When I discovered reading as a kid, I consumed books day and night. Despite my parents’ “lights out at 8:30 p.m.” rule, I read under the covers with my bedside lamp at my elbow.
I traveled the world and enjoyed tropical beaches, jungles, and daring adventures in my pajamas. My imagination was my free pass to the world.
Reading, learning, and consuming information and ideas is now a big part of my destiny and purpose. Some books change you more than others, but my rule of thumb is that if I get one good idea from a book, it was worth reading.
Here are 10 books that have inspired, educated and entertained me:
1. “The 4-Hour Workweek“
I read this book by Tim Ferriss about five years ago when the promise of the Web was starting to become real, and social media took hold. Twitter was just starting, and Facebook was gaining traction.
The book promises to take you from the drudgery of your day job to doing what you love, and monetizing it on the Web. It inspired me to start my blog.
2. “The Element“
I’ve read this book by Ken Robinson more than once. As a teacher in a previous life, it resonated with me. It provides inspiring insight into how finding your passion and combining it with your abilities and talents can take a life of drudgery and turn it into a masterpiece. Robinson calls this intersection “the element.” He includes examples of famous people who found the element, such as Paul McCartney, Richard Branson and Arianna Huffington.
3. “Made to Stick“
This book by Chip and Dan Heath is about ideas. The authors outline the six principles of sticky ideas that I now consider when I write or communicate. They are: simplicity, unexpectedness, concreteness, credibility, emotions and stories.
If you want to improve your communication skills and make your ideas memorable, don’t ignore this book.
4. “On Writing“
Stephen King is better known for fiction than non-fiction. This book is partly a memoir (the first 100 pages), but in the last 200 pages King reveals the basic tools for becoming a good, or even great, writer.
King’s passion for writing is obvious and compelling, and his life journey is revealing. Three key messages impressed me: the importance of simplicity, starting and persistence. This is just the start of what you will find between the covers.
This book is not just about writing; it is about life.
This book is by Jason Fried and David Hansson, the founders of 37 Signals—a successful software development company. This book offers a lot of ways to rework your business that Fried and Hansson discovered from personal experience. If you want to know how business is being reinvented in a knowledge economy, it is worth reading.
The book has short, punchy chapters packed with cool ideas and inspiration.
6. “Start with Why“
Simon Sinek impressed me when I heard him speak. In his book, he discusses what makes leaders great and how that leads to companies that succeed and excel. He uses examples and stories from the Wright Brothers, Martin Luther King Jr., and Steve Jobs.
This book is also about the art of influence.
I must confess that I read this more than twice, and it has a lot of coffee stains. What I love about this book is its revelations on how to communicate and market in a digital world. I was tired of the old ways of marketing and selling, and author David Meerman Scott opened my eyes to a new paradigm. It is about being authentic and talking plainly. This book is also like social media 101.
This book preceded the launch of my blog, and I wove its ideas into the blog’s tapestry.
In this book, Brendon Burchard reveals how to monetize your knowledge in 10 ways, add value to people’s lives, and have fun while you do it.
Burchard provides a glimpse into what he has learned about presenting, writing a book, creating promotional partners (affiliates), promoting seminars, educating online, and much more.
If you are an expert or thought leader and don’t know how to package your ideas and sell them, read this book.
9. “The War of Art“
If you want to learn more about the art, challenges and processes of the creative sphere, this book is packed with insights. If you are an artist, writer, musician, business person, or simply breathing and have a pulse—doesn’t everything involve being creative?—read this book.
It is about overcoming roadblocks and resistance in life. It is about doing work that is congruent with your purpose and destiny.
Seth Godin is so visible in the marketing world he is like a global beacon. I read this book while also reading “The New Rules of Marketing and PR.” This book flips the model of push marketing to attraction marketing. This book was also instrumental in starting my blogging journey. It is about people giving you permission to sell to them. I think this is a cool concept.
If you want to see what is important about marketing in a Web-centric world, read this book.
What books have inspired you? What books have made a difference in your life? Have they helped you launch a business or blog, or even write a book?
Jeff Bullas is a digital media coach, mentor, consultant and speaker. He blogs at JeffBullas.com, where a version of this article originally ran.