I am a huge advocate for reading.
There are certain lessons you can only extract from a good book — especially one written by someone who has been in your same shoes, and is giving you all the nitty-gritty details you want to know about. That’s something YouTube videos can’t give you, podcasts can’t give you, even hearing that same person speak in front of a huge crowd can’t give you. Reading is a deep look at someone’s journey. And if you pick up the right book at the right time, it sounds like they’re speaking to you and only you.
But right now, especially, is a time when we should all be reading.
Being sucked into the whirlwind of social media and news during the coronavirus pandemic is a quick route to feeling powerless and uninspired. There’s a fine line between “keeping up with what’s going on” and sitting passively on the couch, waiting for it all to be over.
Here are some of my favorite books to read whenever I need a jumpstart in motivation.
It’s impossible not to read a few pages from any of these well-known books and not feel more inspired than ever to bring your next project to life.
1. Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike
This book has been on my “must-read” list for a long time.
Shoe Dog is the story of how the iconic brand, Nike, came to be — and an inside look at the entrepreneur behind it all, Phil Knight. It’s a case-in-point example of what a scrappy startup looks like in its earliest days, contrasted to the global success the brand has seen since.
2. The Upstarts: How Uber, Airbnb, and the Killer Companies of the New Silicon Valley Are Changing the World
I picked this up on a whim at a bookstore earlier this year, and it ended up becoming one of my favorite entrepreneurship books of all time.
The Upstarts is a journalistic narrative on the riveting stories of Uber, Airbnb, and a handful of their closest competitors. How these companies came to be is nothing short of amazing, and The Upstarts gives you a close look at the day-to-day challenges that came with these unicorn successes.
3. Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers
This is not a book you sit down and read straight through. In fact, that’s not its intention at all.
Tools of Titans is the latest from Tim Ferris, the undisputed leader in self-development, bio-hacking, and personal growth. Think of this as your encyclopedia for what to do, when, from all the most successful people in the world. It’s a collection of notes from the figures Ferris has interviewed and learned from, put together in a book for everyday readers to scroll through and take what they will.
It’s a book to keep beside on your desk, for you to open and flip to a random page when you feel so inclined.
4. What Color Is Your Parachute? 2018: A Practical Manual for Job-Hunters and Career-Changers
Although this book is designed to help people figure out what their ideal career should be, I found it to be incredibly helpful in asking the tough personal questions required to advance in just about anything.
What Color Is Your Parachute? is a memorable read on job hunting, networking, and most of all, understanding where it is you want to be five, ten, twenty years from now.
Whether you’re looking for a job, or you just want to look at your startup venture through a different lens (like where it will be twenty years from now), this is part workbook, part motivation to get to work.
5. Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In
If you can’t explain your vision, and inspire others to see what you see, you’ll never get anyone on board.
Getting to Yes is one of the few books I’ve read that breaks down effective communication tactics in a way that are immediately applicable. It covers everything from conflict resolution to the art of sales, reminding the reader always to stay focused on the desired outcome — and move only toward that.
October is right around the corner. I highly suggest giving one of these books a quick read, so that you go into Q4 ready to roll.
This article first appeared on Medium.