Reading is the most cost-effective way to learn from the world's best thinkers and creators. If you want to become more knowledgeable in any field, you have to read.

As an entrepreneur and CEO myself, I spend a lot of time reading the thoughts, advice, and knowledge of the business leaders who came before me.

In a world with seemingly limitless options for what to read--at any given moment, you could just as easily read a classic work of literature as you could a tweet thread--it's important to know what has the most value.

The following nine books are about things like good planning, team building, and the methods other entrepreneurs used to go from good to great. Therefore, I consider them timeless: They impart wisdom no matter how recent the publication date.

The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

This is a great book if you want to kickstart 2019 with good habits. Duhigg will help you think twice or three times about everything you do, good or bad. The habits you have, whether it's going on your phone too often (bad) or reading every day (good), aren't just random--you can, and should, program them.

Shoe Dog by Phil Knight

This is an inspiring book for anyone, entrepreneur or not. It's a story of true grit from Phil Knight, and it confirms what you might already think, but are afraid to admit: There is no such thing as an overnight success.

The Score Takes Care of Itself by Bill Walsh

Despite being written by a football coach, this is much more of a business book than a sports book. The main idea is that high-performing teams are a team first, and a family second. This is a must-read for anyone who is hiring or growing a team for the first time.

Powerful by Patty McCord

Here you have a ton of lessons packed into a short, easy-to-read book from the woman who helped build a powerful and effective culture at Netflix. You can use these same lessons inside your own company, just as I have. This book helps make the argument that HR might be the most important team at any company.

The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz

Legendary entrepreneur Ben Horowitz shares a series in vignettes about his long and successful career, focusing on the hard parts. Leaders will constantly face difficult decisions, and the most important takeaway you'll learn from this book is to make those decisions, right or wrong. That's your role and you can't shy away from it.

The Advantage by Patrick Lencioni

This is another book about what goes into building high-performing teams, specifically at the leadership level. At the end of the day, leadership needs to be aligned on everything. The key to organizational health is when every aspect of the business is unified--management, operations, and culture--and that starts with the people in charge.   

Principles by Ray Dalio

This is really three books in one, but the section that most interested me was Dalio's take on principles at the individual level. He practices what's called radical transparency or candor--feedback that is blunt and to the point, eschewing (to put it politely) political correctness. Though personally, I don't ascribe to Dalio's general philosophy, I appreciated the glimpse into how one can provide feedback more regularly and constructively.

The Everything Store by Brad Stone

This is hands down the best book on the history of Amazon and the mindset of its founder and CEO, Jeff Bezos. It's an excellent and humanizing look into what drives Bezos. Though most people now see Amazon as an iconic success, this book reminds us that the company started in a garage and required frugality and tough decisions.

The Innovator's Dilemma by Clayton Christensen

Simply put, this is a book you read if you want inspiration. It's the oldest book on this list, and though some of the examples might have lost relevance, the general principle remains: Missing out on chances to innovate can lead to major losses by even the world's most successful companies. What companies like IBM and Intel went through, we might soon see with Google and Uber. A book like this inspires me to keep my eyes on what's next.

Published on: Mar 20, 2019
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.