Must-Read Books For Entrepreneurs And Aspiring Writers

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It’s no secret I’m a huge book nerd  (I mean, spend more than two seconds on my website and that will become very apparent).

As a copywriter, reading both for fun and for research is a necessary part of growing my skills. After all, it is my job, right? To be obsessed with words? Yeah. 

…which is why I feel quite qualified to create this master list of must-read books for entrepreneurs hoping to grow businesses, creativity, marketing skills, and “biz brains” (as I like to call them).

Being ‘obsessed with words’ may sound a bit nerdy, but reading isn’t just a fun little hobby. It’s a huge part of how I’ve been able to grow my knowledge—and my confidence—to learn & develop new skills that allow me to further my business’s success.  Reading more helps  you attract your audience, market your business, give more value to your clients and customers, get sales, and make money. 

The books mentioned in this post have exponentially transformed both  my business and my life. (In fact, one of them was the reason I started my business in the first place!)

So, without further ado – here’s my list of non-negotiables for every entrepreneur’s TBR list. 

The 4% Fix by Karma Brown

When I first started my business, I felt like I could never catch up. I was always feeling behind, even though I never actually was, and I was always busy, even though I worked 12 hours a day. I didn’t know how to slow down without feeling guilty, or manage my free time and my business time as two separate entities (because working on my BTL stuff is fun to me…making it hard to separate biz and pleasure). 

The 4% Fix taught me how to find guilt-free time for what I want to do. 

Author Karma Brown researched time management and goal-setting to come up with The 4% Fix to teach people how to use one hour a day to change their life. And she’s a kickass writer with an impressive ass resume (aka you should def listen to her). 

I loved that she’s a fellow mom (and a fellow ‘chill’ mom, at that), because it allowed an even deeper connection to the book than I was expecting.

Tools of Titans by Tim Ferriss

You know how when someone asks you your favorite song you always blurt out the same one you’ve said for the last 10 years even though you don’t even listen to Dark Blue by Jack’s Mannequin anymore, but you know it’s a solid answer because it was your thing back in the day?

That’s how I feel about this book.

(Also, if you don’t do that when people ask you what your favorite song is and you actually answer with a current favorite, I… don’t know what to tell you. We’re different, I guess.)

Tools of Titans was the reason I started my business. I read all 700+ pages, cover to cover, in one weekend, while taking vigorous notes both in the book itself and in a note on my phone that I still have.

Tim Ferriss—freelancer extraordinaire and author of famous best-seller The 4 Hour Work Week—compiles all of the best advice from a whole host of the world’s most successful people (everyone from Brene Brown to Arnold Schwarzenegger to Shaun White to Seth Godin to James Altucher) into digestible, bite-sized chapters.

And, naturally, it’s gold. This is required reading for not only every business owner, but every person who wants to become a better version of themselves. The book has advice for ev-er-y-thing.

The reason I compare it to that stale ‘favorite’ song is because it’s my go-to answer to “what’s your favorite book?” every single time, even though I have plenty of other books that deserve the distinction just as much as Tim’s.

(Side note: if you’re deciding between 4HWW and TOT, go with the latter. 4HWW is outdated now; it was written in ’04 and revamped in ’08—Tools of Titans is better.)

Everybody Writes by Ann Handley

If you know me at all, you know how much I love and adore and appreciate and aspire to be Bestie Ann (my loving nickname for her, that she is aware of, because we’re #besties).

Her book is my Bible, her biweekly Sunday newsletter is my joy, and she is my queen. And I am dramatic. 

According to Ann, the content marketing pioneer, everybody is a writer in some capacity. Written a social media post? What about an email? The copy on your website? You’re a writer. 

And Ann’s going to teach you how to become a better one inside of Everybody Writes. I don’t even need to tell you more than that, because I’m positive that my extra-special endorsement of how great she is will be enough to make you want to purchase this book.

(I recommended it in my newsletter months ago, and still to this day get tagged in Instagram stories of people reading it and purchasing it—so now, naturally, I have an influencer complex when it comes to Ann.)

Freelance and Business and Stuff by Hoodzpah Design

If you’re just starting out as a business owner, Freelance and Business and Stuff needs to be moved straight to the top of your list. It’s a crash course made for creatives that give readers the exact steps to start and run a lucrative creative studio. Read the advice from those who have over ten years of experience running their own studio. 

I feel this book is suited best for graphic designers, however anyone can benefit from it.

Atomic Habits by James Clear

I already know you’ve seen this book on at least 7 people’s Instagram stories this year. It’s likely on every “entrepreneur must read” book list on the Internet, and for good reason.

James Clear wrote Atomic Habits to teach people how to build good habits and break bad ones, and his tips work

Like, cult-favorite-level work.

We all have bad habits to break—hi, screen time the second your eyeballs open—and not many of us have the tools we need to break them. 

Until, of course, we purchase Atomic Habits and never look back.

Also, just like Bestie Ann, James not only kills it at teaching his community via his best-selling book; he’s also a welcomed member of inboxes all over the globe, with his 3-2-1 newsletter FULL of gold.

Every Thursday, he sends 3 short ideas, 2 quotes, and 1 question to ponder. Read past 3-2-1 newsletters and sign up for free to get them straight into your inbox every week.

The Copywriter’s Handbook by Robert Bly

For my fellow copywriters—you’re welcome. 

The Copywriter’s Handbook is chock full of copywriting techniques to give your content more attention online. Learn all about how create compelling headlines, landing pages, emails, and lead magnets.

It’s lengthy, but it’s a must-have 

Bird By Bird by Anne Lamott

An oldie but a goodie.

In this captivating not-actually-about-birds-at-all novel written over 25 years ago, Anne Lamott gives readers of all types of quality advice that’s been passed down from generations of writers. I love this short story of how the title of the book came to be:

“Thirty years ago my older brother, who was ten years old at the time, was trying to get a report on birds written that he’d had three months to write. It was due the next day.

We were out at our family cabin in Bolinas, and he was at the kitchen table close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books on birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him, put his arm around my brother’s shoulder, and said, ‘Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.’”

Isn’t that how we should approach everything in life? One step at a time.

Write one word, then two, then three, and suddenly, you have a complete story. A story that will move and inspire people. That will help them, relate with them, give them hope. The power of words and storytelling is amazing, and every entrepreneur needs to know how to utilize words for a specific purpose.

Alright, sorry. I’m done being philosophical and getting on with the list of book recs. Buy Bird By Bird.

WorkParty by Jaclyn Johnson

Who’s ready to paaaartay?!

(Me. And hopefully you, when you purchase this book.)

WorkParty teaches women how to create the career of their dreams with tangible tips from real-life experience. 

Get an inside look at author—and Founder of Create & Cultivate—Jaclyn Johnson’s journey to cultivating (ha, get it?!) her dream career (and learn how you can do it, too). 

Entrepreneurs don’t start out with their dream careers. More often than not, you may fall into jobs that you don’t love (read: hate) or want to do forever. Mine was my role as a legal secretary for attorneys who quite literally would scream at me over not being able to read their chicken-scratch handwriting. Yikes.

If you’re still working towards the career that makes your hearts flutter—or at least doesn’t make you sob in the car on the way to work (no…I never did that…*crosses fingers behind back*)—WorkParty is the book for you.

Untamed by Glennon Doyle

Confession: I didn’t know who Glennon Doyle was until the hype about Untamed started happening a few years ago. I had no idea she’d written other books. To me, she didn’t exist.

So, when I began hearing her name—and hearing about the “life-changing” book she’d written—I assumed she was a middle-aged man from Alabama. Do not ask me why. Maybe I was inadvertently making assumptions based on her name? I don’t know.

But I got a rude awakening one Spring afternoon while browsing my local Athleta.

Her face was plastered next to the entrance on two enormous posters, advertising the launch of Untamed.

I turned to my best friend, who I knew had heard of the book, and said “that’s Glennon Doyle?”

As she was browsing the legging selection next to the register, she casually responded with, “yeah, my mom loved the book. Have you read it?”

When she turned around to look at me—no doubt wondering why I hadn’t responded—and saw my jaw on the floor, she asked me why I looked so surprised. I explained to her my very vivid vision of who I thought “Glennon” was, and we both laughed for a solid 7 minutes straight.

(And still laugh every time we think about how intense this realization was. It was one of those ‘you had to be there’ moments, I think, so don’t judge me if you don’t think this is that funny.)

Now, embarrassing assumptions aside, we’re ending this (self-proclaimed) fabulous list *her* (correct pronouns are a must, people—my bad for accidentally misgendering her like an a-hole in my head for years) with Untamed by Glennon Doyle. A well-deserved #1 New York Times Bestseller, Untamed tells you how to find yourself and how to be brave. It takes some serious bravery to be a business owner. No one is telling you what to do or holding your hand. It’s all on us. 

Read how Glennon chose bravery over fear and how that changed her life forever. You can do the same! You can overcome any obstacle and start living the life you’ve always dreamed of. 

In the words of Glennon, “The braver we are, the luckier we get.” 

Oh, and here’s a picture of the real Glennon Doyle, just in case you don’t know what she (not he!) looks like, either:

I’ve compiled all of these in my amazon storefront for ya, click here if you want to snag one — or all.

And if you need even more book recommendations? Sign up for my newsletter to get a carefully-curated book rec from me every single Tuesday morning. 

If we haven’t had the chance to *virtually* meet yet, hi! I’m Sara Noel—website copywriter and marketing mentor for creatives, copywriters, and all-around cool people. If you like my content and you want even more BTL in your life, here are a few ways you can connect with me:

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Hi, I'm Sara—Website Copywriter & Marketing Mentor.

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