraka
 
“Sho has the courage to say what many are thinking and the candor to say what many are not. His words have positively influenced me for years—now this book gives the world that influence.”—Lecrae

You were created to help bring truth and beauty into this broken world. God made you with an imagination and a yearning for justice. No matter your calling or vocation, you can help shape a better world around you through your creativity. 

But that doesn’t mean…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in creativity, leadership, and jazz?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about creativity, leadership, and jazz.

Creativity Explore 139 books about creativity
Leadership Explore 363 books about leadership
Jazz Explore 128 books about jazz