I have lumped these books together as business books, though not all may fit in the strictest sense of that category. These are books written by/about business leaders and explore the features of their success.
Business in and of itself is not the focus of this site. However, the lessons held within these books are useful far beyond business. And if you want to be a good leader, reading business books about how to run a good business are helpful for leaders of all sorts.
You might also want to check out my list of recommended success books. These books are dedicated to teaching the lessons of those who have succeeded both in and out of business.
I will add to this list as I read more, but if you have one that you think I should read, let me know! If you read one of these or have a suggestion for me, tag me on Instagram or Twitter with @kylewierks or on Facebook at Great North Dynamics.
Below this list, I have written my thoughts on each book.
The Facebook Effect: The Inside Story of the Company That Is Connecting the World by David Kirkpatrick
I think it's safe to say that you've probably heard of Facebook before. As one of the largest technology companies in the world, it has earned its place in our modern business hall of fame. I truly believe that the best way to learn about successful business practices is to study the practices of successful businesses. David Kirkpatrick takes us behind the scenes of Facebook in The Facebook Effect and lets us see some of the decision-making processes and big decisions that the Facebook team had to make. He even takes us through some of the most critical moments in Facebook's history, including one event that almost crashed Facebook before it could take over the world. Worth the read. And if you're thinking "I'll just watch the movie," you're right, you could just watch the movie. But The Social Network (Hollywood's version of this book) only covers about the first half of this book, and even then it misses a ton. If you want to learn, read the book.
If you've ever dreamed of living on the beach while your business makes you money, this book is for you. I have to say that I don't agree with everything in this book (including the idea that your universe should revolve around you and you alone), but there is a ton of awesome information and advice in here. I particularly enjoyed Tim's segment about how to become an expert in your field in four weeks. Further, he challenges the traditional understanding of productivity and whether you agree with him or not, it's a great way to stretch your brain. Go into it with an open mind, but remember to not take his word for everything. Then again, don't take my word for everything either. It pays to think for yourself.
I would recommend this book if you are looking at starting your own business. It is full of stories of people who have built their own startups and succeeded and draws from their stories. As a storyteller, I naturally love any book that uses stories. Stories inspire and teach, which is why storytelling is so important in cultures around the world. Learn from the successes of others to become successful yourself.
To be completely honest, I struggled with the decision to include this book in my list of recommended business books. The author is Peter Thiel, one of the original founders of PayPal and an early investor in Facebook. He has invested in/co-founded numerous high-profile and successful businesses, and this book includes many of his tips on what makes a successful business (well, what makes a successful monopoly, at least), as well as his tips on what kinds of businesses he invests in. It is for those reasons that I included this book. However, you could argue that the thesis of this book is "Everyone is wrong about everything, except for Peter Thiel." Thiel actually says that everyone is wrong but him, and he goes into great detail to prove that (including using Shakespeare as a primary source for scientific understandings of human nature). I had a hard time reading this book, but I include it simply because I think that the topics brought up in this book are worth discussing. I would suggest reading with caution.