Think something as small as reading a book can't change your life? Then you should take a look at the response to this tweet from Y Combinator founder Paul Graham.
If you had to pick one thing you've read that changed the course of your life, what would it be? (ht @rivatez for the question.)-- Paul Graham (@paulg) September 14, 2019
His question kicked off a torrent of discussion in which entrepreneurs, investors, and others shared a host of books that changed their lives. Even icons like Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos swear that particular books had a huge influence on shaping their careers.
Which new books have the potential to be just as impactful? The TED Ideas blog recently rounded up no fewer than 23 possible titles from their speakers. While the complete list offers books on everything from Japanese culture to the climate crisis and is well worth a read in full, these are the picks that are most likely to shake up the world of a busy entrepreneur.
1. How We Show Up by Mia Birdsong
Only 26 percent of us know our neighbors, family activist Birdsong points out in her book. That might be a bigger problem than most of us realize. "Why do some people seem to have it all yet still feel unsatisfied? The missing piece might be a sense of community," says TED, explaining the central argument of How We Show Up.
2. Humankind: A Hopeful History by Rutger Bregman
Historian Rutger Bregman recently created a minor sensation with a Guardian article on a real-life version of Lord of the Flies, only in this true story of shipwrecked boys stuck on a remote island, the kids cooperate and support one another, remaining lifelong friends after being rescued. If you're looking for a more in-depth case that human nature is a little brighter than you imagine, check out Bregman's new book.
3. Friendship by Lydia Denworth
Friendship isn't just a pleasant sideshow to the main life events of family and career. In this book, science journalist Lydia Denworld digs into the research showing our friends affect our mental and physical health deeply, shaping our outlook and even our brain waves. "Sounds like the perfect read for a book club made of science-minded friends," says TED.
4. Do Nothing by Celeste Headlee
This book about burnout by radio journalist Celeste Headlee is perhaps the pick on this list that's the most obviously relevant to entrepreneurs. "We are digging deeper and deeper into a hole that will eventually bury us if we don't stop," writes Headlee in her book. If you want to learn to do less and be still more often, Do Nothing might be for you.
5. Survival Math by Mitchell Jackson
You'd have to be living under a rock not to be thinking about racial justice right now and what you can do to make America a fairer place. Survival Math, by filmmaker, advocate, and formerly incarcerated gang member Mitchell Jackson, can help. "This book showcases the diverse narratives of some of his family members and other members of his community, and reading it will add a welcome new dimension to the term 'all American,'" explains TED.
6. See No Stranger by Valarie Kaur
Talking about the power of love might sound hokey to some, but just because the idea is embarrassingly earnest, doesn't make it wrong. Love "can actually be one of the greatest weapons," notes TED. "See No Stranger will make you realize that we share more in common than we may think and that we should use our commonality to really see each other."
7. The Joy of Movement by Kelly McGonigal
Changing your life may just be a few pushups or a yoga practice away, according to Stanford psychologist Kelly McGonigal. "People who are regularly active have a stronger sense of purpose," she argues. "And they experience more gratitude, love and hope." If you need motivation to get yourself moving, pick this book up.
8. A World Without Work by Daniel Susskind
Whether you want to change your life or not, the coming revolution in A.I. and automation is likely to change it for you. Happily, there is plenty society and individuals can do to prepare, argues economist Daniel Susskind in his new book.
What book has changed your life?