Business Books I Loved Reading Last Year

Photo by Patrick Tomasso

Photo by Patrick Tomasso

I love reading books. Books are an incredible source of endless education and entertainment for me, and they also help me understand different ways of thinking, walks of life, and life experiences all from the comfort of a couch. Reading allows me to upgrade my knowledge on myself, my business, and others while I’m actively working on my life on the day-to-day.

If I’m reading a business book, I always read it with fiction or a book about personal development. I do this not only for personal enjoyment, but because I truly believe that becoming a smarter entrepreneur is a result of diversifying your mind in all areas of your life. It took me about 30+ years to get to a place where I felt that I was able to think very clearly about my work and life, and it came to a head as soon as I began to diversify the books and activities I filled my free time with.

Here are some of my favorite business books that I read last year and the beginning of this year. I’ll be sharing my list next week of my favorite non-business books as well  — 

Atomic Habits by James Clear 

If you’re trying to become a more productive and intentional person when it comes to your use of time, daily actions, and goal setting — read this book. To me, this book is one of the best of the meticulous goal-planning books that are currently out there. There are a ton of killer one-liners in this book that I highlighted, wrote down in a Google Doc, and repeat in several conversations. It’s just that good.

Made To Stick by Chip Heath 

I love understanding the psychology behind what motivates human beings to buy one product over another so that I can understand principles rather than anecdotes. Made To Stick delivers on sharing these principles by running through how to create sticky ideas, the curse of knowledge, why knowledge gaps are important in selling, and more.

This Is Marketing by Seth Godin 

I’m a big fan of Seth Godin and usually love anything that he writes, so consider this a biased review. This Is Marketing provides a great rundown of what’s required for anyone to promote and share a great idea, product, or service. This Is Marketing delivers on its title and is a great go-to resource for anyone who’s marketing anything in today’s marketplace. Consider this book required reading if you’re an entrepreneur.

Originals by Adam Grant

Originals is a well-known book that lives up to its hype. Originals is widely lauded and read, and it lives up to expectations. This book brings up real-world case studies on how innovation is sparked and why some new ideas catch while others die out. It provides a great breakdown on how to recognize when an industry is ready to be disrupted vs. when the timing is off. There are loads of different concepts that this book analyzes on a microscopic level that is essential for entrepreneurs to learn from. 

Lost and Founder by Rand Fishkin

Lost and Founder provides a wonderfully detailed account of a startup founder who had to navigate bringing on investors, company growth, hiring and firing employees, depression, and personal growth all while being a good person. If you want to gain a full perspective on what it’s like to be a startup founder or simply want to commiserate with someone who was once in the same boat as you, this is an interesting read.

Bad Blood by John Carreyou 

In my opinion, this book is much more comprehensive and interesting than the documentary The Inventor. If you’re looking for a beach read that’s an entertaining page-turner, this is the book for you. Theranos is quickly becoming, and will continue to become an important reference point for startup culture — if you’d like to educate yourself on what exactly happened, this book provides the whole story straight from the journalist who initially broke the Theranos scandal in the Wall Street Journal.

Deep Work by Cal Newport

This book has been incredibly influential for me in shaping my perspective on how I spend my free time. If you’ve dabbled with the idea of spending less time on social media to boost your productivity or to spend your time more mindfully, this book is a great deep dive into the benefits of why you should do it and how you can start making that shift.

What Customers Crave by Nicholas Webb

What Customers Crave is truly a deep dive with someone who has thought through every second of the customer experience. If you’re looking to improve your business’ customer experience, this book offers a lot of great seeds upon which to guide your thinking and also provides some great case studies to inspire you.

Profit First by Mike Michalowicz

I tell every entrepreneur I work with about this book and I’ve mentioned this book a ton of times in past blog posts. This is required reading for every entrepreneur — every person I’ve recommended this to have had their perspective on budgeting and spending turned on its head (in a good way). 

For more startup support, grab my Pitch Deck Checklist or my ‘Find Your Customers’ worksheet to fine-tune your pitch deck or marketing strategy.

Sophia Sunwoo