Learning development books recommendations
Training & Learning

7 Books Worth Your Time (According to our Community of L&D Practitioners)

The members of The L&D Collective—our free, global community of L&D leaders—are passionate about L&D books as a way to continue their education and to find inspiration for their learning work. 

We asked them to share their favorite books that have changed the way they approach Learning and Development.

Some of these works are not your usual L&D resource, and one member even included a free book in the list. Let us know what you think, and if you’ve read any of them:

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Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?: And Other Conversations About Race, by Beverly Daniel Tatum

In Why Are All the Black Kids, Tatum argues that straight talk about our racial identities is essential for enabling communication across racial and ethnic divides. While her work focuses on race relations in the United States, Tatum offers tools that are relevant to educators world-wide—including how to talk across lines of difference.

Our L&D Collective member Ashley praises this best-selling book because “it helps to understand identity within the self and classroom”. 

Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum is a renowned, award-winning authority on the psychology of racism, and the former president of Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia (US). The updated 20th anniversary edition of this best-selling book can be purchased on Kindle and in paperback from Amazon.

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Beloved Economies: Transforming How We Work, by Jess Rimington and Joanna Levitt Cea

"Beloved Economies is about how to take power dynamics into consideration when setting up team building and group decision processes. It articulates a lot of my frequent thoughts on helping businesses create a culture that is inherently inclusive.”—L&D Collective member Jessi. 

Beloved Economies explores different forms of success that prioritize well-being, meaning, connection, and resilience—alongside conventional metrics like quality and financial success. Cea and Rimington offer practical advice, with seven specific practices, as a springboard for changing how we work.

Rimington is a next-economy scholar focused on ethics and methodologies of emerging post-capitalisms. Cea is a researcher of funding practices that lift up the wellbeing of all. They are both previous Visiting Scholars at Stanford University’s Global Projects Center. Their book can be bought on Kindle and in paperback on Amazon.

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52 Performance-Based L&D Thought Provocations: A Structured Set of Provocations on Enterprise L&D to Prompt Reflections and Action Planning, by Guy W. Wallace

52 Performance-Based L&D Thought Provocations is a practical book, written specifically for L&D professionals with an interest in having a measurable impact on the business metrics.

L&D Collective member Simon offers a glowing praise of both the book and its author: “Guy Wallace is the G.O.A.T. of L&D. It's a part-text book, part-journal work, full of real-world situations that every L&D professional might face, and with practical advice on how to navigate them.”

Guy W. Wallace is a Performance Analyst and award-winning Instructional Systems Designer. He has published over 30 books on Instructional Systems Design, Performance, and Improvement. 52 Performance-Based L&D Thought Provocations can be purchased in hardcover and paperback on Amazon.

We're also lucky enough to have interviewed Guy about soft-skill development as part of the L&D Podcast. If you're interested, you can check out the recap article, Hard Skills in Context: Performance-Oriented Soft Skills Development With Expert Guy Wallace.

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The Six Secrets of Change: What the Best Leaders Do to Help Their Organizations Survive and Thrive, by Michael Fullan

The Six Secrets delves into how successful organizations adjust to shifts in consumer tastes, political climates, and economic opportunity. It’s a book full of actionable lessons for business and public sector leaders, for surviving and thriving in today’s complex environment. 

L&D Collective member Zechariah says, “Fullan is one author I always come back to. He has written a number of books about change, and he always has a great perspective. The Six Secrets of Change is the book I currently have on my desk for inspiration.”

Fullan is a bestselling author on education reform. He also advises policymakers and local leaders around the world to provide leadership in education. His books can be bought on Kindle or in paperback from Amazon.

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The Power of Mindful Learning, by Ellen J. Langer. 

The Power of Mindful Learning explores how the psychology of learning and mindfulness can enhance the way we learn. Langer challenges learning notions, like delayed gratification and ”right answers”, and suggests mindful options she sees as more effective and with fewer limitations.

L&D Collective member Sarabjeet says, “‘The Power of Mindful Learning’ has offered me invaluable insights into designing learning experiences that not only engage learners, but also align with the principles of mindful and effective learning. I frequently turn to it when creating e-learning content.”

Dr. Ellen Langer is Professor of Psychology at Harvard University. She has proposed and tested an alternative cognitive process she calls ‘mindfulness’, which is different from the term ‘mindfulness’ used to describe meditation. You can buy it on Kindle and paperback on Amazon.

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The Training Activity Cookbook, by Brian Washburn and Lauren Wescott

The Training Activity Cookbook provides 63 training activities that are designed to be engaging and to lead to change. It is a practical handbook, with activities presented in a structure that can be easily implemented. 

Our member Fátima praises it both for its accessibility (the book is free) and the fact it is a helpful resource at every stage of an L&D career: “It’s a great index for course ideas, it has knowledge checks, infographics, insights... The fact that it is free is even more helpful for freelancers or startups with a tight budget. It gives everyone the opportunity to learn more about L&D.”

Brian Washburn is an author, blogger and podcaster who’s been featured in Training magazine and TD Magazine. Lauren Wescott is an L&D manager with a background in curriculum and instruction in the K-12 setting. The Training Activity Cookbook can be downloaded on the Endurance Learning website

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1984, by George Orwell

You won’t find 1984 on the L&D bookshelf of your local bookstore. This science-fiction classic is better known for its dystopian world, where a government will do anything to control the narrative, than for its impact on Learning and Development.

However it is a go-to resource for L&D Collective member Adarsh, who offers a different perspective on Orwell’s work–and on the role of Learning and Development experts in the workplace: “I believe that the Orwellian world is what we should avoid, and even more so at a workplace where employees will more and more seek for a shared purpose within the organization.” 1984 can be purchased on Kindle or in paperback on Amazon.

If you enjoyed this list, read our blog post about 5 Learning and Development Books Every Pro Should Read, as recommended by members of The L&D Collective.

If you are an L&D professional, join our L&D Collective community for more learning recommendations. Our community has over 3,500 members and is the place to go for peer-to-peer support, networking opportunities, and discussions on how collaborative learning positively impacts growth.