It’s the dawn of a brand new year, and in the spirit of renewed optimism and fresh starts, a great way to take your career to the next level in 2017 is to read an inspiring book.

But with so many titles to choose from, it can be hard to know where to start. Then we remembered that New Relic is full of smart, successful people. How’d they get so smart? Maybe they learned something in a book or two. So we asked various Relics to recommend books that had a big influence on their career (or their life).

Check out the “Relic Reading List.” You’re sure to find something to inspire you!

Become a better manager or business leader


turn the ship around cover

Turn the Ship Around! A True Story of Turning Followers Into Leaders by L. David Marquet

Recommended by Nic Benders, Chief Architect & VP, Engineering: “No other book has been as key to establishing the leadership philosophy of the New Relic Engineering organization. Managers (and now architects) get a copy in the mail even before they start. It is packed full of great advice and is a pretty fun read (as management books go). The central premise is that all organizations say they want empowered, engaged employees, but much of what we do to achieve that actually has the opposite effect. Instead of trying to build ‘empowerment,’ appreciate that it is the natural state for humans and that our job as leaders is to simply remove the things that suppress it.”


blood sweat and tears coverBlood, Sweat and Tears: The Evolution of Work by Richard Donkin

Recommended by Gabriel Sample, Technical Support Engineer: “This book changed my perspective of the what, how, and why of work as a whole. It helped reframe my perspective on what is work and how the concept evolved.”


peopleware coverPeopleware: Productive Projects and Teams by Tom DeMarco and Timothy Lister

Recommended by Kevin Scaldeferri, Lead Software Engineer: “This book completely changed my view of what the role of management ought to be.”


high output management coverHigh Output Management by Andrew S. Grove

Recommended by Jonathan Karon, Director, Software Engineering: “The book was written for middle managers and is legendary in high-tech circles as a go-to for startup founders and big companies alike. I found it highly relevant as a front-line manager using the principles from Turn the Ship Around to level up a team, and very helpful in understanding the difference in concerns faced by middle and executive management.”


start with why coverStart With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action by Simon Sinek

Recommended by Matt Wilkens, Senior Copywriter: “It made me understand the most important ways to get an individual to care about your product and take action—you have to tell them exactly ‘why’ it’s important to them, and focus much less on what you do and how you do it (which is what we can sometimes get hung up focusing on). Helps with business writing and presenting—and, perhaps even more so, being self aware and empathetic to any audience.”


Be more productive


getting things done cover

Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen

Recommended by Baxter Denney, VP, Marketing – EMEA: “Everyone has too much stuff to do, which is overwhelming if you don’t have a system for processing new ideas/tasks, and making progress on the important commitments in your life. If you follow David Allen’s ‘Getting Things Done’ approach, you can get yourself to a ‘mind like water’ state, which allows you to be much more effective at the things you are focused on at any given time.”


Boost your tech career


clean code overClean Code: A Handbook of Agile Software Craftsmanship by Robert Martin

Recommended by Nathan Humbert, Senior Software Engineer: “This is the book that has most influenced how I write code.”


what the dormouse said coverWhat the Dormouse Said: How the Sixties Counterculture Shaped the Personal Computer Industry by John Markoff

Recommended by Gene Johnson, Technical Support Engineer: “This book provides some incredibly underrated human context to the history of the development of the PC and internet we already know and love. What their inventors went through personally is almost as astounding as the technology itself.”

Be sure to also check out Coding by the Book: The 7 Books Every Software Developer Should Read.

Design better products


The Timeless Way of Building by Christopher Alexander and How Buildings Learn by Stewart Brand

timeless way of building coverRecommended by Jonathan Owens, Senior Site Reliability Engineer: “These books casts a vision of a humane way of building our world that is broadly applicable and incredibly sensitive to how people actually experience their environment. The decentralized, users- and beauty-first mindset about homes and buildings, with such care for the craftsman and amateurs who maintain them, is really inspiring for people who pursue any craft or project to be used by others.”


Improve your communication skills


made to stick coverMade to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die by Chip and Dan Heath

Recommended by Phil Weber, Senior Technical Training Specialist: “This book describes six characteristics that make an idea memorable and more likely to influence others. Applying these principles has made me a more effective communicator.”


this is why we can't have nice things coverThis Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things: Mapping the Relationship Between Online Trolling and Mainstream Culture by Whitney Phillips

Recommended by Virginette Acacio, Social Media Manager: “This book examines the trolling culture that’s resulted because of the internet, and it helps me to not get discouraged by negative online interactions.”


Live a happier life


on the shortness of life coverOn the Shortness of Life by Seneca

Recommended by Adam Larson, Senior Technical Marketing Engineer: “This book talks about how most folks use up their years of vigor doing jobs to accumulate wealth for a future they’re not guaranteed or that they may not be able to enjoy. I took it to heart from an early age and really prioritized a work/life balance and making a conscious effort to intermingle travel and adventure into my work schedule.”


matilda coverMatilda by Roald Dahl

Recommended by Lindsay Culver, Community Moderator: “No matter what people think you can’t do, no matter where you are from, and no matter your circumstance, there is something that only you can do. Don’t be afraid to show people that you are special.”


harry potter coverHarry Potter series by J.K. Rowling

Recommended by Robyn Jordan, Customer Community Marketing Manager: “These books changed my life in numerous ways. They influenced my politics, my career goals, and various other things. Every day I strive to inject magic into my life, and when things are hard or I feel insecure or incompetent I think of how Neville Longbottom faced his biggest fear every day and helped defeat the greatest Dark Wizard of all time.”


Got a great book recommendation of your own? Share with us @NewRelic using hashtag #RelicReadingList.

David Gaule is an editor at New Relic. Prior to joining the company, he served as senior editor for Way back in the days of paper books, David held positions at HarperCollins Publishers and Little, Brown & Company. View posts by .

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