The Insider Picks team writes about stuff we think you'll like. Business Insider has affiliate partnerships so we get a share of the revenue from your purchase.
There’s a reason the most successful people in our society are often the most voracious — or dogged — readers.
Think about how many new ideas you’re exposed to in the pages of a book, compared to days in a year of your life alone. Frequent readers are constantly engaged with new ways of thinking, alternate perspectives, and a habitual effort for self-betterment. None of these things are exactly hurdles to success.
In fact, when Warren Buffett was asked about the key to success, he pointed to a stack of books, saying "Read 500 pages like this every day. That’s how knowledge works. It builds up, like compound interest. All of you can do it, but I guarantee not many of you will do it."
And for those of you that will do it, here are the reading books those hyper successful people have recommended over the years, curated with quotes about why this pick exactly.
Bill Gates: "Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City"
As Desmond puts it: "Eviction’s fallout is severe. Losing a home sends families to shelters, abandoned houses, and the street. It invites depression and illness, compels families to move into degrading housing in dangerous neighborhoods, uproots communities, and harms children. Eviction reveals people’s vulnerability and desperation, as well as their ingenuity and guts."
Warren Buffett: "The Intelligent Investor"
Melinda and I have been working for some time to learn more about how Americans move up the economic ladder (what experts call mobility from poverty). "Evicted" helped me understand one piece of that very complex question, and it made me want to learn more about the systemic problems that make housing unaffordable, as well as the various government programs designed to help. Read his full comments here.
By far, the best book on investing ever written. To invest successfully over a lifetime does not require a stratospheric IQ, unusual business insights, or inside information, What’s needed is a sound intellectual framework for making decisions and the ability to keep emotions from corroding that framework. This book precisely and clearly prescribes the proper framework. You must provide the emotional discipline.
Jeff Bezos: "The Remains of the Day"
If you read "The Remains of the Day," which is one of my favorite books, you can’t help but come away and think, I just spent 10 hours living an alternate life and I learned something about life and about regret.
Bill Gates: "A Full Life: Reflections at Ninety"
Even though the former President has already written more than two dozen books, he somehow managed to save some great anecdotes for this quick, condensed tour of his fascinating life. I loved reading about Carter’s improbable rise to the world’s highest office. The book will help you understand how growing up in rural Georgia in a house without running water, electricity, or insulation shaped — for better and for worse — his time in the White House. Although most of the stories come from previous decades, "A Full Life" feels timely in an era when the public’s confidence in national political figures and institutions is low.
Mark Zuckerberg: "Portfolios of the Poor"
It's mind-blowing that almost half the world — almost 3 billion people — live on $2.50 a day or less. More than one billion people live on $1 a day or less. I hope reading this provides some insight into ways we can all work to support them better as well.
Steve Jobs: "The Innovator's Dilemma: The Revolutionary Book That Will Change the Way You Do Business"
Jobs used this book as an explanation for one reason Apple needed to embrace cloud computing, saying: "It's important that we make this transformation, because of what Clayton Christensen calls 'the innovator's dilemma,' where people who invent something are usually the last ones to see past it, and we certainly don't want to be left behind."
Bill Gates, Warren Buffett: "Business Adventures"
Not long after I first met Warren Buffett back in 1991, I asked him to recommend his favorite book about business. He didn’t miss a beat: “It’s "Business Adventures", by John Brooks,” he said. “I’ll send you my copy.” I was intrigued: I had never heard of "Business Adventures" or John Brooks.
Today, more than two decades after Warren lent it to me—and more than four decades after it was first published — "Business Adventures" remains the best business book I’ve ever read. John Brooks is still my favorite business writer.
Bill Gates, Elon Musk: "Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies"
Worth reading "Superintelligence" by Bostrom. We need to be super careful with AI. Potentially more dangerous than nukes.
Stephen Schwarzman: "World Order"
At a time when the world has little or no order, Henry Kissinger’s "World Order" is indispensable reading. Informed by a long view of centuries of history, the author demonstrates why our diplomacy must be rooted in a genuine engagement between cultures, rigorous pragmatism and, yes, realpolitik. Henry makes clear the dangers of ambivalence in the face of the apparent landscape of disorder before us, and reminds us of the only path forward: If we are to defend our principles, we must set out to prove them.
James Gorman: "The Boys in the Boat"
The story of the 1936 U.S. Olympic rowing team competing in the Berlin Olympics. One should never underestimate what the determined amateur can do when armed with a professional attitude.
Abby Joseph Cohen: "Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error"
"Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error" by Kathryn Schulz is a deceptively easy read which tackles one of the most critical issues for decision makers: understanding how we form opinions. Importantly, she discusses how to revise those opinions when new information becomes available, rather than clinging to earlier views.
Tim Cook: "Competing Against Time"
Cook is reportedly known to give out copies to colleagues and new hires.
Bill Gates: "Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind"
...I would recommend this book to anyone interested in a fun, engaging look at early human history. Like Big History, it left me with an overarching historical structure which I can build on as I learn more. At the same time, Harari tells our history in such an approachable way that you’ll have a hard time putting it down. He uses vivid language, photos, and diagrams to illustrate his points. He’s also an agile writer, deftly weaving in entertaining historical stories, like the importance of sauerkraut in sea exploration and why the earliest known written words from 5,000 years ago are a bit underwhelming.
Have you read?
Warren Buffett, Mark Fields: "The Outsiders: Eight Unconventional CEOs and Their Radically Rational Blueprint for Success"
These CEOs thought very differently and took a bit of a contrarian view about how to create value in their companies. Each looked at their business from the outside in, took their time to develop a clear point of view and stuck with it, which ultimately created a lot of value for shareholders and everyone associated with their companies.
Marissa Mayer, Laura Lang: "The Charisma Myth: How Anyone Can Master the Art and Science of Personal Magnetism"
Olivia Fox Cabane offers hands-on advice and a practical guide to humanizing leaders without comprising integrity or authority. She focused on the ‘it’ factors that can make a real difference.