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Books to Grab When You Need a Productivity Boost

It’s all too easy to plop down on the sofa and scroll or put off doing laundry for one more day… especially when there’s something more interesting going on.


I’ve been there many a time, so when I feel that languishing coming, I have a system of failsafes in place for when I want a productivity boost, depending on what I want to achieve. If I want to give my creativity a boost, I like to read about how other creatives get un-stuck. And if I want a clean house? Well, any good audiobook makes me clean because I don’t want to turn it off. Regardless of how you’d like to be inspired, here are five books to grab when you need a productivity boost.


You might remember when thrift stores were overloaded with donations thanks to Marie Kondo’s Netflix special. I myself can attest to watching a single episode, then sorting through my bookshelves—a task that is no small feat. In this book (the third of three), she shows how to get your work life tidied up, specifically.


Speaking of Netflix, the company that revolutionized how we watch television (and film, for that matter), check out this autobiography of an idea.


If you want to be motivated, then you probably want to hear this true story of headstrong women who infiltrated the boys club of Walt Disney Studios animation. Not only did they do so, but they fought to change the way female characters were represented to young viewers on screen, too.



After formative years full of bullying—both in person and cyber—Lizzie Velasquez writes this motivational book that’s both memoir and how-to. It’s a self-help text, but sometimes the best way to help yourself is by helping someone else first. This book shows how to do both.


While I personally loved Julia Child’s autobiography My Life in France the best of her books, a lot of readers enjoy the story of Julie Powell trying to cook all of Child’s recipes in a single year. I mean, the film adaptation stars Meryl Streep, Amy Adams, and Stanley Tucci, so there’s a lot to love. There’s something about a non-chef attempting the art of French cuisine (and succeeding!) that motivates us Normals.


The real trick for real people, though, is finding the prize worthy enough of getting your hustle on… is your end-goal a no-waste kitchen? A gourmet meal? A Dior gown? When you set the goal itself, it’s easier to stay on-track. Hopefully, these books will help you do it!

Mary Kay McBrayer is the author of America’s First Female Serial Killer: Jane Toppan and the Making of a Monster. You can find her short works at Oxford American, Narratively, Mental Floss, and FANGORIA, among other publications. She co-hosts Everything Trying to Kill You, the comedy podcast that analyzes your favorite horror movies from the perspectives of women of color. Follow Mary Kay McBrayer on Instagram and Twitter, or check out her author site here.