Best Psychology Books

There’s nothing quite like delving into the best psychology books to gain a deeper understanding of yourself and others around you. As 450 million people suffer from mental disorders, if not more, due to a stigma of seeking help, this is by far one of the essential subjects to consider.

Although self-diagnosis isn’t recommended, the best books on psychology can help you to better understand the afflictions you encounter daily. Even for students who are searching for curriculum materials or books that can help you to understand a topic in your classes better, these titles will prove to be invaluable.

You can guarantee there won’t be a shortage of materials, as you can browse through titles written by authors who have dealt with anxiety, depression, substance abuse, bipolar disorder, and more. Having a deeper understanding of the human psyche and how it can be affected over the years is an asset that plenty of people do not have.

The best books on psychology are incredibly notable, as trained professionals in the field wrote them. Not only will you have statistically valid information at your fingertips, but you will also be able to gain experience from individuals who have been face to face with patients suffering from an assortment of disorders.

Being able to understand how to assess, diagnose, and treat these disorders can provide you with the stepping stones you need to establish yourself as a trained psychologist or psychiatrist.

If you’re not searching for classroom texts, psychology books can also assist you in dealing with a loved one’s diagnosis. Plenty of the titles that we recommend are fantastic resources for families struggling through mental disorders, especially if you have a fundamental understanding of the ones you’re faced with.

Using these books can assist you with making a choice to get help, or helping a family member in getting help for themselves. With the help of the best psychology books on this list, you will have the opportunity to see yourself in a different, healthier way, which is better not only for you but for everyone around you, as well.

Best Psychology Books, Best Books on Psychology

Influence:

Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion

It taught me so much about marketing and human psychology. I keep referring back to that book all the time. It has been instrumental in inspiring the marketing strategies I used to propel Rails and Basecamp.
David Heinemeier Hansson
Co-Founder/Basecamp

The Road Less Travelled: A New Psychology of Love, Traditional Values and Spiritual Growth

It helps you take a deeper look and understand why certain things happen in your life. It's an introduction to psychology. It helps you divide a person, just like you would do with a mathematical equation.
Iulian Stanciu
Founder/eMag
Mindset:

Mindset: The New Psychology of Success

My children’s school recommended that we read Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. The book has a lot of great information that is as applicable to managers at high growth companies as it is to parents. The key takeaway for me is that highly capable people tend to be risk-avoiders because they are afraid of failure. They get so used to being praised for their achievements that they end up not pushing themselves to their full potential for fear of looking dumb. As a parent (or a manager), the book recommends praising effort, not accomplishment, and creating an environment that encourages risk-taking and celebrates failure. This is a concept that really resonates with me, not only as a part of my parenting style, but in the way I lead at Zillow Group. Our core values as a company encourage employees to take big swings, with the understanding that they won’t all work out. It’s how we’ve achieved our current success, and it’s what motivates our employees.
Spencer Rascoff
CEO/Zillow Group
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
Coach

Coach and Couch: The Psychology of Making Better Leaders

At a young age it wasn’t the academical books as the material presented at school wasn’t that interesting but I was lucky that both my parents loved reading and I was brought up to read and it became a habit. Later at life the first book that had an impact on me was “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” that made me question certain things about my life and my perspective towards it. As for my career I would say it’s “Act Like a Leader, Think Like a Leader” “Working Identity” & “Coach & Couch”.
Nadia Al Sheikh
Founder/Deal’n
Psychology

Psychology of the Stock Market

For those interested in the stock markets ~G.C Selden's 1912 (yes 1912!!) The Psychology of the Stock Market. Human emotions and thought processes remain the same. Greed and fear. Even though my business is in fitness and wellness most of the books are pretty awful and I haven't been influenced by individuals in this sphere. i keep hearing younger trainers talking about bodybuilders and their online presence, videos, etc but that doesn't interest me. No I haven't watched Pumping Iron. There are some very good marketers to be sure such as Pat Rigsby and Ryan Lee who I have bought material from but no book per se has influenced this career.
David Sisk
Founder/David Sisk Fitness
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
Positive

Positive Psychology in a Nutshell: The Science of Happiness

When asked what books he would recommend to youngsters interested in his professional path, Stephen mentioned Positive Psychology in a Nutshell.
Stephen Lew
Director/The School of Positive Psychology
The

The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work

This book opened an ongoing conversation on our team around the relationship between employee happiness and productivity. Achor overturns the conventional belief that happiness is a natural outcome of success. Through practical research, experiences and anecdotes, he illustrates that happiness that will actually lead you to success. Happy people tend to work harder, collaborate better and be more productive. This in turn leads to better results. SoulCycle is and always has been an inherently positive experience and one of the things Achor's book validated for us is that a meaningful commitment to employee well-being is a huge part of why we're successful. We've integrated the book as a resource for our entire organization.
Melanie Whelan
CEO/SoulCycle
Emotional

Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ

One of the most eye opening for me was “Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ” as it offered a different perspective on leadership, and how empathy can make you a more successful leader. Every person has some degree of empathy and through this book you understand how to apply it more intently.

Magda Marcu
Co-Founder/Sailo
Social:

Social: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Connect

When asked what books he would recommend to youngsters interested in his professional path, Stephen mentioned Social: why our brains are wired to connect.
Stephen Lew
Director/The School of Positive Psychology
Authentic

Authentic Happiness: Using the New Positive Psychology to Realise your Potential for Lasting Fulfilment

When asked what books he would recommend to youngsters interested in his professional path, Stephen mentioned Authentic Happiness.
Stephen Lew
Director/The School of Positive Psychology
When

When Panic Attacks

I had been suffering from acute anxiety and panic attacks for 5 years without knowing what the hell was wrong with me while assuming I had every life-threatening disease under the sun. Then one day I picked up a book, When Panic Attacks by Áine Tubridy, and read the back. I immediately said to myself, holy shit, that's me! Needless to say, I went straight to the counter and made the purchase.
Nicky Cullen
Writer, Anxiety Coach
Consciousness

Consciousness

I am glad to find a complete book dealing with all aspects of consciousness in CLEARLY written format, with graphs and tables to facilitate comprehension. The book covers everything I had seen before from Artificial Intelligence to Philosophy to Neurology to Evolutionary Biology.

Say one wants to get an idea of Dan Dennett's theory of consciousness (without having to get through Dennett's circuitous, unfocused and evasive prose) or Searle's Chinese room argument or Turing's test or Chalmer's position or Churchland's neurophilosophy or a presentation of research on the neural correlates of consciousness...Everything I could think about is there.

Nassim Nicholas Taleb
Flaneur

The Broken Ladder: How Inequality Affects the Way We Think, Live, and Die

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
Stumbling

Stumbling on Happiness

My recommendation is to do little tests. Try a few months of living the life you think you want, but leave yourself an exit plan, being open to the big chance that you might not like it after actually trying it... The best book about this subject is Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert. His recommendation is to talk to a few people wo are currently where you think you want to be and ask them for the pros and cons. Then trust their opinion since they're right in it, not just remembering or imagining.
Derek Sivers
Founder/CDBaby

The Courage To Be Disliked: How to free yourself, change your life and achieve real happiness

Smash hit in Japan, and easy to see why. Adlerian psychology meets Stoic philosophy in Socratic dialogue. Compelling from front to back. Highly recommend.

Marc Andreessen
Co-Founder/Andreessen Horowitz

How Change Happens

It's often said that the only constancy in life is change. Cass Sunstein weaves threads from diverse traditions in behavioral science to explain how big shifts get started.
Angela Duckworth
Author
Incognito:

Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain

At a conference I recently attended, David talked about his work. It's all anyone discussed for the next two days. This book will help you understand the meat/electricity/chemicals you're carrying around inside your head better than you ever have before.
Seth Godin
Author & Entrepreneur
Thinking

Thinking and Deciding

People vote with their wallet --particularly when they do it a second time, when they REpurchase. Those who believe in the revelation of preferences should note that there are books one buys again when a copy is lost --particularly when they are read cover to cover.

I am buying another copy of this book as mine was lost or misplaced. That should speak volumes.

Nassim Nicholas Taleb
Flaneur
Grit:

Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance

Put aside your insecurities over any lack of talent and ability you might feel, and pick up Angela Duckworth's book Grit. Instead of focusing on the idea that there’s a big secret behind outstanding achievement, Duckworth touts the importance of blending passion and relentless persistence, otherwise known as grit. Duckworth herself is the daughter of scientists who frequently told her she lacked genius. Her book shows how everyday people, from cadets at West Point to finalists in National Spelling Bees, have actually succeeded through sheer passion and persistence. The trick is finding your own grit.
Sujan Patel
Co-Founder/Web Profits
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

The Moral Animal: Why We Are, the Way We Are: The New Science of Evolutionary Psychology

This is probably the definitive beginner text on evolutionary psychology and one of the easiest to get into. It’s a little depressing at first, realizing how ruthless many of our so called “good” feelings are. But then you realize that truth is better than ignorance, and you emerge seeing the world as it truly is for the first time.
Ryan Holiday
Founder/Brass Check
The

The Art of Thinking Clearly

Dobelli examines our most common decision-making failings with engaging eloquence and describes how to counter them with instructive good sense.
Robert Cialdini
Author

The Power of Persuasion: How We’re Bought and Sold

The ability to be convincing, sell ideas, and persuade other people is a meta-skill that transfers to many areas of your life. This book didn't become that popular, but it's the best book on persuasion that Will has found. It's much more in-depth than other options in the genre.
Will MacAskill
Founder/80,000 Hours
The

The Examined Life: How We Lose and Find Ourselves

A chance to reflect on your own life and flaws by reading how others deal with theirs. I also love how short the vignettes are. Usually just a few pages. It’s immensely readable, and the whole book is refreshingly succinct as well.
David Heinemeier Hansson
Co-Founder/Basecamp

The Consuming Instinct: What Juicy Burgers, Ferraris, Pornography, and Gift Giving Reveal About Human Nature

If you're trying to get people to buy more stuff, this book will show you how. If you're trying to understand why you buy so much stuff, this book will show you how as well. Good stuff on every page.
Seth Godin
Author & Entrepreneur

Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones

A lot of people email me asking about habits - how to form good ones, how to break bad ones, how to stop doing the dumb shit we always do. I've got a friend named James Clear. He's an accomplished author and business owner and is kind of a habit guru. He's probably forgotten more habits research than I've ever brought myself to look at. He just launched his first book. It's called Atomic Habits and it's probably the most practical and complete guide I've ever seen about habit formation and habit change. Do check it out. And then email him and tell him that I have luscious and beautiful hair and he doesn't. Then stick out your tongue and go, Nyah, nyanya, nyah, nyah.
Mark Manson
Author
Willpower:

Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength

The psychologist Roy F. Baumeister has shown that the force metaphor has a kernel of neurobiological reality. In Willpower, he has teamed up with the irreverent New York Timesscience columnist John Tierney to explain this ingenious research and show how it can enhance our lives. . . . Willpower is an immensely rewarding book, filled with ingenious research, wise advice and insightful reflections on the human condition.
Steven Pinker
Author
12

12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos

Just look at the table of contents:
  • Rule 1: Stand up straight with your shoulders back
  • Rule 2: Treat yourself like someone you are responsible for helping
  • Rule 3: Make friends with people who want the best for you
  • Rule 4: Compare yourself to who you were yesterday, not to who someone else is today
  • Rule 5: Do not let your children do anything that makes you dislike them
  • Rule 6: Set your house in perfect order before you criticise the world
  • Rule 7: Pursue what is meaningful (not what is expedient)
  • Rule 8: Tell the truth – or, at least, don’t lie
  • Rule 9: Assume the person you are listening to might know something you don’t
  • Rule 10: Be precise in your speech
  • Rule 11: Do not bother children when they are skateboarding
  • Rule 12: Pet a cat when you encounter one on the street
Read this book.
James Altucher
Entrepreneur, investor
The

The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself

What I'm reading right now is The Untethered Soul, which is also a really, really amazing book. It's a little hippy yoga, but it's all about how you deal with stuff that happens to you in life and be emotionally strong.
David Henzel
Co-Founder/MaxCDN
Strangers

Strangers to Ourselves: Discovering the Adaptive Unconscious

One of the loveliest, most insightful books about social psychology that I ever read.
Malcolm Gladwell
Writer & Journalist
Thinking,

Thinking, Fast and Slow

This book is amazing—it didn't change my mind, so much as it has changed the way I think. It helps to understand the difference between the way you make quick decisions, versus considered decisions—it takes different mechanisms in the brain. Understanding which you're doing at any given time can have a profound impact on what you ultimately decide.

John Lilly
Partner/Greylock Partners

Permission to Feel: Unlocking the Power of Emotions to Help Our Kids, Ourselves, and Our Society Thrive

We often create a false dichotomy between thinking and feeling. In this dichotomy, thinking is important, strong, and adaptive, but feeling is not. Marc Brackett shows us how emotions and our ability to feel, understand, and use them are key to fulfilling our potential.
Carol S. Dweck
Author
Age

Age of Propaganda: The Everyday Use and Abuse of Persuasion

If you understand principles, you can create tactics. If you are dependent on perishable tactics, you are always at a disadvantage. This is why Ramit studies behavioral psychology and the elements of persuasion that appear hardwired. One of his most gifted books is Age of Propaganda by Anthony Pratkanis and Elliot Aronson, and his favorite copywriting book is an oldie: The Robert Collier Letter Book, originally published in 1931.
Ramit Sethi
Founder/GrowthLab
Escape

Escape from Freedom

Escape from Freedom examines what happened to the human psyche when we went from a medieval caste system to the modern world. As we gained freedom from all sorts of oppressions, we also got detached from a predictable and safe role in society. That anxiety is often difficult to cope with, especially when things don’t turn out the way we aspired to. Fromm argues that we need to balance this freedom from with just as much freedom to. Positive freedom, not just negative freedom.

The book was written in 1941 and obviously colored by the rise of fascism and the world wars. But it’s message is as timely today, in an age of populism and unease. It draws a compelling connection between the loss of identity and belonging with the appeal of authoritarian figures. That it’s a human response to turn away from freedom when that freedom turns life into anxiety and disappointment. So from Trump to Erdogan, there’s strong public support.

David Heinemeier Hansson
Co-Founder/Basecamp
The

The Power Tactics of Jesus Christ and Other Essays

The title essay in this book is peerless and amazing. The rest of the essays, which talk about Haley’s unusual approach to psychotherapy are also quite good. If you’ve gone to therapy, are thinking about going to therapy, or know someone going to therapy, this book is a must-read.
Ryan Holiday
Founder/Brass Check
When

When the Body Says No: The cost of hidden stress

Once thought to be in the domain of genes, our health and behavior have recently been revealed to be controlled by our perception of the environment and our beliefs. Gabor Mate, M.D., skillfully blends recent advances in biomedicine with the personal insights of his patients to provide empowering insight into how deeply developmental experiences shape our health, behavior, attitudes, and relationships. A must-read for health professionals and lay readers seeking awareness of how the mind controls health.
Bruce Lipton
PhD, Cellular Biologist, Author
The

The Compassionate Instinct: The Science of Human Goodness

“The Compassionate Instinct” is a great resource for those who wish to enhance their socio-psyche abilities for thought leadership, especially for wellbeing leadership development. The literature probes into the infinite resources of human capital, particularly into avenues of humans’ compassionate instinct. Our compassionate instinct plays a cardinal role in how we choose to connect to others.
Stephen Lew
Director/The School of Positive Psychology

Love’s Executioner: & Other Tales of Psychotherapy

When asked what books he would recommend to youngsters interested in his professional path, Stephen mentioned Love's executioner and other tales of psychotherapy.
Stephen Lew
Director/The School of Positive Psychology
The

The Gift of Failure: How the Best Parents Learn to Let Go So Their Children Can Succeed

I read The Gift of Failure: How the Best Parents Learn to Let Go So Their Children Can Succeed by Jessica Lahey because I have a son, but it’s worth reading for anyone, parent or not. Written by a middle school teacher and education expert, the book is an exploration of how one raises self-sufficient children who are responsible for themselves.
Ryan Holiday
Founder/Brass Check

David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants

Buy Malcolm Gladwell’s book “David and Goliath” and read the interesting stories about how the Davids of that moments have defeated the Goliaths.
Robert Katai
Founder/Instagramology
The

The Celestine Prophecy: An Adventure

A few months ago, I was drinking a Noah’s Mill whiskey (cute) with my good buddy Brian Balfour and talking about life... During the conversation, we got on the topic of books that changed our lives. I want to share them with you. I judge a book's success if a year later I'm still using at least 1 thing from the book.
Noah Kagan
Founder/Sumo
Moonwalking

Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything

Of the five books I finished over vacation, the one that impressed me the most – and that is probably of broadest interest – is Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything, by science writer Joshua Foer. This is an absolutely phenomenal book that looks at memory and techniques for dramatically improving memory. Foer actually mastered these techniques, which led him to the finals of the U.S. Memory Championship. His book gives fascinating insights into how the mind works.
Bill Gates
CEO/Microsoft
Social

Social Intelligence: The New Science of Human Relationships

This book is the key to understand the way societies reacts and why.

Corneliu Bodea
CEO / Adrem

Barking Up the Wrong Tree: The Surprising Science Behind Why Everything You Know About Success Is (Mostly) Wrong

Eric Barker puts out some great content on his blog and his book combines a lot of those insights into a single read. Growing up I was much more critical and hard on myself than I should’ve been, and this book gives great insight as to what Success actually is and how to get there.
Cody McLain
CEO/SupportNinja

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 Passion Paradox: A Guide to Going All In, Finding Success, and Discovering the Benefits of an Unbalanced Life

Passion is a roller coaster ride that can send us on a sudden, precipitating plunge from the heights of happiness to the depths of despair. This thoughtful, immediately readable book shows how to manage passion so it brings out the best in us—rather than the worst in us.
Adam Grant
Author
The

The Will to Meaning: Foundations and Applications of Logotherapy

Frankl is one of the most profound modern thinkers on meaning and purpose. His contribution was to change the question from the vague philosophy of “What is the meaning of life?” to man being asked and forced to answer with his actions. He looks at how we find purpose by dedicating ourselves to a cause, learning to love and finding a meaning to our suffering. His other two books on the topic, Will To Meaning and Man’s Search for Ultimate Meaning have gems in them as well.
Ryan Holiday
Founder/Brass Check
Why

Why They Do It: Inside the Mind of the White-Collar Criminal

​This summer, Mackenna is learning more about the birth of behavioral economics, the psychology of white collar crime, and the restoration of American cities as locations of economic growth.

Francisco Perez Mackenna
CEO/Quineñco
The

The Gift of Fear : Survival Signals That Protect Us from Violence

The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker shares a bunch of anecdotes from violent attacks, how the victims often knew per instinct that something wasn’t right, but suppressed that instinct for fear of seeming rude or silly or whatever. He also presents a bunch of analytical frameworks for evaluating threats, stalkers, and other menaces.

But it’s not a dry textbook. Gavin had a violent upbringing and brings a lot of personal anecdotes and perspectives to bear as well.

David Heinemeier Hansson
Co-Founder/Basecamp

Emotional Success: The Power of Gratitude, Compassion, and Pride

I'm listening to Emotional Success by David DeSteno. I'm hoping to use some of the ideas to help customers of my weight loss app stick to their targets and lose more weight.
Lewis Smith
Entrepreneur & Developer/BodyTracker
The

The Fear Factor

Let Abigail Marsh guide you on a riveting ride through your own brain. With lively writing and an impressive command of science, she shows how sensitivity to fear can be both a weapon of evil and a force for good.
Adam Grant
Author/Originals
The

The Physics Of Consciousness: The Quantum Mind And The Meaning Of Life

I have no favorite book, but I can tell you a particular genre that continues to capture my literary interests: metacognition. Books like The Tao of Physics, Everyday Zen, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Buddhist Biology, Zen and the Brain, and The Physics of Consciousness all run the gamut of challenging and considering to think of how we think.
Ari Iaccarino
Co-Founder/Ridj-it
The

The Cyber Effect: A Pioneering Cyberpsychologist Explains How Human Behavior Changes Online

My favorite book is usually a recent one that helped me with a particular task or question. In the last year, I’ve been working (and studying) more about online influencers. In this context, two books come to mind: one that really inspired me on how to work better with people -- the classic How to win friends and influence people by Dale Carnegie; the other helped me understand the dynamics of online interactions -- The Cyber Effect: A Pioneering Cyberpsychologist Explains How Human Behavior Changes Online by Mary Aiken.
Irina Nica
Senior Marketing Manager/HubSpot
Smarter

Smarter Faster Better: The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business

Last year I read the book 'Smarter Faster Better: The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business' by Charles Duhigg. Look passed the click-baity title and you'll find one of the best books on productivity I've ever read... And I've read a lot of them.
Mike Benkovich
Founder/Anatomonics
Reality

Reality Is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World

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

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking

On a more functional level, I am reading Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking, by Susan Cain, mostly because I'm finding that as I get older my inner introvert is becoming more prevalent. I've been quite good at faking extroversion but I now need how to best leverage my true nature. 🙂
Bogdana Butnar
Head of Strategy/Poke

Who Can You Trust?: How Technology Brought Us Together and Why It Might Drive Us Apart

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 Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom

Honourable Mentions: Four Hour Work Week, The Happiness Hypothesis, Meditations, Catch 22, A Guide To The Good Life.
Mike Benkovich
Founder/Anatomonics
Man’s

Man’s Search for Ultimate Meaning

Frankl is one of the most profound modern thinkers on meaning and purpose. His contribution was to change the question from the vague philosophy of “What is the meaning of life?” to man being asked and forced to answer with his actions. He looks at how we find purpose by dedicating ourselves to a cause, learning to love and finding a meaning to our suffering. His other two books on the topic, Will To Meaning and Man’s Search for Ultimate Meaning have gems in them as well.
Ryan Holiday
Founder/Brass Check

Rewire: Change Your Brain to Break Bad Habits, Overcome Addictions, Conquer Self-Destructive Behavior

I think Rewire (by Richard O'Connor) helped me a lot at the time, it was the first neuropsychology book, and it shed light on my bad habits and behaviour. It opened my appetite for “brain” books and started a journey of understanding, acceptance and change.
Bogdan Lucaciu
CTO/Adore Me

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
Cosmic

Cosmic Consciousness: A Study in the Evolution of the Human Mind

Kottke recently shared a list of the books he and Jobs read around their time at Reed — ones that inspired Jobs's travels across the globe as well as his professional pursuits. One of the most influential works on that list is Cosmic Consciousness: A Study in the Evolution of the Human Mind, originally published by a Canadian psychiatrist in 1901.
Steve Jobs
Founder/Apple
Schopenhauer's

Schopenhauer’s Porcupines: Intimacy And Its Dilemmas: Five Stories Of Psychotherapy

When asked what books he would recommend to youngsters interested in his professional path, Stephen mentioned Schopenhauer's porcupines intimacy and its dilemmas.
Stephen Lew
Director/The School of Positive Psychology

The Surrender Experiment: My Journey into Life’s Perfection

One of the must read books.
Dan Lok
Serial Entrepreneur
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
Learned

Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life

Learned Optimism by Martin Seligman because it was the turning point in psychology: a focus on the positive and human potential to flourish. As a speaker in this field, I would say this book is really inspiring material.
Shaen Yeo
Founder/Positive Education
The

The Brain That Changes Itself

I don't have favourite books. I equate a favourite something with wanting to do it over and over again and I've never wanted to read a book too many times. I have favourite authors and I have books that changed me in significant ways because they moved me or taught me something or changed my view of the world. So, here's some of those books...
Bogdana Butnar
Head of Strategy/Poke
The

The Courage Quotient: How Science Can Make You Braver

When asked what books he would recommend to youngsters interested in his professional path, Stephen mentioned The Courage Quotient.
Stephen Lew
Director/The School of Positive Psychology
The

The Bed of Procrustes: Philosophical and Practical Aphorisms

I’m reading [...] The Bed of Procrustes: Philosophical and Practical Aphorisms, by Nassim Taleb, who is famous for The Black Swan and Fooled by Randomness. I sort of like his collection of ancient wisdom, In the Bed of Procrustes.
Naval Ravikant
CEO & Co-Founder/AngelList
Zen

Zen and the Brain: Toward an Understanding of Meditation and Consciousness

I have no favorite book, but I can tell you a particular genre that continues to capture my literary interests: metacognition. Books like The Tao of Physics, Everyday Zen, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Buddhist Biology, Zen and the Brain, and The Physics of Consciousness all run the gamut of challenging and considering to think of how we think.
Ari Iaccarino
Co-Founder/Ridj-it

Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me): Why We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions, and Hurtful Acts

A book about cognitive dissonance that looks at common weaknesses and biases in human thinking. Peter wants to ensure he goes through life without being too sure of himeself, and this book helps him to recalibrate.
Peter Attia
Founder/Attia Medical
Three

Three Women

I can’t remember the last time a book affected me as profoundly as Three Women. Lisa Taddeo is a tireless reporter, a brilliant writer, and a storyteller possessed of almost supernatural humanity. As far as I’m concerned, this is a nonfiction literary masterpiece at the same level as In Cold Blood—and just as suspenseful, bone-chilling, and harrowing, in its own way. I know already that I will never stop thinking about the women profiled in this story—about their sexual desire, their emotional pain, their strength, their losses. I saw myself in all of them. Truly, Three Women is an extraordinary offering.
Elizabeth Gilbert
Author
Algorithms

Algorithms to Live By: The Computer Science of Human Decisions

When asked what books he would recommend to young people interested in his career path, Emi Gal mentioned Algorithms to Live By.
Emi Gal
CEO/Teads Studio
The

The Self-Driven Child: The Science and Sense of Giving Your Kids More Control Over Their Lives

A few years ago, Bill Stixrud and Ned Johnson started noticing the same problem from different angles: Even high-performing kids were coming to them acutely stressed and lacking motivation. Many complained they had no control over their lives. Some stumbled in high school or hit college and unraveled. Bill is a clinical neuropsychologist who helps kids gripped by anxiety or struggling to learn. Ned is a motivational coach who runs an elite tutoring service. Together they discovered that the best antidote to stress is to give kids more of a sense of control over their lives. But this doesn't mean giving up your authority as a parent. In this groundbreaking book they reveal how you can actively help your child to sculpt a brain that is resilient, and ready to take on new challenges.

The Self-Driven Child offers a combination of cutting-edge brain science, the latest discoveries in behavioral therapy, and case studies drawn from the thousands of kids and teens Bill and Ned have helped over the years to teach you how to set your child on the real road to success. As parents, we can only drive our kids so far. At some point, they will have to take the wheel and map out their own path. But there is a lot you can do before then to help them tackle the road ahead with resilience and imagination.

David Heinemeier Hansson
Co-Founder/Basecamp
The

The Joy of Sex

Honorable mentions: Jonathan Livingston Seagull, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, and The Joy of Sex, all given to me by my mother. I believe they helped inculcate some of the 1960s-70s ethos of individual freedom into my thinking.
Tyler Cowen
Founder/Marginal Revolution University
The

The Doors of Perception and Heaven and Hell

I also really loved “The doors of perception” by Aldous Huxley.
Auston Bunsen
Co-Founder/CBlocks
The

The Little Book of Big Change: The No-Willpower Approach to Breaking Any Habit

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

How Will You Measure Your Life?

Clay’s Innovator’s Dilemma was important. Also, about 10 years later, he had another which really had a profound impact on me and on my belief systems – How will you measure your life.
Dragos Novac
CEO/Nordic 9
The

The Wisdom Paradox: How Your Mind Can Grow Stronger As Your Brain Grows Older

If you like the thinker's prose, the so-called romantic science,a style attributed to the Russian neuroscientist A. R. Luria,which consists in publishing original research in literary form, you would love this book. Clearly intellectual scientists are vanishing under the weight of the commoditization of the discipline. But once in a while someone emerges to reverse such setbacks. Goldberg, who was the great Luria's student and collaborator, is even more colorful and fun to read than the master.

He is egocentric, abrasive, opinionated, and colorful. He is also disdainful of the conventional beliefs in neurosciences --for instance he is suspicious of the assignment of specific functions, such as language, to anatomical regions. He is also skeptical of the journalistic triune brain. His theory is that the hemispheric specialization is principally along pattern matching and information processing lines:the left side stores patterns, while the right one processes novel tasks. It is convincing to see that children suffer more from a right brain injury, while adults have the opposite effect. There is a little bit of open plugging of Goldberg's for-profit institute;he would have gotten better results by being subtle.

A fre minor points. I did not understand why Goldberg discusses modularity, of which he is critical, as if it were the same thing in both neurobiology and in cognitive science. In neurobiology, modularity implies regional localization, while cognitive scientists (Marr, Fodor, etc.) make no such assumption: for them it is entirely functional and they would be in great agreement with Goldberg. Also I did not understand why he attributes the language instinct to Pinker, not Chomsky, and why he makes snide remarks about behavioral scientists like Kahneman and Tversky. But these are very minor details that do not weaken the message (I still gave the book 5 stars). I am now spoiled; I need more essays by opinionated, original,and intellectual, contemporary scientists.

Nassim Nicholas Taleb
Flaneur
Convergence

Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide

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

Peak Performance: Elevate Your Game, Avoid Burnout, and Thrive with the New Science of Success

An essential playbook for success, happiness, and getting the most out of ourselves.
Arianna Huffington
Founder/Thrive Global
The

The War for Kindness: Building Empathy in a Fractured World

In a time when it seems empathy is a lost cause and compassion is a dying art, it may not be too late to revive the better angels of our nature. Jamil Zaki is one of the bright lights in psychology, and in this gripping book he shows that kindness is not a sign of weakness but a source of strength.
Adam Grant
Author
The

The Book of Love and Creation: A Channeled Text

The Book of Love & Creation by Paul Selig, altered how I view my instinctive and intuitive abilities and the place they have in business. A great read for people waking up to their higher selves and their own consciousness in how it relates to their personal impact in the world.
Jules Schroeder
Founder of Unconventional Life

So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed

There’s no question this was the year’s best book about media and culture–maybe even the best of the decade. Not only is it provocative and insightful, but the idea—interviewing and focusing on people who have screwed up and found themselves in the midst of massive online controversies—is one I am genuinely jealous of. Ronson proceeds to write about it with such sensitivity, empathy, humor and insight that I was blown away. If you’ve at all appreciated any of my media criticism over the years, please read this book. It looks at all that’s wrong with the rage and glee with which we tear people down–often people who were never public figures to begin with. He is just a helluva writer. If you get a chance, watch Monica Lewinsky’s TED talk which is also surprisingly good and pairs well with the ideas in the book.
Ryan Holiday
Founder/Brass Check
Mean

Mean Genes: From Sex To Money To Food: Taming Our Primal Instincts

I read the book once when it came out. Since then I've had the chance to reread it a few times, discovering more and more layers as my interests take me in new directions(for instance the discussion on the happiness treadmill goes to the core of the current discussions in the economics of happiness). I now carry a copy on my trips as I can kill time in airports by perusing random sections.

The book is so readable as to perhaps set a standard. Yet it is complete in the sense that it covers more of the evolutionary thinking than meets the eye. I didn't realize it until I went to the site [...] and got into the more technical research material.

Reread it.

Nassim Nicholas Taleb
Flaneur
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
Outliers:

Outliers: The Story of Success

Gladwell is not the first person to come up with the 10,000 hour rule. Nor is he the first person to document what it takes to become the best in the world at something.

But his stories are so great as he explains these deep concepts.

How did the Beatles become the best? Why are professional hockey players born in January, February and March?

And so on.

James Altucher
Founder/StockPickr
Upheaval:

Upheaval: Turning Points for Nations in Crisis

I’m a big fan of everything Jared has written, and his latest is no exception. The book explores how societies react during moments of crisis. He uses a series of fascinating case studies to show how nations managed existential challenges like civil war, foreign threats, and general malaise. It sounds a bit depressing, but I finished the book even more optimistic about our ability to solve problems than I started.
Bill Gates
Founder/Microsoft
William

William James: Writings 1902-1910

When I read Sapiens:, I found the chapter on the evolution of the role of religion in human life most interesting and something I wanted to go deeper on.

William James was a philosopher in the 1800s who shaped much of modern psychology.

Mark Zuckerberg
CEO/Facebook

The Mind Doesn’t Work That Way

This critique of the computational theory of mind and the pan-adaptionist tradition is clearly so honest that it goes after the ideas promoted by Fodor's own 1983 watershed book The Modularity of Mind. In brief the essay is an attack on massive modularity by saying that there are things after all that escape the programming (encapsulation and opacity are key: how can we talk about something OPAQUE? We know nothing about a few critical things...).

Granted the book is horribly written (that is Fodor's charm after all) but his argumentation is so ferocious that he ends up loud & clear.

The man is critical of his own ideas, and of the current in thought that he he helped create --one may use Fodor-1 against Fodor-2. Perhaps persons I hold in highest respect are those who go after their own ideas!

Bravo Fodor. Even if I do not agree I can't help admiring the man.

Nassim Nicholas Taleb
Flaneur

The Naked Ape: A Zoologist’s Study of the Human Animal

When a look back at my career path, it is the one of an entrepreneur. I have built various businesses, from accounting and financial advisory firms to tech and security businesses. I have also spent most of my adult life in China, a country that is quite hostile to foreigners and very unfair. I have accepted to suffer the hardships of building my business without any investment from anybody, and stick very firmly to my values. I would recommend young people to read about adventure, hardships, and moral choices. Of course, it would be important to also read about the drivers of our humanity, hence the motley list below:

[...]

  • The Naked Ape, Desmond Moriss’s classic zoological study of the human being.
Stephane Grand
Managing Partner/S.J. Grand Financial and Tax Advisory
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
Waking

Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion

Very well thought through analysis of spirituality without religion.
Fabrice Grinda
Serial Entrepreneur, Investor
Think

Think and Grow Rich

I do goal-setting. The first time I read about this was in Napoleon Hill's 'Think and Grow Rich,' I was 16 years old.

Daymond John
Founder/FUBU

Crush It!: Why NOW Is the Time to Cash In on Your Passion

Gary Vaynerchuk is one of those entrepreneurs who has discovered the secret to combining passion with business. He is always an inspiration and always entertaining. You owe it to yourself to read this book!
Tony Hsieh
CEO/Zappos
The

The Wisdom of Crowds

Although we tend to elect leaders that we believe know better and follow them hoping for a better future, better life & a safer life. Surprisingly in many cases the wisdom of the crowd has proven to be more accurate than most of our smartest leaders. The message for me is to learn to listen to the people and to learn from them assuming you know nothing with that you will learn a lot!
Nadia Al Sheikh
Founder/Deal’n
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
The

The Influential Mind: What the Brain Reveals About Our Power to Change Others

I’m reading 3 books now and it really depends on my mood.

  • (1) Homo Deus by Yuval Harari
  • (2) The Influential Mind by Tali Sharot (re-reading it) and
  • (3) Hooked by Nir Eyal.

What do I expect to gain? With the 2nd and 3rd books, it’s to reinforce stuff I already know and both also point out useful tips for my business. The first is just a fascinating read about human nature and it’s purely for pleasure.

Jeff Tan
Peak Performance Pilot/REV Inspires
Models

Models of My Life

An autobiography of Nobel laureate Herbert A. Simon, a remarkable polymath who more people should know about. In an age of increasing specialization, he’s a rare generalist — applying what he learned as a scientist to other aspects of his life. Crossing disciplines, he was at the intersection of “information sciences.” He won the Nobel for his theory of “bounded rationality,” and is perhaps best known for his insightful quote “A wealth of information creates a poverty of attention.”
Charlie Munger
Vice Chairman/Berkshire Hathaway
Crystallizing

Crystallizing Public Opinion

Crystallizing Public Opinion was written by the Godfather of PR. Bernays combined crowd psychology with the psychoanalytical ideas of his uncle, Sigmund Freud, to become the first thinker to explain how PR could thrive by managing public opinion. It’s truly incredible how poignant his insights and analysis remain in popular culture.
Ronn Torossian
CEO, Founder/5W PR
Irresistible:

Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked

As if to prove his point, Adam Alter has written a truly addictive book about the rise of addiction. Irresistible is a fascinating and much needed exploration of one of the most troubling phenomena of modern times.
Malcolm Gladwell
Writer & Journalist
The

The Power of Positive Thinking

Norman Vincent Peale - the great Norman Vincent Peale - was my pastor. The Power Of Positive Thinking - everybody's heard of Norman Vincent Peale. He was so great.
Donald Trump
USA President
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
The

The Robert Collier Letter Book

If you understand principles, you can create tactics. If you are dependent on perishable tactics, you are always at a disadvantage. This is why Ramit studies behavioral psychology and the elements of persuasion that appear hardwired. One of his most gifted books is Age of Propaganda by Anthony Pratkanis and Elliot Aronson, and his favorite copywriting book is an oldie: The Robert Collier Letter Book, originally published in 1931.
Ramit Sethi
Founder/GrowthLab
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
Status

Status Anxiety

Ah yes, the drive that we all have to be better, bigger, have more, be more. Ambition is a good thing, but it’s also a source of great anxiety and frustration. In this book, philosopher Alain de Botton studies the downsides of the desire to “be somebody” in this world. How do you manage ambition? How do you manage envy? How do you avoid the traps that so many other people fall into? This book is a good introduction into the philosophy and psychology of just that.
Ryan Holiday
Founder/Brass Check
The

The Four Pillars of Investing: Lessons for Building a Winning Portfolio

Four Pillars has a good methodology for thinking about how to save and invest personally so definitely useful.
Bill Earner
Founder/Connect Ventures
Sex

Sex on the Brain: The Biological Differences Between Men and Women

One of the better books on evolutionary biology that focuses almost entirely on the biological and psychological differences between men and women. It’s written by a journalist (who cites scientists) so it’s easy to read if you’re not studied in the field. If you want to get into evolutionary psychology–which you totally should–this is a good starting point because it covers all the basics. Essentially, it discusses how men and women have benefited evolutionarily through different behaviors and strengths so it would only make sense that they would have developed into two very different entities.
Ryan Holiday
Founder/Brass Check
The

The Making of the Atomic Bomb

My favorite book is The Making of the Atomic Bomb by Richard Rhodes. It's a book that covers a vast range of topics over a fifty year period. It talks about the scientific advances that led to the bomb, the personalities that made those advances, and at the same time covers the political choices and escalation of violence over the course of the first half of the 20th Century that paint the use of the atomic bomb on Japan as an almost inevitable conclusion of that escalation. The prose is as incredible as the story. It's really a treat to rea

Bill Earner
Founder/Connect Ventures

Way of the Wolf: Straight Line Selling: Master the Art of Persuasion, Influence, and Success

I actually have read the Wolf of Wall Street before. But this time I want to understands this man without any Hollywood beautifying filter. Try to get into his head. Simply want to know how he used charisma and Psychology to manipulate people. And I’m certain, all dictators, leaders in history, they all have their very own charisma, unique tonality that attracts people's’ attention. To be continued….
Kimberly Gloria Choi
Founder/Marchbaby Collective
The

The Science of Conjecture: Evidence and Probability before Pascal

As a practitioner of probability, I've had to read many books on the subject. Most are linear combinations of other books and ideas rehashed without real understanding that the idea of probability harks back to the Greek pisteuo (credibility) [and pithanon that led to probabile in latin] and pervaded classical thought. Almost all of these writers made the mistake to think that the ancients were not into probability. And most books such as Against the Gods are not even wrong about the notion of probability: odds on coin flips are a mere footnote. Same with current experiments with psychology of probability. If the ancients were not into computable probabilities, it was not because of theology, but because they were not into highly standardized games. They dealt with complex decisions, not merely simplified and purified probability. And they were very sophisticated at it.

The author is both a mathematician and a philosopher, not a philosopher who took a calculus class hence has a shallow idea of combinatorics and feels dominated by the subject, something that plagues the subject of the philosophy of probability. This book stands above, way above the rest: I've never seen a deeper exposition of the subject, as this text covers, in addition to the mathematical bases, the true philosophical origin of the notion of probability.

Finally, Franklin covers matters related to ethics and contract law, such as the works of the medieval thinker Pierre de Jean Olivi, that very few people discuss today.

Nassim Nicholas Taleb
Flaneur
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
What

What I Learned Losing a Million Dollars

There are lots of books on aspiring to something. Very little are from actual people who aspired, achieved, and lost it. With each and every successful move that he made, Jim Paul, who made it to Governor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, was convinced that he was special, different, and exempt from the rules. Once the markets turned against his trades, he lost it all — his fortune, job, and reputation. That’s what makes this book a critical part in understanding how letting arrogance and pride get to your head is the beginning of your unraveling. Learn from stories like this instead of by your own trial and error. Think about that next time you believe you have it all figured out. (Tim Ferriss recently produced the audiobook version of this, which I recommend.)
Ryan Holiday
Founder/Brass Check
Now,

Now, Discover Your Strengths: How To Develop Your Talents And Those Of The People You Manage

This book has been instrumental in how we think about developing talent at Facebook.
Sheryl Sandberg
COO/Facebook
Impossible

Impossible to Ignore: Creating Memorable Content to Influence Decisions

For more science on the topic of how intentional mistakes can aid in memory retention, I recommend the book Impossible to Ignore by Dr. Carmen Simon. The gist of it is that you need to surprise the brain or to make it work a little extra to form memories. Our brains automatically delete our routine memories fairly quickly. Most of us don't know what we were doing on this day a year ago. But we easily remember things that violate our expectations.
Scott Adams
Creator of Dilbert
Mastering

Mastering the Market Cycle: Getting the Odds on Your Side

Howard Marks’s Mastering the Market Cycle is a must-read, because the cycles covered in this book are important and because Howard is one of the investing greats of his generation.
Ray Dalio
Founder/Bridgewater Associates
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
Options

Options Volatility Trading: Strategies for Profiting from Market Swings

Options Volatility Trading by Adam Warner also had a major impact on me because I have always been into investing and until this book I never quite understood the specific strategies behind making money when the market goes up OR down. I was familiar with short selling but wanted to explore option contracts so right after college a good friend gave me this book. I read it immediately and began putting what I learned into practice.
James Murphy
Marketing Manager/Live Nation
Decisive:

Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work

It looks at what hinders great decision making, and how to improve any decisions you make. Any entrepreneur knows how crucial their decisions in business are (and how devastating indecision can be). Decisive helps the reader to understand how good decisions are made, what key elements to look for, and how to make your choices better and quicker.
Sean Mallon
Founder/Bizdaq
Wellbeing:

Wellbeing: The Five Essential Elements

When asked what books he would recommend to youngsters interested in his professional path, Stephen mentioned Wellbeing: the 5 essential elements.
Stephen Lew
Director/The School of Positive Psychology
The

The Master Algorithm: How the Quest for the Ultimate Learning Machine Will Remake Our World

If you want speculation about what the master AI might need (one view). For a slightly more technical read, I’d suggest Ian Goodfellows Deep Learning.
Vinod Khosla
Co-Founder/Sun Microsystem

Healing Emotions: Conversations with the Dalai Lama on Mindfulness, Emotions, and Health

A book that taught me deeply about understanding and managing my emotions, as well as others’, is Healing Emotions: Conversations with the Dalai Lama on Mindfulness, Emotions, and Health by Daniel Goleman. The book is a record of a series of encounters that the Dalai Lama had with acclaimed Western psychologists, physicians, and other specialists. Their purpose was to explore the mind-body connection and how one can heal the other. This book is just one of an entire series and one of my goals is to read them all!
Andra Zaharia
Freelance Content Marketer/The Content Habit

Bounce: Mozart, Federer, Picasso, Beckham, and the Science of Success

And while you are at it, throw in “Bounce” by Mathew Syed, who was the UK Ping Pong champion when he was younger.

I love any book where someone took their passion, documented it, and shared it with us. That’s when you can see the subtleties, the hard work, the luck, the talent, the skill, all come together to form a champion.

Heck, throw in, “An Astronaut’s Guide to Earth” by Commander Chris Hadfield.

James Altucher
Founder/StockPickr

The Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects

A friend and peer of Michelangelo, Da Vinci, Raphael Titian and all the other great minds of the Renaissance sat down in 1550 and wrote biographical sketches of the people he knew or had influenced him. What I like about this book is that the profiles are not about statesmen or generals but artists. There are so many great lessons about craft and psychology within this book. The best part? It was written by someone who actually knew what he was talking about, not some art snob or critic, but an actual artist and architect of equal stature to the people he was documenting.
Ryan Holiday
Founder/Brass Check

Winning the Story Wars: Why Those Who Tell (and Live) the Best Stories Will Rule the Future

Winning the Story Wars will convince you that storytelling is the most powerful way to move people to action. And it will teach you to use that power to orient our world to a more positive future. If you're ready to be a great storyteller, read this book.
Kumi Naidoo
Executive Director/Greenpeace International

Three Nights in August: Strategy, Heartbreak, and Joy Inside the Mind of a Manager

As a CEO, I have often thought about the balance of trusting data vs. gut in decision-making. I claim to be data-oriented, but in the moment, I often rely on my understanding of human nature. As I read about Tony La Russa’s maniacal focus on baseball’s mass of statistics, coupled with this nuanced understanding of his players and opponents, it was obvious that neither is enough on its own: The leader who truly understands the numbers will make the best gut decisions.
Sam Yagan
CEO/IAC’s Match Group

Awaken the Giant Within: How to Take Immediate Control of Your Mental, Emotional, Physical and Financial Destiny!

Other books that I highly recommend is Grant Cardone's The 10X Rule and Tony Robbins' Awaken the Giant Within.
Mark Struczewski
Host/The Mark Struczewski Podcast
The

The Hero with a Thousand Faces

Joseph Campbell was the first person to really open my eyes to [the] compassionate side of life, or of thought... Campbell was the guy who really kind of put it all together for me, and not in a way I could put my finger on... It made you just glad to be alive, [realizing] how vast this world is, and how similar and how different we are.

Bryan Callen
Co-Host/The Fighter and the Kid
Blink:

Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking

CEO Marilyn Hewson recommends this book because it helped her to trust her instincts in business.
Marillyn Hewson
CEO/Lockheed Martin

Actionable Gamification – Beyond Points, Badges, and Leaderboards

If you’re into gamification, like myself and my team, I highly, highly recommend Reality is Broken, by Jane McGonigal, Actionable Gamification by Yu-Kai Chou, and Gamify: How Gamification Motivates People to do Extraordinary Things, by Brian Birke. Jane McGonigal is essentially the Martha Stewart of gamification (sans prison sentence), and Yu-Kai Chou is doing great things in the field, pioneering great frameworks like the Octalysis. Can’t wait to get more of their books.
Xi-Wei Yeo
Director/Living Theories
Explaining

Explaining Social Behavior: More Nuts and Bolts for the Social Sciences

I read this book twice. The first time, I thought that it was excellent, the best compendium of ideas of social science by arguably the best thinker in the field. I took copious notes, etc. I agreed with its patchwork-style approach to rational decision making. I knew that it had huge insights applicable to my refusal of general theories [they don't work], rather limit ourselves to nuts and bolts [they work].

Then I started reading it again, as the book tends to locate itself by my bedside and sneaks itself in my suitcase when I go on a trip. It is as if the book wanted me to read it. It is what literature does to you when it is at its best. So I realized why: it had another layer of depth --and the author distilled ideas from the works of Proust, La Rochefoucault, Tocqueville, Montaigne, people with the kind of insights that extend beyond the ideas, and that makes you feel that a reductionist academic treatment of the subject will necessary distort it [& somehow Elster managed to combine Montaigne and Kahneman-Tversky]. So as an anti-Platonist I finally found a rigorous treatment of human nature that is not Platonistic --not academic (in the bad sense of the word).

Nassim Nicholas Taleb
Flaneur

The Science of Selling: Proven Strategies to Make Your Pitch, Influence Decisions, and Close the Deal

This book is a breath of fresh air. While most sales books are based on the author's experience, every chapter in this superbly well-written book is rooted in science.

Gerhard Gschwandtner
CEO/Selling Power
Reboot:

Reboot: Leadership and the Art of Growing Up

Jerry and I learned how to be VCs together. But more importantly, we learned how to be humans to the leaders who are entrepreneurs. Leadership is extremely difficult, and great leaders are intensely introspective, as they must learn about themselves to be effective long-term. With this book, Jerry helps any leader go deep on all aspects of their journey.
Brad Feld
Investor, Co-Founder/Foundry Group
Yes!

Yes! 50 Secrets from the Power of Persuasion

I find it difficult to say I have a favorite business book, there is no perfect book in my opinion, each has its own elements to take away, and each will inevitably have elements that don’t apply to you or you disagree with. [...] Yes! 50 Secrets from the Power of Persuasion sticks in my mind as one I particularly enjoyed reading. [...] very entertaining and a great insight into people's minds, marketing and selling. I was writing a lot of web copy at that time and this book really helped me get to grips with the ‘what’ and ‘why’ I was writing.
Gary Bury
Co-Founder/Timetastic
Eleven

Eleven Rings: The Soul of Success

Favorite business or leadership book in a long time.
Ryan Holiday
Founder/Brass Check
I

I Will Teach You to Be Rich: No Guilt. No Excuses. No B.S. Just a 6-Week Program That Works.

The easiest way to get rich is to inherit. This is the second best way—knowledge and some discipline. If you’re bold enough to do the right thing, Ramit will show you how. Highly recommended.
Seth Godin
Entrepreneur, author, marketer

Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?: And Other Conversations About Race

I was serving on the board of a prestigious and exclusive school when I first read this. As part of the school’s commitment to inclusion, every group, including the board, went through diversity training. Our consultant, Glenn Singleton of Pacific Education Group, never let us forget why we were there: that improving outcomes for all our students was a business imperative. As a result of this experience, I blended organizational development and diversity and inclusion for my graduate thesis, and this is still the bedrock of my consulting practice.
Denise Morris Kipnis
Founder & Principal/ChangeFlow Consulting
The

The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas Are Setting Up a Generation for Failure

The kids aren’t alright. No, really—I know every generation says that, but this time it’s true. Kids who grew up with smartphones (and have begun to enter the university system) are emotionally stunted, overly fragile, and exhibiting mental health issues at alarming rates. I expected this book to be another, “Let’s all shit on social media together,” party, but it’s not. Social media, of course, does get its own chapter. But most of the book is focused on cultural shifts that have happened over the past couple generations.
Mark Manson
Founder/MarkManson.net
Drive:

Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us

I'd recommend a sprinkling of business books followed by a heap of productivity and behavioural psychology books. The business books will help you with principals and the psychological books help with everything else in your life. Building your own business can really [email protected]# you up psychologically.
Mike Benkovich
Founder/Anatomonics
Sapiens:

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind

Both Melinda and I read this one, and it has sparked lots of great conversations at our dinner table. Harari takes on a daunting challenge: to tell the entire history of the human race in just 400 pages. He also writes about our species today and how artificial intelligence, genetic engineering, and other technologies will change us in the future. Although I found things to disagree with—especially Harari’s claim that humans were better off before we started farming—I would recommend Sapiens to anyone who’s interested in the history and future of our species.

Bill Gates
CEO/Microsoft
How

How Not to Be Wrong: The Power of Mathematical Thinking

The writing is funny, smooth, and accessible -- not what you might expect from a book about math. What Ellenberg has written is ultimately a love letter to math. If the stories he tells add up to a larger lesson, it’s that 'to do mathematics is to be, at once, touched by fire and bound by reason' -- and that there are ways in which we’re all doing math, all the time.
Bill Gates
CEO/Microsoft
Words

Words That Change Minds: The 14 Patterns for Mastering the Language of Influence

The shift in power to the customer is now a certainty. In her engaging book, Shelle lays out precisely what's going on and how to think about it.
Seth Godin
Entrepreneur, author, marketer
Overconfidence

Overconfidence and War: The Havoc and Glory of Positive Illusions

Johnson uses studies from military affairs to explore the various psychological and political sources of overconfidence. These lessons are important, of course, not just for world-changing cases of global conflict, but also for day-to-day decision making in business and personal affairs. Our tendency to overestimate our capabilities and to believe that we can control the future — what the author thinks of as “an integral part of the human psyche” — can be our downfall. In geopolitics, self-deception can lead to war; in business, it can lead to strategic blunders or worse. It’s important to test what we know, uncover what we don’t know, understand where we are prone to bias, and calibrate our goals and risk-taking.
Martin Reeves
Director/ BCG Henderson Institute
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
The

The Bartering Mindset: A Mostly Forgotten Framework for Mastering Your Next Negotiation

Brian Gunia is an expert on negotiating, and he does something unusual here: he offers insights about bargaining that are both novel and useful.
Adam Grant
Author
The

The Alchemist

There was a moment where I was on a quest for self-discovery. I felt lost and wasn't sure if I was who I was because I made the decision to be me, or if my identity was programmed by culture, society and setting. Because of that, I started reading self-help books to reconstruct identity and mold who I wanted to be. This book helped me.
Ola Olusoga
Co-founder/Populum
The

The Design of Everyday Things

For people interested in designing or building software products: The Design of Everyday Things by Don Norman and The Lean Product Playbook by Dan Olsen. Both books have informed my product sense and helped me make decisions about great UX.
Julia Enthoven
Co-Founder/Kapwing

Stalingrad: The Fateful Siege, 1942-1943

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
Conversations

Conversations With God

Conversations with God by Neale Donald Walsch is the top of the list. This series of books brought simple and amazing insights, initially I thought it was just another category of religious books (given the titles), and I didn’t like the idea of subscribing to organised religions due to the limitation of perspectives. However, this book opened “doors of perceptions” for me, and I was peeled to almost every page of the book.

The amount of higher intelligence, wisdom and critical thinking is captured brilliantly in concise philosophical points through the dialogue between the author and his connection to the higher self/or universal being. The books offers spiritual (non-religious) and universal insights to human experiences, meaning, life and death, evolution and nature, metaphysics and quantum science. This book “came to me almost 18 years ago, it was given by a dear friend, during the time when I began my journey of self discovery. The books ignited a flame within me, and charted a path towards spiritual awakening and higher learnings. My existential identity” began with that book. It connected many dots, and answered many questions I posed.

Stephen Lew
Director/The School of Positive Psychology
The

The Tiger: A True Story of Vengeance and Survival

Holy shit, this book is good. Just holy shit. Even if it was just the main narrative–the chase to kill a man-eating Tiger in Siberia in post-communist Russia–it would be worth reading, but it is so much more than that. The author explains the Russian psyche, the psyche of man vs predator, the psyches of primitive peoples and animals, in such a masterful way that you’re shocked to find 1) that he knows this, and 2) that he fit it all into this readable and relatively short book.

You may have heard about the story on the internet a while back: a tiger starts killing people in Russia and a team is sent to kill it (Russia is so fucked up, they already have a team for this). At one point, the tiger is cornered and leaps to attack the team leader…and in mid-air the soldier’s rifle goes into the tigers open jaws and down his throat all the way to the stock, killing the tiger at the last possible second. The autopsy later revealed that the tiger had been shot something like a dozen times during its life and lived. The story is very similar to that of the Tsavo maneaters, which was turned into the underrated Val Kilmer movie The Ghost and the Darkness.

There are all sorts of well-selected threads from evolutionary psychology and biology in this book and it makes the book a self-educator’s dream. You can pick and choose which ones you want to follow next–trusting safely that the author has pointed you in an interesting and valuable direction. But that’s just the meta-stuff that is a bonus with this book, and it’s worth pointing out only because the rest of the book is just so fucking interesting and exciting.

Ryan Holiday
Founder/Brass Check

Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy

This book is about resilience, and I only wish there was such a book when I was younger. I was 18 when my dad passed away and it was something that I didn't talk about because I was so afraid of opening the floodgates. It hit me hard, the day my daughter commented that I didn't seem to miss my dad - because I never talked about him.
Ee Ling Lim
CEO/SmarterMe
The

The Art of Being

One of the books that had the biggest impact on me and my career.

Corneliu Bodea
CEO / Adrem

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

Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body

This book will take your breath away with its truth-telling. A searingly honest memoir of food, weight, self-image, and learning how to feed your hunger while taking care of yourself.
Brene Brown
Author & Researcher

Boundaries for Leaders: Results, Relationships, and Being Ridiculously in Charge

Boundaries for Leaders - by Henry Cloud - it already brought me more focus and since I already got what I needed from it, I am not sure that I will finish it now. I think I will read the rest of it when I will be in a crisis again.
Armina Sirbu
Serial Entrepreneur
The

The Storytelling Animal: How Stories Make Us Human

This is one of the books I recommend to people looking for a career in advertising.
Park Howell
Founder/The Business of Story

Why Won’t You Apologize?: Healing Big Betrayals and Everyday Hurts

I've been reading a few non-fiction books recently, one in particular was useful, Why Won't You Apologize? I've noticed how defensive people can be, yours truly included, versus apologizing. (Full disclosure, I haven't told my husband I read the book, and he might not believe it.) It helped me to understand the need to apologize for whatever part of a situation I contributed to, even if I don't feel that it was necessary.
Patricia Reed
Technology Growth Leader & Mentor
Peak:

Peak: How Great Companies Get Their Mojo from Maslow

Rarely has a CEO bared his soul in a book...this powerfully authentic story and the resulting emotional building blocks that define how we can understand our internal weather make for a compelling read and an invaluable operating manual for life.
Tony Hsieh
CEO/Zappos
Mindless

Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think

A few months ago, I was drinking a Noah’s Mill whiskey (cute) with my good buddy Brian Balfour and talking about life... During the conversation, we got on the topic of books that changed our lives. I want to share them with you. I judge a book's success if a year later I'm still using at least 1 thing from the book.
Noah Kagan
Founder/Sumo

Rewire Your Anxious Brain: How to Use the Neuroscience of Fear to End Anxiety, Panic, and Worry

All entrepreneurs I know go through anxiety/depression phases - this book should help!
Laurentiu-Victor Balasa
CEO / Underline
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
Super

Super Thinking: The Big Book of Mental Models

Super Thinking is meant to be a comprehensive collection of mental models needed for good personal and professional decision making, most of which are not effectively taught in schools. I believe if you can master these 300 concepts — yes, it is a lot, but they are very interrelated — you will completely level up your thinking. It’s the book I wish someone had given me earlier in my career, but it is good for anyone. As the anonymous saying goes, “The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. The second best time is now.” It comes out 6/18 and you can pre-order it now and find out more info (including the full list of models). They are grouped into nine narrative chapters, each with its own theme (e.g. time management, people management, unintended consequences, etc.) so it is easy to digest and refer back to.
Gabriel Weinberg
Founder & CEO/DuckDuckGo
Annihilation

Annihilation

I'm loving THE SOUTHERN REACH TRILOGY, by Jeff Vandermeer. Recommended by an indie bookseller. Creepy and fascinating.
Stephen King
Best-Selling Author
Succeed:

Succeed: How We Can Reach Our Goals

I just started reading Succeed: How We Can Reach Our Goals, by Heidi Grant-Halvorson. I'm curious about finding out more about the inner forces that drive us to tirelessly pursue certain goals and carelessly abandon others.
Cristian-Dragos Baciu
Direct Response Copywriter
Man's

Man’s Search for Meaning – The Classic Tribute to Hope from the Holocaust

Frankl is one of the most profound modern thinkers on meaning and purpose. His contribution was to change the question from the vague philosophy of “What is the meaning of life?” to man being asked and forced to answer with his actions. He looks at how we find purpose by dedicating ourselves to a cause, learning to love and finding a meaning to our suffering. His other two books on the topic, Will To Meaning and Man’s Search for Ultimate Meaning have gems in them as well.
Ryan Holiday
Founder/Brass Check
Adolphe

Adolphe

I'll have to list another favorite with Adolphe by Benjamin Constant. There couldn't be a better description of the misery and vanity of a young man's heart.
Marc Montagne
Co-Founder/Toolwatch.io
300

300 Arguments: Essays

I had a couple of magical Manguso readings this year: On a summer trip to San Francisco, I bought this in the morning at Christopher’s Books in Potrero, and then read most of it later that afternoon in the Yerba Buena Gardens. Later in the year, I found a used copy of Ongoingness: The End of A Diary in a market in Antigua, Guatemala, and read that in one sitting, too.
Austin Kleon
Writer, Artist
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
Influencing

Influencing Virtual Teams: 17 Tactics That Get Things Done with Your Remote Employees

The book includes many immediately actionable ideas for managing a distributed team. Clarity and efficiency of communication is paramount in a virtual environment and Hassan has honed in on the key tactics that will make a big difference in your work day.
Tom Moor
Co-Founder/Sqwiggle & Buffer
Thanks

Thanks for the Feedback: The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well

These books and their core ideas have stuck with me the most and continue to guide me when I hit crossroads along the way.
Andra Zaharia
Freelance Content Marketer/The Content Habit

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

Spent: Sex, Evolution, and Consumer Behavior

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
Mr.

Mr. Putin: Operative in the Kremlin

This book offers the consummate psychological profile of the man in the Kremlin. By understanding what drives Putin — pay particular attention to “The Statist” chapter — we can unravel how the country’s chaotic flirtation with liberal democracy in the 1990s morphed into the Russia we know today.
Laura Galante
Founder/Galante Strategies

Talk Like TED: The 9 Public-Speaking Secrets of the World’s Top Minds

A book that most recently made a difference for me was Talk Like TED: The 9 Public-Speaking Secrets of the World's Top Minds. My IMWorld speech this year benefited tremendously from Carmine Gallo's framing of the nine secrets of all time successful TED presentations. I believe Gallo's step-by-step method makes it possible for anyone to sell their ideas persuasively when delivering a presentation. [...] Talk like TED is NOT an optional book whatever career path you want to follow. A person can have the best idea in the World, but if that person can not convince enough people, it doesn’t matter. I’ve seen too many good ideas dim due to lack of pitching skills. This book will help you raise your game when it comes to selling your ideas.
Radu Marcusu
CEO/Upswing
The

The Silo Effect: The Peril of Expertise and the Promise of Breaking Down Barriers

What I’m reading: Unfinished Business by @SlaughterAM and The Silo Effect by @gilliantett. Must reads!
Indra Nooyi
Board of Directors/Amazon
Chimpanzee

Chimpanzee Politics: Power and Sex among Apes

It completely changed my view of chimpanzees and Homo sapiens alike. Probably the most funny science book I have ever read. A must-read for politicians of all species!
Yuval Noah Harari
Historian
Chernobyl

Chernobyl Record: The Definitive History of the Chernobyl Catastrophe

Two others worth considering (although they are often hard to find) that rounded out my library...
Chernobyl: Insight from the Inside by VM Chernousenko
Chernobyl Record by RF Mould

Craig Mazin
Creator, Writer, Producer/Chernobyl TV Series

Smartcuts: How Hackers, Innovators, and Icons Accelerate Success

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
The

The Neverending Story

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

The Drunkard’s Walk: How Randomness Rules Our Lives

Leonard Mlodinow's The Drunkarkd's Walk -more precisely, the section on the Monty Hall problem- totally changed how I look-at/think-about probabilities and choices in general; this has impacted almost every real-life choice I've made since I read this book.
Gabriel Coarna
Founder/Readable
Born

Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood

I also pay attention to any book recommendations my friends post on Facebook. I started reading Trevor Noah’s Born a Crime after I saw Radu Marcusu, CEO of Upswing, recommending it. He swore by it that is was funny -- and it was! Until the last chapter. I remember listening to the audiobook on a train and crying my eyes out. So yeah. That happened.
Irina Nica
Senior Marketing Manager/HubSpot
Army

Army of None: Autonomous Weapons and the Future of War

Autonomous weapons aren’t exactly top of mind for most around the holidays, but this thought-provoking look at A.I. in warfare is hard to put down. It’s an immensely complicated topic, but Scharre offers clear explanations and presents both the pros and cons of machine-driven warfare. His fluency with the subject should come as no surprise: he’s a veteran who helped draft the U.S. government’s policy on autonomous weapons.
Bill Gates
Founder/Microsoft

The Mask of Masculinity: How Men Can Embrace Vulnerability, Create Strong Relationships, and Live Their Fullest Lives

I recently wrote an article on Man's struggle with his mental health. This is a massive problem, and I am trying to wrap my head around what I think the issue is and get others perspectives. That's why I am listening to this.
Nicky Cullen
Writer, Anxiety Coach
The

The Status Syndrome: How Social Standing Affects Our Health and Longevity

You are a hot shot in a company, though not the boss. You are paid extremely well, but, again you have plenty of bosses above you (say the partners of an investment firm). Is it better than deriving a modest income being your own boss? The counterintuive answer is NO. You will live longer in the second situation, even controlling for diet, lifestyle, and genetic predispositions.

Marmot spent years poring over data; he left no stone unturned and is well read in the general literature on human nature. This idea of people living longer when they exert control over their lives has not spread yet. That people lead longer lives when they trust their neighbors and feel part of a community is far reaching. Just think of the implications on social justice etc. Also think that everything you learn on human preferences and well-being in both economics and medicine is either incomplete (medicine) or bogus (economics).

The book is well written, humorous at times, and rigorous --it reads like a well-translated scientific paper. But it feels that it is just the introduction to a topic. Please, write the continuation.

Nassim Nicholas Taleb
Flaneur
Too

Too Good: The Scott Draper Story

I don’t just read business biographies. I’m a huge tennis fan, so I’ve read a lot of tennis biographies: John McEnroe, Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi, Scott Draper, Rod Laver. There’s so many I’ve read over the years, Jimmy Connors, great, I love it because I love reading the “behind the scenes” stories, the more “soap opera” aspect of tennis, I guess it’s a little bit like my soap opera sometimes.
Yaro Starak
Founder/Entrepreneurs-Journey.com
The

The Legacy of the Civil War

I also read discussions of a bunch of Southern/Civil War writers in Patriotic Gore by Edmund Wilson and The Legacy of the Civil War by Robert Penn Warren, which helped me understand and contextualize what I’d already read from the people listed above.
Ryan Holiday
Founder/Brass Check
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

How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence

Michael Pollan masterfully guides us through the highs, lows, and highs again of psychedelic drugs. How to Change Your mind chronicles how it’s been a longer and stranger trip than most any of us knew.

Daniel Goleman
Author
The

The Paradox of Choice: Why More is Less

A few months ago, I was drinking a Noah’s Mill whiskey (cute) with my good buddy Brian Balfour and talking about life... During the conversation, we got on the topic of books that changed our lives. I want to share them with you. I judge a book's success if a year later I'm still using at least 1 thing from the book.
Noah Kagan
Founder/Sumo

Mini Habits: Smaller Habits, Bigger Results

I would say it was Stephen Guise's book Mini Habits: Smaller Habits, Bigger Results. The title sounds like one of those formulaic self-help books, of which there are hundreds. But this one's different. Guise has derived a somewhat counter-intuitive approach to building habits and tackling hard projects. He suggests that we fail in bringing about personal change because we set the bar too high. He proposes an alternate approach that at first sounds a little weird — build 'mini-habits', (ludicrously) microscopic versions of the habits or projects you want to adopt. He dwells deep into the psychological advantage of this technique, revealing why we fail and why the idea of 'mini-habits' practically guarantees success.

I'm usually averse to self-help books that espouse trite productivity formulas; I avoid them like the plague. But this one came highly recommended, and to my surprise, the technique worked!

Anoop Anthony
CTO & Co-Founder/Sapaad
Integrity:

Integrity: The Courage to Meet the Demands of Reality

This is less of a business book, but I strongly recommend every entrepreneur to read the book Integrity by doctor Henry Cloud. The premise is that there is no shortage of bright gifted business people, but he's worked with a lot of CEOs and executives where businesses are having a lot of problems not because of business training, or business coaching, or even business giftedness, but much more from character issues, or personal deficiencies, and that book was very eye opening. I was able to kind of see flaws in myself, or a lot of business things that have gone awry, and our mutual friend Drew, even once said to me that, every major issue he's seen in the business networks he's in, are relational. So that book, Integrity, is awesome, I want to re-read it every year or two.
Colin Jones
Founder/Blackjack Apprenticeship

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
Indistractable:

Indistractable: How to Control Your Attention and Choose Your Life

An essential book for anyone trying to think, work, or live better.
Ryan Holiday
Media Strategist, Author, Founder/Brass Check

The MVP Machine: How Baseball’s New Nonconformists Are Using Data to Build Better Player

For too long, stat geeks like me ignored the 'development' side of 'scouting and development.' The MVP Machine is the book that's going to change that. Travis Sawchik and Ben Lindbergh persuasively and entertainingly demonstrate that a baseball player's success is less about God-given talent and more about innovation, hard work, and the willingness to take a more scientific approach to the game. Read it, and you won't think about baseball in quite the same way again.
Nate Silver
Founder & Editor-in-Chief/FiveThirtyEight
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
Tribe:

Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging

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

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
The

The Land of Dreams: A Faraway Tree Adventure

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
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
Being

Being Nixon: A Man Divided

I was a little surprised to learn what a bad manager Nixon was. Although it doesn’t compare to his other failings, Nixon’s management style offers some good reminders of how not to run a team. He avoided conflict at all costs. His staff frequently left meetings with diametrically opposed views on what he had just asked them to do. Or he would be crystal-clear about what he wanted, while actually expecting his staff to ignore his demands. His team wisely blew off his repeated orders to break into the Brookings Institution, a Washington think tank, and steal a document that might be damaging to him.
Bill Gates
CEO/Microsoft

Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder

Dow Chemical Company chairman and CEO Liveris will take this time to get away from heavier reading and enjoy some of the most highly acclaimed novels of the past year.

Andrew Liveris
CEO/Dow Chemical Company
Seeking

Seeking Wisdom: From Darwin to Munger

A wonderful book on wisdom and decision-making written by a wise decision-maker. This is the kind of book you read first, then leave by your bedside and re-read a bit every day, so you can slowly soak up the wisdom. It is sort of Montaigne but applied to business, with a great investigation of the psychological dimension of decision-making.

I like the book for many reasons --the main one is that it was written by a practitioner who knows what he wants, not by an academic.

Enjoy it.

Nassim Nicholas Taleb
Flaneur

The Epigenetics Revolution: How Modern Biology Is Rewriting Our Understanding of Genetics, Disease, and Inheritance

I love the book on epigenetics, a book called Epigenetics Revolution.
Naveen Jain
Founder/Moon Express
The

The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined

My second book of the year is The Better Angels of Our Nature by Steven Pinker. It's a timely book about how and why violence has steadily decreased throughout our history, and how we can continue this trend. Recent events might make it seem like violence and terrorism are more common than ever, so it's worth understanding that all violence -- even terrorism -- is actually decreasing over time. If we understand how we are achieving this, we can continue our path towards peace. A few people I trust have told me this is the best book they've ever read. It's a long book, so I plan on taking a month to read it rather than two weeks. I'll add a third book in two weeks that will be a shorter read to complement this. If you want to follow along with the books I'm reading and participate in conversations with the authors, you can like the page A Year of Books.
Mark Zuckerberg
CEO/Facebook
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
The

The Road to Character

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

Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents: How to Heal from Distant, Rejecting, or Self-Involved Parents

“Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents” is also worth mentioning, it allowed me to tame some old demons.
Bogdan Lucaciu
CTO/Adore Me
Anatomy

Anatomy of the Spirit: The Seven Stages of Power and Healing

I can say that my area, or my background involves a lot of practical work, traveling, learning and performing a big variety of sports, meeting new people and making contacts. But taking into account that being a young entrepreneur I wish I had known a lot of things before starting everything. Therefore, what I would suggest people to do is invest a lot in themselves professionally and personally, where I put a lot of emphasis on developing an equilibrium between mind, body and spirit. This equilibrium will help a lot in everything you do in your daily life. So these are the books I would recommend.
Tudor Teodorescu
Founder/Transylvania Uncharted

How to Be Free: An Ancient Guide to the Stoic Life (Ancient Wisdom for Modern Readers)

I really enjoyed the new series of translations that Princeton University Press has done of Cicero and Epictetus and Seneca. They are worth reading for sure.
Ryan Holiday
Media Strategist, Author, Founder/Brass Check
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

Bold: How to Go Big, Create Wealth and Impact the World

Bold is a visionary roadmap for people who believe they can change the world---and offers invaluable advice about bringing together the partners and technologies to help them do it.
Bill Clinton
Former USA President
The

The Hobbit

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
A

A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy

Honourable Mentions: Four Hour Work Week, The Happiness Hypothesis, Meditations, Catch 22, A Guide To The Good Life.
Mike Benkovich
Founder/Anatomonics
Start

Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action

Over the years he’s [Tony Hsieh] recommended well over 20 business books — including his own, the 2010 bestseller Delivering Happiness and you can always find what he’s currently reading atop his cluttered desk. Start with Why is amogst those titles.

Tony Hsieh
CEO/Zappos

Engage!: The Complete Guide for Brands and Businesses to Build, Cultivate, and Measure Success in the New Web

One of the five books Jeff recommends to young people interested in his career path.
Jeff Gibbard
Chief Brand Officer/From The Future
Predictably

Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions

Dan Ariely’s Predictably Irrational totally blew my mind.
Gabriel Coarna
Founder/Readable
Hooked:

Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products

Recommended by Marc Goodman in Tools of Titans.
Marc Goodman
Founder/Future Crimes Institute

Ronald Reagan: The American Presidents Series: The 40th President, 1981-1989

When consulting firm McKinsey and Co. asked a group of CEOs in July what was on their reading list this summer, the two titles on Dimon’s to-read list were The Conservative Heart: How to Build a Fairer, Happier, and More Prosperous America, by American Enterprise Institute president Arthur C. Brooks and Ronald Reagan, by Slate Group chairman Jacob Weisberg.
Jamie Dimon
CEO/JPMorgan Chase
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
Pre-Suasion:

Pre-Suasion: A Revolutionary Way to Influence and Persuade

I just finished reading Pre-Suasion, or I should say I just finished skimming Pre-Suasion by Robert Cialdini. I don’t think I needed to read the entire book to get the point, but it was still good to read what I did.
Naval Ravikant
CEO & Co-Founder/AngelList
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

Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress

Pinker is at his best when he analyzes historic trends and uses data to put the past into context. I was already familiar with a lot of the information he shares—especially about health and energy—but he understands each subject so deeply that he’s able to articulate his case in a way that feels fresh and new.

I love how he’s willing to dive deep into primary data sources and pull out unexpected signs of progress. I tend to point to things like dramatic reductions in poverty and childhood deaths, because I think they’re such a good measure of how we’re doing as a society. Pinker covers those areas, but he also looks at more obscure topics.

Here are five of my favorite facts from the book that show how the world is improving:

  • 1. You’re 37 times less likely to be killed by a bolt of lightning than you were at the turn of the century—and that’s not because there are fewer thunderstorms today. It’s because we have better weather prediction capabilities, improved safety education, and more people living in cities.
  • 2. Time spent doing laundry fell from 11.5 hours a week in 1920 to an hour and a half in 2014. This might sound trivial in the grand scheme of progress. But the rise of the washing machine has improved quality of life by freeing up time for people—mostly women—to enjoy other pursuits. That time represents nearly half a day every week that could be used for everything from binge-watching Ozark or reading a book to starting a new business.
  • 3. You’re way less likely to die on the job. Every year, 5,000 people die from occupational accidents in the U.S. But in 1929—when our population was less than two-fifths the size it is today—20,000 people died on the job. People back then viewed deadly workplace accidents as part of the cost of doing business. Today, we know better, and we’ve engineered ways to build things without putting nearly as many lives at risk.
  • 4. The global average IQ score is rising by about 3 IQ points every decade. Kids’ brains are developing more fully thanks to improved nutrition and a cleaner environment. Pinker also credits more analytical thinking in and out of the classroom. Think about how many symbols you interpret every time you check your phone’s home screen or look at a subway map. Our world today encourages abstract thought from a young age, and it’s making us smarter.
  • 5. War is illegal. This idea seems obvious. But before the creation of the United Nations in 1945, no institution had the power to stop countries from going to war with each other. Although there have been some exceptions, the threat of international sanctions and intervention has proven to be an effective deterrent to wars between nations.
Bill Gates
Founder/Microsoft
The

The Churchill Factor: How One Man Made History

There’s one book that I’ve given that it was just Christmas, that I’ve given away a lot of copies. This is a book about Winston Churchill by Boris Johnson. A very talented guy.

Arnold Schwarzenegger
Actor, Politician & Businessman
Free

Free to Choose: A Personal Statement

The other book that I have given hundreds of copies to is Free to Choose by Milton Friedman. It kind of lays out why the private sector is really the answer to a lot of problems that we have and not government. I think it’s a real great philosophic kind of a book about how to approach our problems, if it is education, if it is economic growth, all of those various kinds of different issues. He lays it out. It’s a very simple book to read, but it is very good and it makes an impact on your when you read it.
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Actor, Politician & Businessman
The

The Lean Startup

There are quite a few good business books on technology, and I'll list below some I find to be a good starting point. Personally, I like biographies a lot and I mostly read biographies of dead people, because those are the most honest ones. So because the computer age is still very young, there won't be a lot of biographies in my list.
Bogdan Iordache
Co-Founder/How to Web
The

The Boron Letters

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
Psycho

Psycho Cybernetics

Psycho Cybernetics by Maxwell Maltz will open your eyes on the topic of self image.
Nick Janetakis
Founder/NickJanetakis.com