I'm always looking for a good book recommendation. In fact, I have a growing stack of books that I've been meaning to read for a while, and I'm willing to bet you do too. The good news is that most of you are planning to take a vacation at some point in the next few months.
If you're not, you should, for a lot of reasons. And when you do, you should take a book with you. Books help your brain process and grow and create new dreams. They inspire passions that get beat down in the regular grind of work and help refocus your priorities and goals as you soak up words that stir your imagination.
To help you plan your reading list, here are seven books that you should absolutely read this summer. A few of them have been around a while, and at least one will require more than a weekend trip to finish. All of them are outstanding books for entrepreneurs, small business owners, or even those of you who have a dream you're finally getting serious about starting--even if they aren't strictly business books by the traditional definition.
1. Creativity, Inc., Ed Catmull
Ed Catmull's book about his time as president of Pixar is one of the best books about a creative business I've ever read--which I guess makes sense for a book called Creativity, Inc. It's full of stories and examples of how Pixar works its magic, with plenty of practical nuggets you can use in any organization looking to foster a culture of creativity.
2. Finish, Jon Acuff
Let's just start by saying that Finish isn't just a great book about bringing your big idea to life, it's also hilarious. Jon Acuff is a master at weaving humor and wit with practical steps you can use to actually finish the growing collection of projects, dreams, and ideas you've half-started and left hanging. It's also a fast enough read that you'll probably "finish" it on the plane.
3. Originals, Adam Grant
Adam Grant's Originals is about overcoming the challenge of bringing the idea in your head into the world is full of engaging stories of individuals who did just that. He also provides research into what it takes to get past those challenges, which, it turns out isn't all that complicated. For the "originals," it was simply the willingness to act in spite of what they faced.
4. Grit, Angela Duckworth
Apparently, I have some unresolved issues around finishing things, because Grit is another example of a book that will inspire you to get something done this summer. Angela Duckworth makes a compelling case that the trait most likely to align with achievement isn't just being really good at something, but rather a combination of deep passion, and an unwillingness to quit. Her definition is better--she just calls it grit.
5. Steve Jobs, Walter Isaacson
Walter Isaacson's biography of the late Apple founder and CEO, Steve Jobs, is one of the most insightful looks at the life of arguably the most influential innovator of a generation. It also happens to be one of the few books that Job's actually cooperated with, and the result is a comprehensive look at what made him, and Apple, one of the most successful business stories of our time. This one's a longer read, but that's just a good reason to stay away a little longer.
6. Dare to Lead, Brene Brown
You might have seen her TED talks, or Netflix special, or on Oprah, but FYI--Brene Brown also writes books. Really good ones. I'm a fan of just about all of them and Dare to Lead is no exception. Based on research with 150 C-level leaders, some of the principles she shares might seem counterintuitive, but anyone who is responsible for leading people should absorb as much of her work as possible.
7. Atomic Habits, James Clear
What I love most about James Clear's book, Atomic Habits, is the idea that the best way to make real change is to do it one percent at a time. Instead of trying to make radical changes, or setting huge goals that are far off, set a small goal you can accomplish today. It's also brutally honest about the fact that long term accomplishment is usually reached by those who are willing to undergo the mundane process of developing the right habits today.