Best Books on Creativity: Free Your Mind

Since the dawn of man, there have been scrolls, scribes, and storytelling to give ideas on creativity. After some time, scholars, teachers, or just the general folk wanted to share their creations. This is what leads to the best books on creativity.

In our modern world, we’re always put to the test to see how creative we are. As much as I wanted to say that I could whip some fresh ideas out once in a while, they are far from perfect. I want to be unique, but there’s only so much I can brainstorm without being repetitive or similar to other ideas.

So, how do we know if the book is the best book on creativity? Uniqueness is the key to good creativity, and I’m sure you’re interested in ways you can increase your creativity.

There are endless reading options out there, but not all books are worth the read. To become creative, you need a book that truly embodies the full steps in becoming innovative.

No matter what job you’re working on, a little innovation can always come in handy. Although I can name a hundred other instances where creativity has come in handy, I use creativity to help fuel my writing.

But how can the best creativity books help? Business is just one job you’d expect to think on your feet.

Entrepreneurs need to be quick on their feet and come up with instant solutions. If you’re not creatively or actively thinking, then you may be missing out on practical problem-solving ideas. That’s why I recommend enhancing your creativity through these books on creativity.

It can get tiring reading book after book. I want you to be able to sit back and relax and have an excellent eye-opening read. These recommendations are all recent books that I’ve personally read. I believe that they genuinely can help you improve your creativity.

 

 

Best Books on Creativity

 

Creativity

Creativity Rules: Get Ideas Out of Your Head and into the World

Tina Seelig Creativity Rules - a hop, skip and a jump through the invention cycle. Tina is amazing. The guidance helps you to get ideas out of your head and into the real world.
Cat Williams-Treloar
Founder/Humanisation

The Art of Innovation: Lessons in Creativity from IDEO, America’s Leading Design Firm

I don't know if you can teach this kind of creativity, but you can certainly raise your expectations by seeing how well they do design.
Seth Godin
Author & Entrepreneur
Ignore

Ignore Everybody: and 39 Other Keys to Creativity

I thought I might put my money where my mouth is. I keep whining that young people are not in touch with some essential books on advertising that have helped me shape the way I practise my trade today, but I never did anything about it. So I am starting here the ultimate books to read list. I will add to it as I get suggestions and as more good books get written.
Bogdana Butnar
Head of Strategy/Poke

Imagine It Forward: Courage, Creativity, and the Power of Change

Beth Comstock has written a wonderful book, full of excellent insights and lessons from her hugely successful career. She has recently been elected to the advertising all of fame, and after reading this you will know why. This book is of great value to almost virtually any leader and her stories and examples are told in a breezy way that makes it a joy to read.
Phil Knight
Founder/Nike
Lateral

Lateral Thinking: Creativity Step by Step

While I was thinking of the best books to add to this short list, I realized that not even half of them are directly related to digital marketing. This is because I believe that the best marketers are people who understand human nature deeply and aim to bring out the best in it. Call me naive, but that’s how I see it. If I were to want to pursue a career in marketing, I’d read [...] Lateral Thinking.
Andra Zaharia
Freelance Content Marketer/The Content Habit
The

The Gift: Creativity and the Artist in the Modern World

I’m not really sure what to say about this book. It just kind of re-affirmed a lot of what I’ve been thinking about making art: that it’s important for me to have a day job, so I can separate work from play, and that the more generous you are with your audience (through blogging, teaching, sharing, etc.) the better off you’ll be as an artist—spiritually and financially.
Austin Kleon
Writer, Artist
Creativity,

Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration

This book is written by the founder of Pixar and is about his experience building a culture that fosters creativity.

His theory is that people are fundamentally creative, but many forces stand in the way of people being able to do their best work.

I love reading first-hand accounts about how people build great companies like Pixar and nurture innovation and creativity. This should be inspiring to anyone looking to do the same, and hopefully there will be lessons we can apply to connecting the world!

Mark Zuckerberg
CEO/Facebook

Creative Calling: Establish a Daily Practice, Infuse Your World with Meaning, and Succeed in Work + Life

Relentlessly generous and endlessly creative, Chase is challenging us to see the shifts in our culture and media as the opportunity of a lifetime. If you care about making things better, this book is here to help.
Seth Godin
Marketer, Entrepreneur

Lifescale: How to Live a More Creative, Productive, and Happy Life

I'm currently reading LifeScale by Brian Solis. Oddly enough, it's a book about overcoming digital distraction and boosting your happiness, creativity, and sense of purpose in life. It's a powerful cautionary tale against spending too much time as a digital consumer. As someone who spends - at minimum - 40 hours a week staring at a computer screen where digital distraction is just one click away, I'm always looking for useful strategies for overcoming distraction and maintaining focus. It's already delivering on that front.
Jeremy Boudinet
Marketing Manager/Nextiva
Creative

Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All

Another book that has helped me in a specific moment was “Creative Confidence”. I don’t remember which part helped me, but I can remember that I had some mornings in which I woke up at 5 or 6 o'clock in the morning just to start my day reading something creative.
Robert Katai
Founder/Instagramology
Steal

Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative

Part of ambition is modeling yourself after those you’d like to be like. Austin’s philosophy of ruthlessly stealing and remixing the greats might sound appalling at first but it is actually the essence of art. You learn by stealing, you become creative by stealing, you push yourself to be better by working with these materials. Austin is a fantastic artist, but most importantly he communicates the essence of writing and creating art better than anyone else I can think of. It is a manifesto for any young, creative person looking to make his mark. Pair up with Show Your Work which is also excellent.
Ryan Holiday
Founder/Brass Check
The

The Stoic Creative Handbook: Struggling Creatives Are Driven By Passion. Thriving Artists Are Driven By Purpose.

My title, The Stoic Creative Handbook, draws heavily on both Steve and Seth’s work. It was Seth’s altMBA program and The Marketing Seminar that helped me develop the posture and mindset of a thriving artist in all the work I do as a musician, teacher, and writer. Reframing what it means to be “successful” has led me to true prosperity and re-engaged my passion for the work I do.
Scott Perry
Author, Stoic Guitarist

The Geography of Genius: A Search for the World’s Most Creative Places from Ancient Athens to Silicon Valley

The book just a great job describing how communities through the world and history were able to be more innovative than others. It contains some big surprises too.

Colleen McCreary
CEO/CCKPartners
Zen

Zen and the Art of Making a Living: A Practical Guide to Creative Career Design

Question: What books had the biggest impact on you? Perhaps changed the way you see things or dramatically changed your career path.

Answer:

  • “Zen and the Art of Making a Living: A Practical Guide to Creative Career Design” By Laurence Boldt
  • “Horse Sense: The Key to Success Is Finding a Horse to Ride” by Al Ries and Jack Trout
  • “What They Don't Teach You at Harvard Business School” by Mark McCormack
Christopher Lochhead
Host/Legends and Losers Podcast
The

The Net and the Butterfly: The Art and Practice of Breakthrough Thinking

Currently reading a fascinating book about the brain science of creativity, The Net & the Butterfly

Joe Gebbia
Co-founder/Airbnb
Disruption:

Disruption: Overturning Conventions and Shaking Up the Marketplace

I thought I might put my money where my mouth is. I keep whining that young people are not in touch with some essential books on advertising that have helped me shape the way I practise my trade today, but I never did anything about it. So I am starting here the ultimate books to read list. I will add to it as I get suggestions and as more good books get written.
Bogdana Butnar
Head of Strategy/Poke
Creative

Creative Quest

When Questlove says he’s going to do something, he will find out how to do whatever that is, and become a master at it. I can’t think of a person more suited to write a book about being creative.
Jimmy Fallon
TV Host

Breathe To Succeed: Increase Workplace Productivity, Creativity, and Clarity through the Power of Mindfulness

Breathe to Succeed is an excellent prescription for any aspiring or current leader. Sandy Abrams’ new book offers valuable insights into addressing the hectic schedule and constant stress of everyone from an employee to the CEO. By understanding the causes and effects of stress on the human body, Sandy offers tools of the mind and breath to find your way through the storm and achieve optimal health.
Mark Bertolini
Former Chairman & CEO/Aetna

Creative Schools: The Grassroots Revolution That’s Transforming Education

Creative Schools: The Grassroots Revolution That's Transforming Education by Sir Ken Robinson - a book for educator or edu-preneur or anyone who wants to make a change in the education realm.
Ng Rong Xin
Co-Founder/Explorer Junior
Organizing

Organizing Genius: The Secrets of Creative Collaboration

A phenomenal book on leading creative groups.
Todd Henry
Founder of Accidental Creative

Powerhouse: The Untold Story of Hollywood’s Creative Artists Agency

Sorrell, CEO of the communications house/ad agency, WPP, has a rather eclectic mix this summer:

 

  • Powerhouse: The Untold Story of Hollywood’s Creative Artists Agency—James Andrew Miller
  • Universal Man: The Seven Lives of John Maynard Keynes—Richard Davenport-Hines
  • Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future—Ashlee Vance

 

Sir Martin Sorrell
CEO/WPP

Orbiting the Giant Hairball: A Corporate Fool’s Guide to Surviving with Grace

It’s difficult to say what business book is my favorite, as they all appeal to me in different ways. I’d say that the most influential book on my early career was Orbiting The Giant Hairball by Gordon MacKenzie. It was an insider look at creative leadership from the former creative director at Hallmark, and helped me open up to the effects of bureaucracy on creativity and how to surmount them.
Todd Henry
Founder of Accidental Creative
Big

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear

I read a bunch of books on writing before I wrote my first book and the two that stuck with me were Stephen King’s book and “On Writing Well” by Zinsser (which is a bit on the technical side). I was also surprised by how much I enjoyed Elizabeth Gilbert’s “Big Magic.”
Mark Manson
Founder/MarkManson.net
The

The Rise of the Creative Class

Question: What books would you recommend to young people interested in your career path?

Answer:

  • Anything by Peter Senge.
  • The Hard Thing About Hard Things – Ben Horowitz
  • Once you are Lucky, Twice you are good – Sara Lacey
  • Revolutionary Wealth – Alvin Toffler
  • Black Swan – Taleb
  • Reset: My Fight for Inclusion and Lasting Change, by Ellen Pao.
  • Creative Class – Richard Florida
  • Creativity Inc. by Ed Catmull & Amy Wallace
  • Liar’s Poker by Michael Lewis
  • American Government 101: From the Continental Congress to the Iowa Caucus, Everything You Need to Know About US Politics – Kathleen Spears
  • The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff.
  • Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy.
  • Any book by Herman Hesse
  • The Art of War by Sun Tzu.
Audrey Russo
President & CEO/Pittsburgh Technology Council
A

A Curious Mind: The Secret to a Bigger Life

Question: What five books would you recommend to young people interested in your career path & why?

Answer:

  • 7 Habits Highly Effective People - life blueprint
  • Swim with the Sharks - realize people and how you relate to them are key
  • How to Win Friends and Influence People - a classic that matters a lot in our digital world
  • A Curious Mind by Brian Grazier - we all need to put curiosity higher as a priority
  • Peak Performers, by Charles Garfield - examples of greatness

Most of these books are 25 years old or more (Not A Curious Mind).... But the books you read when you are young set the patterns and habits that impact you. I read these when young and they had real impact on my succes

Thom Singer
Podcaster/Cool Things Entrepreneurs Do
Borrowing

Borrowing Brilliance: The Six Steps to Business Innovation by Building on the Ideas of Others

It opened my eyes that you don’t really need to be born with a “talent” to actually become creative, that creativity is a process that can be learned, and this is something I did apply.
Nicolas Jouvenceau
CEO/Pink Diamonds Boutique
Uncreative

Uncreative Writing: Managing Language in the Digital Age

I read it after I finished an MA in Writing and it was exactly what I needed to burst my bubble. I loved it because it questioned everything and it perfectly matched my skepticism towards creative writing courses. Regardless of my amazing experience within the creative writing masters, nobody can teach you how to write, but somebody can definitely teach you how to rewrite and how to read. In a world where everybody urges you to be original, creative, Goldsmith states that you can totally be creative with somebody else’s work with a little help from the Internet: word processing, databasing, recycling, sampling, appropriation, coding (‘Pure Poems’ written by Shigeru Matsui in alphanumeric binaries), plundering, programming, and even plagiarizing. Yes, plagiarizing. The most eloquent example (I love it) is this essay entitled ‘The Ecstasy of Influence: A plagiarism’. Jonathan Lethem brilliantly shows us that nothing is original in literature – all ideas has been shared, recycled, stolen, quoted, translated, re-translated, imitated, pirated, patch written, re-written and so on. The essay is the perfect example for this – not a single word or idea belongs Jonathan Lethem. Everything is borrowed from others’ books, ideas, writings. Goldsmith even taught the ‘Uncreative Writing’ course at the University of Pennsylvania where students were not allowed to bring to the class any trace of originality and creativity.
Alina Varlanuta
Creator/The Hole in Your Head
Write.

Write. Publish. Repeat.: The No-Luck-Required Guide to Self-Publishing Success

Sean Platt has a good book that just came out about writing many books. I recommend it. “Write. Publish. Repeat.” I think Sean has published over 50 books. I don’t know because he uses pseudonyms as well.

James Altucher
Founder/StockPickr

Loonshots: How to Nurture the Crazy Ideas That Win Wars, Cure Diseases, and Transform Industries

This book has everything: new ideas, bold insights, entertaining history and convincing analysis. Not to be missed by anyone who wants to understand how ideas change the world.
Daniel Kahneman
Nobel Prize Winner, Author
Strength

Strength in Stillness: The Power of Transcendental Meditation

I have meditated for 49 years and know TM leading light Bob Roth personally, so I can endorse listening to him if you’re interested in meditation. If you’re not, you’re overlooking the most powerful path to equanimity, creativity, and good decision making I know.

PS - I suggest his book “Strength in Stillness”.

Ray Dalio
Founder/Bridgewater Associates
The

The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles

Also hard to find on audio. I find Steve's voice to be fascinating, and even before I knew him, I was fascinated by listening to him speak his own work. The War of Art is one of those books, at least for me when I finally was exposed to it, I said, 'Why wasn't I informed? Why did it take this long for this book to land on my desk?'... You need to be clear with yourself about what you are afraid of, why you are afraid, and whether you care enough to dance with that fear because it will never go away.
Seth Godin
Author & Entrepreneur
Deep

Deep Thinking: Where Machine Intelligence Ends and Human Creativity Begins

A highly human exploration of artificial intelligence, its exciting possibilities and inherent limits.
Max Levchin
Co-founder/PayPal, CEO/Affirm, Investor

Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus, and Sharpen Your Creative Mind (The 99U Book Series)

A time management book. Personally, I like Manage your day-to-day by 99U. It is an extremely quick read, but provides some good insights for those who need some basic guidance regarding time management, especially in creative fields.
Andrew Elliott
Founder/GoDesignerGo

Make Enemies & Gain Fans: The Snask way of becoming a Successful Creative Entrepreneur

When asked what books he would recommend to youngsters interested in his professional path, Ryan mentioned Make Enemies & Gain Fans.
Ryan Len
Founder & Design Director/The Workbench
A

A Whack on the Side of the Head: How You Can Be More Creative

Nothing has ever pushed me into a different career path but A Whack on the Side of the Head by Roger von Oech can really alter how you think. It's a very fun book to read because Roger is constantly throwing puzzles at you and systematically training you on how to be more of an independent and creative thinker.
Nick Janetakis
Founder/NickJanetakis.com

Gamestorming: A Playbook for Innovators, Rulebreakers, and Changemakers

Skimmed in the past, rereading. It has great examples of frameworks that help move you from fuzzy ideas to tangible output.
Ola Olusoga
Co-founder/Populum
B.S.,

B.S., Incorporated

I enjoyed the hell out of this book. It harpoons the bloated, mindlessly self-destructive tendencies of American corporations. But it’s also a human story. Which is why--despite the absurdity and arrogance and plain ol’ stupidity on display at BSI--I’d kind of like to work there. Are they hiring?
Bill Anderson
President/One Voice Creative Media
A

A Mind for Numbers: How to Excel at Math and Science

A good teacher will leave you educated. But a great teacher will leave you curious. Well, Barbara Oakley is a great teacher. Not only does she have a mind for numbers, she has a way with words, and she makes every one of them count
Mike Rowe
CEO/MikeRoweWorks Foundation, Former TV Host/Dirty Jobs
The

The Ordinary Leader: 10 Key Insights for Building and Leading a Thriving Organization

Finally, a leadership book that I can relate to this book is full of practical and accessible strategies.

Dave Llyod
CEO/Square One Construction
Einstein:

Einstein: His Life and Universe

I didn't read actually very many general business books, but I like biographies and autobiographies, I think those are pretty helpful. Actually, a lot of them aren't really business. [...] I also feel it’s worth reading books on scientists and engineers.
Elon Musk
Founder/SpaceX

American Government 101: From the Continental Congress to the Iowa Caucus, Everything You Need to Know About US Politics

Question: What books would you recommend to young people interested in your career path?

Answer:

  • Anything by Peter Senge.
  • The Hard Thing About Hard Things – Ben Horowitz
  • Once you are Lucky, Twice you are good – Sara Lacey
  • Revolutionary Wealth – Alvin Toffler
  • Black Swan – Taleb
  • Reset: My Fight for Inclusion and Lasting Change, by Ellen Pao.
  • Creative Class – Richard Florida
  • Creativity Inc. by Ed Catmull & Amy Wallace
  • Liar’s Poker by Michael Lewis
  • American Government 101: From the Continental Congress to the Iowa Caucus, Everything You Need to Know About US Politics – Kathleen Spears
  • The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff.
  • Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy.
  • Any book by Herman Hesse
  • The Art of War by Sun Tzu.
Audrey Russo
President & CEO/Pittsburgh Technology Council
Revolutionary

Revolutionary Wealth: How it will be created and how it will change our lives

Question: What books would you recommend to young people interested in your career path?

Answer:

  • Anything by Peter Senge.
  • The Hard Thing About Hard Things – Ben Horowitz
  • Once you are Lucky, Twice you are good – Sara Lacey
  • Revolutionary Wealth – Alvin Toffler
  • Black Swan – Taleb
  • Reset: My Fight for Inclusion and Lasting Change, by Ellen Pao.
  • Creative Class – Richard Florida
  • Creativity Inc. by Ed Catmull & Amy Wallace
  • Liar’s Poker by Michael Lewis
  • American Government 101: From the Continental Congress to the Iowa Caucus, Everything You Need to Know About US Politics – Kathleen Spears
  • The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff.
  • Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy.
  • Any book by Herman Hesse
  • The Art of War by Sun Tzu.
Audrey Russo
President & CEO/Pittsburgh Technology Council
Liar's

Liar’s Poker

Question: What books would you recommend to young people interested in your career path?

Answer:

  • Anything by Peter Senge.
  • The Hard Thing About Hard Things – Ben Horowitz
  • Once you are Lucky, Twice you are good – Sara Lacey
  • Revolutionary Wealth – Alvin Toffler
  • Black Swan – Taleb
  • Reset: My Fight for Inclusion and Lasting Change, by Ellen Pao.
  • Creative Class – Richard Florida
  • Creativity Inc. by Ed Catmull & Amy Wallace
  • Liar’s Poker by Michael Lewis
  • American Government 101: From the Continental Congress to the Iowa Caucus, Everything You Need to Know About US Politics – Kathleen Spears
  • The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff.
  • Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy.
  • Any book by Herman Hesse
  • The Art of War by Sun Tzu.
Audrey Russo
President & CEO/Pittsburgh Technology Council

The Icarus Deception: How High Will You Fly?

In addition to Meditations and other texts on Stoicism, Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art and Seth Godin’s The Icarus Deception have had a profound impact on my life and vocation. Both provide a unique lens for identifying what it means to be a creative and what it takes to deliver work that matters to those that need it.
Scott Perry
Author, Stoic Guitarist
Unlabel:

Unlabel: Selling You Without Selling Out

I've always believed that students should learn their trade from the masters--but there are times when you can't just follow what's come before. Marc Ecko designed his future while putting his own spin on history. He's fearless, and he built his brand out of his love of art and pop culture, without being seduced by nostalgia. Marc may have been inspired by Star Wars, but he made it his own – and no one has made Star Wars cooler than Ecko. His unique vision became a global force in fashion. For art and execution, this is the text book I wish I could have bought in college.
George Lucas
Founder/Lucasfilm, Industrial Light & Magic
The

The Surprising Science of Meetings: How You Can Lead Your Team to Peak Performance

In workplaces around the world, meetings are where productivity and creativity go to die. Steven Rogelberg is the world's leading expert on how to fix them, and here he shares the best evidence on how we can stop wasting time and falling victim to groupthink.
Adam Grant
Author
Change

Change by Design: How Design Thinking Transforms Organizations and Inspires Innovation

Here's a list of the top books that taught and inspired me this year. I go back to Sam Walton's book frequently and was struck, this year, by some common principles between Sam and General McChrystal. It seems they learned some similar things about what works when it comes to leading teams. For example, fostering a shared consciousness and empowering execution delivers results. Greg Foran shared The Good Jobs Strategy with me and I see a connection to Tim Brown's Change by Design. We are making progress in designing a system for our associates that results in opportunities for them and an even better work environment.
Doug McMillon
CEO/Walmart

Brain Wave Vibration: Getting Back into the Rhythm of a Happy, Healthy Life

A unique synthesis of Eastern and Western thought, a readable and highly accessible program of simple training exercises for health and transformation, a program which is ripe for scientific validation.

John Gruzelier
Professorial Research Fellow, Goldsmiths, University of London

Stealing Fire: How Silicon Valley, the Navy SEALs, and Maverick Scientists Are Revolutionizing the Way We Live and Work

Stealing Fire discusses the many alternate states of consciousness and how to leverage them to achieve creativity, vision, and FLOW. While this isn’t 100% a business book, it has had the biggest impact on me professionally by helping me find and stay in flow. The book’s greatest lesson, however, is in realizing why FLOW is so important - it leads to the best quality of work. Maximum output for minimal input.
Adam Johnston
CEO & Co-Founder/Last Call Trivia
The

The Tao of Pooh

Question: What books would you recommend to young people interested in your career path?

Answer:

  • Anything by Peter Senge.
  • The Hard Thing About Hard Things – Ben Horowitz
  • Once you are Lucky, Twice you are good – Sara Lacey
  • Revolutionary Wealth – Alvin Toffler
  • Black Swan – Taleb
  • Reset: My Fight for Inclusion and Lasting Change, by Ellen Pao.
  • Creative Class – Richard Florida
  • Creativity Inc. by Ed Catmull & Amy Wallace
  • Liar’s Poker by Michael Lewis
  • American Government 101: From the Continental Congress to the Iowa Caucus, Everything You Need to Know About US Politics – Kathleen Spears
  • The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff.
  • Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy.
  • Any book by Herman Hesse
  • The Art of War by Sun Tzu.
Audrey Russo
President & CEO/Pittsburgh Technology Council
Where

Where the Suckers Moon: The Life and Death of an Advertising Campaign

I thought I might put my money where my mouth is. I keep whining that young people are not in touch with some essential books on advertising that have helped me shape the way I practise my trade today, but I never did anything about it. So I am starting here the ultimate books to read list. I will add to it as I get suggestions and as more good books get written.
Bogdana Butnar
Head of Strategy/Poke
Perennial

Perennial Seller

Autodidact extraordinaire Ryan Holiday strips away the ridiculous obsession with contemporary bestsellerdom and gets to the heart and soul of individual genius, creating timeless classics that change people's lives year after year after year. For those of us who wish to summon the courage and forgo instant validation in favor of deep and original creation, this book offers not just the Why, but the Who. A must-read for creators of all persuasions.
Shawn Coyne
Co-founder/Black Irish Books

A Human’s Guide to Machine Intelligence: How Algorithms Are Shaping Our Lives and How We Can Stay in Control

AI is finally here, from guiding us home on Waze, to helping us choose a restaurant, a book or a job. I believe this will launch a Renaissance of human creativity as mundane tasks become handled by AI. Kartik Hosanagar’s excellent book identifies the growing pains we may experience along the way to this new human advancement.
Tim Draper
Founder/Draper Fisher Jurvetson

Truth, Lies, and Advertising: The Art of Account Planning

I thought I might put my money where my mouth is. I keep whining that young people are not in touch with some essential books on advertising that have helped me shape the way I practise my trade today, but I never did anything about it. So I am starting here the ultimate books to read list. I will add to it as I get suggestions and as more good books get written.
Bogdana Butnar
Head of Strategy/Poke
Reset:

Reset: My Fight for Inclusion and Lasting Change

A prominent whistleblower chronicles her experience fighting discrimination against women and people of color in tech.
Eric Ries
Founder/Long-Term Stock Exchange
Leonardo

Leonardo da Vinci

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has plunged into what must be an advance copy of Leonardo da Vinci by Walter Isaacson, who has written biographies of Steve Jobs, Albert Einstein and Ben Franklin. Isaacson’s biography is based on the Renaissance master’s personal notebooks, so you know we’re going to be taken into the creative mind of the genius.
Satya Nadella
CEO/Microsoft
Fates

Fates and Furies

As a devoted reader, the president has been linked to a lengthy list of novels and poetry collections over the years — he admits he enjoys a thriller.
Barack Obama
Former USA President
Draft

Draft No. 4: On the Writing Process

My current obsession is John McPhee. He's a creative nonfiction wizard, and as soon as I got my hands on Draft No. 4, where he explains quite vividly how he chooses the structure of his stories, I was hooked. He even mentions creating an entire article based on a spiral-like diagram structure, before even starting to actually write the piece.
Catalina Penciu
Food Styling and Photography Blogger
The

The Knowledge: A Too Close To True Novel

The Knowledge, Steve Pressfield's new book, is put together like a Swiss watch. Every single word, every scene... it's a master class in what it means to get out of your own way and write a book that works. I am walking around the house, unable to put it down.
Seth Godin
Author & Entrepreneur
The

The Outsider

Colin Wilson's The Outsider is another book that addresses the same theme: the untapped power of the mind and its constant battle with the world, to make sense of it, or be broken by it. But the book is also significant for me because at 23, reading this book, I wanted to write something as good as Wilson had done at that age. (For a wonderful story recapitulating Wilson's ideas, I also recommend his takeoff on H.P. Lovecraft, The Mind Parasites.) Wilson also shaped my relationship to books. So many critics write about literature and philosophy as a dead thing, an artifact. Wilson writes about it as a conversation with another mind about what is true.
Tim O'Reilly
Founder/O'Reilly Media

Once You’re Lucky, Twice You’re Good: The Rebirth of Silicon Valley and the Rise of Web 2.0

Question: What books would you recommend to young people interested in your career path?

Answer:

  • Anything by Peter Senge.
  • The Hard Thing About Hard Things – Ben Horowitz
  • Once you are Lucky, Twice you are good – Sara Lacey
  • Revolutionary Wealth – Alvin Toffler
  • Black Swan – Taleb
  • Reset: My Fight for Inclusion and Lasting Change, by Ellen Pao.
  • Creative Class – Richard Florida
  • Creativity Inc. by Ed Catmull & Amy Wallace
  • Liar’s Poker by Michael Lewis
  • American Government 101: From the Continental Congress to the Iowa Caucus, Everything You Need to Know About US Politics – Kathleen Spears
  • The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff.
  • Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy.
  • Any book by Herman Hesse
  • The Art of War by Sun Tzu.
Audrey Russo
President & CEO/Pittsburgh Technology Council
Zen

Zen in the Art of Writing

In Zen in the Art of Writing: Releasing the Creative Genius Within You, Ray Bradbury — acclaimed author, dystopian novelist, hater of symbolism — shares not only his wisdom and experience in writing, but also his contagious excitement for the craft. Blending practical how-to’s on everything from finding your voice to negotiating with editors with snippets and glimpses of the author’s own career, the book is at once a manual and a manifesto, imbued with equal parts insight and enthusiasm.

Maria Popova
Founder/brainpickings.org
Anna

Anna Karenina

My list would be (besides the ones I mentioned in answer to the previous question) both business & Fiction/Sci-Fi and ones I personally found helpful to myself. The business books explain just exactly how business, work & investing are in reality & how to think properly & differentiate yourself. On the non-business side, a mix of History & classic fiction to understand people, philosophy to make sense of life and Science fiction to picture what the future could be like (not always utopian).
Marvin Liao
Partner/500 Startups
Stop

Stop Making Sense: The Art of Inspiring Anybody

If Brené Brown and Simon Sinek had a book baby together, you’re looking at it right now. Stop Making Sense is a new manual for learning true leadership. Fanuele’s set of simple principles that changed my life over the last quarter century will change yours in a matter of hours
Andrew Zimmern
Chef, Co-creator/Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern
The

The Power of Intention

The second category of books would be related to self awareness and keeping a positive approach to life generally, which I think makes a lot of difference in the way you create your professional path as well. Here you can either go more on the NLP approach and watch Tony Robbins interventions, or more towards the spiritual path, maybe at a later stage and read Wayne Dyer's books.
Madalina Uceanu
Managing Partner/CareerAdvisor

The Path Between the Seas: The Creation of the Panama Canal, 1870-1914

Historian David McCullough wrote one of the most factually accurate and detailed books about the construction of the Panama Canal. Why would such a book interest a leader? Because it shows how a great thing was achieved, and what it took to take the project from the paper and make it a reality.

Great things are never simple and easy to achieve. It takes creativity. Mistakes happen and losses are sustained. You have to rethink your strategy. You need a B, C or even a D plan. You do whatever it takes to make it happen. This is a valuable lesson for any leader and entrepreneur.

Holger Arians
CEO/Dominet Digital Corporation

The Innovators – How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution

This book, to be read and re-read, is a historical and extremely well documented history of the digital revolution, carrying insightful surprises along the way.
Isabelle Ohnemus
Founder/EyeFitU
On

On Intelligence: How a New Understanding of the Brain Will Lead to the Creation of Truly Intelligent Machines

I’m reading “On intelligence” by Jeff Hawkins. I am really enjoying it. It’s a very specific theory of how our brain learns and makes predictions (the root of our intelligence) explained for average people unfamiliar with the field. It’s also very related to computer science and artificial intelligence since it tried to prove the current approaches to those are flawed. I’m getting a better understanding of how our brain works and how does our behaviour affects our thinking as much as our thinking affects our behaviour. Thus, it’s interesting to connect it with the idea of habits and how we can really benefit from them.
Joan Boixados
Founder/everydayCheck
Powerful:

Powerful: Building a Culture of Freedom and Responsibility

Patty McCord’s compelling account of the culture that made Netflix succeed should be required reading for everyone who wants their business to thrive in the 21st century. A natural-born storyteller, McCord shows us how the Netflix ‘methodology’ of radical honesty, debating everything and relentlessly focusing on the future can set us up to win in the 21st century. With Powerful, McCord challenges, entertains, and inspires as she sets out how we can bring out the best in ourselves and others.
Arianna Huffington
Founder/Thrive Global

The Power of Vulnerability: Teachings on Authenticity, Connection, and Courage

I read everything with an open mind, often challenging myself by choosing books with an odd perspective or religious/spiritual views. These books do not reflect my personal feelings but are books that helped shape my perspective on life, love, and happiness.
Chelsea Frank
Founder/Life and Limb Gel

The Power of Broke: How Empty Pockets, a Tight Budget, and a Hunger for Success Can Become Your Greatest Competitive Advantage

The Power of Broke is for anyone looking to crush those excuses for whatever is holding him or her back from success. Bootstrapping your way to success can be a viable and sustainable way to grow your empire. Author (and Shark Tank entreprepreneur) Daymond John built his own fashion label starting with home-sewn clothes and almost no money; he turned around his broke status with pure innovation. The book also explores how other everyday people took a similar approach. One entrepreneur, for instance, started a million-dollar cupcake business with the $33 balance in her checking account.
Sujan Patel
Co-Founder/Web Profits

Hey, Whipple, Squeeze This: The Classic Guide to Creating Great Ads

I thought I might put my money where my mouth is. I keep whining that young people are not in touch with some essential books on advertising that have helped me shape the way I practise my trade today, but I never did anything about it. So I am starting here the ultimate books to read list. I will add to it as I get suggestions and as more good books get written.
Bogdana Butnar
Head of Strategy/Poke
The

The Art and Science of Training

I have invested the last 10 years in training, people development and learning design. I suggest that anyone who wants to try this path should first read The Art and Science of Training by Elaine Biech. It will give them a very clear idea if this is for them or not. Then they can participate in a public speaking course to see if they like being in front, or a design thinking workshop to see if they like prototyping. Other than that, it's a lot of learning by doing. There are many books out there on instructional design, gamification etc., but whatever is out there, needs testing and piloting first.
Armina Sirbu
Serial Entrepreneur
The

The Art Spirit

The first book is a book called The Art Spirit by Robert Henri, who was a painter and I know there’s a lot of affinity for painters in these parts. This is about creativity through the lens of an art student. [...] What he means by this is purely you have to be a master of your own tools. That mastership is not a destination, it is a process and it’s constant practice that gets you there.
Jack Dorsey
CEO/Twitter
The

The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything

I read this book the year I graduated from college and was in my first job. It was a game-changer because it was after I read the book that I decided to take a plunge to start Explorer Junior, my start-up.
Ng Rong Xin
Co-Founder/Explorer Junior

Archetypes: Who are You?

It’s amazing! She goes into the different archetypes that live in that deeper part of our mind, we can have one or a couple and there was one that I really resonated with the Artist/Creative archetype and it really brings light to who you are. Caroline goes through your life journey, your unique challenges and lessons, which were to overcome the fear of not being original and to not diminish or ignore my talent but instead develop my unique gift. Can I develop my talent and express myself, or will fear of failure or humiliation hold me back? That was a profound shift for me, I could really relate to that in sssoooo many ways. She goes into our shadow aspect of self, our behaviours and patterns... and this was fear of being unacknowledged for my artistic gifts or resentful if I chose not to develop my inner Artist/Creative.
Catherine Plano
Executive Coach

The 5 Second Rule: Transform Your Life, Work, and Confidence with Everyday Courage

The human world occurs in language so best get good at it!
Bill Liao
General Partner/RebelBio, SOSV.com
Women

Women Who Run with the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype

I’m reading more books at the same time. Guilty. Some of them are Tools of Titans - Tim Ferriss, My Berlin Child – Anne Wiazemsky, Women who Run with the Wolves - Clarissa Pinkola Estés. Tim is full of lessons to learn, remember & implement, I’ll see what the rest of the books will unfold.
Irina Botnari
Managing Partner & Co-Founder/Bucur's Shelter Hostel
Being

Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error

I have lots of books to recommend, but they are not related to my career path. The only one that is remotely related is Peter Thiel’s Zero to One. That said here are books I would recommend.
Fabrice Grinda
Serial Entrepreneur, Investor
She

She Means Business: Turn Your Ideas into Reality and Become a Wildly Successful Entrepreneur

I would say for sure, She Means Business. I found it very empowering and encouraging and it had a ton of fantastic ideas.
Stacey Minton
Owner/DestinationDreamz
Making

Making Ideas Happen: Overcoming the Obstacles Between Vision and Reality

I still use some of the methods this book teaches around productivity. It also teaches some very important lessons around how to break out of 'analysis paralysis' and actually execute on ideas.
Andreas Zhou
Co-Founder/Askable
The

The Art Of Racing In The Rain

Audrey Niffenegger's The Time Traveler's Wife and Garth Stein's The Art Of Racing In The Rain made me cry.
Gabriel Coarna
Founder/Readable
How

How to Enjoy Writing: A Book of Aid and Comfort

I found this quote in How to Enjoy Writing by Janet and Isaac Asimov and I realized I’m actually doing something akin those lines, even if I never defined it.
Bobby Voicu
Founder/The CEO Library
Brandjam:

Brandjam: Humanizing Brands Through Emotional Design

A powerful new concept from renowned designer and business guru Marc Gobe.I’ve always known that I’ll be working for designing or art-related job fields. And branding has been fascinating to me, now I look back and realise how much advertising and branding books I’ve been crazily reading during my teen days. It changed my creative thinking of how impactful branding is to a company, how emotion is tied to designing and business, to manipulating.
Kimberly Gloria Choi
Founder/Marchbaby Collective

Sleep: The Myth of 8 Hours, the Power of Naps, and the New Plan to Recharge Your Body and Mind

I’m not a morning person and all my life I’ve struggled with waking up early Monday to Friday, and sleeping until noon during the weekends and then waking up with my head in a whirl. The book that really helped me overcome this bad habit was Sleep by Nick Littlehales. It has two simple rules: wake up every day at the same hour and sleep in 90 minutes cycles. I’m still not a morning person and never will I be, but these simple habits helped me sleep less, but rest more.
Iulia Ghita
CEO/Bookster
The

The 5 AM Club: Own Your Morning. Elevate Your Life.

One of the best 3 books I've read in 2019
The CEO Library Community (through anonymous form)
Reader

Limitless Mind: Learn, Lead, and Live Without Barriers

Boaler is one of those rare and remarkable educators who not only know the secret of great teaching but also know how to give that gift to others.
Carol S. Dweck
Author
The

The Year Without Pants: WordPress.com and the Future of Work

The future of work is distributed. Automattic wrote the script. Time for rest of us to read it.
Om Malik
Founder/GigaOM
Flow:

Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience

While re-reading Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s wonderful book Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, I came across this passage on working crossword puzzles. I think he could just as well be talking about making blackout poems:

 

There is much to be said in favor of this popular pastime, which in its best form resembles the ancient riddle contests. It is inexpensive and portable, its challenges can be finely graduated so that both novices and experts can enjoy it, and its solution produces a sense of pleasing order that gives one a satisfying feeling of accomplishment. It provides opportunities to experience a mild state of flow to many people who are stranded in airport lounges, who travel on commuter trains, or who are simply whiling away Sunday mornings.

 

Austin Kleon
Author/Steal Like an Artist

The Power of No: Because One Little Word Can Bring Health, Abundance, and Happiness

Your life is defined by how good you get at saying no to the things you need to say no to.
Ryan Holiday
Media Strategist, Author, Founder/Brass Check
The

The Opposable Mind: How Successful Leaders Win Through Integrative Thinking

The Opposable Mind by Roger Martin had the biggest impact on my thinking and viewpoint towards decision making.

Among many other themes, the book stressed the idea that successful leaders (the top 10%) had one distinguishing characteristic: they took traditional two-option decisions (both with pros and cons) and found a winning alternative, we’ll call it C. The winning alternative (C) comes from creative thought and generally minimizes the cons while maximizing the pros of any option. This kind of thinking had a profound impact on my decision making outcomes.

Boban Dedovic
Serial Entrepreneur

Search Inside Yourself: The Unexpected Path to Achieving Success, Happiness (and World Peace)

This book is written by an early core member/lead engineer from Google. Chade does a fantastic job proving the reader reasons why soft skills like emotional intelligence, acceptance, and empathy matter in a work environment. The book is great for any business person who wants to establish a strong company culture that promotes longevity, employee empowerment and self confidence. Chade reveals how soft skills that typically get lost in the sea of performance metrics of work culture really do matter. This book provided me with confidence to lead with my emotional skills and I carry many of the mindfulness practice techniques he outlines to this day.
Henry Medine
Co-Founder/Space Jam Data

New to Big: How Companies Can Create Like Entrepreneurs, Invest Like VCs, and Install a Permanent Operating System for Growth

New to Big is a great how-to book for change leaders seeking to drive scalable, profitable growth in big companies, reminding us how to use deep questioning, masterful listening, and a learning culture to discover the ‘commercial truth’!
Kate Johnson
President/Microsoft U.S.
Code

Code Complete: A Practical Handbook of Software Construction

If my career path is hackers turned business people, I’d say:

Start with the basics and fundamentals:

  • SICP: Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs
  • Code Complete 2
Santiago Basulto
Co-Founder/rmotr.com
If

If You Want to Write

If You Want to Write, by Brenda Euland, is undoubtedly the book that changed my way of thinking and opened up my mind to a creative career. It validated being creative… and that that is a great thing.
Karen Pfaff Manganillo
Co-Founder/By Karen and Jess
Orwell's

Orwell’s Revenge: The 1984 Palimpsest

Many of us are familiar with George Orwell's book 1984. Its ideas of Big Brother, surveillance and doublespeak have become pervasive fears in our culture.

Orwell's Revenge is an alternate version of 1984. After seeing how history has actually played out, Huber's fiction describes how tools like the Internet benefit people and change society for the better.

Mark Zuckerberg
CEO/Facebook

Agile Selling: Get Up to Speed Quickly in Today’s Ever-Changing Sales World

Agile Selling shows you how to become an overnight expert, capable of bringing a continuous string of sales-inducing ideas to your clients. Get it to develop superpowers your competitors will envy.
Genevieve Bos
CEO/IdeaString
Advertising

Advertising Secrets of the Written Word

Here’s a few books I recommend (in this order) on learning how to write effective copy:
  • The Boron Letters by Gary Halbert;
  • Advertising Secrets of the Written Word by Joseph Sugerman;
  • Kickass Writing Secrets of a Marketing Rebel by John Carlton.
Nick Janetakis
Founder/NickJanetakis.com
Being

Being the Change: Live Well and Spark a Climate Revolution

A plethora of insights about nature and ourselves, revealed by one man's journey as he comes to terms with human exploitation of our planet.
James Hansen
Former Director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies

So Good They Can’t Ignore You

Entrepreneurial professionals must develop a competitive advantage by building valuable skills. This book offers advice based on research and reality--not meaningless platitudes-- on how to invest in yourself in order to stand out from the crowd. An important guide to starting up a remarkable career.
Reid Hoffman
CEO/Linkedin
The

The Beginning of Infinity: Explanations That Transform the World

Reading has given me more perspective on a number of topics — from science to religion, from poverty to prosperity, from health to energy to social justice, from political philosophy to foreign policy, and from history to futuristic fiction.

This challenge has been intellectually fulfilling, and I come away with a greater sense of hope and optimism that our society can make greater progress in all of these areas.

It's fitting to end the year with The Beginning of Infinity by David Deutsch, about how the way we explain things unlocks greater possibilities.

Mark Zuckerberg
CEO/Facebook
Streampunks:

Streampunks: YouTube and the Rebels Remaking Media

I tend to jump from book to book and may switch if I am interested in some new topic. This is a pleasure for me (which I also do benefit work wise from too). It’s quite a random list because I have eclectic interests (or just scatterbrained most likely) on tech business, AI, general global economy, geopolitics, rising Biotech economy & history. I'm basically 15% to 50% into all these books.
Marvin Liao
Partner/500 Startups
The

The Art of Possibility

...which is very hard to find on audio and is totally worth seeking out.
Seth Godin
Author & Entrepreneur
Lead

Lead Yourself First: Inspiring Leadership Through Solitude

Solitude is the birthplace of clarity and perspective. As a leader, I've experienced this truth and as a researcher I've seen the power that solitude brings to leaders. The tough part is that it takes real courage and discipline to make solitude a practice. In this important book, Ray Kethledge and Mike Erwin show us how it's done and the profound difference it can make in our organizations.
Brene Brown
Author & Researcher

Rising Strong: How the Ability to Reset Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead

I just started Rising Strong by Brene Brown. I'm turning 35 this year, and emotional intelligence isn't something that comes naturally to me. Brown's previous books have always pushed me into a space that's uncomfortable and rewarding. As a wife, parent, and entrepreneur, I'm expecting the book to help uncover some blind spots in each of those roles.
AnneMarie Schindler
Founder/Small Wins Consulting
Theory

Theory of Fun for Game Design

One of the most important books I’ve ever read is A Theory of Fun by Raph Koster. It creatively describes how “fun” is created and what it is. Which might sound trivial, but as a designer and developer of tools, this is by far the most important design principle I’ve discovered. Basically, why would you do anything if it wasn’t fun? Thankfully, this book describes how to make anything fun.
Jesper Bylund
Co-Founder/BlankPage
Atlas

Atlas Shrugged

CEO Rex Tillerson recommends the book because it shows the positive impact that business leaders can make on the world.
Rex Tillerson
CEO/ExxonMobil

Blood, Sweat, and Pixels: The Triumphant, Turbulent Stories Behind How Video Games Are Made

A journalistic masterpiece about the grueling production journeys of some of today's most successful video games. Having worked in video game development for about three years, I know that making video games is one of the hardest jobs in the world. Video games are fun when you play them, but creating AAA titles involves long hard hours, vast budgets, and herculean team efforts. Video game production brings together disparate creative disciplines like no other industry — Coding, AI, Graphics, Music, Sound, Storytelling & Narrative.
Anoop Anthony
CTO & Co-Founder/Sapaad
Programming

Programming Pearls

I very much enjoyed reading Programming Pearls by John Bentley. Most of the software we write is trying to solve fairly large and ill-defined problems in a way that minimises development cost, but Programming Pearls presents a lot of small, well-defined problems, and talks through their solutions in ways that minimise machine resource usage. There are lots of good a-ha moments when reading it, and working through ways to think about the problems that knock asymptotic orders off the computational complexity.
James Stanley
Founder/SMS Privacy
Mindshift:

Mindshift: Break Through Obstacles to Learning and Discover Your Hidden Potential

Significant change is possible. With those four hopeful words, Barbara Oakley opens the door to an entirely new way of seeing and reaching our potential. Don't hesitate, it matters.
Seth Godin
Entrepreneur, author, marketer
The

The Culture Code: The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups

So here are my three must read books. I've been reading a lot of great books like: Outsmart Your Instincts, The Culture Code, and Antonio Damasio’s The Strange Order, and sometimes when you read a lot of nonfiction it’s very enriching, sometimes you need a novel. I really believe you should take a minute and read something beautiful. Listen, listen to Lolita by Nabokov. But also listen to Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy and listen to Richard Poe narrate that. Those are two of the greatest feats of the english language that I can think of. Then there’s Fortress of Solitude, an amazing book, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, these are great novels. Cold Mountain is a beautiful novel, Snow Falling On Cedars, I mean they’ve been around for a while. But goddamnit, get those under your belt. Those are the novels I think you should read. You know Love In The Time Of Cholera it just makes you ache. Kind of like a Hemingway thing, where Hemingway “ahh!”, it’s the same thing, you know. So I don’t know, I’m a fan of all those books. Those are my 3 slash 20 books.
Bryan Callen
Co-Host/The Fighter and the Kid
The

The Inner Studio: A Designers Guide to the Resources of the Psyche

Starting to read 'The Inner Studio', a must for creatives at any level.
Joe Gebbia
Co-founder/Airbnb
Steve

Steve Jobs

It’s unusual for modern biographies to be this good. It’s especially unusually for the subject of the biography to approach the biographer in the way that Steve Jobs did (thinking that he was the intellectual heir of Benjamin Franklin and Albert Einstein). But despite those two things, this bio is and will likely forever be a classic. It shows Jobs at his best–determined, creative, prophetic–and at his worst–petty, selfish, tyrannical and vicious. You can learn just as much about what kind of leader you probably don’t want to be from this book as you can from anything else. That’s what is so strange about Jobs and this biography. You read it and you’re blown away and impressed but I think very few of us think: yeah, I want to be that guy. I want to treat my kids that way, I want to be obsessed with trivial design things that way, I want to hate that way, and so on. You admire him but you also see him as a tragic figure. That’s how you know that Isaacson did an amazing job with this book. TC mark
Ryan Holiday
Founder/Brass Check
China's

China’s Mobile Economy: Opportunities in the Largest and Fastest Information Consumption Boom

Every company – and every country – must succeed at digitalization to compete successfully in the 21st century. Winston Ma delivers a rare book that is both an outstanding survey of a fast-changing and vitally important economic landscape and a delightful ‘field guide’ that will enrich your understanding of what’s really happening on the ground.
Dominic Barton
CEO/McKinsey
Excellent

Excellent Sheep: The Miseducation of the American Elite and the Way to a Meaningful Life

There’s a guy who I just had on my podcast, Mark Deresiewicz, who wrote a book called Excellent Sheep. He was a Yale professor, and took a look at the essentially what was wrong with higher education, at these elite institutions, primarily places like Amherst and Yale and Harvard. And one of the things he said is that we’re breeding excellent sheep. You’ve got 31 flavors of vanilla. These kids are so obsessed with essentially achievement for its own sake, not fulfillment or meaning, but rather achievement for its own sake, so they can get into a great – become rich doctors or lawyers, or consultants or investment bankers. And even that becomes an extension of what they’ve been doing their whole life, which was hey, I want to please my boss, jump through these loopholes and be in an elite person. And it’s an interesting book. But one of the things he talked about was that these elite institutions are – there’s a feeder system of about 100 high schools in this country, about 100 high schools, and that’s it, that provide students to these universities. So something like QuestBridge is desperately needed, so that we can create an equality of opportunity. That’s always what it is, right?
Bryan Callen
Co-Host/The Fighter and the Kid
Mind

Mind Maps for Business

Business: Mind Maps for Business, Tony Buzan. It’s an old one at this stage but, being a more creative ideas and images person who looks at trends, psychology, human behaviour, and who gets bored by numbers quickly (even though part of my career was in the equities market), this was and is a great way to plan things easily for business.
David Sisk
Founder/David Sisk Fitness
Die

Die Empty: Unleash Your Best Work Every Day

My book about unleashing your best work every day.
Todd Henry
Founder of Accidental Creative

King, Warrior, Magician, Lover: Rediscovering the Archetypes of the Mature Masculine

Additionally, there have been a few books that have been instrumental in helping me figure out my role, purpose, and mission in life. Such books include Iron John: A Book About Men by Robert Bly; King, Warrior, Magician, Lover: Rediscovering the Archetypes of the Mature Masculine by Doug Gillette and Robert L. Moore; and Way Of The Superior Man by David Deida.
Adam Haritan
Founder/Learn Your Land
Outsmart

Outsmart Your Instincts: How the Behavioral Innovation Approach Drives Your Company Forward

So here are my three must read books. I've been reading a lot of great books like: Outsmart Your Instincts, The Culture Code, and Antonio Damasio’s The Strange Order, and sometimes when you read a lot of nonfiction it’s very enriching, sometimes you need a novel. I really believe you should take a minute and read something beautiful. Listen, listen to Lolita by Nabokov. But also listen to Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy and listen to Richard Poe narrate that. Those are two of the greatest feats of the english language that I can think of. Then there’s Fortress of Solitude, an amazing book, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, these are great novels. Cold Mountain is a beautiful novel, Snow Falling On Cedars, I mean they’ve been around for a while. But goddamnit, get those under your belt. Those are the novels I think you should read. You know Love In The Time Of Cholera it just makes you ache. Kind of like a Hemingway thing, where Hemingway “ahh!”, it’s the same thing, you know. So I don’t know, I’m a fan of all those books. Those are my 3 slash 20 books.
Bryan Callen
Co-Host/The Fighter and the Kid
New

New Seeds of Contemplation

My favorite non-business book is New Seeds of Contemplation by Thomas Merton. I re-read it yearly just to savor it.

Todd Henry
Founder of Accidental Creative
Restaurant

Restaurant Man

“Restaurant Man” by Joe Bastianich has a lot of street wisdom. A line in the book stuck — “it’s better to stay lukewarm for twenty years than hot for six months“. It sounded counter-intuitive but for the first restaurant he wanted to build, Bastianich decided early on he wasn’t going to have a trendy restaurant fizzle out in a few months. Being consistently good made far better business sense.
Kai Yeo
Partner & Creative Director of BUREAU, Co-founder and Design Lead of Hutan Tropical
Letters

Letters to a Young Poet

Letters to a Young Poet - it is everything. [...] This line in Letters to a Young Poet “If your daily life seems poor, do not blame it; blame yourself, tell yourself that you are not poet enough to call forth its riches is an important one to me. I constantly go back to this to evaluate if I have been living a full life.
Estella Ng
Founder/Ripple Root
Where

Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation

Author Steven Johnson argues in his 2010 book that innovation comes from the collision of ideas. This can happen when an individual working in isolation builds off years of existing knowledge to fuel his insights, or it can happen much more quickly when several creative types bounce ideas off each other in a community like Silicon Valley.

This theory is one of the reasons why Hsieh decided to invest $350 million of his own money in 2010 into the Downtown Project, which is building a community of entrepreneurs in Zappos' neighborhood.

Tony Hsieh
CEO/Zappos
Leadership

Leadership and Self-Deception: Getting Out of the Box

Imagine working in an organization where the aim of your colleagues is to help you achieve your results. I could not believe it possible. After reading this book I just had to bring Arbinger to the UK to teach our people. What an experience! We are all better people for it. This book touches the very foundation of culture, teamwork, and performance.
Mark Ashworth
CEO/Butcher’s Pet Care
What

What You See Is What You Get: My Autobiography

I'm currently reading a biography of Alan Sugar, a U.K. entrepreneur who created Amstrad from scratch. I'm trying to get my creative juices flowing on launching a new product and this very much sets that tone.

Scott Johnson
Freelance Software Engineer

What They Don’t Teach You at Harvard Business School: Notes from a Street-smart Executive

Question: What books had the biggest impact on you? Perhaps changed the way you see things or dramatically changed your career path.

Answer:

  • “Zen and the Art of Making a Living: A Practical Guide to Creative Career Design” By Laurence Boldt
  • “Horse Sense: The Key to Success Is Finding a Horse to Ride” by Al Ries and Jack Trout
  • “What They Don't Teach You at Harvard Business School” by Mark McCormack
Christopher Lochhead
Host/Legends and Losers Podcast

Introducing Culture Identities: Design for Museums, Theaters and Cultural Institutions

I find Museums and institutions in Singapore are generally very safe in design. This book opens up a whole new world of how western graphic designers are experimenting with new systems of design and the works created are very fascinating. You also get to hear from both the designers and clients view of the design. It inspires me to keep pushing the current standards of Singapore further as the shape of design grows in Singapore. This book is very inspiring for young designers as it will push them to think out of the box. It will let them understand how the designers and clients think about design (like why it is designed in a certain way) and they can learn tips and lessons from them.
Ella Zheng
Partner & Art Director/The Workbench
The

The Night Circus

Stunning and fantastical — a great, creative escape from business reading.

Kristen Hamilton
Co-founder/Koru

We-Commerce: How to Create, Collaborate, and Succeed in the Sharing Economy

I will only recommend you read these books if you are into collaborative & shared resources startups. They talk about the rise of crowd based capitalism - a new way of organizing economic activity that may supplant the traditional corporate-centered model. They allow you to make quick comparisons & brainstorm ideas with the existing peer-to-peer platforms such as Airbnb, Uber, TaskRabbit, China's Didi Kuaidi, and India's Ola.
Erik Cheong
Co-Founder/Park N Parcel
The

The Senility of Vladimir P.: A Novel

The Senility of Vladimir P.: A Novel by Michael Honig [is] really funny. Takes your mind off the business world, it puts you in a different reality, sort of like Soviet Russia, Communist Russia. I’m from there, so makes sense.
Dmitry Dragilev
Founder/JustReachOut & PR That Converts
The

The New Geography of Jobs

As 2018 draws to a close, I’m continuing a favorite tradition of mine and sharing my year-end lists. It gives me a moment to pause and reflect on the year through the books I found most thought-provoking, inspiring, or just plain loved. It also gives me a chance to highlight talented authors – some who are household names and others who you may not have heard of before. Here’s my best of 2018 list.
Barack Obama
Former USA President
The

The Little Black Book of Design

A short, simple book with pertinent and funny quotes about design and engineering.
Benjamin Humphrey
CEO & Co-Founder/DoveTail

Faraday, Maxwell, and the Electromagnetic Field: How Two Men Revolutionized Physics

It's a combination of scientific biography and explanation of the physics, particularly relating to electricity. It's just the best book of its kind I have ever read, and I just hugely enjoyed it. Couldn't put it down. It was a fabulous human achievement. And neither of the writers is a physicist.
Charlie Munger
Vice Chairman/Berkshire Hathaway

Outer Order, Inner Calm: Declutter and Organize to Make More Room for Happiness

Gretchen Rubin’s superpower is curiosity… Weaving together research, unforgettable examples, and her brilliant insight, Better Than Before is a force for real change.”
Brene Brown
Author & Researcher

The Copywriter’s Handbook: A Step-By-Step Guide To Writing Copy That Sells

I don't know a single copywriter whose work would not be improved by reading this book.
David Ogilvy
Founder/Ogilvy & Mather
Bringing

Bringing Up Bebe: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting

Well I just had a baby a few months ago, so my world is being dominated with all things baby. I’m currently reading ‘Bringing Up Bebe’ by Pamela Druckerman. An American journalist who raised her family in Paris and dives into the psychology of French parenting. It’s fascinating and only reinforces how neurotic American parents can be. Great to hear all sides and theories on raising children so you take bits from here and there to create your own style, just right for you and your family.
Jessica Lauria
Co-Founder/By Karen and Jess

Bad Science: Quacks, Hacks, and Big Pharma Flacks

I agree wholeheartedly with a lot of the co-opted science, which people can read a book called Bad Science, which is by a doctor named Ben Goldacre. It’s great.
Tim Ferriss
Author & Entrepreneur

Positive Discipline: The Classic Guide to Helping Children Develop Self-Discipline, Responsibility, Cooperation, and Problem-Solving Skills

For new parents, I love the Positive Discipline series by Jane Nelsen (empowering for kids and parents) and the Touchpoints series by T. Berry Brazelton (you really can’t guide your children if you don’t understand what’s happening developmentally)
Brene Brown
Author & Researcher

Technology vs. Humanity: The coming clash between man and machine (FutureScapes)

Gerd Leonhard is most definitely a member of Team Human. Here s his convincing and heartfelt call for the reinstatement of people and purpose into the technology program.
Douglas Rushkoff
Author, Professor of Media Theory and Digital Economics
The

The Ultimate Sales Letter: Attract New Customers. Boost your Sales.

I'd just go with something that's a bit of a more light read, like Dan Kennedy's Ultimate Sales Letter, or Joe Sugarman's The Adweek Copywriting Handbook. Either one of these will give you a solid building block that you can then expand upon with the more advanced courses, like Breakthrough Advertising, or Clayton Makepeace's Ultimate Desktop Copycoach.
Cristian-Dragos Baciu
Direct Response Copywriter
Getting

Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity

Getting Things Done by David Allen. He recently spoke at our Zappos all-hands meeting and gave me a signed copy of his book.
Tony Hsieh
CEO/Zappos

Crushing It!: How Great Entrepreneurs Build Their Business and Influence-and How You Can, Too

so much congrats to my friend @garyvee on the release of his new book. out now! do yourself a favor a pick up a copy
Casey Neistat
Founder/368 Creative Space

Who Is Michael Ovitz?

Learn how to build an empire and transform an industry from the Jedi master of modern Hollywood.
Marc Andreessen
Co-founder/Andreessen Horowitz
Because

Because Internet: Understanding the New Rules of Language

Because Internet is a joyful exploration of the newest creative upswell of English—if you want to understand why you love emoji, share memes, and don't make a sound when lol-ing, you need this book!
Erin McKean
Founder/Wordnik.com
Art,

Art, Inc.: The Essential Guide for Building Your Career as an Artist

Lisa Congdon has managed to debunk the outdated and toxic notion that making money and making art are diametrically opposed outcomes, attaining one of which invariably compromises the other-a primary source of crippling self-consciousness. She equips emerging artists with the necessary tools-from the psychological to the practical-for defining success by their own standards, then attaining it on their own terms.
Maria Popova
Founder/BrainPickings.org
Slim

Slim Aarons: Once Upon A Time

  • Tibor, Tibor Kalman
  • Chip Kidd Book One, Chip Kidd
  • Once Upon a Time, Slim Aarons
  • Our True Intent is for Your Delight, Martin Parr
These are a selection of my favorite creative minds who visually inspire me like no one else.
Karen Pfaff Manganillo
Co-Founder/By Karen and Jess
Lioness

Lioness Arising: Wake Up and Change Your World

Lioness Arising by Lisa Bevere - inspired me to awaken the courage of women to live out their potential and their dreams!
Lilian Ong
Founder/Class Living
No

No One Here Gets Out Alive

No One Here Gets Out Alive (biography of Jim Morrison) because I have been fascinated by Jim Morrison and The Doors since I was a young kid. Jim’s level of and commitment to artistry is so rare and I wanted to understand what made him tick. This book gives a lot of insight into not only his creative genius but the events in his life that shaped him.
James Murphy
Marketing Manager/Live Nation
Skin

Skin in the Game: Hidden Asymmetries in Daily Life

Changed my view of how the world works.
Daniel Kahneman
2002 Nobel Laureate/Economy
My

My Years with General Motors

If you have to read just one business book to understand the global corporate world we live in today, I think this is it. And I think Bill Gates said this first. Alfred P. Sloan was the CEO of General Motors in its early beginnings, and he went through all the stages of the growth, going bust, growth and then consolidation of the beginning (when some companies were creating mechanical horses - no kidding) to the '60s, when he retired.
Bogdan Iordache
Co-Founder/How to Web

Thirst: A Story of Redemption, Compassion, and a Mission to Bring Clean Water to the World

Thirst is a story about all of us. In sharing his own remarkable journey, Scott shows us how to find the extraordinary in the ordinary, how to find hope in despair, and how simple acts of generosity can transform everything from what we believe about ourselves to how we connect with each other. In the end, Thirst is about what matters most. Love.
Brene Brown
Author & Researcher
The

The Messy Middle

This new one by Scott Belsky is one of my favorite business books of the past 10 years. Honest, humble, vulnerable, and precise. If you do complex work (don’t we all?) pre-order it. Now. Getting ready to interview him for the show.
Todd Henry
Founder of Accidental Creative
Leaves

Leaves of Grass

I love the poets. Poetry is kind of like programming–it’s densifying very abstract concepts into a medium that allows interpretation. People can make the work their own and have better, more creative answers in life. Really anything that helps us reflect a bit more interests me.

Whitman’s also an interesting character, a total entrepreneur. He self-published 35,000 copies of Leaves of Grass. He was publishing it during the time of the Civil War and it’s an edgy, questioning book. It questions racial equality, sexual equality, gender equality, all in one work. And he kept changing it until he died–adding to it, editing it, and republishing it. Most people read the last version but I think the first version is actually the best.

The efficiency of every line in that poem, much like great programming, is stunning.

Jack Dorsey
CEO/Twitter

Our True Intent Is All For Your Delight: The John Hinde Butlin’s Photographs

  • Tibor, Tibor Kalman
  • Chip Kidd Book One, Chip Kidd
  • Once Upon a Time, Slim Aarons
  • Our True Intent is for Your Delight, Martin Parr
These are a selection of my favorite creative minds who visually inspire me like no one else.
Karen Pfaff Manganillo
Co-Founder/By Karen and Jess
American

American Kingpin: The Epic Hunt for the Criminal Mastermind Behind the Silk Road

It is unbelievably riveting. It does that thing where at the end of every chapter it leaves you just enough we're like aah! and you have to read the first paragraph of the next chapter and then before you know it is a downward spiral and you end up finishing this book. Took me four days to get through this.
Casey Neistat
Founder/368 Creative Space
Rich

Rich Dad Poor Dad

The funny thing is that the books that had the biggest impact (like my Verne’s favourite) are not necessarily the best books, objectively speaking. They were good enough to present a new worldview that I was not aware of. Timing probably was more important than their intrinsic literary qualities. They “managed” to fall into my lap at the right time. Such a book was Robert Kiyosaki’s “Rich Dad Poor Dad”, a mediocre book by my standards of today, but deeply inspirational by the ones from yesterday.

Vladimir Oane
Founder/UberVU
Lost

Lost Ocean: An Inky Adventure and Coloring Book for Adults

Today is World Book Day, a wonderful opportunity to address this #ChallengeRichard sent in by Mike Gonzalez of New Jersey: Make a list of your top 65 books to read in a lifetime.
Richard Branson
Founder/Virgin Group
I'm

I’m Feeling Lucky: The Confessions of Google Employee Number 59

I can't get this one out of my head. It's not just an inside look at Google, it's an astonishingly honest take on what it is to be a cog, a sheep, a follower in a company filled with leaders. I wanted to shake Doug and push him to go fail, to do something, loudly.
Seth Godin
Author & Entrepreneur
Universal

Universal Man: The Seven Lives of John Maynard Keynes

Sorrell, CEO of the communications house/ad agency, WPP, has a rather eclectic mix this summer:

 

  • Powerhouse: The Untold Story of Hollywood’s Creative Artists Agency—James Andrew Miller
  • Universal Man: The Seven Lives of John Maynard Keynes—Richard Davenport-Hines
  • Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future—Ashlee Vance

 

Sir Martin Sorrell
CEO/WPP
Tested

Tested Advertising Methods

Like Charlie Munger once said: “I’ve long believed that a certain system - which almost any intelligent person can learn - works way better than the systems most people use [to understand the world]. What you need is a latticework of mental models in your head. And, with that system, things gradually fit together in a way that enhances cognition. Just as multiple factors shape every system, multiple mental models from a variety of disciplines are necessary to understand that system. You can read this book to start building a latticework of mental models in your head.
Ola Olusoga
Co-founder/Populum
The

The Ride of a Lifetime: Lessons Learned from 15 Years as CEO of the Walt Disney Company

I expected a book written by the person who has led Disney for decades to be defined by both gripping storytelling and deep leadership wisdom. Bob Iger delivers, and then some! The Ride of a Lifetime is leadership gold—you won’t forget the stories or the lessons.
Brene Brown
Author

Smart and Gets Things Done: Joel Spolsky’s Concise Guide to Finding the Best Technical Talent

The book spans a broad field and it's obvious that many things, like the location of your company, are beyond the control of most managers and technical interviewers. Joel recognizes this and gives solid and honest no-nonsense advices. Like all of Joel's writings this book is humorous, interesting and a true joy to read. I tend to disagree quite often with Joel's technical opinions, but on the softer aspects of the business, he's brilliant. If you're involved in the hiring process, this book will give you a lot of ideas and advices.
Adam Tornhill
Founder/Empear
Childhood's

Childhood’s End

There are many science fiction books I've read so far, but one that always comes to my mind when people ask me which one I liked the most is the Childhood's End by Arthur C. Clarke. The ideas presented and the story in the book are so extreme that I will always remember them. To me, Arthur C. Clarke is the best science fiction author of all times.
Primoz Cigler
Co-Founder/ProteusThemes
No

No Hard Feelings: The Secret Power of Embracing Emotions at Work

If you’ve ever thought it’s best to check your emotions at the office door, this book will change your mind. It’s full of lively illustrations and practical examples to show how you can harness emotions to become more creative, collaborative, and productive.
Adam Grant
Author
Leap

Leap First: Creating Work That Matters

Inspired by [Zig and Pema], and some work I did, I did this book for charity; it's a short audiobook and you can get it at Sounds True.
Seth Godin
Author & Entrepreneur
CA$HVERTISING:

CA$HVERTISING: How to Use More than 100 Secrets of Ad-Agency Psychology to Make Big Money Selling Anything to Anyone

Cashvertising is a virtual blueprint for persuading the consumer mind. It's fast, fun, and a must-read for businesses in all industries.
Roger Dawson
Author/Secrets of Power Negotiating

The Airbnb Story: How Three Ordinary Guys Disrupted an Industry, Made Billions . . . and Created Plenty of Controversy

Remarkable behind-the-scenes story of the creation and growth of Airbnb, an online lodging platform that has become the largest provider of accommodations in the world. Talk about how three guys come out with a simple idea to disrupt a traditional industry with their creative and unique strategy.
Erik Cheong
Co-Founder/Park N Parcel
The

The Chronicles of Narnia

During the early days of my life, my mother read to me the classics, like “The Hobbit”, “The Lord of the Rings”, Enid Blyton, “The Land of the Faraway Tree”, “The Narnia Chronicles”, “The Neverending Story” . All these books were really important to me as a kid and they became just as important to me as an adult because I read through most of them again, for example (obviously) The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit and also The Narnia Chronicles. Went through all of those again and got something powerful out of them because you don’t realise as a child what kind of maybe more spiritual or religious or conceptual or psychological or philosophical messages are hidden within the stories, that you just can’t see them as a child, so it was really great to see them as an adult and take away that extra layer from those kind of books.
Yaro Starak
Founder/Entrepreneurs-Journey.com
Coders:

Coders: The Making of a New Tribe and the Remaking of the World

If you have to work with programmers, it’s essential to understand that programming has a culture. This book will help you understand what programmers do, how they do it, and why. It decodes the culture of code.
Kevin Kelly
Author, Founding executive editor/Wired
Ego

Ego Is the Enemy

I don't have many rules in my life, but one I never break is: if Ryan Holiday writes a book, I read it as soon as I can get my hands on it.
Brian Koppelman
Screenwriter, Director

Comic-Con and the Business of Pop Culture: What the World’s Wildest Trade Show Can Tell Us About the Future of Entertainment

I’m currently reading Comic-Con and the Business of Pop Culture: What the World's Wildest Trade Show Can Tell Us About the Future of Entertainment by Robert Salkowitz. I want to learn more about how I can create a diehard fan base that loves and is passionate about our brands and will support us all the way. During our latest IT’S THE SHIP 2017 festival, we had 8 guests that got our IT’S THE SHIP tattoos on their bodies – this shows that this festival has and will continue to impact people’s lives. I want to try and implement similar things like this for all of our events.
Iqbal Ameer
Co-Founder/Livescape Group

Badass Your Brand: The Impatient Entrepreneur’s Guide to Turning Expertise into Profit

Finally, a book that tells you how to put up a velvet rope in front of your business and get more of the clients you want and deserve! Whether you're building a services business or a personal brand, this book provides a roadmap to making bank, in a smart and authentic way. Pia is a total pro (and a laugh riot). I can't wait to recommend this book to every entrepreneur who feels stuck. Pia got unstuck, and so can you.
Julia Pimsleur
Founder/Little Pim

Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America

Another form of non-fiction heartbreak. This is a timeless look at how most of America survives. You cannot be an empathetic business leader without this lens.
Angela Pham
Content Strategist/Facebook

Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead

I suggest these [books] because they really open up 'how' you think about life and in turn work, success/challenges/setbacks, and in general, yourself. I believe that the more you can understand yourself and broaden your approach to work, the easier it will be to find work that energizes you. Finally, I'm a team player at heart, and love working with others to achieve a huge goal so a portion of these deal with team composition and performance too.
AnneMarie Schindler
Founder/Small Wins Consulting
Diet

Diet for a Hot Planet: The Climate Crisis at the End of Your Fork and What You Can Do about It

These books propelled me to want to work on a social enterprise and underscored my passion for making a difference in food policy. I believe we can build an innovative company that has deep social impact. That we can use the same mindsets that single bottom-line companies have to build successful triple and quadruple bottom-line companies. It is the holy grail -- for your work to present the challenge to be creative, innovative, quick on a daily basis but also at the end of the day, the knowledge that you are making a real difference in people's lives. I feel extremely fortunate to be in this position right now.
Leah Lizarondo
Co-Founder/412 Food Rescue
A

A Farewell to Arms

For non-business, I’ve loved so many different books that it’s hard to pick a favorite. Recently, I’ve enjoyed The Art of Fielding and Americanah, and I love classics like A Farewell to Arms and Lord of the Flies.
Julia Enthoven
Co-Founder/Kapwing

#AskGaryVee: One Entrepreneur’s Take on Leadership, Social Media, and Self-Awareness

If you want to do social media start with “Jab Jab Jab Right Hook” and move forward to “Ask Gary Vee” by Gary Vaynerchuk. Even if Gary has admitted that he has a ghostwriter writing his book, you can see Gary’s personality and also his experience in the social media field in this book. These are some great books to start with in social media.

Robert Katai
Founder/Instagramology
The

The Leadership Mystique: Leading behavior in the human enterprise

“The Leadership Mystique” by Manfred De Vries to understand more about leadership and leaders the challenges they face their inner theater & the positive mentoring of an effective leader.
Nadia Al Sheikh
Founder/Deal’n
Crushing

Crushing It in Apartments and Commercial Real Estate: How a Small Investor Can Make It Big – Brian Murray

Need a side hustle to make ends meet? Been thinking about owning, renting or moving some real estate to see if you can turn a profit? If so, then this book is what you need to read to get practical advice, real-life examples of successes and failures and simple, down to earth business strategies.

Bruce Nile

Ghost in the Wires: My Adventures as the World’s Most Wanted Hacker

I'm going to start reading Ghost in the Wires by Kevin Mitnick this week. I used to go to 2600 meetings back when he was arrested for wire fraud and other hacking related shenanigans in the mid 1990s. I'm fascinated by things like social engineering and language in general. In the end, I just want to be entertained by his stories. For someone who is into computer programming, a book like this is pretty close to porn!
Nick Janetakis
Founder/NickJanetakis.com
The Upside of Your Dark Side: Why Being Your Whole Self--Not Just Your Good Self--Drives Success and Fulfillment

The Upside of Your Dark Side: Why Being Your Whole Self–Not Just Your “Good” Self–Drives Success and Fulfillment

When asked what books he would recommend to youngsters interested in his professional path, Stephen mentioned The Upside of Your Dark Side.
Stephen Lew
Director/The School of Positive Psychology
Crowdsourcing:

Crowdsourcing: Why the Power of the Crowd Is Driving the Future of Business

I thought I might put my money where my mouth is. I keep whining that young people are not in touch with some essential books on advertising that have helped me shape the way I practise my trade today, but I never did anything about it. So I am starting here the ultimate books to read list. I will add to it as I get suggestions and as more good books get written.
Bogdana Butnar
Head of Strategy/Poke
Toyota

Toyota Production System: Beyond Large-Scale Production

Perhaps the only business book I’ve read and truly loved is Taiichi Ohno’s “The Toyota Production System”. It’s referenced a lot as the origin of the “Lean” movement, but it’s a much more enjoyable read than that makes it sound. Rather than management guru speak, it’s a wonderful book about the hard-won lessons Taiichi Ohno learned on the factory floor at Toyota. It won’t teach you what kanban means in modern management, but learning about Ohno’s desire to build an information nervous system for Toyota’s plants is so much more interesting!
Grey Baker
Co-Founder/Dependabot
The

The Formula: The Universal Laws of Success

This is not just an important but an imperative project: to approach the problem of randomness and success using the state of the art scientific arsenal we have. Barabasi is the person.
Nassim Nicholas Taleb
Author
Prince

Prince and the Purple Rain Era Studio Sessions: 1983 and 1984

A day-by-day play-by-play of Prince in the recording studio at the height of his powers. I did a lot of skimming and skipping around, but really enjoyed it.
Austin Kleon
Artist & Bestselling Author
Off

Off the Clock: Feel Less Busy While Getting More Done

For every minute you spend inside this book, you'll get back ten. Off the Clock will show you how to spend your hours more meaningfully, reclaim vast amounts of wasted time, and live a better life. Picking up this book will be one of the most valuable investments you make in yourself.
Chris Bailey
Creator/A Life of Productivity

But What If We’re Wrong?: Thinking About the Present As If It Were the Past

To balance out that depressing book, I highly recommend David Brooks’ The Road To Character, Sebastian Junger’s Tribe and Chuck Klosterman’s What If We’re Wrong.
Ryan Holiday
Founder/Brass Check
Deep

Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World

I've been a fan of Cal for a long time. His book So Good They Can't Ignore You is one of my favorites, but it's his new book that's probably had the biggest and most immediate impact on me. For those of you who enjoyed Tyler Cowen's Average is Over, you already know how important the ability to focus, be creative, and think at a high level is going to be in the future. This is a book that explains how to cultivate and protect that skill--the ability to do deep work. One thing I've already started doing since reading this book is recording the number of hours of deep work I do each day in my morning journal. It's a way of keeping a running tally and monitoring if I begin to get distracted or slow my pace. Anyway, great book!
Ryan Holiday
Founder/Brass Check
Simply

Simply Brilliant: How Great Organizations Do Ordinary Things in Extraordinary Ways

Bill Taylor will help you manage your organization's future.
Seth Godin
Author & Entrepreneur

Tibor Kalman, Perverse Optimist

  • Tibor, Tibor Kalman
  • Chip Kidd Book One, Chip Kidd
  • Once Upon a Time, Slim Aarons
  • Our True Intent is for Your Delight, Martin Parr
These are a selection of my favorite creative minds who visually inspire me like no one else.
Karen Pfaff Manganillo
Co-Founder/By Karen and Jess

Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future

Sorrell, CEO of the communications house/ad agency, WPP, has a rather eclectic mix this summer:

 

  • Powerhouse: The Untold Story of Hollywood’s Creative Artists Agency—James Andrew Miller
  • Universal Man: The Seven Lives of John Maynard Keynes—Richard Davenport-Hines
  • Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future—Ashlee Vance

 

Sir Martin Sorrell
CEO/WPP
Build

Build Your Dream Network: Forging Powerful Relationships in a Hyper-Connected World

This is the most practical book I’ve read about creating meaningful connections in our hyperconnected, digital world. It’s filled with proven strategies, real-world examples, and actionable advice. It breaks down the widespread misconceptions about networking. Particularly, as a young professional, this book fundamentally changed and significantly improved how I approach ‘networking’ or as Kelly Hoey puts it: “every human interaction.
Miracle Olatunji
Founder & CEO/OpportuniMe

In the Company of Women: Inspiration and Advice from over 100 Makers, Artists, and Entrepreneurs

When I founded Humanisation, a mentor recommended that I pick up Grace Bonney's In the Company of Women. It's one of the most beautiful, inspiring books you'll read. It's a big, delicious coffee table beauty with business tales from 100 powerful women. I bring it out whenever I look for inspiration.
Cat Williams-Treloar
Founder/Humanisation

Streaming, Sharing, Stealing: Big Data and the Future of Entertainment

I tend to jump from book to book and may switch if I am interested in some new topic. This is a pleasure for me (which I also do benefit work wise from too). It’s quite a random list because I have eclectic interests (or just scatterbrained most likely) on tech business, AI, general global economy, geopolitics, rising Biotech economy & history. I'm basically 15% to 50% into all these books.
Marvin Liao
Partner/500 Startups
The

The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable

[From the book The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon]

“The scholar argues that people are wired to see patterns in chaos while remaining blind to unpredictable events, with massive consequences. Experimentation and empiricism trumps the easy and obvious narrative,” Stone writes.

Jeff Bezos
CEO/Amazon
Globalization

Globalization and Its Discontents Revisited: Anti-Globalization in the Era of Trump

These books propelled me to want to work on a social enterprise and underscored my passion for making a difference in food policy. I believe we can build an innovative company that has deep social impact. That we can use the same mindsets that single bottom-line companies have to build successful triple and quadruple bottom-line companies. It is the holy grail -- for your work to present the challenge to be creative, innovative, quick on a daily basis but also at the end of the day, the knowledge that you are making a real difference in people's lives. I feel extremely fortunate to be in this position right now.
Leah Lizarondo
Co-Founder/412 Food Rescue

7 Rules for Positive, Productive Change: Micro Shifts, Macro Results

In this book, Esther has beautifully captured the essence of successful lasting change. The seven rules provide a framework for engaging with people and systems in a way that honors everyone and creates the kind of safety necessary for change to take root, all without glossing over the hard parts. A must-read for anyone seeking to have a lasting impact or bring about change.
Elisabeth Hendrickson
Vice President, Research and Development/Pivotal
Beyond

Beyond Identity

The first time was when I was spending some time at a commune in Switzerland. I was reading this book called Beyond Identity, which basically explained in a way that made sense to me the different challenges and feelings I had been struggling through. I felt like a veil was lifted off my eyes and I could see clearly, and I actually break down in tears. I look back on that day as a pivotal day in my life.
John Doherty
Founder/Credo
Subscription

Subscription Marketing: Strategies for Nurturing Customers in a World of Churn

I am also reading Subscription Marketing: Strategies for Nurturing Customers in a World of Churn by Anne Janzer. With the success of many SaaS based companies I think it’s very important for marketers of all industries to understand the strategies behind not only acquiring new subscription customers but keeping your currently subscribed customers happy. In reading this book, I hope to gain insight on how the subscription based model can segue into markets which may not currently consider it an option.
James Murphy
Marketing Manager/Live Nation
Masters

Masters of Doom: How Two Guys Created an Empire and Transformed Pop Culture

Masters of Doom: How Two Guys Created an Empire and Transformed Pop Culture - by David Kushner: - This book simple proves that both John Carmack and John Romero were geniuses who influenced the whole technology industry. It also proves that anything is possible if you are smart and hardworking.
Michal Ptacek
Founder/Officelovin’
How

How to Start and Run a Commercial Art Gallery

Ed runs one of the most straightforward sites dedicated to demystifying and discussing various aspects of the art world. Now, in How to Start and Run a Commercial Art Gallery, he's packed–in understandable terms–information I wish I had known before starting my gallery.
Zach Feuer
Owner/Zach Feuer Gallery

The Recording Engineer’s Handbook

The Recording Engineer Handbook and The Mixing Engineer Handbook. These are the books that helped me record music at the level I hoped for. For years I lived frustrated that Romania doesn’t have even one sound engineer that could rise to the level of Western ones and this frustration pushed me to learn recording techniques which are, in my opinion, the most important steps in producing an album. Even more important than mixing or mastering.
Andi Dumitrescu
Musician, Film Maker
Eating

Eating the Big Fish: How Challenger Brands Can Compete Against Brand Leaders

One must-read book for such entrepreneurs that want to take their brand’s fledgling proposition, their drive, spirit, personalities and angst and cement it into a Challenger brand (such as Brewdog, Gymbox, Simba Mattresses or Lush), is Eating the Big Fish. At DUKE, we recognised the increasing indifference from consumers towards brands and most of their advertising. This gave us a springboard to be always radically fighting indifference, because we passionately believe that radical thinking and creative work is one of the best ways of truly transforming businesses.
Steven Stokes
CSO/DUKE
Chip

Chip Kidd: Book One: Work: 1986-2006

  • Tibor, Tibor Kalman
  • Chip Kidd Book One, Chip Kidd
  • Once Upon a Time, Slim Aarons
  • Our True Intent is for Your Delight, Martin Parr
These are a selection of my favorite creative minds who visually inspire me like no one else.
Karen Pfaff Manganillo
Co-Founder/By Karen and Jess
How

How to Turn Down a Billion Dollars: The Snapchat Story

Just finishing @GallagherBilly new book about Snapchat. super insightful read. highly recommend
Casey Neistat
Founder/368 Creative Space

Willpower Doesn’t Work: Discover the Hidden Keys to Success

Change your environment, change your life. Ben Hardy's book is a prescription for excellence and contains the hidden keys to success.
Ryan Holiday
Media Strategist, Author, Founder/Brass Check
The

The Personality Brokers: The Strange History of Myers-Briggs and the Birth of Personality Testing

This is a sparkling biography—not just of a pair of remarkable women, but of a popular personality tool. Merve Emre deftly exposes the hidden origins of the MBTI and the seductive appeal and fatal flaws of personality types. Ultimately, she reveals that a sense of self is less something we discover, and more something we create and revise.
Adam Grant
Author/Originals
Brand

Brand Sense: Sensory Secrets Behind the Stuff We Buy

I read it back in 2005 while I was on the plane to Miami (I didn’t had issues reading a whole book during a 7 hours flight, back then!). It made me understand how powerful brands build their audiences using the 5 senses.
Marius Ciuchete Paun
Web designer
Science

Science and Sanity

Science and Sanity, by Alfred Korzybski. OK, General Semantics was the 30s equivalent of pop-psychology in the 70s, but there are some great concepts there. The map is not the territory. The idea is that people get stuck in concepts and don't go back to observation. My friend George Simon applied General Semantics to psychology, and gave me a grounding in how to see people and to acknowledge what I saw that is the bedrock of my personal philosophy to this day. There are many popular introductions to General Semantics on the market, and also a fun science-fiction book, A.E. van Vogt's The World of Null-A.
Tim O'Reilly
Founder/O'Reilly Media

This Is Not a T-Shirt: A Brand, a Culture, a Community–a Life in Streetwear

Simply put, Bobby Hundreds is a social beast. He knows how to tell a story, where to tell that story, and he's great at bringing people together. He's also crazy dedicated to his work and has the laser-focused attention to detail needed to not only build an everlasting globally relevant brand, but any successful business.
Gary Vaynerchuk
Chairman/VaynerX
The

The Art of Learning: An Inner Journey to Optimal Performance

I probably have recommended The Art of Learning and The 4-Hour Body, I'm not kidding, more than any other books.
Bryan Callen
Co-Host/The Fighter and the Kid
The

The Execution Factor: The One Skill that Drives Success

If you’re intentional about upskilling or upgrading, The Execution Factor gives you the framework and traits to get there. Through her own wealth of examples and applicable process, Perell has created essential reading that cracks the code on how to drive success in your life and work.
Jonathan Auerbach
Vice President, Chief Strategy, Growth Officer/PayPal

The Republic of Tea: The Story of the Creation of a Business, as Told Through the Personal Letters of Its Founders

Out of print, but findable at abebooks and other spots, this is a book about an entrepreneur getting his head around the otaku of his audience.
Seth Godin
Author & Entrepreneur

Hot, Flat, and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution–and How It Can Renew America

He may have the country’s finest experts at his fingertips, but it still doesn’t hurt to read up on environmental and economic issues.
Barack Obama
Former USA President
The

The Art of War

I know this will offend many strategy purists, but for most audiences I recommend these two books only with a pretty strong disclaimer. While both are clearly full of strategic wisdom, they are hard to separate from their respective eras and brands of warfare. As budding strategists in business and in life, most of us are really looking for advice that can help us with our own problems. The reality is that Napoleonic warfare does not exactly have its equivalents in today’s society. On the other hand, Sun-Tzu is so aphoristic that it’s hard to say what is concrete advice and what is just common sense. But the books are so convincing that you might still end up leaving thinking that they can be easily applied. So, again, check these books out if you’re really interested, but I think some of the other books are much better places to start.
Ryan Holiday
Founder/Brass Check

The Most Powerful Idea in the World: A Story of Steam, Industry and Invention

I just finished reading The Most Powerful Idea in the World: A Story of Steam, Industry and Invention by William Rosen. It focuses on the Industrial Revolution basically from the Newcomen atmospheric engine in 1712 to the Stephen Rocket Locomotive in 1850. It does a great job of explaining how thousands of innovations were driven during this period by many elements coming together: increased literacy, patents, societies, scientist/tinkerers, the cotton industry, trade/shipping, measurement, etc. It is a great book although its helps to have an interest in how steam engines actually work since it chronicles how they changed over time in some depth. This book is very worthwhile, and I’ll have more to say about it also in a longer review.
Bill Gates
CEO/Microsoft
Notes

Notes from Underground

It’s such a lovely weird book. Partly, it’s Dostoyevsky giving us an account, through the fictional narrator, of his view on the human condition. Just one quote: “But man has such a predilection for systems and abstract deductions that he is ready to distort the truth intentionally, he is ready to deny the evidence of his senses only to justify his logic”. The idea of humans being suckered into living only according to “logic”, and not only the vanity of such a pursuit, but the impossibility of it, is a wonderful antidote to much of contemporary morality and wonkness.

In the same vein, I found the attack on the core underpinning concept of much of 20th century economics, that people are rational beings making rational choices to optimize their own advantage, so forward for its time. Notes from Underground is from 1864, yet manages to expertly debunk that narrow view. Freedom, not material advantage, is the “most advantageous advantage”, even when that’s the freedom to do yourself harm. (Any analysis of Brexit and Trump would do well to consult with Dostoyevsky).

Also, major bonus points for being a short book, yet packing so much punch.

David Heinemeier Hansson
Co-Founder/Basecamp

Hatching Twitter: A True Story of Money, Power, Friendship, and Betrayal

Like Charlie Munger once said: “I’ve long believed that a certain system - which almost any intelligent person can learn - works way better than the systems most people use [to understand the world]. What you need is a latticework of mental models in your head. And, with that system, things gradually fit together in a way that enhances cognition. Just as multiple factors shape every system, multiple mental models from a variety of disciplines are necessary to understand that system. You can read this book to start building a latticework of mental models in your head.
Ola Olusoga
Co-founder/Populum
The

The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains

While I was thinking of the best books to add to this short list, I realized that not even half of them are directly related to digital marketing. This is because I believe that the best marketers are people who understand human nature deeply and aim to bring out the best in it. Call me naive, but that’s how I see it. If I were to want to pursue a career in marketing, I’d read [...] The Shallows.
Andra Zaharia
Freelance Content Marketer/The Content Habit

No More Mr Nice Guy: A Proven Plan for Getting What You Want in Love, Sex, and Life

Question: What five books would you recommend to young people interested in your career path & why?

Answer: Here are the main five I would recommend (in chronological order):

  • Swim with the Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive by Harvey Mackay
  • How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
  • Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill
  • The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey
  • No More Mr Nice Guy by Robert Glover
Boban Dedovic
Serial Entrepreneur