Next Stop: Your Magazine Dream Job

The 5 Motivating Career Books by Magazine Editors You Gotta Read

By Kelsey Mulvey

Not only is reading a great way to expand your vocabulary, some books can teach you a few things that will help you catapult your career forward.

Over the past few years, several former and current editors have written books that outline their success and offer great insight into landing that sought-after promotion, following your gut, and having it all. Below, five favorites you should add to your bookshelf

1. “The Big Life” by Ann Shoket

Ann Shoket is fascinated by the generations that succeed hers. After spending years at publications like CosmoGIRL and Seventeen, where she served as editor-in-chief, Shoket created Badass Babes, a weekly newsletter and community where millennial women can open up about everything from career, to love, to the latest in pop culture.

In her new book, “The Big Life: Embrace the Mess, Work Your Side Hustle, Find a Monumental Relationship, and Become the Badass Babe You Were Meant to Be,” Shoket offers her two cents on how to navigate the messy and chaotic years of young adulthood and come out of them feeling like a rockstar in every facet of your life.

 2. “Tales from the Back Row” by Amy Odell

From the outside, the fashion industry seems like an exclusive club you’d do anything to join. And perhaps nobody knows this better than Amy Odell. The editor has been to her fair share of fashion shows and after parties, and has whittled down her favorite moments into a book called “Tales from the Back Row: An Outsider’s View from Inside the Fashion Industry.” 

In addition to recounting her run-ins with big-time editors, stylists, and designers as well as how she climbed up the corporate ladder, Odell shares worthwhile tips for advancing your career and getting yourself a coveted first row seat at the biggest fashion shows.

3. “How to Murder Your Life” by Cat Marnell

Consider Cat Marnell’s “How to Murder Your Life” what not to do in the industry. With stints at Lucky, Nylon, and Glamour, to name a few, Marnell is a magazine veteran; however, her book details her addiction to prescription drugs and self-sabotaging antics. Equal parts dark, funny, and honest, this book shares a not-so-glossy side of the industry. And in an age when most hungry employees would do just about anything to get ahead at work, “How to Murder Your Life” proves to be a necessary read.

4. “Luckiest Girl Alive” by Jessica Knoll

Can’t seem to part ways with fiction? Pick up “Luckiest Girl Alive.” Written by Jessica Knoll, former senior editor at Cosmopolitan, this book tells the story of a talented magazine editor and her chilling past that rears its head back into her life.

If you need more an incentive, Reese Witherspoon is set to produce a film adaptation of “Luckiest Girl Alive,” so you should read it before it hits the big screen.

5. Anything by Helen Gurley Brown

It feels borderline criminal to not include Helen Gurley Brown. As the legendary editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan, her name is basically synonymous with #GirlBoss. She reshaped the dialogue of what it means to be a woman and wiped away the stigma that hovered around women celebrating—let alone talking about—their sexuality.

Gurley Brown penned several game-changing books, so we thought we’d let you have your pick. Want to learn how to balance your professional and personal life? “Having It All: Love, Success, Sex, Money Even If You’re Starting With Nothing” is for you. But if you want to curl up with what feels like an issue of Cosmopolitan, we’d recommend her best-selling novel, “Sex and the Single Girl.”

Kelsey Mulvey is a New York writer and commerce reporter at Business Insider. She has written for several publications such as The Wall Street Journal, Time Out New York,, Check out more of her work at KelseyMulveyWrites.comand follow her on Instagram and Twitter.

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