10 Books Tim Ferriss Thinks Every Entrepreneur Should Read

Looking for inspiration? Here are 10 of Tim Ferriss's favorite books for entrepreneurs.

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By Emily Conklin

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Tim Ferriss, the productivity expert, author and inspirational speaker, is an avid reader. On his show and blog, he's highlighted a whole host of books, seeking to share some of the same wisdom that inspires him. 

From self-help to science fiction, there's something for everyone in Ferriss’s library of recommendations. Get ready to spend your Sunday mornings curled up with one -- or several -- of these books.

Related: The 25 Essential Books for Every Entrepreneur's Library


Anything You Want (Derek Sivers)

What’s worth doing in life? This is the question that fabled entrepreneur Derek Sivers answers in this audiobook, packing 10 years of experience into a compact 90 minutes.

Ferriss's take: “Short, hilarious and profoundly practical. I’ve reread these 40 lessons dozens of times. Derek is a philosopher-king among startup contrarians, and he knows how to get what he wants, however odd. I love this guy.”

Radical Acceptance (Tara Brach)

Tara Brach, a Buddhist student and therapist, wants to show the world how to trust in the innate goodness of humanity. Self-doubt is a part of the modern human condition, leading to many profound sources of suffering, but through a variety of storytelling techniques from case histories to guided meditations, readers can emerge from this book free of constrictions. 

Ferriss's take: “This book was recommended to me by a PhD neuroscientist and is what finally helped me tame anger, one of my most destructive (and persistent) emotions. It’s easy to aim for 'successful' and be miserable. This book is the antidote.”

How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big (Scott Adams)

The creator of the Dilbert comic strip wants to help you succeed by telling you all about his failures. Scott Adams doesn’t offer a road map in his book but rather examples of tricks to make it easier for luck to find you. 

Ferriss's take: “Scott, the creator of Dilbert, has an incredible approach to 'career planning' that's as effective as it is unusual. He’s beaten all the odds and can help you do the same.” 

Related: 6 Proven Strategies to Rebound From Failure

Grand Central Publishing

The Art of Asking (Amanda Palmer)

No one makes it big without a little help from some friends. Amanda Palmer, musician and TED speaker, knows the life of a starving artist -- but most importantly, she knows how and when to ask for help along the way.

Ferriss's take: “I tend to isolate myself, often at the worst times possible. Amanda helped me to learn to ask friends and family for help. It was a game changer.”
Random House

Creativity, Inc. (Ed Catmull)

Pixar co-founder Ed Catmull knows that creativity is an essential ingredient for success. The man who helped bring iconic films such as Toy Story and Monsters, Inc. into the world was able to crush box office records by curating a work environment focused on eliminating barriers to the creative process. His book can teach readers how to incorporate creative energy into their own work in any field.

Ferriss's take: “No matter your circumstances, storytelling and creativity are two 'meta-skills' that can take your business and life to the next level. Ed is a master.”

Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman! (Richard P. Feynman)

In this autobiography, Nobel Prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman guides readers through adventures of his eccentric mind.

Ferriss's take: “Feynman’s books hugely impacted every aspect of my thinking when I first read them circa 2005. Since then, I have studied Feynman’s letters, teaching style, discoveries and beyond. How many Nobel Prize winners also safe crack and play bongos in bars for fun? Feynman makes me want to be a better teacher and, ultimately, a world-class parent.”

Dune (Frank Herbert)

Dune is set 20,000 years in the future and is full of mystery and intrigue. Noble families, drugs and war converge to form a compelling and complex narrative that analyzes power and prestige -- and what it means to be an epic tale.

Ferriss's take: “Dune presents, despite my synopsis, perhaps the most incredibly detailed and oddly believable fictional landscape I’ve ever encountered.”
Tor Science Fiction

Ender’s Game (Orson Scott Card)

In anticipation of an attack from a hostile alien race, Andrew “Ender” Wiggin is specially selected to train in space combat, excelling in all areas of school. But struggling with pressure and managing expectations makes for a hard and lonely ascent to the top.

Ferriss's take: “Through Ender’s journey, you’ll learn how to capitalize on your strengths and those of your teammates, as well as exploit your adversaries’ weaknesses. Ender is a futuristic Level 5 Leader we can all learn from.”

Related: 20 Books Billionaire Bill Gates Recommends

Kodansha International

Musashi (Eiji Yoshikawa)

As thick and fast-paced as a Harry Potter book, this is an epic story of a samurai. From raging battle scenes to pensive transformations, the plot plunges into everything from near-death experiences to Zen monkhood.

Ferriss's take: "Musashi’s transformation from talented yet conflicted young warrior to one of the greatest (perhaps the greatest) swordsmen of all time teaches you about critical thinking, strategizing and, ultimately, that there is more to life than merely surviving. Musashi re-created himself from nothing and rose from destitution to legend. Why not you?"
Simon & Schuster

Zorba the Greek (Nikos Kazantzakis)

This classic novel tells the story of two men and an extraordinary friendship. After departing on an adventure to Crete, the unlikely friends teach each other about the joys of living in the moment.

Ferriss's take: “I have recommended this outstanding book before. It pits the instinctive against the intellectual, the simpleton (brilliant at times) against the over-thinker. Finding myself with my head frequently stuck up my own ass, this book is a constant companion and reminder to step outside of my brain.”
Emily Conklin

Reporting Intern

Emily Conklin is a reporting intern at Entrepreneur.com. She is currently a sophomore at New York University pursuing a double major in journalism and urban design & architecture studies. 

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