Book List: Succeeding in Grad School and your Career

Below is a list of recommended reading to help you navigate grad school and strategize for your career.  These are some examples and there are many more!  Many have very similar topics.  Pick one or two depending on where you are in your program.  You do not need to read them all! They range from helping you choose your research project, to navigating each stage of your program, to helping you select opportunities for career planning. (Note: many of these are available through the UBC library)

  • Designing your Life by Bill Burnett & Dave Evans
    • An interactive book that helps you reflect on your like and work, and design a strategy for pursuing your life and career goals
  • Work Your Career: Get What You Want from Your Social Sciences or Humanities PhD, by Jonathan Malloy & Loleen Berdahl
    • A practical, interactive Canadian guide for navigating graduate school while considering both academic and non-academic career options from the outside.  Relevant for masters and PhDs and all disciplines.
  • Where Research Begins: Choosing a Research Project that Matters to You (and the world) by Thomas S. Mullaney and Christopher Rea
    • An interactive book with exercises to help you choose a topic, turn it into a compelling research question, track your research, and design your research project
  • The Deliberate Doctorate by Leela Viswananthan,
    • An interactive book for producing a personalized roadmap to your PhD and aligning your values and goals
  • The Successful TA: A Practical Approach to Effective Teaching, by Kathy M. Nomme and Carol Pollock,
    • A short, accessible guide to university teaching including expectations, classroom management, assessment, and more.
  • Deep Work by Cal Newport
    • A book that provides actionable advice you through strategies for developing time management habits to focus without distraction on cognitively demanding tasks.
  • Writing your Dissertation in 15 minutes a day: A Guide to Starting, Revising, and Finishing Your Doctoral Thesis by Joan Bolker
    • Recommended by a colleague as 'the' book that helped them through their PhD
  • A Field Guide to Grad School: Uncovering the Hidden Curriculum by Jessica McCrory Calarco
    • Overview of all of the unwritten and often unspoken knowledge and skills you need for thriving in grad school
  • Succeeding Outside the Academy: Career Paths beyond the Humanities, Social Sciences, and STEM- edited by Joseph Frusicone & Kelly J. Baker
    • A novel that provides stories and advice for pursuing careers outside of the academy work
  • “So What are you Going to Do with That?” by Susan Basalla & Maggie Debelius
    • Practical guidance for finding careers outside of academia
  • The Professor is In by Karen Kelsky
  • The Power of a Positive No, William Ury
    • Learning how to decide what to say 'yes' to and what to say 'no' to.  If you say no, what are you saying 'yes' to

Other readings:

Grad student/colleague recommendations:

  • Getting What You Came For: The Smart Student's Guide to Earning an M.A. or a Ph.D. , Robert L Peters
  • Advice for New Faculty Members, Robert Boice
  • How to Write a Lot: A Practical Guide to Productive Academic Writing, Paul Silvia
  • The Clockwork Muse: A Practical Guide to Writing Theses, Dissertations, and Books, Eviatar Zerubavel 
  • Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, Anne Lamott

Have a recommendation?  Email to add it to this list!