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Brilliant Books for Business Owners (Yes, Audiobooks, Too)

Reading books for entrepreneurs can be an effective way for business owners to “always be learning.” A big plus is that reading can be more affordable than taking a course or series of courses which in turn can help make learning a regular habit.

Today I’m sharing:

  1. How reading affects your brain
  2. Why reading is essential for entrepreneurs
  3. Where to find your next favorite book (including apps!)
  4. My collection of brilliant business books for entrepreneurs

If you have books you love that are not on my list, share them in the comments (even if they’re not strictly business-related). Okay, let’s get started.

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What Reading Does to Your Brain

Besides the “always be learning factor,” reading can help in a variety of ways. Business owner or not, reading delights the brain and helps you to:

  • Expand vocabulary and writing skills. New-to-you words will probably jump out at you the more you read as each author’s experiences and phrases will be infused in their book. As an entrepreneur or freelancer, this can be invaluable when communicating with others, writing blog posts, or business emails.
  • Relax and destress. When you get involved in a fascinating storyline or are deeply intrigued by different strategies and perspectives, you likely don’t have much room in your brain to ruminate or worry about the peaks and valleys of entrepreneurship.
  • Improve memory. Reading lights up your brain in many ways and all of that activity can contribute to improving your memory and keeping it sharp.
  • Strengthen focus. Reading allows you to give your full attention to a book so the more you read, the more you can improve your focus over time. And strengthening your focus muscle can have a positive impact on your overall productivity. Distractions are around every corner and your ability to shut them out and concentrate on deep work will be an asset.

The research found that people who participated in mentally stimulating activities both early and late in life had a slower rate of decline in memory compared to those who did not participate in such activities across their lifetime, after adjusting for differing levels of plaques and tangles in the brain. Mental activity accounted for nearly 15 percent of the difference in decline beyond what is explained by plaques and tangles in the brain. –

Why Reading is Essential for Entrepreneurs

Wouldn’t it be nice if we entered into entrepreneurship knowing everything we needed so we could hit the ground running? Well, in a sense, we can. Along with mentors, advisors, coaches, and a motivating inner circle, books are an essential tool for business owners.

Here’s why:

Stay up-to-date

Reading can help you stay informed about your industry and the wider business world. Reading articles, blog posts, and books about business can help you keep up with the latest trends and developments in your field which can help you make informed decisions about your company.

Learn about business strategies

Whether you’re a new small business owner or have been around the entrepreneurial block for a few years, there’s a book for just about every stage of your business from start-up to serial entrepreneur.

Some books are niche-specific while others focus on the realities of running your own company. Pick any topic and you can probably find a book about it online (hello, Amazon!) or in a brick and mortar bookstore.

Get different perspectives

Have a business problem you need to figure out? If you’ve turned over every rock and looked at every well-known strategy, there’s likely to be a book out there with a creative way of handling common or complex business issues.

The perspectives may be different and that’s a good thing because they get you thinking in different ways. And you just might find the right mix of strategies to take your business to the next level.

Find inspiration

Inspiration and motivation are often just a few pages away. In addition to gaining knowledge, reading the experiences (even the difficult ones) of others can inspire you to stay the course. Or to pivot to something even better, explore new or interesting ideas, and to do hard things.

Connect with others

Reading doesn’t have to be a solitary activity. Though you may read a book on your own, you can also join a book club (or two) to discuss what the what you’re reading. You’re almost guaranteed to walk away with food for thought and a way to connect with a community of other entrepreneurs and book aficionados.

Psst! My podcast cohost and I discuss books on our show. Check them out here and here!

Where to Find Books for Entrepreneurs and Reading Recommendations

There are a number of places to find your next great read. You can still visit your local bookstore or hang out on your sofa while you browse online retailers. Keep in mind that where you find books may depend on your preference for paper or hard copies, digital tomes, or audiobooks.

Not sure which books to choose? You can get help with that, too. Keep reading to learn where you can find business books for entrepreneurs and reading recommendations.

Local Library

Look no further than your local library. It’s likely to have the selection of books you’re looking for and if it doesn’t, you can talk with the librarian to and request that they add them to the library’s collection. Your librarian can also offer recommendations based on the topic you want more information about.

By the way,  your local library might also have home delivery service so remember to ask about that.

And, in the meantime, you can download one (or more) of these library apps to supercharge your library experience:

You probably already know this but you can do a whole lot more than just borrow books from your library. My colleague and friend, Julie Bestry, shares all the details in this post.

Brilliant Books for Business Owners (Yes, Audiobooks, Too) Share on X

Online Retailers

Whether you prefer listening to your books (like I do) or want to order a paperback, hard cover, eBook, or audiobook online, you can visit:

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Book Clubs

Book clubs are a great way to find books to add to your collection AND find your reading tribe. Here are several to get you started:

Don’t see a book club that interests you? Start your own!

Book Summaries

Short on time and just want to get down to brass tacks? Or maybe you want to get the gist before you buy the book? Then book summaries are just for you. Summary apps (like Blinkist) will also curate books for you (and your team) based on your goals and interests.

Here are a few others for you to check out:


Books I’ve Read (And You Should, Too)

If you’ve made this far in the post, you’ve reached the section where I share some of the books I’ve read in recent years. You didn’t think I’d offer advice without taking it myself, did you?

But first, here’s a quick history of my recent reading journey. In 2021, I read (mostly listened to) 100 fiction and non-fiction books and planned to best that number by one in 2022 (total: 101). If you stay connected to me via my newsletter, you know that my personal life turned upside down last year and I missed my goal.

So now, I’ve decided to listen to at least 50 books by year’s end. Reasonable, don’t you think? Wish me luck!

[Side note: Once you jump down to the list, you’ll notice that last year I binged on one author’s books — Malcolm Gladwell. That was not on purpose. It just sort of happened that way. Gladwell reads his own books and I found his voice to be captivating. Of course, the content engaged my mind and made me think about things differently even if I sometimes ended up sticking with my original position.]

Apps I Use

I use a combination of these apps to read/listen to books:

I use Libby most often which lets me practice patience since sometimes I have to wait get the book I want. That said, I’m not opposed to buying books. I have and I shall again. Especially the ones I want to hold and that compel me to turn the pages.

A nice feature of using apps is the ability to bookmark a spot in the book you want to go back to. You can also add notes to your bookmarks so that they make sense to you when you go back to them. That’s like writing on the page or underlining in your paper copy. Or, jotting down your thoughts on a sticky note and placing it on the page you’re marking.

Structure of My Book List

Here’s what you’ll find in the list below:

  • Unabridged, non-fiction books I listened to (or on some occasions, read)
  • Titles followed by authors in parenthesis
  • Books are sorted by year (2023-2024 first, then 2022, 2021, 2020, and “some long time ago”), then alphabetically by title

(By the way, all book links listed below are affiliate links which means if you buy a book after clicking on one of those links, I’ll get a small payment that will go towards my coffee fund. ☕)

Hold on. A few things to think about first.

Before you begin reading, first …

  1. Figure out why. What you’re hoping to achieve by reading a particular book? Are you looking for different perspectives? The answer to a problem you’re experiencing? Or, maybe for now you just want to get a book under your belt. There’s no right or wrong reason but it should be meaningful to you.
  2. Set a goal. Set a reasonable and realistic goal for yourself. How many books ca ]n you read in a week? Perhaps a monthly goal might suit you better? Think it through and then get to reading.
  3. Remember. Scan the list and jot down the ones that catch your eye in Evernote or your favorite notebook so you don’t forget about your picks.
  4. Take notes. Consider using a reading journal, spreadsheet, or a note in Evernote to capture your thoughts (both agreeable and disagreeable), questions that come up for you, or new ideas and brain sparks. I’m working on a reading log and will come back and share it here.

Enough said. Here are my picks!

What's on your reading list this year? Here are a few suggestions. Share on X


  • Asterisk (*) — I’ve read or listened to the book more than once
  • Exclamation mark (!) — I plan to re-read/listen to the book
  • Hashtag (#) — I haven’t finished the book yet
  • Plus sign (+) — On my reading list for the current year

Deb’s List of Brilliant Business Books for Entrepreneurs


(I got sidetracked last year and I’m diving back into reading in 2024!)






Some long time ago


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Hey there, I’m Deb. I’m a Digital Productivity Coach and Consultant, Certified Professional Organizer®, speaker, and lover of all things tech. I’m also addicted to apps and love helping small business owners leverage technology so they can be more productive.

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Wow – what a ground list of books that I need to dig into.

    I am a huge fan of the audiobooks. I’m in the car a lot, and I love listening to books when I’m doing household/brainless chores like laundry.

    I did read Atomic Habits in print because I wanted to make notes and discuss the book with my daughter, which we did. Both loved it.

    For listening, I’m either on Audible, Overdrive, or Libby. I’m lucky to have an excellent library, and now I have some new books to check out. Many thanks!

  2. What an incredible post! And what an impressive amount of reading you’ve done and continue to do.

    You’ll laugh, but your post was so inspiring that I already ordered one of the books you mentioned- “Dopamine Nation.” Currently, I’m reading “The Fun Habits,” which you also noted in one of your Twitter post images. Many of the books on your lists I’ve read, but there are also ones I haven’t yet explored. Your list will be wonderful to refer to.

    I love reading physical books and highlighting essential ideas as I go. Auditory learning is more challenging for me. Plus, I love getting away from screens. One of the things I enjoy is finding ties between ideas from book to book, or book to life, or conversations or experiences. I enjoy making connections with ideas from different places.

    Lastly, I hope your 2023 will be filled with plenty of time to read, relax, restore, and enjoy. While I was unaware of the details, based on what you wrote here, it sounds like 2022 was a rough year. Wishing you all the best always.

  3. Wow, Deb, this isn’t a blog post, it’s a novella. Are you trying to trounce me in the Longest, Meatiest Post category? I am so freaking impressed with all of this. I completely agree with you regarding all the benefits of reading, both personally and professionally. I especially appreciate the way I can fall into a book and de-stress, which is why I was pretty nervous in 2020 when — for months into the pandemic — I couldn’t focus long enough to read anything wordier than a social media post.

    As you know, I’m a huge library fan, so I’m thrilled that you gave library apps — and librarians — a shoutout, and I’m so flattered that you linked to my blog post. Libraries rock. And you picked excellent bookstores, to which the only thing I might and is Indiebound.

    As for your books for entrepreneurs, we have many in common (Getting Things Done, Burnout, Checklist Manifesto, Atomic Habits, Digital Minimalism, The Little Book of Hygge, When, and of course, Stanly Tucci’s magnificent Taste!), but I’m thinking of using your list as a source for recommendations for what to read this year. Perhaps Indistractible, which I never finished or Joy at Work (which is sitting on the shelf right next to me!). And I could definitely enjoy a refresh of the Dale Carnegie, Stephen Covey, and Julie Morgenstern books.

    I’m intrigued by the book clubs you offered up (including the silent one!), but I think you and I need our own book club!

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