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Lifestyle / Books

6 Books to Help a Busy Entrepreneur Like You Avoid Burnout This Year

The 1911 race to the South Pole. The 1990s war between Sega and Nintendo. And four other books rich in wisdom, in refined, concentrated form.
6 Books to Help a Busy Entrepreneur Like You Avoid Burnout This Year
Image credit: Modern Library
- Guest Writer
Speaker, writer and entrepreneur
6 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Not all “reads” are created equal. Much of what we read online, in fact, is meaningless clickbait, sensationalized news or the digital equivalent of junk food for the brain. While some of it is fun to read, it may also leave us with mental indigestion. 

Related: 7 Books Most Millionaires Read Before They Turn 30

Low-nutritional reads are also incapable of helping us find more eureka! moments in life. They actually often do the opposite -- bringing us down or distracting us from the more important personal and professional goals we hope to achieve. This explains why “read more books” is one of the most frequently cited and timeless pieces of advice from forward-thinking individuals.

Books are wisdom in refined, concentrated form.

In that spirit, I’d can recommend several books to buoy busy, frenetic or otherwise on-the-verge-of-burning-out entrepreneurs. Some are new. Some are old. Some tackle the problem of burnout head on, while others do so indirectly. Either way, I’m confident that each of the below can increase your inspiration this year, and well beyond. 

1. Log Off: How to Stay Connected After Disconnecting-- Blake Snow.

Snow, a seasoned journalist, gives us this quick-read, which explains how to live large on low-caloric technology, to increase face time with actual people, outperform workaholics in half the time and increase our productivity with fewer online distractions.

Snow also does more than just throwing a lot of alarming statistics and life-changing recommendations at the reader. Rather, he weaves both into his own decade-long story, making his advice easier to follow and remember. The concepts he gives names to, like the King Complex, the Rule of Thirds, Reformed Luddism and the Four Burners Theory, are sure to spike your productivity. Bonus points for being the shortest book on my list. 

Related: Read These 10 Books to Start 2018 Sprinting Toward Success

2.The Last Place on Earth -- Roland Huntford

Roland Huntford’s account of this legendary tale of the 1911 South Pole race between Roald Amundsen and Robert Scott is well researched and full of proven business insights. While both men were incredibly brave, their individual approaches to preparedness, forecasting and strategy for reaching the South Pole first were strikingly different.

This was so much so that after reading this book, you’ll probably take greater care in leaving nothing to chance. You’ll also finish this book with a greater appreciation for early explorers and how you might adopt similar success strategies in your admittedly less dangerous existence. It’s crazy to think this story still hasn’t caught Hollywood’s attention.

3. Console Wars: Sega, Nintendo, and the Battle that Defined a Generation -- Blake Harris

Looking for a fun read? Need a fresh perspective before planning your next marketing campaign? Look no further than Harris’s riveting account of one of the ‘90s greatest rivalries. “There was no such thing as a magic touch,” writes Harris. “The only thing it takes to sell toys, vitamins, magazines (or anything) is the power of story. That was the secret. That was the whole trick: to recognize that the world is nothing but chaos, and the only thing holding it (and us) together are stories.” Console Wars is as good as (if not better than) David Sheff’s seminal Game Over: How Nintendo Conquered The World

4. A Short History of Nearly Everything -- Bill Bryson

Bryson is one of the most beloved non-fiction writers today. And, here, he impressively, humorously and succinctly summarizes how we “big banged” from nothing to get where we are today as a species. To accomplish this, Bryson spent three years researching the world’s greatest scientific discoveries and interviewing the people who know them best.

Simply put, the result is awe-inspiring. “It has been suggested that there isn’t a single bit of any of us -- not so much as a stray molecule -- that was part of us nine years ago,” Bryson writes. “It may not feel like it, but at the cellular level we are all youngsters.”

5. Peak Performance: Elevate Your Game and Avoid Burnout with the New Science of Success -- Brad Stulberg and Steve Magness

What would happen if a successful management consultant and Olympic coach teamed up to study and distill the secret of top performers? Thankfully, they have. This new book is the result and covers how anyone can achieve his or her best. “Whether someone is trying to qualify for the Olympics, break ground in mathematical theory, or craft an artistic masterpiece, many of the practices that lead to great success are the same,” the authors assert.

For example, "stress plus rest equals growth" means you get better results when you design and live a routine-filled day; and having a greater purpose keeps you focused and motivated. 

6. Thinking Fast and Slow -- Daniel Kahneman

The better you understand the human mind, the wiser you’ll know how to use, master, and leverage it. That’s why everyone -- entrepreneurs very much included -- should read this breakthrough book by Nobel Prize-winning behavioral scientist Kahneman. After decades of research, Kahneman was the first to discover that the brain makes decisions in two ways. The first is “fast thinking,” which makes everyday, mostly involuntary and largely gut-based decision-making possible. This means decisions like eat this, pick up that, move out of the way and stay alive.

“Slow thinking,” on the other hand, means slow to engage and deliberate, even lazy, because this kind of thinking requires significantly more energy. The trick to being a better thinker, therefore, lies in knowing and understanding how to trigger your “slow thinking” more often. This book shows you how. 

7. Any unrelated novel that channels your subconscious.

This catch-all category may sound like a cop-out, but listen up: Mounting research suggests that the subconscious mind helps us make bigger and better decisions. To let our subconscious do its thing, however, we cannot be actively thinking about the problem or decision. We must engage in unrelated tasks.

Related: 10 Books Tim Ferriss Thinks Every Entrepreneur Should Read

In other words, if you read only business books, you're at greater risk of burnout than if you mix it up. Frequently reach for books that don’t necessarily relate to your day-to-day operations, but rather are ones that can indirectly lead you to a better place. That might mean classical literature, poetry, short stories or just a really well-written novel. Either way, you need to reach for these types of books if you want to channel your subconscious in helping you make your next greatest decision. 

What other notable books have helped you avoid burnout?

11 Oprah-Approved Books Every Entrepreneur Should Read