Here is the complete list of recommended books that amazing readers, like you, suggested. (You can also download this as a PDF here and take it with you to the library / your local used bookstore: https://cl.ly/1B0C2m1u2D1I/download/The%20Reading%20List.pdf).
When the reader had a note or comment about their experience with a book, I left it with light edits. If they left no note, I swiped from Amazon’s description of the book to give some context for what the book is about. If I had a note to add about a book, I added it like this (kd – parenthetical comment).
Let’s dive in:
Hooked by Nir Eyal
This is written from a behavioral design for products perspective, but I find the concepts universally applicable to marketing.
Crossing the Chasm by Geoffrey Moore
The Bible of marketing strategy for technology products.
The Star Principle by Richard Koch
From The Godfather of 80/20, explains what factors need to be in place for a star business.
Red Rising (Book 1) by Pierce Brown
Pierce Brown’s relentlessly entertaining debut channels the excitement ofThe Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins and Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card.
The Power of Intuition by Gary Klein
Surprisingly practical advice on how to build your intuition-based decision making, based on research done with military, NICU nurses, firefighters. Someone will likely recommend Peak – this is related but different psychology research.
Exit, Voice and Loyalty by Albert O. Hirschman
A book on the border between economics and political science, about what people do when they’re unhappy with a product or a government. The basic insight is small yet profound: unhappy customers/citizens/users have only two choices in the end, voicing their complaint or exiting (leaving to a competitor/another country/etc..) It changed the way I think about bug reporting in software (https://codewithoutrules.com/2017/02/10/voice-exit-user-retention/), I suspect there are lots of useful consequences in many other fields.
I’ve been on a Gerald Weinberg kick lately, and all his stuff is golden. I learned a ton from both of the above books.
The first is one of the best fantasy books I’ve read in years, and the second is a fast-paced, parallel dimension sci-fi story.
The War Of Art (I’ve read and also recommend -kd)
If you have not read it I can recommend no other “self improvement” book higher. One of my top 3 books that made a lasting impact on my thinking.
I had an AH-HA moment pretty much every other page, it is like learning a new Operating System for life at both the individual level on through the society level.
A 2 part fictional story that is not only awesome to read but has some very cool takeaways on near-future possibilities.
LET THE DICE DECIDE.
The rules are down to you. The rules that stop you seducing your neighbour downstairs, that stop you hitting your boss, that stop you leaving your family and leaving the country. The rules that stop you living.
Traction (I’ve read and also recommend -kd)
Recommended as the best transition into startup marketing.
The most brilliant dark fantasy trilogy I have reread and will again eventually. The third book makes the terrific character arcs unforgettable.
Never Eat Alone (I’ve read and also recommend -kd)
The bestselling business classic on the power of relationships, updated with in-depth advice for making connections in the digital world.
You know you love your child. But how can you make sure your child knows it?
The #1 New York Times bestselling The 5 Love Languages® has helped millions of couples learn the secret to building a love that lasts. Now discover how to speak your child’s love language in a way that he or she understands
On a planet where violence and vengeance rule, in a galaxy where some are favored by fate, everyone develops a currentgift, a unique power meant to shape the future.
While most benefit from their currentgifts, Akos and Cyra do not—their gifts make them vulnerable to others’ control. Can they reclaim their gifts, their fates, and their lives, and reset the balance of power in this world?
The Millionaire Fastlane (I’ve read and also recommend -kd)
In the words of one reading ‘It totally changed my mindset.’
If you’ve been looking for a kick up the backside to finally launch that business, start a new project you’ve been putting off or just become all round awesome, this book is for you.
- Why do some people have an awesome life, plenty of money, amazing friends and a business to love while others struggle at every step, are constantly broke and can never get out of the daily grind?
- What enables some people to work hard, play harder and make a difference every day, yet still have time to take care of their body, eat good food and be there for the people who matter?
- How do some people connect and persuade with ease, make good decisions and get sh*t done, while others make little impact, doubt themselves and get stuck in the rut of procrastination? *
- Is it really possible to be f*cking awesome, live life on your own terms, make a difference and be truly fulfilled, all while having bucket loads of fun?
The answer is Yes!
Eat That Frog! (I’ve read and also recommend -kd)
The legendary Eat That Frog! (more than 1.5 million copies sold worldwide and translated into 42 languages) will change your life. There just isn’t enough time for everything on our “To Do” list—and there never will be. Successful people don’t try to do everything. They learn to focus on the most important tasks and make sure they get done.
The Way of the Essentialist isn’t about getting more done in less time. It’s about getting only the right things done. It is not a time management strategy, or a productivity technique. It is a systematic discipline for discerning what is absolutely essential, then eliminating everything that is not, so we can make the highest possible contribution towards the things that really matter.
The self-help book for people who want to improve their lives but don’t want to get busted doing it.
Think and Grow Rich (I’ve read and also recommend -kd)
Think and Grow Rich is a 1937 personal development and self-help book by Napoleon Hill. The book was inspired by a suggestion from Scottish-American business magnate and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. While its title implies that the book deals with how to attain monetary wealth, the author explains that the philosophy taught in the book can be used to help people succeed in all lines of work and to do or be almost anything they want.
Million Dollar Speaking (I’ve read and also recommend -kd)
Make your move into, or improve your position in, the powerful world of professional speaking
If you think you have what it takes to speak professionally, or you’ve already been doing so with insufficient reward, now is the time to make your move.
Dotcom Secrets (I’ve read and also recommend -kd)
f you are currently struggling with getting traffic to your website, or converting that traffic when it shows up, you may think you’ve got a traffic or conversion problem.
In Russell Brunson’s experience, after working with thousands of businesses, he has found that’s rarely the case. Low traffic and weak conversion numbers are just symptoms of a much greater problem, a problem that’s a little harder to see (that’s the bad news), but a lot easier to fix (that’s the good news).
Launch (I’ve read and also recommend -kd)
“Launch” will build your business—fast. Whether you’ve already got a business or you’re itching to start one, this is a recipe for getting more traction.
Think about it—what if you could launch like Apple or the big Hollywood studios? What if your prospects eagerly counted down the days until they could buy your product? What if you could create such powerful positioning in your market that you all -but- eliminated your competition? And you could do all that no matter how humble your business or budget?
The Boron Letters by Gary Halbert (I’ve read and also recommend -kd)
A series of letters by history’s greatest copywriter Gary C. Halbert, explaining insider tactics and sage wisdom to his youngest son Bond.
Once only available as part of a paid monthly premium, The Boron Letters are unique in the marketing universe and now they are a bona fide cult classic among direct response marketers and copywriters around the world.
The letters inside are written from a father to a son, in a loving way that goes far beyond a mere sales book or fancy “boardroom” advertising advice… It’s more than a Master’s Degree in selling & persuasion…it’s hands-down the best SPECIFIC and ACTIONABLE training on how to convince people to buy your products or services than I have ever read
The book gives you permission to be a responsible adult that doesn’t have to be in love with everything (anything).
Grunt by Mary Roach
Grunt tackles the science behind some of a soldier’s most challenging adversaries―panic, exhaustion, heat, noise―and introduces us to the scientists who seek to conquer them
There’s a mantra that real writers know but wannabe writers don’t. And the secret phrase is this:
NOBODY WANTS TO READ YOUR SH*T.
Recognizing this painful truth is the first step in the writer’s transformation from amateur to professional.
This book explains the rise and fall of Yahoo. It has great lessons on what not to do when running a multi-billion dollar business. Or any business for that matter…
I read it on audiobook and the narration is great.
I love this book. This is an eye-opening look about how the most well-run drug cartels operate just like Wal-Mart, Coca-Cola, and McDonald’s.
They create brand value, have to appease unhappy customers, have to hire and train staff, and have to manage occasional supply-chain/logistics issues. They even practice corporate responsibility!
From the characters involved to providing clear solutions to the ongoing, botched drug war, this book is a fresh look at the global drug trade.
Let me start by saying that I am glad we work for ourselves. Business is a life skill. This will all make sense after you read this book.
- Dan Lyons gets fired from his job of 25 years as a Tech Writer at Newsweek.
- He then takes a job at Hubspot. Madness and foolishness ensue.
It is a great account of the start-up world – of young brogrammers and bloggers acting like idiots, lavish perks and wasted money, and a focus on growth, but not profitability.
He also gives a compelling argument on how we are living in a second tech bubble.
The book is hilarious. I think that you would enjoy it.
We’re all making things up as we go, it’s useful to learn some tactics to be better at it.
Tharp is a choreographer with a long and varied career. It has everything from how to keep habits to stretches and muscle memory. Her first habit is to get in a taxi that she has booked at 5.10 am daily. She is going to the gym but the only thing she needs to do is to be in that taxi.
She has a great system for story materials for her many projects.
Nearly every time you see him, he’s laughing, or at least smiling. And he makes everyone else around him feel like smiling. He’s the Dalai Lama, the spiritual and temporal leader of Tibet, a Nobel Prize winner, and a hugely sought-after speaker and statesman. Why is he so popular? Even after spending only a few minutes in his presence you can’t help feeling happier.
A Confederacy of Dunces is an American comic masterpiece. John Kennedy Toole’s hero, one Ignatius J. Reilly, is “huge, obese, fractious, fastidious, a latter-day Gargantua, a Don Quixote of the French Quarter. His story bursts with wholly original characters, denizens of New Orleans’ lower depths, incredibly true-to-life dialogue, and the zaniest series of high and low comic adventures.”
Warren Buffett would say this is the most influential book he ever read on investing.
About how the Koch brothers have been deeply influential in American politics and reviving dead ideas. You know, like regressive tax systems for the mega rich and deregulating the environment.
Hillbilly Elegy (I’ve read and also recommend -kd)
An insightful book from a Yale-educated lawyer born in Ohio to a hillbilly family from Kentucky. He talks about their culture, customs, towns, and how he observed firsthand some of the terrible problems that have led people to both hate gov’t and expect gov’t to bail them out of their problems (i.e. “bring back the jobs”).
An explanation as to why there is such a rapid increase in inequality. It doesn’t do much to say how to fix it or why it’s bad, but an interesting read nonetheless.
An honest take on climate science. How scientists have exaggerated claims, and how politicians take an all or nothing approach, and what we might do differently about it.
The philosophy and political classic by John Stewart Mill about what equality is and how we can think about it.
By an economist, it looks at several different periods in our history and how much our living standard changed in each. He asserts that we cannot grow at our historical pace for several reasons, and largely because the biggest leaps forward have already been made. You can check out this Freakonomics episode for a synopsis of his arguments.
Open by Andre Agassi
Far more than a superb memoir about the highest levels of professional tennis, Open is the engrossing story of a remarkable life.
Andre Agassi had his life mapped out for him before he left the crib. Groomed to be a tennis champion by his moody and demanding father, by the age of twenty-two Agassi had won the first of his eight grand slams and achieved wealth, celebrity, and the game’s highest honors.
But as he reveals in this searching autobiography, off the court he was often unhappy and confused, unfulfilled by his great achievements in a sport he had come to resent. Agassi writes candidly about his early success and his uncomfortable relationship with fame, his marriage to Brooke Shields, his growing interest in philanthropy, and—described in haunting, point-by-point detail—the highs and lows of his celebrated career.
Many of us insist the main impediment to a full, successful life is the outside world. In fact, the most common enemy lies within: our ego. Early in our careers, it impedes learning and the cultivation of talent. With success, it can blind us to our faults and sow future problems. In failure, it magnifies each blow and makes recovery more difficult. At every stage, ego holds us back.
Anything You Want (I’ve read and also recommend -kd)
You don’t need to think big; in fact, it’s better if you don’t. Start with what you have, care about your customers more than yourself, and run your business like you don’t need the money.
Ready Player One (I’ve read and also recommend -kd)
In the year 2044, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he’s jacked into the virtual utopia known as the OASIS. Wade’s devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world’s digital confines—puzzles that are based on their creator’s obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them.
I’ve (Kai) read ~70% of Murakami’s work and it is all amazing. My three favorite:
Murakami is A+ fiction writing. As the New York Times said “Murakami is like a magician who explains what he’s doing as he performs the trick and still makes you believe he has supernatural powers.”
(kd – High praise for Murakami. His work is polarizing, you love it or hate it, but I, for one, absolutely love it).
This expounds on the book ‘Peak’. Where peak says that “you can become a master in anything with deliberate practice”, this book explores how grit, or sticking to it, is the main factor that leads to success.
I read this book a few times a year. If I died and had to be buried with just three books then this would be one of them.
Non-fiction story that I believe is what an entire season of American Horror story is based on. Chicago was a messed up place during the world’s fair.
A great Neil Gaiman book. Neil Gaiman has long been inspired by ancient mythology in creating the fantastical realms of his fiction. Now he turns his attention back to the source, presenting a bravura rendition of the great northern tales.
In Norse Mythology, Gaiman stays true to the myths in envisioning the major Norse pantheon: Odin, the highest of the high, wise, daring, and cunning; Thor, Odin’s son, incredibly strong yet not the wisest of gods; and Loki―son of a giant―blood brother to Odin and a trickster and unsurpassable manipulator.
(kd – as a huge, owns-every-collected-work-of-the-sandman Neil Gaiman fan, I am ashamed I didn’t know this was out. Ordered.)
Thanks to the following wonderful, amazing people who suggested books for this list:
- John S.
- Ben B.
- Balint E.
- Itamar T.
- Justin W.
- Jason B.
- Vladislav S.
- Neil A.
- Naomi B.
- Jason S.
- Brian B.
- Jacklyn D.
- Glenn S.
- Marian E.
- Lee H.
- Liston W.
- Lance M.
- Paul J.
- Stephen G.
- Jonathan W.
My bookshelf is filling up — if you have any additional suggestions, please feel free to send them my way! ?