We’ve carefully curated book recommendations to help balance out entrepreneurs. Here’s why we took the time to do this. Reading, and the associated learning that comes from it, is as important as any dream you can think up. It empowers people with incalculable knowledge. Knowledge that can empower someone with tools and perspective. If reading is something you already do regularly, fantastic! If not, I strongly suggest you turn it into a new priority. Your life can be completely transformed if you choose wisely.
The Obvious WHY Behind Reading
While business oriented books are great, make sure you don’t ignore the child inside itching for a good fiction read that will send you on an adventure. Reading fiction can help build up imagination and break limited thinking patterns. It can also help you explore what makes up a certain kind of character or individual, which can be applied in business, and help you exercise your ability to have empathy by connecting with ideas, concepts, and characters that are completely unfamiliar to you.
Any entrepreneur or side hustler should aim to read at least a little bit every day. It’s no coincidence that most successful executives and thriving hustlers are also voracious readers. Whether you opt for the more traditional non-fiction business books or the latest young adult fantasy novel. Let your reading help you explore new ideas, go on an adventure and expand your horizons.
While this list is by no means comprehensive, here are some of our favorite books that are PERFECT to inspire side hustlers and entrepreneurs. They provoke true thinking that span well beyond business. Some are just fun reads that remind you of the big creative world we all are fortunate enough to live in.
Books on Business
1. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson
This is the book for anyone who has trouble saying no and finds themselves stretched too thin. Manson moves away from the “be positive” way of thinking and advocates for accepting things you cannot change and figuring out where to focus your energy. He emphasizes that wealth is more about experiences rather than money. With this book, you won’t be bored with a sugar-coated message that’s been regurgitated a million times. Instead, this book is the grab you by the shoulders wake up call that many entrepreneurs and side hustlers need.
2. Tribe of Mentors: Short Life Advice from the Best in the World by Tim Ferriss
Ever wish you had a group of mentors to guide you on your journey of being an entrepreneur? Thanks to Tim Ferris, now you do. This genius book brings together tools, tactics, and habits from more than 100 of the world’s top performers. It’s everything you wanted to know and everything you never knew you needed to know. This book is filled with nuggets of advice to help entrepreneurs and side hustlers make their next move and improve their lives. Whether it is learning a new morning routine, figuring out how to get things done, overcoming failure, or achieving work-life balance, this book has all the tips to get you where you want to go.
3. Extreme Ownership: How US Navy SEALs Lead and Win by Jocko Willink & Leif Babin
If you’ve been looking for a book on leadership, look no further than Extreme Ownership. Written by two US Navy SEALS, this book explores the mindset and principles needed to overcome difficult combat missions and how they can be applied to any team or any organization. You can apply everything in this book directly in your life as a leader. The authors of this book have trained countless leaders and worked with hundreds of companies in every industry, giving them the skills needed to develop high-performance teams and to effectively lead those teams through “battle.” If you have been struggling with managing your team or are simply looking to become a better leader, this is the book for you.
4. Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration by Ed Catmull
As entrepreneurs, creativity and originality play a major role in our success. Creativity Inc., written by one of the co-founders of Pixar Animation Studios, has shared his journey of building Pixar. It is the perfect book for those looking to build a creative culture in their organization. It explores ideas around building a good team, a manager’s role in creating an environment where it is safe for employees to take risks, the importance of an organization’s communication structure, and the energy required to enact change within an organization. Another underlying theme in the book is putting employees first to achieve success. If you work in technology or a creative field this is definitely one you want to check out.
5. Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyrou
Bad Blood is a cautionary tale of getting caught up in the fast-moving, high dollar world of business. This book focuses on the rise and fall of Theranos, a multibillion-dollar biotech startup. Written by a journalist, this book dives deep into every aspect of the doomed Theranos. Between its covers, you will find elaborate scams, intrigue, crumbling family relationships, and the story of a company based on a failed technology. Reading like a thriller, it’s hard to believe it’s based on a true story and serves as a prime example of what not to do in business and reminds you to not get carried away in the bold promises of silicon valley. This is the book for you if you’ve been looking for a page-turner for your next read.
6. This is Marketing: You Can’t Be Seen Until You Learn to See by Seth Godin
If you are into marketing, stop what you’re doing and pick this book up right away. This is another gem by Seth Godin, who has written several other books on the subject. In fact, many of his ideas have made their way into mainstream business language. This is Marketing focuses on the core idea that marketing is used to solve other people’s problems. One of his main arguments that to be a successful marketer you need to be grounded in empathy, generosity, and emotional labor. He draws attention to the fact that marketers should feel good about their work not guilty, highlighting the need for true connections with consumers rather than simply looking at social media metrics. This is a book that will revolutionize the way you approach marketing in your entrepreneurial ventures.
7. Powerhouse CAA: The Untold Story of Hollywood’s Creative Artists Agency by James Andrew Miller
Want to know what it takes to make it in a cutthroat industry like the entertainment industry? Look no further than Powerhouse, which tells the tale of how the Creative Artist Agency came to be and its ascent in Hollywood. It gives us a behind the curtain view of what it takes to make it in Hollywood (and some of the stumbling blocks along the way). This book is filled with ambition, egomania, sex and drugs, betrayal, never-ending empire-building, and entrepreneurial courage. Hear the tale directly from those who were there including agents, studio executives, network chiefs, hedge fund managers, tech CEOs, and media tycoons. Powerhouse will inspire you and show you that even in the most difficult industry with a little bit of tenacity you can find success.
If you are into crime shows, tech, or are simply looking for an unbelievable read, then pick up American Kingpin. It is the tale of the creator of the Silk Road on the Dark Web, Ross Ulbricht. This book follows the manhunt that ensued as the government searched for the young creator. It is a story that is filled with twists and turns, lucky breaks and close calls. It also highlights the battle between the old world of government control and the new world of anonymous, decentralized web advocates. As crazy as this story is, it’s easy to mistake it for fiction, but this is a recount of what actually went down. The journalistic style of writing makes this an easy read and one you won’t want to put down.
9. Crushing It!: How Great Entrepreneurs Build Their Business and Influence-and How You Can, Too by Gary Vaynerchuk
Gary Vaynerchuk knocks it out of the park with Crushing It. Vaynerchuk shares his experiences and the perspective he’s gained from being an entrepreneur who has built several multimillion-dollar businesses. He explores the idea that having a vibrant personal brand is essential to being successful as an entrepreneur. At the same time, he shares his ideas on what has changed in business and the principles that remain timeless. He focuses heavily on social media and making these platforms work to their maximum potential and teaches readers how to amplify their personal brand on these platforms. If you are looking to enhance your social media presence as an entrepreneur this book is an absolute must-have.
10. The Billionaire Who Wasn’t: How Chuck Feeney Made and Gave Away a Fortune by Conor O’Clery
As an entrepreneur or side hustler, increasing your wealth is often a key objective. This book helps give a bit of perspective on being philanthropic with the money you earn. Chuck Feeney, the founder of Duty-Free Shoppers, is one of the greatest and most mysterious philanthropists in America in modern times. He created a foundation and transferred all of his wealth secretly, donating money to a variety of organizations over the years. He is a strong supporter of giving to others while you’re still alive. This book explores Feeney’s philosophy of giving away your fortune and consciously choosing to live frugally. It’s the perfect feel-good story that will have you questioning how you live your own life.
11. Principles: Life and Work by Ray Dalio
Written by a man who has found himself on Time magazine’s list of the 100 most influential people and founded one of the most successful hedge funds in US history, this book is filled with the habits that have led to Dalio’s success. He attempts to layout the most effective ways to make decisions, approach challenges, and build strong teams. This book provides a straightforward approach to decision-making that can be applied by anyone, regardless of what they are trying to achieve. He puts emphasis on the importance of principles and the role they play in helping you achieve the best outcome.
12. Four Hour Work Week: Espace 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich by Tim Ferriss
Four Hour Work Week may be the most well-known book on this list. This popular book by Tim Ferris is a compass for living a life that you have only dreamed of before. His book focuses on creating a luxury lifestyle today rather than deferring your life, a philosophy of the past. Ferris dives deep into teaching the reader how to outsource parts of their life to virtual assistants, how to eliminate 50% of your work in 48 hours, how to trade in the long haul career for short work bursts while having frequent mini-retirements, and all the other secrets to living a truly unbelievable life. If you’ve ever thought about becoming a full-time remote worker, a digital nomad, or are looking to ditch your 9-to-5, pick up this book and learn how to make it possible.
13. Shoe Dog: A Memoir By the Creator of Nike by Phil Knight
Shoe Dog is a memoir of Nike’s founder and CEO. It reveals how Nike went from a small startup to one of the most well-known profitable brands. This book takes you on an entrepreneur’s journey to success, including the risks and daunting setbacks that come with chasing a dream. Knight shares his struggles and discusses his decision to pursue his calling. He also shares business tips on what he has found works and what he believes has helped make Nike successful. As an entrepreneur and side hustler, this is a must-read. This book oozes passion and will inspire you to keep pushing forward, dig deeper, and to never quit (even when the going gets tough- just do it).
14. Alibaba: The House That Jack Ma Built by Duncan Clark
In a classic rags to riches story, this book dives into Jack Ma’s journey from English teacher to the founder of one of the world’s largest companies, Alibaba. This is one of the few in-depth looks into Ma’s experience as an advisor to Alibaba and growing the company in China. The book explores his early failures, how he outsmarted rival entrepreneurs from China and Silicon Valley, how the company maintains its high market share, and wonders about the limits of Alibaba’s ambitions. The book also looks at the Chinese government’s view of the company’s growth, as well as the future growth and expansion of the company. For anyone curious about operating in the Chinese market, this book provides valuable insight and is a must-read.
15. The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg
The Power of Habit dives into why we do the things we do, why habits exist, and how they can be changed. This book helps us gain an understanding of why some people struggle to change while others seem to remake themselves overnight. Duhigg takes a scientific approach that is digestible and easy to understand. It also sheds light on some of the habits that are crucial to the success of athletes, CEOs, and public figures. Duhigg also explores how understanding habits can be applied in business and the benefits that come with this knowledge. If you’re curious about habits or are looking to change some habits of your own, this is the book for you.
16. Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap… And Others Don’t by Jim Collins
Ever wondered why some companies make a big while others struggle to survive? Good to Great aims to answer this exact question, looking at how great companies triumph over time and how long-term sustained performance can be engineered into the DNA of a company from the very beginning. Getting this answer required a 21 person research team spending five years analyzing articles, interviews, and computer data. This book sheds light on every area of management strategy and practice and explains several concepts that can be applied to improve an organization’s chances of success.
17. Can’t Hurt Me: Master Your Mind and Defy the Odds by David Goggins
Written by one of the world’s top endurance athletes, Can’t Hurt Me details how a dark childhood was transformed through self-discipline, mental toughness, and hard work. Goggins shares his astonishing life story. One of his main poinst is that most of us only tap into 40% of our capabilities. This interesting book uncovers a path that anyone can follow to push past pain, demolish fear, and reach their full potential. This inspiring story will motivate you to overcome those feelings and fears that are holding you back.
18. 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos by Jordan B. Petterson
This book aims to answer the question “what does everyone in the modern world need to know?” The answer comes in a unique combination of cutting edge scientific research and the hard-won truths of ancient tradition. Peterson’s writing is humorous, surprising, and informative. The book delves into topics such as discipline, freedom, adventure, and responsibility. Ultimately, all of this wisdom is distilled into 12 rules for life. This is a must-read if you enjoy books that make you think.
19. Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari
The evolution of mankind is a fascinating phenomenon that makes you question why and how things are the way they are. Sapiens looks at the whole of human history and explores how the currents of history have shaped our human societies, the animals and plants around us, and even our personalities. One of the key things this book focuses on is whether we can separate our behavior from the heritage of our ancestors and how we can influence and shape the future of humankind in centuries to come. This book will challenge everything you thought you knew about being human.
20. The Top 5 Regrets of the Dying: A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departing by Bronnie Ware
This book is a recounting of the regrets expressed by those nearing their death. Ultimately, none of us want to die with regrets. The good news is that we don’t have to, if we take the example of those before us and take the necessary steps that will allow us to die with peace of mind. This requires making the right choices and actively taking the efforts to positively address any issues or regrets we have while we still have the time. This is a story of hope and one that is life-changing. After reading this book you are likely to find that you are more determined to live the life you are truly here to live.
21. Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil deGrasse Tyson
If you’ve always been a bit curious about space but never had the time to contemplate the cosmos, you are in luck. Astrophysics for People in a Hurry is the perfect guide for mind-expanding questions about the universe and the nature of space and time. Advanced and complex concepts are written succinctly and clearly. The writing makes it easy to understand. You can easily read on the go or whenever you have time. The information shared in this book is fascinating and highlights just how small humans are in the grand scheme of things. This is a perfect book if you’re looking for something a bit different that will challenge you.
22. Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging by Sebastian Junger
Tribe is a unique combination of analyzing tribal human behavior and post-traumatic stress disorder that many returning veterans face today. During times of turmoil and suffering, humankind draws upon ancient tribal human behaviors including loyalty, inter-reliance, and cooperation. All of these behaviors make for good soldiering and foster a sense of belonging amongst the troops. When vetrans return home, many of the difficulties they face are due to conflict in re-integrating into society. The question presented in this book is whether governments can address the challenges veterans face upon returning home. Further, it analyzes if the problem is deeper and woven into the very fabric of modern existence. This is a book that is sure to make you think about the individualistic nature of today’s society.
23. The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference by Malcolm Gladwell
While this is one of the older books on our list, it certainly is still worth the read. The Tipping Point explores the point where an idea, trend, or social behavior begins to spread like wildfire. Gladwell argues that a precisely targeted push can yield significant results. He also identifies the types of personalities that are prone to coming up with new ideas and trends and getting them to spread. The ideas in his book can be applied to any aspect of life. It’s a great book for exploring the idea of what makes a concept successful. It prompts you to think about why you instinctually make the decision.
24. Rich Dad Poor Dad: What the Rich Teach Their Kids About Money That the Poor and Middle Class Do Not! By Robert T. Kiyosaki
This is another one of the older books on our list, but the advice inside is just as relevant today. In Rich Dad Poor Dad, concepts surrounding finance are discussed in everyday language so that anyone can understand. In fact, it is the number one personal finance book of all time. This book explores the message that you need to earn a high income to become rich and challenges the belief that your house is an asset. It also highlights the fact the schools don’t teach kids about money. This book will tell you everything you need to know for your future financial success. If you find your budget is a little tight, you need to pick up this life-changing book.
Books Just for Fun
25. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
This book is one that will stretch your imagination as it thrusts you into a world of a virtual utopia. Set in the year 2044, the book is set around the theme of finding the ultimate lottery ticket hidden in this virtual world. Finding it requires solving a series of puzzles, with the ultimate prize being remarkable power. It calls upon the nostalgia of pop culture such as playing Pac-Man and reciting Devo lyrics. The main character’s world is turned upside down when he stumbles across the first puzzle. Now he must face the real world he has tried to escape for so long. If you’re into pop culture or gaming, this is one book you’ve got to check out.
26. Artemis by Andy Weir
This award-winning book is a futuristic novel full of risk, conspiracy, and suspense. This novel is set on the moon and is the perfect combination of fantasy, sarcastic humor, and science. It has elements of a heist and fighting for survival interspersed with lighthearted banter. The characters in this book are a diverse bunch and each presents a unique element to the story. It is a novel to make one wonder if such a scenario could actually happen one day in the future.
27. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
This fun book is a young adult fantasy book, which as the name gives away, is set in a graveyard. Being orphaned after his family is murdered, Nobody “Bod” Owens is raised by the supernatural residents of the graveyard. It is a book full of adventure as Bod learns from ghosts in the graveyard. However, the twist comes from Bod’s inability to leave the graveyard, or be attacked by the man who killed his family. This book is both magical and terrifying at the same time and is an enjoyable read.
28. Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain
This book recounts true tales of the culinary trade from the late Chef Anthony Bourdain. He gives us a behind the scenes look as to what goes on back in the kitchen. Enjoy many different stories from his years of experience in the restaurant business. Reading this book will make you think twice about going out to eat again. It is an incredibly fascinating book you need to add to your reading list.
We’ll be sure to keep adding to this list over time. Tell us, did we miss something? What other books do you suggest? We’d love to check out your recommendations too!