A reading list for all entrepreneurs
2022 hasn’t been a kind year for entrepreneurs.
Inflation spiraled out of control and interest rate rises freaked everyone out. Then the crypto world seems determined to implode on itself, spooking investors even more. People who were bragging at the start of the year were eating humble pie by the end.
Yet it’s been a year with many amazing books published and if you’re like me, you find it impossible to keep track of the best ones. This is why I create my top-rated business book list every year which is based on reviews rather than my personal opinion.
I use Goodreads rather than Amazon because let’s face it people buy half of their 5-star reviews there anyway. My formula gives greater weight to reviews the more there are. It’s easy to get five of your mates to give you 5 stars but harder to get 10,000 people to give you a four-star review.
Share in the comments if you think I’ve missed any great books off the list!
Time to get to business.
AP: Amardeep Parmar score (books are ranked from lowest to highest score)
GR: Goodreads.com rating and number of ratings
AZ: Amazon.com rating and number of ratings
(Please note that this story contains affiliate links but you can choose to simply google the titles instead should you wish to purchase elsewhere. You can find the 2020 list here and the 2021 list here.)
AP: 84/ GR: 4.25 from 701/ AZ: 4.6 from 199
I underestimated how important sales and persuasion were when I became a full-time entrepreneur. Even today, I’m looking for funding, and understanding how the mind works is key to being able to frame your arguments correctly. It’s hard to accept when you’re a rational thinker but most decisions are emotionally driven not logical.
AP: 85/ GR: 4.31 from 520/ AZ: 4.6 from 185
Here’s an open secret, I’m not a fan of hustle culture and this idea you should keep doing tasks you hate until you become rich. Annie Duke takes a simple idea and fleshes it out into a guide backed by science. It’s easy to know we should quit, Annie tells you how.
AP: 85/ GR: 4.57 from 124/ AZ: 4.6 from 33
Kim was a millionaire before 30 then lost it all and rebuilt his fortunes up even higher. You can’t help but notice the use of the cover style and draw parallels with Mark Manson’s “Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck”. It’s a great book that focuses on all the hard parts of starting a company rather than the usual perfect stories.
AP: 86/ GR: 4.34 from 568/ AZ: 4.8 from 1930
Cameron is many things but normal isn’t one of them. One of the world’s best bowhunters, he’s pushed himself to physical levels beyond what most people can imagine. He considers himself just an average guy though and it’s fascinating to see the routines that have got him to where he is today.
AP: 86/ GR: 4.02 from 4029/ AZ: 4.4 from 2321
Bill Gates loves this guy. It’s a book looking at the future through cold hard numbers which might not be everyone’s cup of tea but you’re sure to learn something new or question something you thought you knew.
AP: 87/ GR: 4.39 from 534/ AZ: 4.8 from 311
Lencioni has an interesting approach to his books where it starts with a fable that shows his model in use and then goes through the model afterward. It’s not an approach that everyone will love but those who do become superfans fast. I haven’t implemented his models for managing teams so would be curious to hear from anyone who has.
AP: 88/ GR: 4.27 from 1338/ AZ: 4.4 from 762
When I was making this list, I didn’t think a book about fake pirates setting fire to an oil tanker would make it. However, it’s an amazing piece of journalism about how the maritime industry works. It might not sound sexy but without the shipping industry, our lives would be completely different.
AP: 88/ GR: 4.38 from 855/ AZ: 4.5 from 216
From the title, you can tell this isn’t a happy book.
If you watched the “Social Dilemma”, you have an idea what Fisher’s book is about but he covers in depth the problem of optimizing for engagement. Everyone, including the companies themselves, know social media is causing issues but we’re addicted anyway.
AP: 89/ GR: 4.58 from 284/ AZ: 4.9 from 165
Guidara is a man after my own heart and he makes a compelling argument for why you should do more than expected. In a year where “quiet quitting” has trended and so many people are set on what’s in it for them, this is refreshing.
AP: 89/ GR: 4.32 from 1473/ AZ: 4.9 from 3774
The Ed Mylett Show is massively successful and many people look up to Ed and his mentality. This book distills his ideas around the core principle of how you motivate yourself to do a little bit more.
AP: 91/ GR: 4.16 from 4904/ AZ: 4.6 from 2190
Tiago Forte is content creator royalty and his course is massively successful. His book has received rave reviews just like his course. We consume so much information and it’s unrealistic for us to keep it all in our heads. Tiago is an expert at systems we can use to organize our knowledge so it’s always available but never noisy.
AP: 91/ GR: 4.04 from 12309/ AZ: 4.6 from 584
I don’t like the Elon Musk school of mental toughness which is to do something out of order and insult anyone who chooses to walk away. Steve Magness’s philosophy is closer to my own that mental toughness can be trained compassionately over time. A must-read even if you already think you’re tough.
AP: 93/ GR: 4.31 from 3135/ AZ: 4.6 from 2418
The delusion of many aspiring entrepreneurs is assuming everything else will stay the same as it is except for their startup. In reality, geopolitical changes can destroy any business at any time. There’s so much we take for granted. Maybe don’t read this book if you would rather not know what could happen.
AP: 93/ GR: 4.38 from 2318/ AZ: 4.8 from 697
I’m guessing you’ve heard of this guy. If you’ve read his other books you’ll know what to expect. Otherwise expect the use of historical figures like Marcus Aurelis to illustrate lessons we can apply today. The style is smaller chapters so you don’t need to read it all at once and can dip in and out. A great book to leave next to the toilet ;).
AP: 93/ GR: 4.53 from 1042/ AZ: 4.7 from 538
Calling semiconductor chips the “world’s most critical technology” sounds alarmist but Chris makes a good argument. They are the basic building blocks of computing.
We’re now so dependent on tech for everything which means we’re also dependent on chips. If you’re European you can see how much trouble our reliance on Russia for energy has caused. In the future, the semiconductor industry could have a similar role.
AP: 93/ GR: 4.47 from 1475/ AZ: 4.6 from 457
Entrepreneurs who don’t bother to understand venture capital can’t whine when they don’t get funding. There is so much material out there and this book is a great in-depth guide with a lot of the nuances which are often passed over.
AP: 93/ GR: 4.37 from 2619/ AZ: 4.7 from 1512
I loved this book and it convinced me I want to interview Tony Fadell. If you’re reading this, hit me up. This is the most practical book on this list and it comes from a guy who registered over 300 patents.
“The Hard Thing About Hard Things” by Ben Horowitz is the book most recommended to me by entrepreneurs. He says he wishes he had Tony’s book when he was 21.
AP: 97/ GR: 4.62 from 1467/ AZ: 4.2 from 220
There are a ton of people on Twitter and Instagram telling you how to invest. David Rubenstein founded The Carlyle Group which has hundreds of billions of assets under management. You tell me. What do you think would be a better decision? This book for $20 or their course for $2000? Though this is less an exact how-to and more case studies with some of the world’s best investors.
AP: 100/ GR: 4.32 from 13147/ AZ: 4.6 from 5885
You wouldn’t think this book is non-fiction because it feels more like a made-up spy story. It’s way more terrifying because it is real. I’d argue many of you should read this just to burst your bubble of how you think the world works.
AP: 100/ GR: 4.28 from 17556/ AZ: 4.5 from 3318
Every entrepreneur knows how important focus is but then we also need to be generalists so what are we supposed to do? I say I’ll leave my phone alone but then the bright lights bring me back. Johann’s argument is interesting because it’s more about how to do we hold tech companies exploiting our attention to account rather than individual tips.