Want to achieve great things? There are roughly a million books that claim to help you do just that, from classics of productivity and persuasion, to a whole industry of "get more done" type manuals.
Many of these traditional business books have merit, of course, but your reading diet, like your nutritional intake, isn't going to serve you best if it's made up of just one worthy but unchanging type of fare. Consuming nothing but sensible business advice is the learning equivalent of eating nothing but turkey on whole wheat. You need to spice up your information diet with some more exotic ingredients.
Who says? A whole host of wildly successful folks from different walks of life interviewed by best-selling author Tim Ferriss. On his blog recently, he did wisdom-loving entrepreneurs a huge favor, pulling together the weird and wonderful book recommendations he's received from the many intriguing characters he's spoken with over the years, including chess champions, CEOs, investors, and even screenwriters.
The complete list of reading recommendations could fill a library (and is also helpfully back-linked to Ferriss's interviews with each personality, for those who want a deeper dive), but to pique your interest and pump up your Amazon wish list, here are a few of the offbeat but intriguing suggestions, as well as who made them. They range from great novels to celebrated nonfiction and even classic sources of ancient wisdom:
1. Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut (Wired founder Kevin Kelly)
2. Things Hidden Since the Foundation of the World by RenÃ© Girard (Peter Thiel, investor and PayPal co-founder)
3. The Spirit of St. Louis by Charles A. Lindbergh (Peter Diamandis, CEO of the XPrize Foundation)
4. The Dharma Bums by Jack Kerouac (chess prodigy Joshua Waitzkin)
5. The Hero's Journey by Joseph Campbell (Ed Catmull, co-founder of Pixar Animation Studios)
6. Jesus' Son: Stories by Denis Johnson (hedge fund manager James Altucher)
7. The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron (screenwriter and producer Brian Koppelman)
8. The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande (entrepreneur Ramit Sethi)
9. The Rise of Superman by Steven Kotler (Jason Silva, host of Brain Games on the National Geographic Channel)
10. On the Shortness of Life by Seneca (best-selling author Neil Strauss)
With everything from storytelling classics (the Joseph Campbell book) to ancient philosophy (hello, Seneca!), there should be something to get everyone started on the list, but if not, more recommendations are available. This summer here on Inc.com we asked entrepreneurs to offer their best beach reading suggestions. The weather may have gotten cooler, but their ideas are still worth checking out.
What nonbusiness book would you recommend to your fellow entrepreneurs?