3 Books to Help You Form Better Habits, Be More Creative and Think Like a Leader James Clear talks about three books that have fascinated him and inspired his writing.

By James Clear

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Each week, I try to write useful articles on topics like psychology and habit formation, medicine and health, and science and entrepreneurship. Where do I get many of these ideas? By reading books written by people who are smarter than me.

Because of that, I love to share some of the better books I've been reading — and get suggestions from you, of course!

And with that said, here's what I've been reading recently:

3 Books to Help You Form Better Habits, Be More Creative and Think Like a Leader

1. Hooked
by Nir Eyal

Nir Eyal is a successful entrepreneur and has spent years studying how businesses use behavioral techniques to form habits in their customers. In this book, he covers practical ideas for "building products people love" and "creating user habits that stick."

As an entrepreneur, I found the book fascinating and had multiple notes written within the first few pages. But -- and this is why I added it to my reading list -- I think it's just as useful for the everyday person. What Eyal really covers is how our environment shapes our behavior (in the case of this book, he often references the digital environment). I've written about the power of environment design and choice architecture before, so it's no secret that I think environment changes can be a powerful way to shape behavior.

I also believe that any interested reader who reads this book — entrepreneur or otherwise — would discover multiple ideas for sticking to better habits and applying Eyal's "hook model" to their everyday life. Obviously, entrepreneurs and business people will find it particularly useful. (Full disclosure: Nir Eyal is a friend of mine and he is also running a Habits Summit in San Francisco on March 25th.)

Related: Don't Wait for Motivation. Do This Instead.

3 Books to Help You Form Better Habits, Be More Creative and Think Like a Leader

2. The Art of Photography
by Bruce Barnbaum

As I mentioned in my 2013 Annual Review, photography is a renewed focus for me this year. I've already completed my first photo trip to Morocco (see here and here).

And because of my renewed focus, I've been searching for fantastic photography books, mentors, and resources. The Art of Photography by Bruce Barnbaum is one of the best I've found. (Another popular photographer said that Barnbaum's book is "the best ever written on photography." I haven't read them all, so I won't make that claim, but it is excellent.)

In particular, Barnbaum's points on simplicity resonated deeply with me and I think it certainly improved my photography in Morocco. More generally, Barnbaum does an excellent job of demystifying the magic behind a beautiful photo. So often you'll hear photographers say things like, "You just need to have the eye for it" or "Some people can see it and some people can't." I never enjoyed these answers because it makes photography seem like a mysterious talent that you're born with rather than a skill you can improve and master. Barnbaum breaks down the skill in a way that makes it seem much more achievable without eliminating the magical feel of a great image.

This is a great book to start with if you're interested in taking photography seriously.

Related: Afraid of Failure? Think Like a Scientist and Get Over It.

3 Books to Help You Form Better Habits, Be More Creative and Think Like a Leader

3. Meditations
by Marcus Aurelius

Earlier this month, I shared a series of quotes and lessons from the famous Roman emperor, Marcus Aurelius. Those quotes came from his book, which is filled with brilliant life philosophies, interesting insights on difficult questions, and practical strategies for dealing with the challenges that we all face along the path of life.

As far as we know, Aurelius wrote these ideas down for himself and had no intention of publishing the book. In a way, Meditations offers an inside look at the mind of the man who was both governing the Roman empire and struggling with the same issues that you and I do on a daily basis.

The book doesn't follow any formal chapter structure and doesn't flow well in parts, but I'm continually impressed by how applicable the advice is to my day-to-day life. Many of the ideas are just as applicable today as they were centuries ago.

Meditations was written almost 2,000 years ago -- in Greek -- so there have been many translations and different versions over the years. I prefer the translation by Gregory Hays, which I linked to below. That said, there are also many wonderful free versions online, which I also shared below.

I hope you'll find those books as interesting and useful as I have. But more importantly, what have you been reading recently?

Related: No, You Shouldn't Obsess Over Being Perfect -- Especially When Starting Up

A version of this article first appeared on JamesClear.com. For useful ideas on improving your mental and physical performance, join his free weekly newsletter.

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James Clear

Writer, Entrepreneur and Behavior Science Expert

James Clear is a writer and speaker focused on habits, decision making, and continuous improvement. He is the author of the no. 1 New York Times bestseller, Atomic Habits. The book has sold over 5 million copies worldwide and has been translated into more than 50 languages.

Clear is a regular speaker at Fortune 500 companies and his work has been featured in places like Time magazine, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and on CBS This Morning. His popular "3-2-1" email newsletter is sent out each week to more than 1 million subscribers. You can learn more and sign up at jamesclear.com.

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