For me, Christmas represents a time to commandeer a corner of the couch, stock up on snacks, and dive into fiction and non-fiction alike.
The books I am most excited to read and reread are Honeybee by Craig Silvey, The Shadow King by Maaza Mengiste, To Sleep In A Sea of Stars by Christopher Paolini and, of course, Dune by Frank Herbert, because the movie remake looks like it will be phenomenal.
So, for those who have similar intentions, but perhaps don’t have a towering pile of unread books awaiting some tender love and care, we asked 16 entrepreneurs what they are reading this Christmas, to give you some inspiration.
I normally read work-related biographies but as it’s been a demanding year, this summer I’m going to tackle Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, which may put 2020 into perspective.
It will also allow me to have a real break from thinking about work.
Confessions of an Advertising Man by David Ogilvy, because I think it’ll have a resounding impact on me as a marketer and I’m keen to gain his insights and learnings.
Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki, because I’ve never read it and I keep being told ‘you must read this book in your lifetime’.
In the Company of Women by Grace Bonney. This book was gifted to me early this year, but I haven’t yet sat down to read these incredible and inspiring stories of fellow entrepreneurs and marketers.
Women who run with the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estés. Every time I read this book I discover something new that enriches my life. It is an inspiring read with profound insight and psychology that connects me closer to consciousness.
A beautiful girlfriend bought me Untamed by Glennon Doyle. Ironically, 2020 has actually been incredibly productive and successful spiritually. I’ve really taken the time to work on myself, slow down, and lead with love, not fear. I feel more grounded than ever before. The narrative of this is about numbing addictions and social conditioning, to stop pleasing and start living.
I recently connected with an old school friend who now lives in London. He surprised me by sending me The Art of War for Managers by Gerald Michaelson and Steven Michaelson. I love everything about business but, being a good manager and a mentor requires constant work. I will definitely be taking notes and highlighting this business bible. It provides logical and interesting approaches to conflict and competition to achieve success.
The Practice by Seth Godin, because I love his philosophy on business and life.
The Bezos Letters by Steve Anderson. Amazon is the world’s best business and I want to learn more about Bezo’s methods.
Three Ring Circus by Jeff Pearlman. This book is about the Los Angeles Lakers NBA team, starring Shaq and Kobe, in the late-90s and early-2000s. I relax by reading biographies and sporting books.
The Overstory by Richard Powers. I’ve just heard so much about it lately from people I really respect. It’s a book about trees and their lives. It doesn’t sound that interesting, but apparently, you can’t walk down the street without looking at trees with this new perspective.
The Obstacle is the Way by Ryan Holiday. I love the stoic philosophy and I’ve heard this book is a gem that digs into addressing fear and overcoming challenges.
A Ghost in the Throat by Doireann Ní Ghríofa. Being Irish, this has got amazing reviews, and will make me feel a bit closer to home when I can’t be there this Christmas.
Rising Heart by Aminata Conteh-Biger and Juliet Rieden. This is a story of survival and the proceeds of the book go to the Aminata Maternal Foundation supporting women in Sierra Leone.
Last Man Standing by Steven Bradbury. We have all had a tough year and I am looking forward to reading about how to become more resilient and keep on going and have a few laughs along the way.
Legacy by James Kerr. I’ve been recommended this book by the former All Blacks coach a number of times, and it has been on my list to read for a while. From all reports, it is a great book looking into leadership and developing high-performing teams. I’m really looking forward to reading it over the Christmas period and taking the learnings into next year.
Catch of the Decade by Hezi and Gabby Leibovich. Their story certainly inspires me as a business owner. I truly admire the fact they started a company from the ground up and grew it into the success that they did.
Eddie Jaku’s The Happiest Man on Earth. As a survivor of the Holocaust, his perspective and being able to identify what brings true happiness, is a vital reminder to all of us.
Anything by Jane Green because I love a good holiday read where I can just switch off and immerse myself in fiction.
Powerful by Patti McCord, as it’s all about building wonderful teams and I am in the process of setting our HR plan for growth.
But I have heard it’s best to read The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable first. So I am going to take this approach, as I want to take this wisdom into the transformation process I am taking my company through.
The Obesity Code by Jason Fung is about me, not my business. My middle is spreading and I want to get on top of understanding my body. I know it will teach me to eat less, exercise more, but I have heard it also teaches me a good understanding of my sugar levels and how to control them better.
What You Do Is Who You Are by Ben Horowitz. We’re on a mission to continue building out a great company culture at Linktree, so the more I can learn, the better.
Good to Great by Jim Collins. This one has been on my list for a long time and comes highly recommended.
Shoe Dog by Phil Knight. I find that biographies or memoirs can be great (and easy) reads, peppered with nuggets of wisdom. I’m keen to learn more about the story of Nike, and the growth of one of the world’s most iconic brands.
Women and Leadership by Julia Gillard and Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is an analysis of gender bias, the structural obstacles that influence women’s access to positions of leadership, and the lessons that can be learnt. I’m looking forward to getting stuck into it.
Everything Is F*cked: A Book About Hope by Mark Manson is on my summer reading list. I read his first book, The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck, which was an easy read and a good reality check.
I’ve already started The Ride of a Lifetime by former Disney chief Robert Iger. It was one of Bill Gates’ top suggestions, which never disappoint.
I’m also excited to read The Two Lost Mountains by Matthew Reilly, as it is pure escapism and I’m a big Reilly fan.
I have just started Michelle Obama’s book Becoming and intend to follow that with Barack Obama’s Promised Land. I am always so interested in the process or journey which gets someone somewhere. With today’s all-access pass to successful business owners and celebrities, it is often hard to distinguish between the finely curated PR pitch and professionally written bio and the real deal. What were the sliding door moments? I want to know about the doubts and the fears as well as the wins, and what a great opportunity to see the Obama presidency from two perspectives.
As the CEO of a company that builds human-AI solutions for hiring, the pace of tech innovation is crazy, fast-paced and can also be very risky. I believe The Ethical Algorithm by Aaron Roth and Michael Kearns is compulsory reading for anyone working in this space, so it’s number one on my list.
For inspiration that isn’t AI-led, I will be reading The Black Swan by Nassim Nicholas Taleb to explore the meaning of the improbable, as well as Words that Work by Frank Lutz, to learn more about words with meaning from a pollster’s perspective.
Blink by Malcolm Gladwell. I love Gladwell’s clean insights, and Blink deals with “think slicing”, which refers to our ability to make rapid, gut decisions. This type of “intuitive” response is often overlooked by executives who rely too heavily on a rational approach. I’m seeking to unpick that more.
Blanche Wiesen Cook’s biography Eleanor Roosevelt looks at the first lady who was known as a ‘woman who changed the lives of millions’. From a difficult childhood, through her marriage to president Franklin D Roosevelt, and the work she did fighting for equal rights, I’m excited to read this account of her life.
I’ll also be reading Beneath a Scarlet Sky by Mark Sullivan. This historical novel is based on a young Italian man who joins an underground railroad to help Jews escape over the Alps during WWII. When his parents force him to enlist as a German soldier, he is injured and ends up becoming the personal driver in Italy for Adolf Hitler’s left-hand general Hans Leyers.