There is no shortage of books hitting the shelves trying to help you run your business better, improve your work/life balance, and amass wealth. But sometimes it's the unusually appropriate or little-known books that can have the greatest impact.

Here is the book that had an unexpected influence on my career, and more from my Inc. colleagues.

1. by Erik Larson.

How-to books may help you solve issues, but in my experience it's the inspiration of great people that drives you forward. Aside from telling an amazing story of history, this book showed me how the determination of one visionary person like Daniel Burnham can positively impact society for decades to come, even in eventual anonymity. The most ironic thing about this story is the introduction of many items in use today that we take for granted. This book made me want to be worthy of the opportunities that come my way.

2. by Daniel Coyle.

We're all trying to learn new skills and improve old skills, and Coyle uses the science of performance to provide a great blueprint for getting really good at, well, anything. Every time I try to learn something new I follow his REPS approach: Reaching and repeating; Engagement; Purposefulness; Strong and speedy feedback. It works. Every time. And more quickly than any other approach I've tried. --Owner's Manual

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3. by Steven Pressfield and Shawn Coyne.

Adam Kreek, a friend of mine who won a Gold medal for Canada at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, just turned me on to this book: The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Creative Battles. Although I haven't yet had a chance to read it yet, I suspect it will soon be my favorite book for personal growth. If Adam recommends it, I know it will kick ass. --The Leadership Guy

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4. by Esther and Jerry Hicks.

Here's one for the open-minded. Many books have had an immeasurable impact on my life, but there is one that stands out. I will tell you that when I first picked it up, many years ago, I felt angry. The authors claimed that the information in the book came to them through "a non-physical entity" named Abraham. I couldn't wrap my brain around this unlikely claim and dismissed it as a hoax. One year later I was pulled back to Ask and It Is Given: Learning to Manifest Your Desires, and made a choice for which I am most grateful. I decided it didn't matter where the information came from if it was meaningful, and it was. This book guided me toward spiritual growth that changed my life forever. --The Successful Soloist

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5. by Paolo Coelho.

One of my favorite, but admittedly nontraditional business books is The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. In my opinion, it is a must-read book for every entrepreneur. Paulo Coelho's masterpiece imparts the story of Santiago, a shepherd boy who yearns to travel in search of an extravagant worldly treasure. Just as he thinks he has achieved a certain level of success or progress toward his goal, circumstances require him to rethink and to start over--a common part of every entrepreneur's journey. One of my favorite quotes from the book is: "It's the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting." All entrepreneurs are dreamers at heart. Once an entrepreneur loses their passion for the dream, the adventure is over. The Alchemist encourages you to stay on the path to your dream no matter the setbacks. --Lean Forward

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