As we settle into a new year, many business leaders make up their minds to read more. Some set goals for how many books they want to read in 2021. This is a wise idea, so here I am to suggest unexpected books you should consider for your “to-read” list.
Most people recommend long and complicated volumes about the latest trends in leadership, motivation, and entrepreneurship. While those books serve a purpose, they won’t be much help until you master the basics. My selections are simpler and shorter, but provide deep insights into how we should operate this year.
For 2021, I set a personal goal to go back to the basics with my business. I aim to remember the simple, tried-and-true methods that work, and stick to them. This list of books keeps in line with that theme. If you read them, I promise you will have what you need to win in the new year.
Do not underestimate the power of simple mind-shifts. Check out this podcast episode to hear more!
Why You Should Go Back To the Basics In Your Reading
We think of January as the time of the year to reorient ourselves toward our desired outcomes. It’s the go-to month for easy-to-make, but difficult-to-keep resolutions. While we don’t have the time to read through War and Peace or Don Quixote, you can read the books I recommend in one sitting.
We all know that leaders are readers. Many great leaders throughout history, and the greatest business leaders of our time, all had the habit of deep, broad reading.
We also know that reading is difficult. When Pew surveyed Americans about how many books they read last year, the most common answer was “four.” So, if you read more than one book per quarter, you’re already ahead of most people in the country! You can pump those numbers up by reading these three titles by the end of January.
The final reason to read? It will drive you toward action. Emotion motivates people far more than facts or statistics. The best way to evoke emotion is through simple stories.
It reminds me of a story about Ernest Hemingway. One of his contemporary writers, William Faulkner, criticized Hemingway for his habit of using simple words. He said in response,
“Poor Faulkner. Does he really think big emotions come from big words? He thinks I don’t know the ten-dollar words. I know them all right. But there are older and simpler and better words, and those are the ones I use.”
That is why I recommend three shorter, simpler stories. These will help you feel better, think big, and act accordingly.
Speaking of thinking big, here are some big questions you need answers for before you go any further into 2021.
Here are the top three books to consider reading this month. They provide motivation, perspective, and authenticity in ways huge entrepreneurship manuals don’t.
- Oh, The Places You’ll Go – Dr. Seuss
Many parents give this book to students graduating from high school and college. The Dr. Seuss classic stirs ambition, optimism, and creativity while remaining aware of the challenges life brings. You can read it out loud in under ten minutes.
Read this book first, to get yourself fired up and aware of what’s coming. This is your year. Take advantage of the new possibilities and opportunities that come. Overcome the difficulties and remain unflinchingly optimistic.
- The Giving Tree – Shel Silverstein
This children’s classic, written by an unlikely author, enjoyed explosive popularity from the moment it went into print. While critics debate its deeper meanings, the story is about a boy and a tree. The tree gives what she can to the boy, and because of it, she is happy.
This story reminds us that no matter our specific work, our job is to add value. True fulfillment in business comes through giving, not taking. The world needs more givers; people who can give answers to questions, solutions to problems, and education for next generations. This story inspires us to answer the call to generosity.
- The Velveteen Rabbit – Margery Williams
This timeless story speaks of the relationship between love and authenticity. It follows a toy rabbit on a quest to become a real rabbit, and the only path forward is to gain the love of its owner.
For the modern entrepreneur, it shows us that “being real” doesn’t look how most people think. When the rabbit is a toy, it is just as real and alive as the boy, even if it lacks the label.
In our world, you can find many “gurus” who seem to have “all the answers.” But when you look a bit deeper, you find nothing of substance underneath. The best of us quietly plug away, preferring substance over style.
Wherever 2021 takes you, these three books provide insight you need to overcome obstacles, and bring value to your business and clients. Here’s wishing you the most successful year yet!
Once you have the basics down, take a look at this FREE guide to turn your ideas, skills, and products into cash flow.