12 Unusual Books All Entrepreneurs Should Read in The Next 12 Months
If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the last few years it is this…
*most* business books, how-to books, and self-development books are NOT that helpful.
I realized this whilst interviewing 160+ people for my previous book (ironically, a how-to business one), where I learned the true differences between successful people and those still finding their way.
Success, you see, is an individual pursuit.
It’s different for everyone and it’s often not the version your parents passed down to you.
A large aspect of true success surrounds this idea of letting go of what you “should” do.
- The things you “should” say yes to…
- The items you “should” buy…
- The kind of life you “should” lead…
- And yes, the books you “should” read!!
When I speak to those further down the road than me and ask what they read, they don’t talk about the books you tend to see talked about online. No ‘4-Hour Workweek’ or ‘Rich-Dad’ titles around here, I’m afraid. Instead, they focus on fiction, history, philosophy, spirituality, and books designed to make you reflect and think about what’s going on in your own mind; indeed, your own world.
So if you’re tired of the same-old-same-old lists you see online and would like to tap into what those further down the road than you read… consider adding these books to your nightstand.
1: The Alchemist
Paulo Coelho’s phenomenal fable is one of my all-time favorites, providing a unique take on the hero’s journey. It’s inspirational and has the power to speak to you on multiple levels, regardless of your situation, dreams, and whatever else you face.
This book, simply put, is about life.
And your business, as an entrepreneur, is part of this life you lead.
There’s nothing literal to take from this book, and that’s its point.
It’s how you interrupt it, and each person “sees” this book in their own light.
Not only should you consider making The Alchemist a book to read this year, but one you can revisit again and again for as long as you’re on this planet. I’ve read it a few times, and each time I do I take something new and fresh from it.
2: A Theory of Everything
Ken Wilbur is one of those people that your favorite self-development expert likely follows. He’s been at this for some time, and through his book, A Theory of Everything, he shines a light on many questions you’ve no doubt asked, offering answers I imagine you’ve never before heard.
It’s strange, but as I listened to this book on my runs, I found myself relating various insights to politics, race and equality, love, relationships, business, and my own personal growth over the years.
He literally provides a theory that covers everything, but at no point does he force anything down you or try to teach you. It’s a book that provides a perspective, and the way it’s told is utterly brilliant because it compels you to “think” on new levels — and how it all relates to you and your life.
It’s hard to sum up a book like this (or a mind like Mr. Wilbur’s), but if you’ve stepped down the personal development rabbit hole in recent years, put all other books and topics to one side and place this one at the top of your pile.
Meditations by Marcus Aurelius is one of those books we all need to read at some point in time. As with The Alchemist, you’ll likely gather new insights each time you read this collection of thoughts, musing, and philosophical utterings depending on where you are in life.
It’s the sort of book you want to have close to hand at all times so you can read a few pages each morning while you enjoy your first coffee. What I love the most is that this isn’t a book in the traditional sense. Marcus didn’t write it so the generations thereafter could benefit.
He wrote it for himself, as he tried to figure out his own journey.
In business, the person you are counts for a lot.
The journey you’ve been on… the journey you are on… it matters.
‘Meditations’ empowers you to dive within so you can become your best self.
4: Beyond The Pale
I wrote my latest book, ‘Beyond The Pale’ with today’s hustle-centered entrepreneur in mind; the one always connected to the online world, comparing yourself to those around you.
It’s a Business Fable designed to inspire rather than teach, and like The Alchemist it’s one that will “speak” to each person in a different way; depending on who you are, where you are, and the journey you’re on.
It’s made this list for two reasons:
- I’m very proud of it (a book unlike any other I’ve written)
- It’s exactly the kind of book most online-centered business owners need to read right now
… Especially on the back of recent times when the world has taken on a new form.
It features an array of people that have personally inspired me on my journey (including Kamal Ravikant, Ishita Gupta, AJ Leon, Jordan Harbinger, and Sol Orwell to name a few…), and through Ferdinand and his adventures, I believe you will get the answers you need at this moment in time.
The single aspect we all have in common is that we’re human, and we have all been part of the same evolutionary journey. Through Sapiens, Yuval Noah Hari provides a unique insight into this journey, documenting where we came from, how we rose to dominance, and the various stages of societal transition that’s happened since.
From our love affair with language and storytelling to how money became one of the most powerful entities we ever created as a species, Sapiens offers a perspective into the human mind, which, let’s face it, as an entrepreneur is always important.
Reading this book will give you a completely new view of those you serve, and how you can best serve them on a deep, meaningful level.
6: Live Your Truth
What can I say about this book, other than the fact it’s had a lasting impact on me (and compelled me to come back to it on several occasions). It’s a short book, and one you could either read in a single setting or return to each morning during your morning routine…
Through Live Your Truth, Kamal Ravikant offers a raw, honest look into his mind as he comes to terms with his own version of success; and many of the barriers that get in the way of us these days.
I cannot imagine a single entrepreneur couldn’t relate to at least some of these short essays, and it’s a book full of quotes you will want to write down and pin on your wall.
It’s philosophical and spiritual, but practical all the same.
A book that marked a tipping point for me, and one I recommend to you.
7: The Surrender Experiment
I didn’t know what to expect when I read (/listened) to The Surrender Experiment by Michal A.Singer… All I know is that I didn’t expect what followed.
As entrepreneurs (especially), we’re driven toward a desire for control. We strategize, plan, innovate and try to peek into tomorrow — often at the expense of today.
Yet what if we let go, surrendered to what is, and simply enjoyed the ride?
Turns out, greatness can happen. It can find you, rather you finding “it”.
An incredible story and insight into a remarkable man and the journey he’s traveled.
A staple for all business owners as they come to terms with how little they have control over.
We seem to live in a world obsessed with conspiracy theories at the moment, but what about the actual meaning of the word and the impact they can have on your life and others?
Through Conspiracy, Ryan Holiday doesn’t dive into the rabbit hole of insane theories but rather the reality that certain conspiracies have had on history; most notably a recent one conjured up by Peter Thiel.
What you can take from this — as a business owner, creator, and innovator — is a fresh perspective on strategy and how grand plans have many moving parts. The intricacies that go into this plan are numerous, and whether you morally agree with the outcome or not, it’s hard not to feel inspired by the possibilities that any of us can have so long as we commit to a cause.
9: On The Road
Another one of my favorite books, a masterpiece of fiction that once again provides a unique take on the hero’s journey. When you read On the Road, you can practically imagine sitting opposite Jack Kerouac and his merry band of beatniks.
You may struggle to see the link to any form of business, but once again the “point” is in the journey. To live, to let go, to see where the tide takes you.
Not long ago, this is how a generation lived.
They wandered and meandered, with no connection to an online mega-city.
By peeking into yesterday you gain a greater appreciation of today, and maybe, if you’re lucky, a better understanding of where you’ll go tomorrow.
10: Isn’t It Pretty To Think So?
Another novel, only this one is more of a hidden-gem, written by Nick Miller in 2012. As you read Isn’t It Pretty To Think So, you step into the mind of a modern-day individual trying to “find himself” in today’s influencer induced world of likes and shares.
Chances are, these are the people you serve.
These are the worries they worry about.
These are the questions they ask.
Not only a great book with a great set of characters but one that may inspire you to approach how you do business moving forward.
With Mythos, you don’t only take a step back in time but in many ways back to where it all began.
It may not be marketed as such, but this is one of the best books you can read to take your storytelling and messaging to new heights. Through Stephen Fry’s wonderful words (tip: listen to this book rather than read — his voice truly does bring everything to life), you learn about how many of today’s most well-known stories sparked to life.
It’s beyond informative, more than enjoyable, and frankly an underused resource for anyone wishing to “speak” to their audience in a unique, meaningful way.
12: Stealing Fire
Finally… we reach the end of this list, and it’s possibly the most “how-to” non-fiction book so far: Stealing Fire by Steven Kotler and Jamie Wheal.
The topic: flow.
The purpose: how to find and keep it.
In the beginning, when you first step foot into the entrepreneurial world full of hustling and go-getting, none of this seems appealing. In some ways, it’s unnecessary and possibly counter-intuitive.
Yet once you taste even a drop of real success, everything discussed in this book becomes “the” fight worth fighting for. It’s an incredible read full of interesting stories, as well as practical insights into the world of flow (and the rabbit hole it will drag you down).
It played a huge inspiration on me as I wrote Beyond The Pale, as the lead character finds himself venturing down that very rabbit hole of mind, body, and spirit.
Will these 12 books change your life?
Maybe… maybe not. Each person is different.
All I know is that you will not find the answers you crave by asking the questions you feel you have to. You’ve built up years of beliefs, fears, and perceptions, and most of the books that you come across in the usual business circles do not help you break free from this.
If anything, they plunge you ever deeper.
Whereas the books in this list will, empowering you to think rather than simply consume for the sake of it.
Each of these books has impacted me in its own way.
I hope at least some of them will go on to impact you.
I’d love to hear about it, so drop a comment and share your thoughts if/when you read these fine reads.