5 Non-business books for business owners

Sometimes I get tired of business books, and there’s a lot to learn from outside the world of business that is useful in life and business. So with summer coming, I figured some of you might be looking for some beach/airplane/vacation reading. Here are my top 5 non-business books for business owners.

1. Do the Work/The War of Art

Both of these books by Steven Pressman (author of The Legend of Bagger Vance among other novels) are ostensibly about writing; but Steven is quick to add that their principles apply easily enough to any endeavor to improve mankind from entrepreneurship, to art, to exercise to spiritual improvements. The War of Art describes The Resistance that naturally rises to oppose any such efforts, then it goes on to talk about how you can go pro and work in a way that defeats The Resistance. Do the Work both summarizes and extends the material in The War of Art (and it’s free for Kindle if you are a Prime user).

2. The Predictors

The Predictors is about the first team to apply computer computation and chaos theory to stock and commodity market trading. It’s written in a journalistic style and reads like a long magazine article. The heart of the story is really the personalities of the team members, and how the team changes once the money really starts to flow. They were mostly academics who formed a focused and tight-knit team to apply their knowledge to making money. A short, but fascinating read with terrific lessons about leadership, project management and the ways in which different people view money.

3. The Road Less Traveled

“Life is Hard” — that’s the opening to The Road Less Traveled. This book is a journey of self-awareness and discovery. Many business owners don’t have a deep well of relationships that they lean on to support them and encourage their growth so it’s good for them to seek out sources of spiritual development. The Road Less Traveled is like the words of a kind friend drawing you toward your higher and better self. This isn’t a book you read in one sitting; it’s one that you read, then think about, then read some more.


4. Moneyball

Though Moneyball is about baseball, it’s really also about how people think about problems and how a change in your perspective, or your assumptions can get you totally different results. Billy Beane is the General Manager for the Oakland A’s. Billy was a highly recruited young player who never lived up to the hype so he was skeptical of the traditional “scouting” methods because they were so wrong about him. In addition, since his team didn’t have the money to spend to build a team by buying talent, he was going to have to find players that other folks overlooked. By taking a different approach, Billy Beane found talent that no one else did. This is a fun, engaging read.

5. Master and Commander

Master and Commander, by Patrick O’Brian, is the first in a 20-volume series about a ship’s Captain and a ship’s Doctor who are engaged on various ships in the British Navy during the Napoleonic wars. The Russell Crowe movie from a few years ago contains the same characters, but illustrates a different story (from a later book). The series is rich in life lessons, but especially the loneliness of leadership and the importance of a confidante and friend. Be forewarned, there is a lot of nautical language that can be hard to wade through, but it’s worth it in the end. The middle part of the series O’Brian really hits his stride and if you get that far you won’t stop before the end.

What are you going to be reading this Summer? I’d love to hear your recommendations!



  1. I haven’t read Moneyball, but I saw the movie and was immediately intrigued with how they used statistics to win baseball games. Sometimes running and growing a business isn’t about how evryone else does it.

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