5 Non-Business Books Every Entrepreneur Needs To Read
8 minute read
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James Fox

Our minds play host to ideas, visuals, names and whispers that bounce around until they settle into neat little boxes that we hope to “sell” (or not sell, just store) in the form of a product or service. This is perfect, it’s what we live for. Only, do you ever wonder what if one day I become creatively crippled?

We’ve read that the digital age has enthused a host of magnates, and that innovation is at the core of everyone’s agenda. We’ve also read about how out-dated corporations are being substituted with our own fearless start-ups.  But through all this what I’ve learnt is that being in business no longer means being inspired by the same realm.  Today, if we want to stay artistically-apt, we need to allow ourselves to be hit with inspiration from outside sources.

Whilst there are a multitude of ways to allow this to happen, I find that books, specifically non-business books, help me to kick-start creative elements I may be neglecting.

Below I share 5 books that will allow you to draw inspiration and output creativity in the same way as their authors do.

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

Many years ago, I watched a glib yet profound TED talk by author, Elizabeth Gilbert, it was called ‘Your Elusive Creative Genius’, a talk in which Gilbert discusses humans as being vessels of genius behaviour. Big Magic elaborates on the subject but goes into a deeper understanding of how ideas manifest themselves. Whilst the book contains some aspect of mysticism the root of the message goes;

  • Being authentic is more interesting than being original.

  • You don’t need to seek permission in the form of degrees – Instead, invest that time and money in creating.

  • Show up and do the work without complaining: you don’t make ideas work, ideas make you work.

Why You Should Read It: To teach yourself how to let creativity flow without trying too hard to harness it.

Steal Like An Artist by Austin Kleon

This coffee table book is just under an hour’s read but contains enough advice and instruction to shape your creative capabilities.

Steal Like An Artist is far from ripping off ideas. The concept is as multi-layered as its simplest statement. The moral of the book instructs;

  • If you do “copy” a piece of work, think about what you can add to it that will make your piece different - that’s what you should amplify.

  • Ideas don’t come from laptops. Write on sticky notes, strum a guitar; use your hands to jumpstart your brain.

  • Invite people into your process, you’ll learn more.

Why You Should Read It: To steal like an artist. Naturally.

The Five-Minute Writer by Margret Geraghty

I recommend this book to all entrepreneurs who share an interest in creative writing. Whether you write for own your business (or want to for your future business), or simply write as a hobby, if you have a love of words and storytelling then you’ll appreciate the contents of this book.

And, if you’ve ever wondered how publishers like The New Yorker or Times keep readers interested or  how companies like AirBnb or Pixar curb the interest of their audience, I believe a lot of it is the same as how Raymond Carver or Kurt Vonnegut sold books: great storytelling. In order to do the same, do;

  • Search and write down new uses for the knowledge you already possess.

  • Use personal background and experience as a starting point to your story, you can move away from it later.

  • Write down your ideas when you can no matter how silly. Silly ideas can often spark gold.

Why You Should Read It: Because great writing is the mother of all online communication.

Daily Rituals by Mason Currey

If like me, you’re keen on learning about how great minds get things done, you should invest in this book. The book iterates how even the most historic geniuses kept daily habits to cultivate their artistry. Yes, they often worked long hours, just like we do but they all had their own way to produce their best work. Some of these include;

  • Haruki Murakami used to wake daily at 4am, worked for 6 hours straight before going for his daily run/swim.

  • Jane Austen started her day by rising before everyone to play the piano before retreating to write.

  • Nikola Tesla worked in the dark; the blinds at his office were always closed during the day.

Why You Should Read It: To carve and build out habits and routinesthat boost your own work flow.

It’s Not How Good You Are. It’s How Good You Want to Be by Paul Arden

This book is quintessentially Arden - grand and understated all at once. It’s no secret that Paul Arden was a major influencer in the advertising world, but did you know his approach was more human than salesperson (which we love here at Ideas Made). One of the reasons this book is on my list is because Arden imparts as much life wisdom as craft;

  • Keep aiming for what you are beyond capable of.

  • If your ideas receive a no, don’t be discouraged. Go back and do it a different way.

  • Don’t seek praise, it’s too easy. Seek criticism; it’ll help you improve your ideas.

  • You don’t have to be creative to be creative.

Why You Should Read It: To share Arden’s enthusiasm in creating and re-creating remarkable art.