The magical thing about books is that they have the power to change your life. It’s a big reason why reading is an activity shared by the most successful people on earth.
The right book at the right time is priceless. With the investment of a few hours and less than $15 you can obtain actionable advice and knowledge that took brilliant people years to figure out. Or you can gain the inspiration you need to change something in your life.
The new year is the perfect time to make an intention to read more books. I’ve compiled a list of 20 books that are frequently recommended for entrepreneurs. Some are new, others are timeless classics. Some will challenge your idea of entrepreneurship, and others will challenge your personal status quo.
1. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
This book changed my life. It’s the book I hear most commonly recommended by other entrepreneurs. This book will change your outlook on life while helping you become a more likable person. I read it twice a year, every year, and I’ve read it 14 times in total.
2. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
The Alchemist is a classic hero’s journey. Santiago sets out on an adventure to a far away land in search of treasure. During his travels, he meets strangers, discovers the treasures hidden within, and learns the importance of listening to the wisdom of his heart. It’s a personal favorite of actor Will Smith.
3. Start With Why by Simon Sinek
“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it,” according to Simon Sinek. This book explores how having a clear purpose and mission can propel you to the success you want, both in life and in your business. It’s a must-read.
4. The Lean Startup by Eric Ries
The “lean methodology” has helped hundreds of entrepreneurs bootstrap businesses and scale them with minimum time, money, and resources. This is a great book for solo-entrepreneurs and startups alike.
5. The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz
Another one of the most commonly recommended books for entrepreneurs, The Hard Thing About Hard Things provides a candid and realistic picture of just how messy starting a business can be. Read this dynamic book to become a better leader or entrepreneur.
6. Zero to One by Blake Masters and Peter Thiel
It’s hard to find a better business and startup book than this one. Masters and Thiel provide insight on how unicorns are made, and how key principles can impact your success. It’s an easy read, yet the principles are powerful.
7. The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff
This book turns Winnie-the-Pooh into a quintessential example of Taoist philosophy. It’s a simple read and you’ll learn how important mindfulness, staying grounded, and gratitude are for personal and professional success.
8. The Dip by Seth Godin
The “dip” is the period of time after you launch and enjoy some early success when things get really hard. It’s when you start doubting yourself. Ultimately, the dip is the most important period for you to get through in order to find success. This book empowers you with a stronger awareness of what that period means and the perspective to overcome it.
9. Crucial Conversations by Al Switzler, Joseph Grenny, Kerry Patterson, and Ron McMillan
The best leaders know how to turn tough conversations into positives moments for all parties involved. If you want to join the ranks of great leaders, read this book and master the art of crucial conversations.
10. The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
Ever wonder why the most successful people talk about their habits? This book will teach you the biological origins of habit, and how to use psychology and evolutionary biology to undo bad ones and replace them with new routines that will fuel your success.
11. Tribes by Seth Godin
Seth Godin is a legend in the marketing industry, and this book is one of his best. Tribes highlights how communities form around successful brands and why a community is so important to a brand’s success.
12. The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss
Tim Ferriss provides a blueprint for escaping the daily grind through outsourcing and automation, so you can live the life you want instead of waiting to retire. This book will inspire you to design the life you want, and empower you with tools to build that life.
13. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey
This classic, seven-pronged approach encourages you to find your “true north,” move out of inertia, and accomplish your goals.
14. The Inner Game of Tennis by Timothy Gallwey
Instead of focusing on technique or skill, author Timothy Gallwey encourages readers to discover their potential through the practice of concentration, mindfulness, and breaking bad habits.
15. Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill
A classic by business luminary Napoleon Hill, this book details and condenses the lessons obtained over 20 years of studying successful leaders into “laws” that can be applied to achieve success in any line of work.
16. The Fire Starter Sessions by Danielle LaPorte
Get out of your own way and make your dreams a reality. That’s the promise of this “apathy kicking” book that takes you on a soul-searching journey to discover your desires and define the life you want.
17. Mindset by Carol S. Dweck
Do you have a fixed mindset or a growth mindset? Author Carol Dweck examines this mindset dichotomy, and how success is influenced by our approach to life and how we approach achieving our goals.
18. Thrive by Arianna Huffington
In this manifesto, the co-founder and former editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post challenges the way we think about success, asserting that there is more to life than the pursuit of money and power.
19. The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell
This book details how little changes can lead to a “tipping point” where products, ideas, and behaviors can spread like a virus.
20. Rework by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson
The founders of Basecamp (formerly 37signals) wrote this startup playbook for the modern world, challenging readers to defy the status quo, simplify the way they work, and take action in pursuit of their dreams.
The benefits of diversified knowledge
This year, try to read books that go beyond just business. Don’t be afraid to read a novel that might inspire you to travel, like The Alchemist. Don’t avoid The Tao of Pooh because you assume Taoism is religious or you’re too grown up to read about Winnie-the-Pooh.
Your world will expand when you read about different people, places, and principles. Remember that inspiration can come in unexpected ways and from unexpected sources. You never know, one of these books could change your life. Several of them changed mine.