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Why I Read (Plus My 7 Favorite Books for Entrepreneurs From 2014)
Last Updated December 31st, 2014

I blew her mind.

Her eyes widened. “Thank you,” she said.

Then she left.

Here’s what happened:

One day, while standing in line for a cappuccino, and reading a book, a woman walked up to me and said, “What made you start reading as a kid? Young people don’t read. I can’t even get my son to read a book about sports… and he loves to play sports.”

I laughed.

I read a lot. And I read about everything from the intricacies of high-end art, to relationship advice for women, to dry academic research, to spirituality and enlightenment.

And this amounts to 100+ books each year, 1,000s of articles, and I can tell you first hand that it has helped me succeed at almost everything I’ve ever done.

But I wasn’t always a reader.

Why I Read So Many Books

“Read as a kid? I HATED reading as a kid… and as an adult. I just started reading voraciously about 7 years ago.”

She was taken aback, “Wait, so what made you start?”

“Here’s your problem,” I said. “Your son loves to play sports. Just because you want to play the game doesn’t mean you want to read about the game. You like reading, do you like reading about reading?”

“I guess not. So what should I do?”

“That’s easy,” I went on. “Let me share what worked for me, and then you can see how it will work for you and your son. Back when I worked at a Fortune 100 company, I looked up to this one C-level executive (who doesn’t?). I noticed he had a lot of books in his office, so I asked him why. He said ‘why should I reinvent the wheel? I’ll go read about what works… and do that.’ That was my lightbulb moment.”

And I started reading.


Because I believed reading was a conduit to something else I wanted.

What’s funny is, right after I decided to start reading, I picked up this one book: “Buffett: The Making of An American Capitalist.” It was about Warren Buffett and how he became one of the world’s most lauded investors.

What was my biggest takeaway from this biography? In it, Roger Lowenstein mentioned that Warren Buffett was a voracious reader of biographies of successful business men before him.

Between that one C-level executive, and now this from the Warren Buffett biography, I was HOOKED.

And then I told this concerned mother, “If you want your son to read, find a biography about his FAVORITE sports star, read it, and talk about how cool this guy was when he first got started… like your son.”

I watched her eyes widen as she said, “Wow, thank you so much! I’m going to do it!”

The question is, why should YOU read?

When Henry Ford “invented” the assembly line, people know he didn’t invent it. He stole it from the meatpacking industry.

When Steve Jobs popularized the computer GUI, people know he stole it from Xerox.

And that’s why I believe people should read from a far and wide range of topics. Even if you don’t like the story or the author.

You see, when you expand the types of things and topics you read, you never know when you’ll find an idea that you can adapt from one world…

…and take advantage of it in your world.

If you read my most recent experience with the hospital, you’ll notice I drew inspiration from the origin of the Hermes orange box as well as the ridiculous world of high-end art.

And I found it because I read from a wide variety of topics.

That said, here are 7 remarkable books I read this year. And you most definitely won’t see them on other peoples “best of 2014 books” lists.

Book #1: Provenance: How a Con Man and a Forger Rewrote the History of Modern Art

When most people think about art forgery, they think about great artists who paint amazing paintings as if one of the original masters painted them.

But this art forger did it differently. Instead of focusing on creating the best works possible, he focused on faking the provenance of the art.

If you’re unfamiliar with the art world, provenance is when you trace the art from where it is now back to the painter with bills of sale, gallery showings, and etc.

And this forger faked all of it.

Now, one of the reasons why I appreciated this book as an ethical, and honest business owner in 2014 is this:

I don’t condone theft, forgery, or anything like that. But you have to appreciate the strategy that went behind how he did what he did. It’s a classic example of zigging when others zag.

And just brecause there are some people following one path to what they want doesn’t mean you can’t forge a new one.

Even if you’re an art forger, heh.

Provenance: How a Con Man and a Forger Rewrote the History of Modern Art (affiliate link)

Book #2: As I See It: The Autobiography Of J. Paul Getty

If you’re a reader of Social Triggers, it’s no secret that I love reading about the men who built America. From Vanderbilt, to Rockefeller, to Carnegie, to J.P Morgan.

You see, they built some of the world’s first mega corporations, and they did it without email. Without internet. Without the ability to even talk to some of their employees and captains.

But J.Paul Getty was a different breed. While many of the others got their start and rose to power in the 1800s (and early 1900s), J. Paul Getty got started in the early 1900s – almost a century after the other monopolists were born.

And while he was born into wealth, his father was adamant on making him earn his keep. As an example, when J. Paul Getty decided he wanted to get into the oil businessl ike dad, his dad make him work on the oil rig as the bottom most rung on the ladder in the company.

But what I most appreciate about this man is his insight on life and business. He was supposedly the richest man in the world for almost 2 decades, and while he dispenses plenty of great business advice in his autobiography, the thing that got me the most was one of the final chapters. Getty was essentially on his death bed and he reflected on his 5 marriages and 5 divorces with one simple comment about how 5 women couldn’t all be wrong.

This was a great reminder that unending ambition should be balanced with a focus on family as well.

As I See It: The Autobiography of J. Paul Getty (affiliate link)

Book #3: Mademoiselle

Here at Social Triggers, I always tell business owners and entrepreneurs the importance of never competing on price.

(When you discount, you find yourself discounting your way into bankruptcy).

And that’s why I love this biography about Coco Chanel called Mademoiselle.

If you know nothing about fashion, that’s okay. I didn’t either. But this book is a tell-all behind how Chanel become one of the premiere luxury brands for women. And it details her from a lowly street prostitute in Paris to her ascension as one of the richest, most widely looked up to, women in the world.

However, what I LOVED was how she used a material called “Jersey” to make dresses. Back then, Jersey was a cheap material used to create linens and underwear. But Chanel decided to use this cheap material to make dresses…

…and she was able to sell those dresses for several thousand dollars in today’s dollars.

Where one person saw garbage, she saw treasure. And I loved it.

Mademoiselle: Coco Chanel and the Pulse of History (affiliate link)

Book #4: The Obstacle is the Way

Let me be frank. Ryan Holiday is a friend of mine, and he’s probably the only person I know that reads more than I do.

And that’s why I love reading his books. I know I’m going to learn something interesting, whether it’s his insightful analysis or his great anecdotes.

That said, earlier this year he released his new book called “The Obstacle is The Way,” and I read it twice.

In his words, here’s why: “You will come across obstacles in life— fair and unfair. And you will discover, time and time again, that what matters most is not what these obstacles are but how we see them, how we react to them, and whether we keep our composure. You will learn that this reaction determines how successful we will be in overcoming— or possibly thriving because of—them.”

If you’re a reader here, you already know why I appreciate this. I recently found myself in a hospital and I made the best of it.

But as he says, it really applies to all obstacles in life. Both fair and unfair. So if you find youreslf in a precarious position in life, never forget: “The obstacle is the way.”

The Obstacle Is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph (affiliate link)

Book #5: Great Leads: The Six Easiest Ways to Start Any Sales Message

Here at Social Triggers, we teach entrepreneurs how to sell their products and services the right way.

Even though we developed proprietary techniques for selling, I often read a lot of books about selling.


Because I want to stay up-to-date with the latest and greatest methods for selling. Naturally.

And this year, the best book I read about selling was Great Leads: The Six Easiest Ways to Start Any Sales Message.

It’s by a guy named Michael Masterson, of Agora fame (Agora is the largest company you never heard of. They’re a direct marketing company that sells financial advice, and more, and it’s rumored that they do more than $300 million in sales).

I believe a lot of people go about learning selling the wrong way. Even though this book does reveal 6 ways to start sales messages, what I appreciate most is his analysis of the psychology behind why these oepnings work.

A lot of new sales people just want scripts and templates they can use to sell anything to anyone. But it’s much more important to understand the “Why” behind why templates work so that when those template don’t work in your industry, you know how to troubleshoot them.

This book reveals that and more.

Great Leads: The Six Easiest Ways to Start Any Sales Message(affiliate link)

Book #6: Crazy Rich: Power, Scandal ,and Tragedy Inside the Johnson & Johnson Dynasty

I know you heard of the company Johnson & and Johnson. It’s one of the largest consumer product companies in the world.

And when I heard there was a book that revealed the “behind the scenes” of this company, I HAD to read it.

I learned a few interesting things, but what I loved was this:

In content marketing, the John Deere company is credited as “the first content marketers. And on the content marketing wikipedia page, it says: “In 1895, John Deere launched the magazine The Furrow, providing information to farmers on how to become more profitable. The magazine, considered the first custom publication…”

I’ve seen social media and content marketing strategists share this for years. But I’ve always laughed because people are so willing to make such bold claims without conducting the research.

In reality, John Deere wasn’t the first content marketer as I know Johnson and Johnson used what we’d call content marketing today 7 years earlier. As Funding Universe wrote, “In 1888 the company published Modern Methods of Antiseptic Wound Treatment, a text used by physicians for many years.” And Johnson and Johnson sold bandages to these doctors.

Johnson and Johnson also later launched two publications known as “Red Cross Notes” and “Red Cross Messenger” to share helpful articles within the community that they wanted to sell to.

Pretty cool.

(Another funny thing about social media: I’m sure people will start quoting this and they’ll never link this article. That’s a problem to complain about and solve another day though. It’s why I love to hate “social media experts” though :-D).

Another great thing about this book is this:

One of the Johnsons, who demanded to be called General Johnson, took special interest in the sanity napkin product “Modess.” And he oversaw how it was marketed to the public. You see, at the time, the idea of sanitary napkins were a very private matter. But he took a different approach. He hired the supermodels of the time, dressed them in Dior and Valentino, and created a campaign known as “Modess … because” campaign. And as Oppenheimer points out, it was brilliant because it highlighted ultra-femininity and high fashion instead of a monthly period.

This is another great example of zigging when others zag. People are quick to say, “Well, that’s just how it is,” and sometimes people say, “Ha, or how about we do it the other way anyway…”

And it works.

Crazy Rich: Power, Scandal, and Tragedy Inside the Johnson & Johnson Dynasty(affiliate link)

Book #7: You Pick The Book In The Comment Section

Instead of sharing the 7th book you should read, I’d love for you to leave a comment and share one book you think we should read.

So the 7th book is up to you.

Leave a comment and share it.

And I Want You To Make This Commitment


As I mentioned earlier, I believe reading books from a wide variety of topics is the key to success.

If you’re struggling with creating a reading habit, I suggest you watch this video…

…and make a commitment to yourself, your life, and your business using the strategy: “Before I go to sleep tonight…”

Now go leave a comment.

The links in this post are affiliate links to Amazon. This means, if you buy a book because of my recommendation, I earn a small commission. It’s so low that it won’t even pay for a cup of coffee. This is hardly a revenue source, and the only reason why I use the affiliate links is because I want to see if you actually take my reading recommendations 😉

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154 comments Leave a comment

Viktor Frankl – “Man’s Search For Meaning”


Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill.

Annette Walker

From the past year that I especially liked: “The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin” … two biographies about Andrew Carnegie (love that he started out dirt poor) … a biography about James Hill, aka, “The Empire Builder” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_J._Hill) . Sorry don’t remember the titles but there are not many books to choose from about these guys.

From a few years ago: “Sex Money Kiss” by Gene Simmons. Yes, the crazy guy from the band KISS. He’s not so crazy. He’s a sharp entrepreneur.


Great post and list Derek!

Steven Pressfield’s The War Of Art is a quick, easy read but full of inspiration. It complements this post since the book is about breaking through resistance to achieve goals.


Thank you for this post and list Derek!

Steven Pressfield’s The War Of Art is a quick, easy read but full of inspiration.
It complements this post since the book is all about breaking through resistance to achieve goals.



I took the leap last year and released my blog and now my first poetry e-book will be released soon. Please take a look at http://www.lifeishelpingpeople.com and give me your feedback.

Thank you and your team for sharing with the public the results of all of your hard work that you have poured into Social Triggers.

BTW in answer to your challenge:Before I go to sleep tonight I will have read all 9 of the Social Trigger emails in my inbox.


Ryan Deiss just published his first book and he’s using it as a trip wire, so you can get it for free, just pay $5 shipping (Hence the TW). But he also sends out a PDF to start reading now. It’s excellent for anyone that wants to create a real business online (that holds value and is sell-able if you’d like). Selling either digital products or physical products. It’s called Invisible Selling Machine.


Great article and a good list. I’d add Ready, Fire, Aim as a great book for entrepreneurs at all levels.

Aly Ahmed

Nice list, Derek. The good thing is, I selected the one to read in next week. 🙂
Keep up the good work.

Aly Ahmed

Kathy Sacks

Essentialism by Greg McKeown. I read a lot and this book goes in the category of “gamechanger” for your mindset to leverage your time for big leaps in forward movement. We all know busy for sake of busy is bad. But what Greg does is grab you by the neck and make is crystal clear why being an Essentialist boosts your happiness and success (ie achievement of meaningful goals + more peaceful, sharp, focused way of being) Discerning between the “vital few” vs the “trivial many”. Shaped my year-end thinking from a list of 15 great biz and personal goals and projects to what are now the 3 main projects with accompanying goals that deserve my undivided focus and how to stay aligned to those for big returns.

Highly recommend!!


Before I go to sleep tonight, I will read 5 pages.

Thank you Derek for this post. I bought so many books in 2014 and I haven’t read any one of them. This year I will consume all the books I bought and take your advice on reading a bit everyday to build the habit.

Manpreet Kaur

Hey Derek, A great post.
Before I say more about this post, I want to introduce myself. Why? Because I am gonna stalk your blog for a long time (I intended to read your blog from beginning but then reaching to the first post seemed a tiresome task so, I started from the first post). I read your post about being an exception and that’s how I decided I need to stick to this blog till I complete all of it. Thanks for creating such a great blog. 🙂

coming to the post, you know I really didn’t need any convincing when it came to why one should read for yeah! I am the one who has articles like “Why am I collecting books for my kids” on my own blog. But then as I said earlier, I had to read each of your post and I must say you gave one more great reason to stick to reading. Thanks a lot. 🙂

Joe Pulizzi

Derek…this is great. Robert Rose and I covered your J&J example on our This Old Marketing podcast this week (and don’t worry, we will DEFINITELY link back to you). We now have case studies going back to the 1850s, but I love this example for sure. It’s a great one.

Just so you know, when we present on John Deere, we never say they are the oldest. It’s one of the older ones still in operation though.

Thanks again Derek!

Mary Catherine

Love the share – cool idea about the affiliate tracking for the books… The book I would add would be – Thrive by Ariana Huffington – really loved it!!
Now, concerning what I will do before I go to bed tonight, I will write my about page, and brainstorm about what I can offer for my business.


Hey Derek great list! I’ve just bought #1,3&4!

So my suggestion for #7 is The Wisdom Of The Enneagram by Riso & Hudson


Last year I read more ebooks about how to on-line marketing (email marketing, FB, sales method etc.). And I real also one book “Podnikání z pláže” (translate make bussiness from the beach), which inspirates me on my way…

Joe Simmonds

Looking forward to reading these, especially the Johnson & Johnson one. My favourite is ‘One Magic Square’ for small garden design or ‘Permaculture: A Designer’s Manual’ for larger scale garden and eco system design. With all of the issues we’re facing, I reckon that growing food has to be a big part of sorting shit out! 🙂


Social Wealth – Jason Treu


13 ways to be a power performers by Richard Dawson is a must Read

Rick Henry

Before I go to bed tonight I am going to read 5 pages of Choose Yourself.

Excellent list Derek. I am going to add the books to my future reading list.

I have a question for you or anyone reading the comments… how do you read so many book so quickly? It takes me forever (weeks) to plod through a short book. How do you power through 100+ books a year?


I have two, Derek:

Talent is Overrated by Geoff Colvin and (though it was written originally in 1995, I’d include it EVERY year) Drive by Daniel Pink.

Alicia Bostic

Another great book…The E Myth – helps people understand the difference between an entrepreneur, a manager, and a technician. This would be a great read for any small business owner.

Serge Rehem

Nice list Derek! My book recomendation is totaly related with your video.

Mini Habits: Smaller Habits, Bigger Results, by Stephen Guise.

The ideia is something like ‘before I go to sleep tonight I will sleep JUST ONE PARAGRAPH of my book’. This is a mini habit 😛

“What’s A Mini Habit?
A mini habit is a very small positive behavior that you force yourself to do every day; its “too small to fail” nature makes it weightless, deceptively powerful, and a superior habit-building strategy. You will have no choice but to believe in yourself when you’re always moving forward.

The barrier to the first step is so low that even depressed or “stuck” people can find early success and begin to reverse their lives right away. And if you think one push-up a day is too small to matter, I’ve got one heck of a story for you!”


Hi Derek

I suggest “Super Brain” by Deepak Chopra. The brain’s ability to create new neurons and synapses proves you “can teach and old dog new tricks”. Very helpful in explaining how to overcome negative habits and the “I can’t” syndrome.

Tom Rossman

Great list! thanks! My suggestion for #7 is The Believing Brain by Michael Schermer. Fascinating look at how we think and the barriers to a better understanding of the world.


‘Choose Yourself’ by James Altucher. As soon as I finished reading it I wanted to start it again. Some really powerful lessons in there.


Happy New Year, Derek.

My favorite book this year was Made To Stick, by Chip & Dan Heath. Fantastic book about how to create messages that stick, and consequently go on to have an impact.

Thanks & Regards


Before I go to bed tonight, I will email a friend about borrowing her high-quality camera so that I can get started on shooting cooking/health/lifestyle videos for my website!!! Thanks for the inspiration, Derek 🙂

Michelle Goss

Favorite book of 2014: ” Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less” by Greg McKeown. Excellent writing about focusing on what matters most in a culture that wants to pull our attention in 1,000 directions.

Travis R Haley

Tony Robbins – Money. Still reading it actually…You gotta know what to do with all that gangsta money you are going to make after reading Social Triggers.. Highly recommend it!


Good round-up post Derek. 2014 was the first year I started reading books, although some were audio-books (I am just not good at concentrating on reading).
You have given me a few to add to my reading list for 2015. I am behind on the times but this year was the first year I ever heard of, and read, Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill. I bet most people here and very familiar with it, but it really struck a point with me.

Trudy Van Buskirk

Looptail. How one company changed the world by reinventing business by Bruce Poon Tip Toronto based and global entrepreneur who owns GAP Adventures – a great book that reinforced the fact that business CAN be done differntly.

Kacy Paide

Austin Kleon’s “Show Your Work”

Phil Bernstein

Currently reading “Pillar of Fire: America in the Martin Luther King Years 1963-65” by Taylor Branch. I’ll be working with TV sales staffs in Birmingham, Montgomery, Biloxi and Albany (GA) this year — places where a lot of these events took place 50 years ago.

It’s also a good sales education: King had to do a lot of selling… persuading his allies/competitors in the civil rights movement of the benefits of nonviolent action… persuading the Kennedy and Johnson administrations to take action to protect their rights. Johnson had to do his own sales job on Congress.

And finally, it’s a great lesson that even a guy who has a national holiday named after him didn’t know everything. There was so much uncertainty and disagreement over strategy and tactics. How they came to at least some consensus and made the world change is an awesome story to read.


One of my favorite books from last year was Make Art Make Money.

It talks about many of the lessons you can learn from following Jim Henson’s career. If you are a creative and want to learn how to build a creative empire without losing your artistic passion, read this book.

Jeff Brown

Wow, great list Derek. I was unfamiliar with most of the books on your list, and I even host a podcast on reading! 🙂


Seneca – On the shortness of life

The first chapter is worth $100 at least.

Life is long, if you know how to use it. All of us are given a generous amount of time on this earth, we are just wasteful of it.

Genius wisdom from 2000 years ago that’s still JUST as important today (if not more) than it was back then. Amazing.


The Ocean At The End of Lane by Neil Gaiman. Why? This is a fantasy genre book which was great for getting out of my own head for a few hours. Wonderfully written story with enough drama and intrigue to keep you interested. Interesting characters you care about. And, it makes the world look a little different when you finish it. It is like everything gets tilted a couple degrees.

We all need that now and then to lighten up and get our imaginations going again and enjoy the mystery of life. Great post and thanks!


Best book this year:

Hard thing about Hard things by Ben Horowitz – a fascinating insight into the world of one of Silicon Valley’s most impressive VC firms.
Poor Charlies Almanack compiled by Peter Kaufman – Wonderful collection of speeches and sayings and insights into the life of Charlie Munger, Warren Buffet’s right hand man.


I’m wondering, Derek, with the large amount you read, do you prefer digital or hard copy books? And on a side note, are you a speed reader? I love to read but I am sloooooooow going, any advice on improving your absorption/time ratio?


Forgot to mention “What To Do When It’s Your Turn” by Seth Godin. Just printed in December. Mind-blowing.


“Play” by Stuart Brown. Outstanding, eye-opening, and potentially life-changing.


The Sins of the Scripture: Exposing the Bible’s Texts of Hate to Reveal the God of Love by John Shelby Spong. As a Christian, I have often been troubled by how often people quote the Bible as the reason they feel justified in doing some of the most unchristian things possible, even within my own chosen church. Bishop Spong explains all this so carefully and lovingly while challenging the very foundation on which Christianity is built – at least in theory. He addresses for me ideas I could not identify as to why they seemed so contradictory – rather like when I was in middle school studying American History and wondering why the Native Americans were portrayed as the savages when white folk were clearly the invaders.


The Sins of the Scripture: Exposing the Bible’s Texts of Hate to Reveal the God of Love by John Shelby Spong. As a Christian, I have often been troubled by how often people quote the Bible as the reason they feel justified in doing some of the most unchristian things possible, even within my own chosen church. Bishop Spong explains all this so carefully and lovingly while challenging the very foundation on which Christianity is built – at least in theory. He addresses for me ideas I could not identify as why they seemed so contradictory – rather like when I was in middle school studying American History and wondering why the Native Americans were portrayed as the savages when white fold were clearly the invaders.

Frank Marshman

Hi Derek and all of you who are posting and reading. I love reading both in and out of my comfort area so I am eclectic with my choices.

I would love to recommend two books: “Aspire” by Kevin Hall. Kevin was the former head of sales and partner in Franklin Day Planner. He is in his words, “a word nerd” loving words and finding the deepest meaning of each word. As Steven Covey points out “Words sell and words repel, Words lead and words impede, Words heal and words kill.”

The second book is: “Safe is the New Risky” by Randy Gage. Randy brings his insight as both a successful business man and leader of thousands of distributors in a network marketing business. He looks at industries and dissects what is working and why it is. He looks into why the traditional advice of go to school, study hard and get a good job may be the worst advice given to children today.

Johnny LaPatate

As mentioned by a couple of other readers, The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg.

Every year, millions of people make new year’s resolutions they don’t stand a chance of making happen – this book shows you how the mechanics behind making life changes actually works.


That’s interesting! I reard more articles than anything else but last year I think I read more books than usual. I intend to read more this year.
The last one I’ve read that made quite an impression on me is Brendon Burchard’s The Motivation Manifesto.
It’s a metaphorical kick in the pants. He had a video course along with it, which I indulged in too.
Now time to put in practice!

David R. Herz

Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

Before Happiness by Shawn Achor

I love your challenge. Before I go to sleep tonight I will finish the next unit of Gonzalo Paternoster’s Outsourcing course and write my advert for my first employee.

I wish you a Happy and Healthy New Year


Hi Derek,
thanks for the list!
I really enjoyed reading »How Google Works« (2014) by Eric Schmidt and Jonathan Rosenberg. You get lots of insights into Google’s corporate culture and exemplary leadership practices.

I wish a you a happy new year!
– Kevin


Hey Derek – I have not read any of those books so I am thrilled that you shared your thoughts about them. I too am an avid reader and this has given me a lot of insight, knowledge and information to share with others. Here is my recommendation and it is a book that I have authored along with five other books that I began writing in 1996. The book is titled “Hypnotic Secrets of Persuasion – How to sell anyone, anytime, anywhere.” and since I am a seasoned hypnotist I think everyone who reads this book will agree that it offers insight into how our subconscious mind works and how research shows that we can be influential while providing value.

Vanessa Vinos

As a former Criminal Psychologist I LOVE your blog and insights. I would like to add:
i) The Glitter Plan-written by the founders of Juicy Couture. Don’t be put off thinking this is a flakey “girlie” read. It is not. It has some great business lessons on everything from boot-strapping to growth and beyond.
ii) Business Brilliant by Lewis Schiff. Again this all about not needing to reinvent the wheel and how to learn from the failure of others, with great examples from the likes of Bill Gates (who “borrowed” many of his ideas from other people and turned them into his own 😉 I certainly see him in a different light since reading the book 😉


The best book for me this year would be.

Linchpin by Seth Godin

Great book on the new rules of business.


Kon Tiki: Across The Pacific By Raft – A true account of how 6 men set across the Pacific on a wooden raft made of balsa wood to support Thor’s theory that the people on the south islands came there from Peru long ago.

Their inspiring and breathtaking journey teaches powerful lessons essential in business like: Courage, Not Accepting The Status Quo “As Is”, Finding Alternate Ways To Get Things Done, and a lot more… but mainly for me, COURAGE.

Awesome read and there are a few movies and documentaries etc. from the story as well.

Charlene Ragsdale

I loved these books:

In a Single Bound, Sarah Reinersten
The Collapse of Distinction, Scott MCKain


“Great Leads” book seems interesting, I have an idea of reading it. Have my exams on, it ends within a week. Have added to my bucket list, it would be my first read of 2015 😀 Thanks for sharing these, Derek! 🙂 Cheers.

Arnold Hansen

Found this under piles of crap my friend posts on Facebook every day. I am glad I clicked into it. Tonight before I go to bed, I will learn about pod casting

Laura Benjamin

Great post and really appreciated recommendations from others. I now have my work cut out for me in the year ahead! Just a few of my favorites this year:
-Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less – Greg McKeown
-So Good They Can’t Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love – Cal Newport
So glad I found your blog, Derek! Keep writing!

Carrie Jolie Dale

1. War of Art by Steven Pressfield.
2. A Course in Miracles (the workbook section only, the other part makes me fall asleep)
3. And I have to add Elizabeth Gilberts new book, The Signature of all Things, just because it’s so utterly inspiring from a writers perspective.
4. The Science of Getting Rich by Wallace Wattles (obscure, but love it)

Couldn’t keep it to one!

Happy New year all!


Great list – thanks!!

Right now I am reading “Headhunting in the Soloman Islands” by Caroline Mytinger but I definitely think the Steve Jobs biography by Walter Isaacson should be on the list. I’ll probably reread it in 2015.

I also agree with those that mentioned Man’s Search for Meaning. I’ve read bits of it but will get all the way through this year.

Having said all that, my personal #7 is The Prize by Daniel Yergin – the version with the update after the 2008 oil price spike. Fantastic book and would fit well with the J Paul Getty book!

Thanks everyone!!


I have just read Tony Robbins book Money master the game & Robert Kiyosakis book Rich Dad Poor Dad simultaneously.

I am now reading The Book of 5 rings -Miyamoto Musashi. I would recommend all of these especially Tony Robbins book Money Master the game.

Love your work Derek

Sandra Pickering

Great post and I’ve noted many suggestions from the comments too.
I’d suggest a book on excellent customer experience from a master of the art – the maitre d’ of a 3-Michelin star restaurant: “The Diego Masciaga Way” by Chris Parker.
It’s a brilliant lesson on bringing a brand to life through customer service and throughout the whole experience journey.

I’ve reviewed it here: https://www.marketingsociety.com/the-library/customer-experience-%E2%80%93-three-michelin-stars
(The restaurant also happens to be our neighbourhood restaurant!)

Jonathan Conrad

Derek, either you’ve read this book or you and Steve think alike. A lot of the marketing/promotional advice you give aligns with this book. My favorite book from this year is “The Great Fragmentation: why the future of business is small” by Steve Sammartino. I listened to it on Audible and got through it in a few days. I drove in circles around my neighborhood because I couldn’t stop listening to it.

Jo Bradshaw

I’ve read some brilliant books this year. Standout ones:
The Elements of Eloquence: How to Turn the Perfect English Phrase – Mark Forsyth,
The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking – Oliver Burkeman,
A Short History of Stupid – Bernard Keane & Helen Razer,
Things I Don’t Want to Know – Deborah Levy,
Drunk Tank Pink – Adam Alter,
You Are Now Less Dumb – David McRaney

David Withington

The Churchill Factor: How One Man Made History
By Boris Johnson
Can’t put the book down!


Ah! It’s so interesting that Cathy mentioned The One Thing by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan coz I was going to say the same thing 🙂 If you’re a woman, please go get Playing Big by Tara Sophia Mohr. Amazing book. An absolute must-read.

Nathan Lau

Thanks for the article. Really inspiring. The 7th book I’d recommend is “As a Man Thinketh” by James Allen. Short read and really inspiring.


#1: The Holy Bible of course…

Cathy Sirvatka

So many things come to mind (part of why so many things don’t get done). But reading books is a struggle for me. So I’m committing to read 5 “pages” on my Kindle of a book Pat Flynn suggested “The ONE Thing” before I sleep tonight. That’s pretty good since it’s 2:50 a.m. on New Year’s Day morning. I am also committing to post a blog article 1 per week, even if small. I will come up with the topic before I go to sleep.

THANKS FOR THE PUSH! I think I’m going to keep this as my pep talk every day! You da bomb!


Aside from the Bible, I benefited a lot from John G. Miller’s book QBQ!

Beatrix Willius

Chris Kresser: Your Personal Paleo Code is one of the books I read to get back on track with my health. Julia Ross: The mood cure is another important book.


Hi Derek,
I liked Scrum and Unquenchable. Also the Psychopath Whisperer, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying…, Flour + Water, Caring Economics, This Changes Everything, Centered Leadership, Urban Watercolor Sketching and Fluent Forever among others.

A couple of your titles are on my to read list I occasionally use amazon but prefer to shop independent book shops and link to IndieBound so when I get Mademoiselle, The Obstacle.. and the Getty memoir you won’t notice. Thanks for the recommends.

James Melhuish

The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer (from the band The Dresden Dolls). A humanising look at how most people fundamentally want to help & give, and asking is the way to risk being told no but give the opportunity for someone to give anyway and deepen the relationship. The audiobook was lengthy but super engaging.


Wolf Children Japanese anime

Noah Gibbs

The best book I’ve read recently is “The Checklist Manifesto” by Atul Gawande — it’s both an amazing history and an amazing how-to, along with the story behind Atul Gawande potentially saving many millions of lives with his WHO recommendations for surgeons.

The best book I’ve read recently that *won’t* already be on your to-read list would be Amanda Palmer’s “The Art of Asking”. Among other things, it’s about how to maintain a deep connection to your community of fans, including over Twitter and email, and how to turn that gracefully into money, attention and other things you want.

Denise Burridge

Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl

    Sandra Pickering

    I’ll second that.

      Frank Marshman

      I read that book 50 years ago and I never left my mind. It changed the way I understood. “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms-to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

Viola Joyner

Get your money house in order. Any financial book by Dave Ramsey will help you get out of debt and be financially free.


Mastery by Robert Greene… original, great depth, and my comments don’t do it justice.


Hi Derek,
Loved this article and couldn’t agree more. Reading is like travel but better cause you get to have all the comforts of home whilst you do your traveling.
The bible is my absolute favourite. Miracles and promises galore. Puts a smile on my face every single time.
Thank you for your great tips and articles.

Sharjeel Sohaib

Lean Start-up by Eric Ries


#1 “Being Mortal” by Atul Gawande – This is the most important book of the year. It talks about how Americans care for their elderly and the monumental challenges of end of life medicine. His writing is direct, insightful, smile enducing, infinitely digestible, caring and supported by a strong voice of humility and admitting what he doesn’t know. We have few moral and ethical leaders. Few men and woman in a public field who remind us of what we can be, not just what we can’t. He’s one of them. I’ve given away more copies of this book than any other this year.
#2 “Money, Master The Game” by Tony Robbins – Ok so here’s the thing. The book title could not sound more cheesy. It Sounds awful. It IS remarkable. I’ve read a lot of personal finance books in my day. This is the best. Hands down. One of the largest surprises of 2014 for me has been learning that Tony Robbins is in fact, the real deal. I know I know, it sounds ridiculous. But I encourage you to pick up his book. You too will be surprised. As a side benefit it will save you thousands of dollars. That’s a guarantee. (p.s. you’ll also feed 50 people if you buy the book. He’s donating 100% of profits to Feeding America).
#3 “Meditations” by Marcus Aurelius – This is an old book and I’ve read it before. But I think as long as I’m trying to learn how to be a useful helpful spiritual man, I’ll probably pick this up every year once or twice. It has copious notes in the margins. Different colors for different years. The front cover is half torn off. Marcus was literally the most powerful man in the world (running the Roman Empire was a big gig I hear). This is his private diary he thought no one would ever read. At the core of the book Marcus asks an important question – ‘Are you ready to see past your personal pain and see your own potential to be of use to others?’
#4 “Oranges” by John McPhee – I love Oranges! Not the fruit (although they’re pretty good). This book is literally about the production of oranges and its unbelievably fascinating. If you’re looking to give a good book to a book nerd get them this one. They probably haven’t read it. John McPhee was a four time finalist for the Pulitzer and a staff writer at the New Yorker. His writing is deliciously simple. Think Steinbeck or Michael Lewis. He’s a great author to cozy up to. He’s written fascinating books on tennis, a boarding school headmaster, Bill Bradley’s basketball career and much more. He’s so good he can write about anything
5. “Man’s Search For Meaning” by Victor Frankl – This is a small book. This is a profound book. I cried while reading it. Published in 1946 the book is broken into two parts. Part I is Victor’s personal experience in Auschwitz. Part II is his thoughts about psychology stemming from his experience (he’s a psychologist). I have to say I’m a bit lost for words on why you should consider reading it. It is simultaneously horrifying and deeply inspiring. If there’s one thing I took away it’s the phrase “You Can.” Whatever it is. You can.
6. “Black Swan” by Nassim Nicholas Taleb – I know I’m a little behind on this one. The underlining idea behind the book, that severity of impact matters more than frequency, is a wildly interesting one. He has this great example. He says line up 1,000 people random in a football stadium shoulder to shoulder. Measure their height. Look at the average and see how far away the tallest and shortest people are from the average. Maybe they’re Really tall or short but they’re still within 75% of the average. This is not the case for everything. Wealth for example. Line up 1,000 random people’s wealth in stacks in the same stadium. What if one of them is Bill Gates? How far is he from the average?
7. “Stress Test” by Tim Geithner – Many people have an opinion about the financial crisis. Few people actually pick up a book like this. It’s massive ~ 600 pages. In my opinion it better be. The crisis decimated millions of people’s lives. One question Geithner asks which is an incredibly valuable one is ‘What would you have done given the information we had at the time and at the time we had it?’ Everyone is a Monday morning quarterback. But as he said on Jon Stewart ‘Imagine the U.S. Economy was a plan heading towards the ground (which it was) how do you land it?’ I personally owe my career to Tim and his team. I think he did a phenomenal job. Rarely do leaders get credit for what they helped avoid. He helped avoid a crisis that would have been far worse than The Great Depression.
8. “The Young Visitors” by Daisy Ashford – A nine year old girl wrote this novela in 1919. It’s simply delightful. It has all the vivacity, precociousness, colors and joy of a nine year old. You can read it in a day. A talented friend recommended it to me and I’m glad she did. A great gift for a fiction lover. It begs the question, if a nine year old can write a novela what can you do? In fact it’s inspiring me to consider blocking off a week and trying to write a short-story myself. Why not? It would be amazing to see what might happen.
9. “TransAtlantic” by Column McCann – God I love Irish authors. McCann’s writing is wistful, flows like water, ebbs like a passionate lover, and lives often far up in the sky near the clouds. TransAtlantic is broken into two parts. Party I is the story of three people going to Ireland (one of which is Frederick Douglass). Part II is the story of one of the women in Part I traveling to America and trying to build a life. McCanns other book “Let The Great World Spin” could even be better. I’m glad McCann is on this planet.
10. Experience – I know. This is a trick answer. Great authors live great lives. Then they write about them. So my 10th favorite book is the gift of my experience. I heard a guy speak once who had walked around the world. He met an old man with a white beard walking through Alabama. The man invited the young boy to join him on his porch. They sat in rocking chairs and sipped coffee. “What are you doing out on the road?”, the old man asked. “Just walking.” the boy responded. There was a long pause. The old man squinted into the sun. “Mmmmmm. You’re reading a book with you feet.”

Glen Craig

The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt. I think I heard about it from Ryan Holiday but I don’t recall. Anyway it’s an awesome look at a man that really did everything. You get tired just reading about all of the things he did and accomplished. This was a man that knew how to roll up his sleeves and do the work.


I like your list. I can’t say I have read anything on it.

I also love biographies. Did you read “The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life”? I read it back when it came out 5 years ago, and I thought it was extremely well written. I surprised myself by finishing all 800+ pages of it.

Right now I am engrossed in “Ask And It Is Given” by Esther and Jerry Hicks.

My other favorite book this year was “I Am Malala” which I wanted to read because I was going to be photographing her. I got so much more than I bargained for.

Brook McCarthy

‘The Soul of Money’ is what I’m currently reading. It’s a bit sappy in parts but posits some interesting questions on our assumptions to do with money, wealth and modern financial markets.


Thanks for sharing your favorite books! A good one I just read is Arianna Huffington’s Thrive.

Mark L.


First, glad to learn your hospital visit went well.

Great list- and more from the other folks commenting.
Currently reading- Money- Master the Game- Tony Robbins.

Thanks for all you do- have learned a lot from your blog and other
articles. Best in 2015!
Happy New Year…


Thanks for sharing your reading list, Derek. My two favorites for this year are
– Marketing Lessons from the Grateful Dead
– Les Miserables

Applying those marketing lessons to finance a Les Miz trip through France sometime in the next 5 years.

Happy new year!


The power of habit

Dave Bross

The Way of Chuang Tzu – Thomas Merton

This taught me to look for balance in all things and a number of other and better ways to go through life.
Probably saved my life and sanity at the time of the first reading.

Merton does the best job ever (for the western mind) in this translation.

Unusual back story….Merton was a Catholic monk.


I read The Third Plate by Dan Barber over the summer and it still is on my mind. It is full of small stories about people who are producing food in ways that challenge convention. As a physicist turned landscape designer/ author I still cannot get over the gardener who figured out, through the use of a spectrometer, that he can predict how tasty a carrot will be. Talk about blurred lines. I love seeing my own industry through the eyes of another (a chef’s POV) and I think these sorts of crossovers (like in so many other industries as well) are what will move things (technology + perceptions + knowledge) forward significantly.


So appreciate your motivation and energy, Derek! I will go to the library Friday and pick up 2 of the books that sound very excellent.
Tonight before I go to bed, I will make the list of things I need to add to my tri-fold flyer—–I am a health coach and am expanding and revamping my site but also need to create a brochure to keep in the offices to explain what I have to offer. Been “procrastinating ” for 2 months now!!!!
thank you, you’re the best!

Meika Louis-Pierre

Great list! Commenters have great suggestions too.
Ask and It is Given – Esther and Jerry Hicks (I keep returning to this to stay grounded.)
Choose Yourself – James Altucher
Change Anything – Kerry Patterson


For me it’s Things a little bird told me by Biz Stone. He’s real & hysterical & kind & positive & he says stuff like this that just get you in the gut! “My first start-up was a failure, my second start-up was Twitter”.

Lee Trends

Happy New Year bossman!

Now adding your suggestions to my reading list.

One book I loved and revisit in many forms is Master by Robert Greene


Steena Brown

Owning Your Own Shadow: Understanding the Dark Side of the Psyche by Robert A. Johnson

I’m one of those chronic question-asking people who always wants to know WHY? This book gives great insight into the paradox of life and how we hide the bad stuff AND the really stuff of ourselves. Short but powerful.


I recommend American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer, by Martin J. Sherwin and Kai Bird. He was a truly remarkable man during an incredible time in our history. Chilling at times when reading about the McCarthy era and Oppenheimer’s futile attempts to re-focus the government on nuclear disarmament.

Rachna Jain

Thanks for this list, Derek, and everyone for all the comments- you’ve just helped me add a bunch of books to my reading list! 🙂

I second the mentions for Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman, tied with Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg Mckeown. Both definitely are worth the read.

Happy New Year!


The Big Leap by Hendricks Gay
Great examples of how we sabotage our lives. It demonstrates how to eliminate the barriers to success by overcoming false fears and beliefs.
Now will read some of your recommendations…


I’m the opposite. I read alot when younger but read much less now.

I think most people read way too much and “do” way to little – at least that’s what I did.

I transferred “reading” for “doing”… thinking I was being productive. But, alas, most reading is just spectating and totally non-productive.

The time-cost-benefit of reading is extremely, extremely low for most people.

I bet Warren spent most of his time analyzing markets and business to buy, not reading biographies.


    “Read 500 pages like this every day…That’s how knowledge works. It builds up, like compound interest. All of you can do it, but I guarantee not many of you will do it.”
    – Warren Buffett

DeeDee Riley

Great list Derek! You always inspire me. I read articles regularly but have a hard time getting through books though I love them. Just finding the time is the difficult part. I’ve gone to listening to audio books while I walk and am currently reading “Lean In -Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg. Love it so far!

Thanks so much!

Mike L

Thanks for the inspiring list, Derek. I consider myself an avid reader but not 100 books a year! I’m adding a couple of yours to my Kindle and a couple 7th books from commenters.

From a business perspective, I finally read The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else in Business by Patrick Lencioni. A follow-up to his blockbuster The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, it gives practical advice on developing a sustainable business.

On the personal front, Not a Fan by Kyle Idleman will push you to reconsider your faith. Are you a follower or just a fan? Superb read.

Happy reading, friends!


“Anti-fragile,” by Nassim Taleb. His logic and wide ranging examples are thought provoking. As a solopreneur, I found myself underlining throughout. Highly recommended.
And, thank you Derek for a great list of books. Best to you in 2015!


The Dip by Seth Godin.. Best book I’ve read / heard all year.
Brain Rules by Dr Medina is an enlightening take on hacking your brain to improve yourself.



I recommend:
Ninety Percent of Everything: Inside Shipping, The Invisible Industry that Puts Clothes on Your Back, Gas in Your Car, and Food on Your Plate
by Rose George

Sail the seas on one of the largest container ships with this amazing author. You’ll learn how much it actually costs to ship an item commercially, how many containers are packed on one ship, the perils of the sea and be introduced to the people who actually man the vessels. Captivating! And, a good lesson on the economics of commercial shipping.

Janice Hamman

I started reading before I started school. I read books that you hold in your hand, Kindle books, and audio books. I have at least two I’m reading at a time. I use the audio books when I’m driving across town, sewing, cooking, out walking, etc. I recommend reading the King James version of the Bible. It gives instruction for living your life here on earth and tells how to live this life so you will have the best of the next world.

David Reed

My recommendation for the Seventh book is titled, Rolling Stone by Lowell Thomas. It’s a real life story, an amazing biography!

My own reading has been expanded recently from some great western and fantasy writers to biographies telling us of real people and their lives. I’ve always loved the adventure and inspiring characters I find in the work of fiction storytellers. With adding biographies to my line up of reading, I am finding out how amazing the lives of real people can be, especially when you recognize these are true life histories that have influenced many others in different times and places around the world. That influence stemming from both the the people a biography is written about and by the biographical writers themselves through their own books. What a skill to capture and share the lives of those from the past and the present.

At present, I am reading the book, Rolling Stone by Lowell Thomas, published in 1931. It accounts the life and worldly adventures, trials and
triumphs of the British Major, Arthur Radclyffe Dugmore from boyhood and into his elderly years. What an amazing and storied life! Major
Dugmore and Lowell Thomas were both globe trotters and adventurers who crossed paths on occasion, swapping stories and what they had learned from being alive. This is my recommendation for the 7th book in your list, Derek. Major Dugmore’s life from early on as recorded in Rolling
Stone is one adventure after another that as Lowell Thomas states, any boy growing up would love to have lived (and survived). To that I add, so would anyone alive today who is of a stout enough nature.

Thanks for a great blog post…and enjoy a Great and Happy New Year! Dave Reed


My best book, “Where The Wind Leads” By Vinh Chung. This is a must read ! Truly a manual on how to raise a family, and how to succeed at anything in life.


Great post!! The most valuable book I read in 2014 was John Adams by David McCullough. Not only was it full of history that I must have missed in high school and college, I was inspired by John Adams’ perseverance in the face of adversity and his love and dedication for his family.

Also – I realized again the power and value of regular correspondence and keeping a journal. We wouldn’t know much about Mr. Adams’ personal opinions and thoughts without his consistent journal entries and regular letters to family and friends.

Happy New Year!!


Just finishing John Acuff’s Start.

It’s a bit of a rah-rah “just do it” book but sometimes you just need someone to hold your hand and help you jump into your next endeavor. He has some good tips about how to manage fear and negativity as an entrepreneur (such as writing down what your internal voices are saying) and simply get off your ass and get it done. Not something I’d normally read for deeper insights but I’ve needed the push to start (pardon the pun).


Thinking, Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman. This is the best book I have read all year, but the close second was David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell.

    Trudy Van Buskirk

    Yep – I agree. I read both of them this year (among others).

Nathalie Lussier

I’m a huge bookworm too, so I’m always curious to see what’s on other people’s (digital or physical) bookshelves.

Some of my top-of-mind favorites from the year are:

Sacred Success by Barbara Stanny
Making Learning Whole by David Perkins

Happy to hear your operation went well and sending you so much love and all the best personally and professionally in 2015!

Geniece Brown

Before I go to sleep tonight, I will write down the names of 5 entrepreneurs to connect with whether it’s through their blog, a personal email, social media, etc


Great post Derrick, I’m also an avid reader. Warren Buffett was a big inspiration for me this year, I read his biography The Snowball, which is a big reading commitment but well worth it.

Rick Snow

“The 4 Disciplines of Execution”, “Once Upon a Cow”and “The Energy Bus”
I will add a couple from your list to my 2015 reads. Thanks.


The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks.. a life changer!



Amazing and motivating post. I’m really impressed with how diverse just the list of seven is! I’m going to do that for 2015, diversify my reading and broaden it out. Keep up the great work.

Gregory Van De Mark


Tubes: A Joirney To The Center Of The Internet
By: Andrew Blum


Hands down… my most influential book is:

“A Failure of Nerve: Leadership in the Age of the Quick Fix”

This is so much more than a book on leadership. It was written over 15 years ago and posthumously published about 8 years ago.

Edwin Friedman is a systems thinker, and he bases much of his work on the principles of Dr. Murray Bowen, who was the progenitor of the “family systems” theory.

Are your eyes glazing over?

They shouldn’t. This book – which I begrudgingly read in a book group – almost instantly changed my life.

Friedman points out the four sicknesses that plague societies, organizations, families, and workplaces. They are:

1- The most dependent and least differentiated members of the group set the agenda with their behavior. In other words, there is constant adaptation towards WEAKNESS instead of strength in the group.

2- There is a devaluation of individuality. It is the GROUP at all costs, even if that means the group as a whole suffers. Leaders become janitors and consultants promote “solutions” instead of promoting emotional health and self-differentation.

3- Leaders are hamstrung because of an obsession with data and technique… as if the solution to problems were external and not internal.

4- There is a misunderstanding by everyone in the group that anxious people within the group can be regulated or changed through consensus building, reasonableness, love, insight, role-modeling, and re-education. In other words, leaders don’t set limits or take a stand against those who cannot self-regulate.

5- No one understands that the only way to save one of these toxic people is to essentially ignore them. By not reacting to their reactivity, you give them their only shot at becoming a stronger person – that is, giving them the chance to stop blaming external forces for their problems and take internal responsibility for them.

The purpose of the book is to help someone with “nerve”… that is anyone who will take a stand against what Friedman calls “an emotional terrorist.”

This could be a spouse who tries to control a spouse with their bad behavior. It could be a client. It could be a co-worker playing politics in your department. It can be an entire group in a society who tries to control others by regressing the entire society with their anxiety.

Here’s my last word… As I was reading this with my friends and mentor… my wife had just taken a new, high-paying job. This was the first time she had been in a higher level role in the corporate world.

The air up there is a lot nastier. This book was invaluable, as she dealt with a co-worker (let’s call her Miss Green) who was figuratively shutting down their entire department… and dealing with her boss’ boss (Mrs. White) who wouldn’t fire this person because it would reflect poorly on her leadership. Mrs. White had hired this person and she refused to admit the colossal mistake.

The burden of this fell on my wife because she was in a senior position in the department and was responsible when Miss Green didn’t deliver her work.

This was one of the most stressful years of our life… but this book helped us get through it in a sane fashion.

I constantly read and re-read this book over the course of 10 months and I can say that it has made me a much better person.



A journalist once asked Malcolm X what his alma mater was. He replied, “Books.” Another story that shows the importance of regular reading.

This is a good list – I love The Obstacle Is The Way.

My favourite book I read this year was The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon, by Brad Stone. Amazon is such an endlessly fascinating company, and it’s great to read the story of how they turned it from a startup into a global giant that does $75bn in annual revenue.

Also, if you want more book recommendations, check out http://www.farnamstreetblog.com, he’s probably the only guy I can think of who reads even more than Ryan Holiday does.

Jeff Agostinelli

Hey Derek,

First, thank you for posting this. I was just wondering why more people don’t post their book lists, and here you come with a another great article.

I also used to hate reading, my parents tried to get me to do my summer reading for school, and they literally couldn’t pay me to do it! Now I read 3 – 6 books a month and TONS of articles.

I just finished Seth Godin’s Permission Marketing, and I’d have to say that was my favorite book this year. A very close second is in a completely different genre, Wayne Dyer – I can see clearly now, was awesome, and I’m actually going to read it again this week. Oh yeah, and Money Master the Game by Tony Robbins. So many good books, but Seth’s book (even though written in ’99) takes the cake and considering when it was written, is still SO relevant today.

One big point you make in this article that I am going to implement right away is reading from a wide variety of topics. I can see how this is really important.

Thanks D,


Timothy Moser

Virtual Freedom by Chris Ducker, the #1 worldwide authority on virtual outsourcing! Using that book and hiring an assistant has allowed me to raise the quality of my work, as well as my rates. Highly recommended.

Dr. Donna

Hi Derek,

I too hated to read during my youth. Now I read all the time as well. I started a 100 in 1 book challenge on Nov 9, 2014. I have committed to reading 100 business and professional/personal development books in 1 year (by Nov 8, 2015).

It’s hard to pick just one book so I have picked two, one business and one professional/personal development.

Business: What got you here won’t get you there, by Marshal Goldsmith. It explains how successful people use the same skills over and over to achieve success but in order to get to the next level they will need to use new skills and even focus on developing a “Not to do list. ”

Professional Development: The Human Machine by Arnold Bennett. It is the second half of the book How to Live on 24 Hours a Day. This book explains that when we control the brain we control our outcomes. By taking 30-minutes a day and concentrating our mind we have full control of our actions.

It also compares the heart/ego with the brain and that we can trace all of our rational choices back to our bran and our emotional ego based choices back to our heart.

Thank you for the blog and asking for our insights.

Have a happy and super amazing 2015!
Dr. Donna

Lauren Fritsch

I loved The Hard Thing about Hard Things about startup management by epic venture capitalist Ben Horowitz.

Why? Because the principles of starting and running a great business are both strategic and tactical. He covers both in an engaging and memorable way. It’s a must read for every CEO (and wannabe CEO).

For extra fun get the audio

Vinny O'Hare

Derek this may sound crazy but my favorite book is Sammy Hagar’s autobiography “Red”.

In the book Sammy talks about all the businesses he has, how they came from ideas and how he has other people run them.

He talks about how he made more money with Van Halen than the rest of the guys in the band because he had a better contract, almost double what the other guys made.

He started a tequila company and sold that for 84 million. He now has a rum company and is more valuable than the tequila company was.

Back in the day he opened a bicycle shop based on the bike he always wanted. He was the first person that used black carbon fiber rims. He has that patented. How much is that worth?

His restaurants are following the Jimmie Buffet Margaritaville model and are very successful. So much in fact that all the profits go to local food banks since he doesn’t need the money.

While it may not be a business book in it’s usual form it really is all about a modern day Rockefeller.


I was first introduced to “To Sell is Human” by Daniel Pink via your podcast. Of the books I read in 2014, that was one of the paradigm shifters that has stuck with me.

    Mark Gandy

    To Sell is Human is outstanding – couldn’t put it down.

    Most memorable book I read in 2014 of the 107 I read/listened to–Lone Survivor. Undaunted Courage was probably number 2.


Great list Derek.

The book #7 should be ‘the war of Arts’
Its amazing..

Mark Fallon

Derek – great story and great advice. As my mother once told me when I was a teenager, “You’re lucky, you love to read.” Books have made a tremendous impact on my life.

For 2014, my favorite book was “If This Isn’t Nice, What Is?” – a collection of speeches delivered by Kurt Vonnegut. Wisdom and humor with every story.


I’m working on a book you recommended Derek and I love it!!! “Getting Everything You Can From All You’ve Got” By Jay Abraham. Then I’m on to Tony Robbins “Money” as recommended by Marie Forleo 😉 Thanks for more recommendations!

Glenn Brooke

Great thoughts on the WHY of reading in your article! I’ll add a few of these books to my 2015 reading list. I really enjoyed Essentialism, The Exponential Organization, and two biographies of Teddy Roosevelt and Dwight Eisenhower, The Natural Law of Business, and more.

Sarah Jordan

Happy New Year from another voracious reader! My favorite book of 2014 is Robert Cialdini’s new book, “The Small Big: Smalls Changes that Spark Big Influence.” It’s not just a remake of his other book. The Small Big shows how we can use Cialdini’s more recent findings to hook customers in this day of the microscopic attention span.

I can’t wait to read all the books you recommended.

Happy New Year Derek!


Great list! I’m also a voracious reader and I added two of these to my Amazon wish list.


Michael Masterson also has a great audio series that is amazing in outlining how to start a company the right way. It’s called Ready, Fire, Aim. I love the part on marketing your product first, before buying all the fancy gadgets and “stuff” business owners think they need to start up. But having sales in the pipeline first? That’s a revelation.

Thanks Derek

    Shawn Moran

    Great to hear…. I just received my copy. Going to start it now.

Clara Rose

Currently reading: The Motivation Manifesto by Brendon Burchard but have a huge list of favorites including A Leaders Gift by Barry Banther.

Jadah Sellner

There are two books I like to re-read (or listen to on audio) about every two years.

1. Tony Robbins’ “Awaken the Giant Within”
2. Tim Ferriss’ “4-Hour Workweek”

Both are great reminders for me on mapping out my dreams, plans and ideal lifestyle. And I as I continue to grow my business, I’m able to apply more things in each one than I was able to apply when I first read them. It’s like the spiraling staircase. Some things we’re not ready to learn until we’re in a certain phase in life.

I’d just like to personally thank you Derek for being such an inspiration for me. Your blog was the first marketing blog I started reading in 2011, and will continue to read and get value from in 2015 and beyond. From having zero dollars, zero followers, and zero people on my email list in 2011 to now running a profitable business (with over 300,000 email subscribers thanks to your articles on list building and opt-in boxes) where I get to work from anywhere and make a difference in people’s lives is such a gift.

Sending you lots of healing vibes and happy thoughts for 2015 Derek!

Carl Reichbard MD

Cure for the Common Leader: What Physicians and Managers Must Do to Engage and Inspire Healthcare Teams by Joe Mull. While the context is healthcare, the content is relevant for anyone who is somebody else’s boss. (I got it on Amazon).

Steve Dorfman

Thanks, Derek!
“The Culture Blueprint” is one of the most interesting and comprehensive business guides I’ve ever read—and I’ve read quite a few. I can’t even imagine starting a business today, without it by my side. It’s written by THE guy who created Zappos Insights (their culture sharing program).


    Hey Steve that sounds like a great book. Question. Where did you get it at? All I see is the Kindle version online that’s not been released yet.


Jamie Logie

I’m looking for some new books and this list looks awesome.
My 7th choice would be the war of art which I’m sure is old news to a lot of people but it’s a top choice for good reason

Happy new year to everyone


    Nathan Abraham

    “The War of Art” by Pressfield is Marvelous. Pressfield’s writing is soooo open, and his insights (resistance to the creativity in all of us) is a power to know about. He lets you know how he was living in his van, trying to build a writing career – and takes you through his uphill challenges, to Success. A movie was made from one of his books, I believe it’s called The legend of Bagger Vance. “The Art of War” stays with me, long after I’ve read it – and every time I conquer resistance in its many forms, I think of it, and Pressfield.


      “The War of Art” by Steven Pressfield is my book recomendation also 🙂

      It’s very easy to read, but don’t let this mislead you into thinking it’s trivial! This is one of the best motivational books I ever came across. Some chapters are only a paragraph long, but highely inspirational, no fluff food for thoughts.

Jason L.

Perfect timing on this blog post. I was just looking up a book you cited in a previous blog post, and was on my way to finding a list of ‘2014’s best books.’

Well done, Derek. I appreciate you even more now that I know you’re an avid reader. Thanks!


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

Every marketer and entrepreneur MUST READ this! Best business book I’ve ever read.


When most people I know find out that I am a high school dropout they don’t believe me. Partly because I’m constantly reading and recommending books. I pick out purses based on how well books will fit into them. My fifth-grade teacher said if you can read instructions there’s nothing you can’t do. I took it to heart.

I read Tony Robbins book Money & Russel Brands book Revoulution simultaneously just by chance. What I found so interesting is both men essentially have the same goal (helping humanity, becoming closer to God & living a happy fulfilled life) but their ideas on how to accomplish that are on totally opposite ends of the spectrum.

    Frank Marshman

    Great job Kristie,
    I am always brought back to what Jim Rohn said: “A school education will get you a job but what you learn after school will make you a fortune.”
    I learned a long time ago that if you just read 15 minutes every night you will go through a lot of books in one year.

Conrad O'Connell

I’m not quite done yet, but I’m halfway through Good To Great by Jim Collins has been eye-opening so far.

    Sagar Lakhani

    I agree Conrad; the book “Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…And Others Don’t” by author Jim Collins is definitely one of the best business books I’ve ever read. It is research-based and it is definitely a great book on business strategy.


Nice list, Derek. I’ve added a few to my “to read” list.

For me, the top book I read in 2014 was “An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth” by Chris Hadfield.

The book is ostensibly about ISS Commander Chris Hadfield’s life and experiences as an astronaut, but it’s so much deeper and more. It gives an extraordinary glimpse into the mindset of a true performer – how he approaches adversity, how he deals with fear, how he plans for failure, how he trains and dedicates himself to excellence in everything he does.

I would consider this a must-read for any top performer who wants to really get inside the mind of a man who has been literally the best in the world – and perhaps best out of this world – in his chosen vocation.

Plus, if you appreciate a well-written book, the prose in this is downright artful in places.

    Sandra Pickering

    Breanne, great recommendation. Always good advice to learn from top performers.

    Sandra Pickering

    Breanne, great recommendation – always good advice to learn fro, top performers.

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