Old-BooksI love books, I read a lot but I am not a fast reader, my wife on the other hand devours books. I think a lot when I read books and it takes me quite a while to finish a book when I read books that I really enjoy. I listen to books more these days and have the hard copy for reference. I have too many books on my to read list than the books that I have finished but that is the fun part. The more you read the more you learn that you need to read more. I have been asked by many people to create a reading list of books for startups and entrepreneurship.

I think there is one category that is missing in all the book lists that I come across. Entrepreneurship and Starting up a new venture is not as much about mechanics as it is about substance, it is a personal struggle to get your vision out. I think Peter Thiel is right, every creation starts as a singularity. I believe that an entrepreneur or startup founder needs to start work on herself first, obviously the mechanics and strategies of starting up are necessary and important but not a sufficient condition. The most important trait and character that needs to be built, has to be done by the founder on herself. You need to start inside out. I am referring to personal leadership and psychology. Here is a list of books that I would highly recommend.

Personal Leadership and Passion

  1. The Road Less Travelled
  2. Man’s Search for Meaning
  3. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
  4. The 8th Habit – From Effectiveness to Greatness
  5. The Greatness Guide
  6. The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari
  7. Startup Life

Optional in this list are autobiographies

  1. The Story of my Experiments with Truth
  2. Benjamin Franklin – An American Life

There are a number of books that make you really rethink how the world works, unfortunately we are molded and tempered by social cues and things that are acceptable by Society. I think that prevents those who want to startup from starting up because we are made to feel insecure or even scared of being wrong. I think you need to build your internal strength and read the books below to understand that the society and the crowd is mostly wrong. The most contrarian of things to do is to think for yourself. The following books helped(s) me to think for myself.

Contrarian Thinking

  1. Fooled by Randomness
  2. The Black Swan
  3. Antifragile
  4. When Genius Failed
  5. The (Mis) Behavior of Markets
  6. Thinking, Fast and Slow
  7. Heuristics and Biases
  8. Tipping Point
  9. Stumbling on Happiness

I came across this list by Hiten Shah. If you did not click on the link here is the list of books for you:


When coming up with an idea it can seem like you could choose anything. What you are really doing is making decisions about which market to enter, the opportunity that gets you excited and identifying target customers. The following books will help you think better about the idea you decide to pursue, they are much more strategic and less tactical.

Zero to One
Business Model Generation
The Lean Startup
Diffusion of Innovations


It’s critical to solve the core problem that your customers have because otherwise you risk building something people don’t want. Once you’ve figured out the problem, then you need to create a product, ideally the product needs to have a great user experience that will lead to you having a business ready to scale. These books cover the tactics you’ll need at the product stage including analytics, customer development, product design and user research.

The Startup Owner’s Manual
Lean Customer Development
Lean Analytics
Product Design for the Web
Don’t Make Me Think
Rocket Surgery Made Easy


Recommendations for the scale stage used to be books that were written for really large companies over 15 – 20 years ago. All of these books are more recent and will help you think about how to scale your business. This list of books includes both strategic and tactically oriented information about business operations, culture, experimentation, growth and sales.

The Hard Things About Hard Things
Tribal Leadership
Predictable Revenue
Tested Advertising Methods