Whether you still flip pages, tap an e-reader or listen to audio, a good book can be a perfect companion, relaxation aid or source of inspiration. Check out these quotes from more than a dozen CEOs and founders who name their favorite book and explain why it resonated with them.
1. "Peers Inc." by Robin Chase
"[It] gives great insight into the principles behind the collaborative economy. The idea of having a lean core organization that gives their 'peers' access to the advantages of corporate scale, processes and resources is a powerful concept that will disrupt more sectors of our economy. Connecting people through technology, rather than employment contracts or local proximity, is an inevitable step that will create plenty of opportunities for modern careers."
--Martin Strutz, cofounder of freelancing software AND CO.
2. "The Hard Thing About Hard Things" by Ben Horowitz
"This is by far the best book for founders that I have ever read. Referred to me by dozens of successful entrepreneurs, this book dissects real life scenarios and gives actionable advice. An essential read for founders that takes you through the entire lifecycle of Ben's companies."
--Jake MVMT.Kassan, CEO and cofounder of direct-to-consumer watch brand
"Great recount of a full journey about startups and entrepreneurship from the perspective of the founder/CEO."
--Michael Grover, a startup offering consumers pay-as-you-go and on-demand gadget ownership.Cassau, founder and CEO of
3. "In The Plex: How Google Thinks, Works, and Shapes Our Lives" by Steven Levy
"This is the book that inspired me the most for starting and operating a technology startup. The stories of the early days of Google helped me to understand the struggles of a newly born startup and how a healthy culture can make a huge impact in the long run. These early stories perfectly fulfilled the background information when I joined Google as a research scientist back in 2010. Together it gave me a full picture of how a technology company starts, struggles, grows and becomes the giant, and helps relate to my own startup journey. I found it amazing when a lot of Google cultures--such as TGIF and code review--are carried through from day one and are still impactful."
--Mobvoi, a mobile voice search company equipped with proprietary AI technology including Chinese voice recognition, semantic analytics, and search technology.Zhifei Li, founder and CEO of
4. "The Battle for Your Mind" by Al Ries
"This is an absolute classic that opened up my mind about consumer psychology. It taught me that a product cannot be everything to everyone. In an age where we have so many options and our attention span is so short, it's almost impossible to get a message to stand out. The key is to focus, I mean REALLY focus on finding the one word that can define my brand and stick in the consumer's mind. After all these years, when I think of Disney, I still think of the word 'magical' and that brand has become timeless for me. It inspires me to go out there and talk to more customers to discover what my brand essence is."
--Victor Chang, CEO of Furbo, which makes an interactive treat-tossing dog camera.
5. "Setting the Table" by Danny Meyer
"Every year I make sure to re-read [this one]. It's an inspiring reminder that the best businesses care deeply about their customers, and treat them with humanity and warmth. A lot of business books talk about customers like they're numbers. Meyer talks about them like the three-dimensional people that they are."
--Jamie Hodari, Industrious.cofounder and CEO of national coworking provider,
6. "The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers" by Paul Kennedy
"The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers would be the most impactful book of my career and life thus far. Paul Kennedy masterfully covers the importance of medium term economic power, not immediate military capabilities, in waging war successfully. I read it in high school and have always carried the core ideas with me regarding the balance of power between nations, companies, industries, value chains, and people. Understand the medium to long-term drivers of winning at anything you put your mind to if you are truly serious about being victorious. Short-term advantages rapidly fade in most fields of human endeavor. "
--Niccolo de Masi, chairman and CEO of 3D freemium mobile gaming company Glu Mobile.
7. "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing" by Marie Kondo
"It's a psychology book cleverly designed as a book about organizing your home. Marie Kondo teaches you to have respect and empathy for all the physical things in your life in order to help declutter your mind. It's inspired our product development process that building great software is about removing things that aren't useful instead of trying to add new features."
--Kim Taylor, Ranku.cofounder and CEO of online education software brand
8 and 9. "Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage" by Alfred Lansing or "The Rickover Effect" by Theodore Rockwell
"[It's a] toss-up. Both books are about incredible accomplishments and the leader that inspired teams to push beyond their own perceived capabilities."
--Dave Weebly, a website hosting service featuring a drag-and-drop website builder.Rusenko, founder and CEO of
10. "Invisible Cities" by Italo Calvino
"I think business books and advice books are really overrated. Personally, I get my best inspiration and most profound learnings from fiction. In the end, understanding the world is about understanding people, and fiction gives you the best, most nuanced, most varied human stories and character portrayals. Invisible Cities is a series of very short stories in which Marco Polo describes--in gorgeous prose--imaginary cities to Kublai Khan. The book is something like 175 pages, but in that small space Calvino manages to conjure the entirety of our world--every possible city, every possible type of person, and the interdependencies between us all. It's both a powerful meditation on the universe, one that constantly opens new intellectual horizons for me. It's an inspiring masterclass in vision, creativity, and the balance of restraint and ambition. To say so much, with such clarity, so briefly--may we all have a moment of such brilliance."
--James Rohrbach, CEO of language school Fluent City.
11. "Little Bets" by Peter Sims
"This small book was transformational for me as I lived much of my life as a linear thinker. This was the catalyst for me to understand that this thinking was a stressful and unproductive operating model. The examples in the book opened my eyes to the power of the 'experimental mind'--taking small steps and appreciating the value of each step. I have actively shifted my approach to embrace failing quickly to learn fast, trying imperfect ideas. [It] has made me more fluid and open-minded."
--Stephanie Sarka, CEO of fully customizable luxury handbag brand 1 Atelier.
12. "Making Ideas Happen" by Scott Belsky
"So many ideas fail before they even get going. This book does a great job of encouraging you to take that first step forward and giving you tools to make sure you can execute again and again."
--Konrad Billetz, founder and CEO of interchangeable prescription eyewear maker Frameri.
13. "Going for it!" by Victor Kiam
"I've read a lot of business books in my time, but it was the first one that had the most profound impact on me. I remember being at university and seeing [this] red, hardback book on a high shelf in a second hand bookshop... It was the first book I read that basically described the job of 'entrepreneur,' and it set my brain racing with ideas of starting my own company. It's written in a personal and honest style, and role modelled the important tenets of hard-work, leadership and dedication."
--Richard Moross, founder and CEO of online printing company MOO.
14. "Frankenstein" by Mary Shelley
"I've been thinking about Mary Shelley's Frankenstein a lot lately. The story of Frankenstein was developed in response to a challenge posed by one of her besties, Lord Byron. For amusement, he suggested that each of his friends attempt to write a ghost story. It was through that prompt that Mary Shelley began visualizing and creating the iconic tale that addressed then hyper-contemporary themes of science, technology, and free-will. In fact, Mary Shelley is considered one of the earliest writers of science fiction. As a cofounder, I am deeply inspired by Shelley's unabashed creativity and bravery--as a woman, no less--to craft something in a genre that had never before been explored. Shelley revolutionized the way we experience literature, and I consider Mary Shelley a model of brazen innovation."
--Aliza Kelly Faragher, Align.cofounder of horoscope-based dating app
15. "Think and Grow Rich" by Napoleon Hill
"I'll admit it's a bit sentimental, but it's a book that genuinely changed my life. My uncle told me to read this book when I was 17 years old because it changed his life. It taught him to think beyond constraints of everyday living and look at everything as attainable. Everything around you was built by normal people. He slept in a drawer in a back-country North Carolina home when he was three, and now he lives in a 21,000-square-foot house in Los Angeles. He is completely blind."
--Asher Hunt, CEO and Overnight.cofounder of on-demand travel accommodation app,