Reading is essential for knowledge and continued learning outside of a formal education. A person that reads once a day about his profession will become an expert in their field 5 times faster than someone who doesn’t. In no time at all (or half a decade) you can become far more knowledgeable and thus more able to perform your duties than a person who has not been reading.
1. Atlas Shrugged
Atlas Shrugged will be on almost every list of this type. It’s iconic, in depth, and the defining masterpiece that Ayn Rand built. As an individualist Rand displays the prowess of a leading women in literature of the time. Some people say that as a writer you have to be an expert on everything you write about. Ayn Rand did the research with every novel she wrote and this book is no exception. ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson says that this is his favorite book, and the library of Congress named it the most influential book in America after, you guess it, the Bible. Rand is able to capture the spirit of America in such an important period in our history that many Americans regard it as the best secular book out there.
2. The Great Gatsby
Thematically directly in contrast to the previous title, this one has been immortalized by a recent film, staring Leonardo DiCaprio, that closely follows the plot of this book. Your sixth grade English class probably also required that you read this. After showing up on so many lists as being influential you’ll start to wonder why you didn’t do that book report on it.
3. The Aeneid by Virgil
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg stated that this was one of his favorite books, and if you know the story you might deduce why. The book is the story of Aeneas, a Trojan warrior who travels to Italy after the Trojan war and becomes the ruler of area after defeating the Italians. This effectively makes him the ancestor of the current Roman empire, which was in full swing by the time this book was written around 20 B.C. The lesson that it teaches is one of revenge, but a righteous one.
4. Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind
This is a book written by the pupil of Shunryū Suzuki that details speeches that he made in the Untied Stated in the 70s. Shunryū was a Buddhist monk and brought the teachings of Zen to America. Of the books on this list this is the only religious one.
5. The Honourable Schoolboy
Former mayor of New York, Micheal Bloomberg, notes this book about a British spy in Hong Kong as his favorite novel. The book is about a spy that sets out to save the service that the government plans to eliminate. Sounds very bureaucratic and dry just as you would expect as being the favorite book of a politician.
6. The $100 Start Up: Reinvent the Way You Make a Living, Do What You Love, and Create a New Future
This one makes really makes you think. With a small investment you could start a company that earns millions of dollars. The book looks at several examples of these types of successes, including some of the author’s. Chris Guillebeau is a young entrepreneur that travels the world and has come up with some great ideas for companies that have earned him more than enough money, one idea being to write this book.
7. Outliers: The Story of Success
This novel by Malcolm Gladwell is about the success of some notable characters. It’s non-fiction and takes a look at why people become more successful than others and enjoy a sort of super success.
8. Catcher in The Rye
J.D. Salinger wrote this coming of age story at a time when the country was recovering from the great depression. The protagonist, Holden Caulfield runs away to find a New York City that isn’t very inviting to a teenage boy. Holden must navigate the urban jungle and find his way in a scary world. Bill Gates, being a boy wonder himself, notes this as one of his favorite books.
9. The Brothers Karamazov
10. To Kill a Mockingbird
O Network creator Oprah Winfrey has said that To Kill a Mockingbird is her favorite influential novel. The novel deals with the racial injustice of a time when it was widespread and institutional. Written in 1960 this novel immediately won a Pulitzer prize after it’s debut.
Which Books have You read on the List?
I’ve personally read 5 out of 10 on this list. This doesn’t mean I will become super successful like an outlier, but maybe I should read that one as well. Many of the books that will help you with your profession are indeed non-fiction.
Featured photo credit: Sam Greenhalgh via flickr.com