the best nonfiction books I read this year - productivity creativity

The best nonfiction books I’ve read this year for productivity and creativity

This year, I decided I needed to get back in my reading groove.

Although I’ve been a lifelong reader, my consistency ebbs and flows, typically falling off when I’m busier, naturally. In 2022, although I squeezed in a couple of books, I didn’t read nearly as much as I wanted to.

So I set out to change that in 2023.

At the beginning of this year, I set out to read 24 books total — 2 books per month. Since I’m in the planning stages of a novel, I wanted to read tons of fiction in the same genre to get me in the right mindset, but I wanted to mix it up with other genres, too, so I wasn’t reading the same kind of books the whole year.

So, nonfiction was a major priority. Just like I love my personal growth and productivity podcasts, I also love a good nonfiction book to keep me hip on the world around me.

I’ve been reading my way around a ton of different topics that relate to productivity, creativity, and life in general this year, so I thought I’d share some of my favorites.

The productivity project: accomplishing more by managing your time, attention and energy

The productivity project

When I first started reading this book, I was like “wait, did I write this book?” Author Chris Bailey has a similar obsession with productivity that I do.

Except he dedicated a whole year of his life to trying out every productivity hack he could find. And discovering which were most effective.

This book was extremely enlightening and tactical. He runs through every single productivity method he tried on for size and shared the pros, the cons, and every aspect of his experience in between.

If you’re looking for a little motivation to optimize your productivity processes, or if you’re in a place where you just need to get your shit together, this is a must-read.

Personally, I feel like it’s impossible to read this book and not get overtaken my an incredible dose of inspiration.

Everybody writes: your new and improved guide to creating ridiculously good content - nonfiction book

Everybody writes

This book, by marketing pro Ann Handley, was at the top of my to-buy list when I saw that a brand new edition was being released.

I’m a Marketing Profs subscriber, so I get bits and pieces of knowledge from Ann Handley here and there, so I was really excited to get my hands on a full book of up-to-date knowledge about how to write better for marketing.

It’s called “your guide to creating ridiculously good content” and that’s exactly what it is.

Ann gives you a look behind the curtain at her tried and true writing process. It’s long but effective. In every chapter, you get tangible advice on what you can improve in your writing workflows.

I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that I learned multiple things in every single chapter. I’m really glad I bought a copy of the book because by the time I was done with it, it was so filled with highlights and dog ears.

Creative confidence: unleashing the creative potential within us all. One of the best nonfiction reads of 2023

Creative confidence

What I’ve come to discover is that very few people are just naturally gifted with a rare creative “gift” that will seamlessly lead to a successful creative career.

Creativity is something that must be constantly nurtured. That’s what this book is about.

Creative Confidence, written by brothers Tom and David Kelley, founders of the design and innovation consultancy IDEO, gives you the tools (and inspiration) to unlock the creativity that’s inside of you.

What I loved the most about this book was the insane amount of examples. Sometimes, for creative advice, it can be hard to grasp how exactly to apply it. This book pairs every piece of advice with a practical, real-world example that shows how possible it is for literally everyone to tap into the creative potential.

If I were going to read one book on this list more than once, it would be this one. There was so much great information that I couldn’t possibly soak it up in one read.

Getting things done - the art of stress-free prodcuctivity

Getting things done

I’m a big fan of Better Creating on YouTube and habitually binge his Notion build videos. And one thing he constantly mentions, and has even based a lot of his productivity processes on, is the “getting things done” methodology by David Allen.

After hearing him mention this book a few times, I knew I needed to read it. And when I saw that the subtitle was “the art of stress-free productivity,” as a highly stressed productivity geek, I couldn’t grab a copy faster.

I’m not gonna lie and say that it’s not intense or a little intimidating. But it’s well worth the time.

I’ve always considered myself a very organized and productive person, but this book made me reconsider and scrap all of the things I was doing before.

While this book is too in-depth to summarize in just a few short paragraphs, here’s where the value really hit home for me. The crux of this methodology is to get everything out of your brain and into a system that you’re confident will hold you accountable to get it done.

This simple but revolutionary concept will decrease your stress levels noticeably. When I’m good about following it (we can’t be perfect all the time), I literally sleep better because I don’t have all of these tasks floating around in my brain. They’re put in a system for me to visit when I’m ready to sit down and work.

Seriously, READ. THIS. BOOK.

I'm so effing hungry - a nonfiction book about why we crave what we crave and what to do about it

I’m so effing hungry

This is kind of a random one that seems unrelated to productivity and creativity on its face, but I promise it isn’t entirely.

I came across this book on a tiktok about how someone got their cravings under control. And though I’m someone who prides myself on having control in many parts of my life, snacking is not one of them. So I was excited to give this book a read.

It is science-y, but super easy to read because the writer has a really good flow. She’s coming to you as a doctor with a background in nutritional science, but also a real person who has struggled with the same issues and has seen her family suffer the consequences of a poor diet.

She basically walks you through all of the different things, psychologically and physiologically, that impact your cravings and subsequent ability to control them.

Not only does she give you really practical advice to combat these cravings — foods to eat, foods to avoid, behaviors that will help you maintain control — but she also highlights the fact that these out-of-control cravings aren’t your fault.

This makes any guilt that you have float away while giving you real steps to take to actually control what you eat.

So how does this relate to productivity/creativity? Our diet impacts our brains incredibly. From the energy you have to the mood you’re in, making positive changes in your diet can give you the extra boost you need to show up creatively and productively.

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