books millennials ‘Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.’ – Harry S. Truman

If you’re anything like me, reading can feel more like a chore than a hobby. For Millennials, gone are the days where we were rewarded for reading with Accelerated Reader points (which ultimately translated to an unlimited supply of slap bracelets or crazy erasers) or required to read in order to pass a test. Reading doesn’t have the same immediate gratification or consequence as it did just a few years ago.

One Thing Millennials Can Do to Rise Above Our Peers

Developing the habit of reading is one of the most valuable things Millennials can do to set ourselves apart from our peers.


A few months ago, I ran across a survey by The Jenkins Group, an independent publishing services firm, has shown that millions of Americans never read another book after leaving school.

Here are just a few of the shocking statistics that were shared:

  • 33% of high school graduates never read another book for the rest of their lives.
  • 42% of college graduates never read another book after college.
  • 80% of U.S. families did not buy or read a book last year.

If it’s true that leaders are readers, these statistics indicate that it’s easier than ever to be a reader. In fact if a Millennial will commit to reading just one book this year, you will leave half of your peers in the dust.

7 Books Millennials Can Read to Grow Personally and Professionally

Over the years, I’ve found several books that have helped shape my thinking on leadership, grow personally, and push me towards new professional goals. If you’re looking for something to read to help you grow personally, get ahead, and set yourself apart from others, here are seven books I highly recommend:

  1. Linchpin by Seth Godin

Seth is one of the most brilliant marketing minds on the planet & has authored numerous books on the topic. In Linchpin, he shifts his focus from marketing and business to personal development.

Here’s the takeaway: the old way of work is over. No longer can you just show up, do your job, and hope you don’t get fired. In the book, Seth shares how to set yourself a part, stand out, and make yourself an indispensable asset whatever occupation you might have.

  1. 5 Levels of Leadership by John Maxwell

You could really put any John Maxwell book on this list, but in this book, John breaks down the different levels a leader takes throughout their journey and as always provide practically profound insights on how to take each step.

  1. StrengthsFinder 2.0 by Tom Rath

StrengthsFinder is a self-assessment and book that helps you identify what you’re really good at doing. Once you’ve identified your strengths the book encourages you to leverage them to maximize your effectiveness & potential instead of constantly trying to improve your weaknesses. It has great tips to help you use your strengths to improve performance and ability to influence others.

I’ve taken the assessment several times and have learned something new about myself each time.

  1. Activate Leadership by Jon Mertz

Millennials get a bad wrap for completely ignoring the wisdom and perspective of those older than us. However, sometimes we find the best ideas and principles by listening to the past.

As a wisdom-seeker, one of the things I love most about Activate Leadership is how Jon takes the timeless principles of leadership and frames them for our generation to implement.

  1. Awaken the Outlaw by Ben Stroup

“Playing it safe” never gets us where we want to go. This is the principle Ben brilliantly unpacks in Awaken the Outlaw. In a world where we have access to thousands of books about career, calling, and purpose, Ben addresses those topics in a way that will shift the way you think about how to get where you want to go.

If you’re tired of trying to “climb the ladder” or follow someone else’s step-by-step process for success, this book is a must-read.

  1. Creating Your Personal Life Plan by Michael Hyatt

A few years ago, Michael released this eBook to help anyone willing to use it create a personal life plan for every area of our life. Two key disciplines every leader must have is vision and intentionality. This book helps you create a vision for the upcoming years in your life and intentionally develop steps to help you get where you want to go.

  1. Do Over by Jon Acuff

Do you feel stuck in your particular job or career? This is a book you should read. In the book, Jon mixes hilarious personal stories and incredibly practical advice to help you transition to a new career or get the job you want.

A Challenge for Millennials

Fortunately, Harry S. Truman isn’t the only leader who has instilled the importance of reading in my life. Countless mentors have encouraged me to develop the habit. Friends have pushed me by asking me to read through books together and discuss the things we learned.

If you want to set ourselves apart from other Millennials, join me in developing the habit of becoming a lifelong reader. Take some time to check out a couple of these books or ask mentors for recommendations. Surround yourself with other Millennials who value personal growth. Deliberately set aside time read.

We may not earn any Accelerated Reader points for the next book we read, but I believe the life-long dividends will be far greater than the slap bracelets and crazy erasers we received in the past.

What other books would you add to this list?