Ryan Holiday left college at nineteen to chart his own path to success. Since then, he has become the go-to guy for anyone who wants to get a lot of attention very quickly. As Director of Marketing for American Apparel, he created some of the most controversial--and profitable--marketing campaigns of the last two decades. He transformed Tucker Max from a writer of frat boy hi jinx into a one-man industry. And his agency Brass Check has worked with everyone from Tim Ferriss to John Grisham.

And he attributes it all to books.

Holiday claims his best ideas come from his habit of reading constantly. That said, he chooses his books carefully. While his contemporaries are picking up the latest airport bestsellers, he goes deep--mining philosophy, literature, and history. These days, Ryan Holiday spends most of his days writing books of his own. But he still takes the time to send out a newsletter every few weeks that discusses his favorite finds.

Ryan Holiday's recommendations have been invaluable to my own development, so I pulled together some of my favorites. See if any of these help you get closer to achieving your biggest goals.





1. The Man with the Golden Typewriter: Ian Fleming's James Bond Letters by Fergus Fleming

It is a very rare thing to create a phenomenon. Yet that is exactly what Ian Fleming did. James Bond is the subject of countless bestselling novels, one of the most popular movie franchises in history, and a number of hit video games. In this book of letters, you get a glimpse into how Fleming brought about such an iconic figure. More importantly, you learn how he got the whole world to pay attention to what he imagined. This book is a crash course on both creativity and marketing.

2. Monster Loyalty: How Lady Gaga Turns Followers Into Fanatics by Jackie Huba

In an age in which the President tweets at all hours, it is easy to forgot how insane it used to seem that someone could use social media to get famous. Pop star Lady Gaga was one of the first to prove it could be done. She amassed hundreds of millions of followers on Facebook and Twitter by placing herself at the center of a community that exuded joy, acceptance, and excitement. In exploring Gaga's strategy, Jackie Huba's book provides a blueprint anyone can still use to build their own horde of raving fans.

3. Be Like the Fox: Machiavelli in His World by Erica Benner

Today most people think they have a good idea of what Niccolo Machiavelli was all about. His name stands for a coldhearted approach to doing whatever it takes to dominate everyone else. This is simply not accurate. Instead, Machiavelli teaches that success is all about looking at reality with clear eyes and taking the most appropriate action based on what you find. It is a lesson every business owner must learn eventually. This book will get you there faster.

4. Empire State of Mind: How Jay-Z Went From Street Corner to Corner Office by Zach O' Malley Greenburg

Today Jay-Z is seen as a titan of business and bona fide member of the elite. He hobnobs with Oprah and Martha Stewart, launches products in fashion and fragrance, and owns some of the country's most popular restaurants and nightclubs. He even records a rap song once in a while. Yet the entrepreneur formerly known as Sean Carter did not start his career in the mailroom of a record company; he learned most of what he knows about business lessons by selling crack. This book explores what being a "hustler" really means and what the rest of us can learn from the seamier side of moneymaking.

5. The Kid Stays In The Picture: A Notorious Life by Robert Evans

This book details how an upper-class kid modeled himself after Hollywood gangsters to usher in what is arguably the greatest era in American film. Robert Evans was one of the first studio executives to promote his own image as rigorously as he did the stars who appeared in his movies. Even as he produced classic films such as The Godfather, Harold and Maude, and Chinatown, Evans never lost sight of his most important creation--himself. In the words of Ryan Holiday, this is a book that "shows you how far... hype and heat contribute to success."