14 Business Books I’m Loving (My Reading List)

Creative Juice, Online Business

I'm a pretty avid reader.

And I love book lists.

Here's why:

Why Books Lists (and Reviews) are Important

There are just too many business (and personal development) books to waste time buying + hoping that a new title will be any good.

I put a lot of weight in recommendations and reviews. I love Amazon reviews – their crowd-sourced rating system helps eliminate individual bias and give solid titles a boost of social proof.

I put even more weight in individual blogger reviews, if they reflect my values and perspectives. The following titles have come either well reviewed by someone I respect or carry a solid review rating on either Amazon (or both).

Thanks to audio books, I've had a busy year. Here are the 14 titles I've read this year (so far).

What I'll Cover in the Post

In this post, I'll cover:

  1. Why I listen to audio-books
  2. My 11 favorite titles of the year
  3. 3 books you shouldn't buy
  4. My future reading list (5 books)

A year ago, I wrote my own: My ten favorite start-a-blog books

Why I Favor Audiobooks (via Audible)

Since discovering Audible a few years ago, I seldom read a book.

Whether I'm driving, working, or showering, I prefer to listen to the book in audio. I make use of time that would otherwise be wasted and I find that my focus is better.

To make use of time in the shower, I use the EcoGear waterproof Bluetooth speaker. It works great with the Audible app on any mobile device.

Living in Ecuador can make it hard to get English books. I can ship them here, but it's expensive and takes a long time. With Audible, I get instant download to any of my devices – even to the desktop computer.

Get any one of these titles for free on Audible. Using this link, sign-up for a free account. You'll get one free title – that remains yours forever. You can cancel your account anytime and still keep the free book. Not a bad deal.

My Completed Reading List (11 Titles)

  1. Brainfluence: 100 Ways to Persuade and Convince Consumers with Neuromarketing (Roger Dooley) I'm about halfway through this book and I'm loving it. They are lots of blogs about the science of effective marketing but this book puts it all in one place. As an added bonus, you don't have endure regurgitated blog posts by cocky bloggers in love with their own voice. Learn how to create great marketing without suffering through the over-acting and childish attitudes. Roger Dooley backs up his application with solid science and research. Check it out on Amazon or get it for free on Audible.

  2. Virtual Freedom (Chris Ducker) Outsourcing is not new – but Chris covers it in detail and in an actionable way. I concluded the book confident that I now have the skills to effectively use virtual assistants to run our business. I need to listen again, before I begin hiring out specific tasks. While the process is simple, he offers lots of great tips that I want to have clearly in mind as we begin. Check it out on Amazon or get it for free on Audible.

  3. The Personal MBA: Master the Art of Business (Josh Kaufman) Based on the very popular PersonalMBA.com author Josh Kaufman takes complex business concepts and explains the need-to-know principals clearly. I enjoy his casual approach and detailed case studies. Check it out on Amazon or get it for free on Audible.

  4. Epic Content Marketing: How to Tell a Different Story, Break through the Clutter, and Win More Customers by Marketing Less (Joe Pulizzi) Written from his perspective as the founder of the Content Marketing Institute, he provides many cases studies. The content is useful and can be put to use right away. While the majority of the book will apply to individual bloggers, some of it is better suited towards large companies with a full staff dedicated to content creation / promotion. Check it out on Amazon or get it for free on Audible.

  5. Street Smarts: An All-Purpose Tool Kit for Entrepreneurs (Norm Brodsky and Bo Burlingham) This is part business tool kit and part autobiography. Brodsky's diverse business history (and that of his father) becomes a series of practical business lessons. Basing each point on a real-world event, the application is clear and memorable. I'm eager to cover this material again. Check it out on Amazon or get it for free on Audible.

  6. The Magic of Thinking Big (David Schwartz) This is a bit of a classic. The style of writing (and the reading in the audio version) is old-school motivational. While the information is good, the tone can come across a little condescending. If you can look past this, you'll probably enjoy the material. We all deal with self-limiting beliefs – and this book addresses what they are and how to grow past them. Check it out on Amazon or get it for free on Audible.

  7. FREE: The Future of a Radical Price (Chris Anderson) While free as a business model might sound like a fundamentally flawed concept, the book makes a pretty strong argument. Create product users and then offer premium add-ons. Done correctly, it's a great way to build a user-base and awareness of your company. Check it out on Amazon or get it for free on Audible.

  8. The 4-Hour Work Week: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich (Tim Ferriss) Little needs to be said of this business classic. I have the first edition on my bookshelf and the latest version on Audible. I'm not sure how many times I've read / listened to this title, but it continues to give useful tools and perspectives as our business grows. Yes, parts of the book are a little irritating and pointless. But other sections are pure gold. You need to read this book. Check it out on Amazon or get it for free on Audible.

  9. Time Power (Brian Tracy) This is a classic time management book – I read it the first time more than 10 years ago. Although I have the print book here in Ecuador (it was one of the few we moved with) I most recently listened to it again on Audible – classic time management technique. 🙂 While some of the techniques are for busy executives, the majority of the book applies to our blogging lifestyle. I've been through the book countless times and I improve every time I re-read it. Highly recommended. Check it out on Amazon or get it for free on Audible.

  10. The Happiness of Pursuit (Chris Guillebeau) This is a new book, but one that I'm really enjoying. Similar to 4-Hour Work Week, The Happiness of Pursuit will make you think differently. With 50+ case studies of people from every life situation, you will find motivation in designing your life. The book focuses on how to “find your quest”. Check it out on Amazon.

  11. Launch: An Internet Millionaire's Secret Formula To Sell Almost Anything Online, Build A Business You Love, And Live The Life Of Your Dreams (Jeff Walker) I was introduced to Launch via Amy Porterfield's podcast where she interviewed Jeff about how to launch an online product. I was impressed by his knowledge and how he systematized the launch process. I'm reading Launch on Kindle right now – and have lots of great ideas for our upcoming product launch. Check it out on Amazon.

3 Losers on My Reading List

I discovered a few books that aren't worth your time. I recommend scratching them from your list.

  1. The 11 Immutable Laws of Internet Branding While I loved Focus (also by Al Ries), this book was a fail. Of course, it is old – something I should have checked before buying it. Don't waste your time on this title. It is either common sense or just wrong. Nothing useful in this book.
  2. Inbound Marketing: Get Found Using Google, Social Media, and Blogs (Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah) I guess that this book is okay for a newbie. A true newbie who knows nothing about the internet. Seth Godin says it best: “Buy one for your clueless colleague”, because no one else will want this.
  3. Internet Riches (Scott Fox) Maybe I shouldn't say that I bought this book. What should I expect from a book that sells the flawed idea that anyone can get rich online? I guess I got what I deserved. If you want hype, just Google “make money online”. Don't buy this book.

Personal Reading (3 Titles)

  1. 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus (Charles C. Mann) I'm only about 25% of the way through this book – but along with my 13-year-old daughter – we are loving it! The writing is entertaining and the audio version is very well done. In spite of this being a history book, we frequently laugh – out loud! The book is about new discoveries about life in the Americas before the arrival of Columbus. I love the history of it and that it is something I can do with my daughter. It is her audio of choice as we work together in the kitchen. If you enjoy history at all, you need to check this out. While I'm sure the print version is good, it would be hard to beat the audio format. Check it out on Amazon or get it for free on Audible.

  2. Ghengis Khan and the Making of the Modern World (Jack Weatherford) This book is one of my favorites. I love the glimpse into another culture and time. And to understand the affect this nation had on our modern world. I've read this three times – once this year. It is one of the books I use to unwind before going to sleep. Check it out on Amazon or get it for free on Audible.

  3. Pimsleurs Spanish: Well, this isn't a book, but it is critical to our life here in Ecuador. Using our waterproof speaker, I try to do a lesson each morning. It is the best program for learning a foreign language. You can go from zero to fluent using just this course – and maybe a little immersion. Read our full Pimsleurs Spanish reviewGet your first lesson for free on Audible.

What I'm Reading Next (5 Titles)

In addition to finishing Launch, Brainfluence and The Happiness of Pursuit these are the books on my reading list:

  1. The Power of Habit (Charles Duhigg)
  2. The Lean Startup (Eric Ries)
  3. The Tipping Point (Malcom Gladwell)
  4. Duct Tape Marketing (John Jantsch)
  5. The Secret History of  the Mongol Queens (Jack Weatherford)

I will be ordering these – all of them – on Audible. Have you tried Audible yet? Remember, with this link you can get one audio-book completely free.

Now it's your turn

Have you read any of these titles? What recommendations do you have for my reading list? Please share your comments below. (I'll be responding to all comments.)


Hi, I'm the Author!

Bryan Haines is a travel blogger, photographer and content marketer. He is co-founder of Storyteller Media (content marketing for travel brands). Bryan also runs two authority blogs with his wife, Dena: ClickLikeThis (GoPro tutorials) and GringosAbroad (Ecuador travel).

8 comments… add one
  • Don Rua Feb 4, 2015, 12:01 pm

    Besides the various apps in the app stores for listening to audiobooks, many public libraries in the US have a process for letting you download audiobooks from them, using your library card # to check them out, via an app.

    I also invested in a decent bluetooth portable speaker, the JBL with a clip. I can clip it to my belt, car mirror, backpack, and always stream books via my cellphone to speaker. Wish I could have started doing that 30 years ago, what knowledge could have been consumed!

  • Don Rua Feb 4, 2015, 11:02 am

    Great list, thanks. I’ve been on a tear with audibooks this year, completing five in January. I’m loving it. Here are some I’ve recently enjoyed:

    Thomas Jefferson (Jon Meacham’s)
    Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin
    Great Men of Greece
    Common Sense by Thomas Paine

    Half way though Stanley: The Search for Dr. Livingston, which I believe the most epic adventure story I’ve ever heard, with plenty to share on project management, dedication, negotiation, history, geography, medicine, conflict, cultures, and much more.

    And Thinking Fast & Slow, one of the best books every on how people make decisions, (and how much of it is subconscious or manipulated).

  • Ricardo Schillaci Oct 12, 2014, 4:14 am

    Thank you folks!
    As usual, you keep enlightening the masses (sometimes even against their will)
    Best to you
    And enjoy the weekend!

  • frankaboutcroatia Oct 11, 2014, 3:38 pm

    Hi Bryan, thanks for sharing. I read all the time, and different books at once. I’ve read so many business books that I was sure I wouldn’t find anything new on your list. It turns out, besides Tim Ferris book, they are all new for me :). I haven’t tried audio books, but thinking that they could actually help me improve my conversational English. Have you read James Altucher’s books. Just finished reading his Choose Yourself and really enjoyed it.

  • Ryan Biddulph Oct 10, 2014, 11:48 pm

    Hi Bryan,

    I love The 4 Hour Workweek. He is in your face, and brutally honest. If we did super, super, uncomfortable things, we’d be working so much less. Maybe not 4 hours, but using many of Tim’s fundamentals, I’ve been circling the globe for 42 months straight, running online businesses, being a full time digital nomad. TF gets tons of flack for his book, but that happens when you’re famous, and a NT Times Best Selling author. Love it, and love his approach.

    I went from working like a dog to eke out a living online to making an impact, working less, working intelligently, doing fewer things, but more freeing AND uncomfortable things, to get where I am today. I feel we could all achieve more in less time if we faced our fears, our self conscious stuff, the fear of rejection, and criticism, more openly, and freely, so we could get this head trash out of our way, to simply do the things that would accelerate our growth rate.

    I recall one practice from the book which rocks; find a way in a short period of time to receive a response from a world famous purpose. Well, it took me a LOT longer than a few day stretch, but my first 2 eBooks were endorsed by NY Times Best Selling Author Chris Brogan, a guy who’s a business advisor for Richard Branson, Google, Microsoft, Disney, Tony Robins, and for a slew of icons, and iconic brands. I did it slowly, but I still did it, and I’m also speaking at NYU in 2 months, which still floors me, that a laid off security officer 5 years ago could become a pro blogging traveler with these things going on.

    Bryan, great reviews. I hear you on the Audio book too; haven’t tried it yet, but I need to. Thanks for sharing, tweeting soon!


    • Bryan Haines Oct 11, 2014, 1:12 pm

      Thanks Ryan!

    • Don Rua Feb 4, 2015, 11:55 am

      Funny you mentioned Chris Brogan. Being in the digital world, I encouraged my 13 year old son to start blogging. He enjoyed writing, and it was doing okay. Chris saw it, wrote a post about it and tweeted on the topic. That was pretty darn awesome. He also traded emails encouraging Nick (my son) to start vlogging and what camera to start with. Nick’s blog did well, he was getting product sent to him for reviews, ad revenues, interviews on radio, etc., but being a kid, after a while he didn’t want to do that any more. For a review of a Marvel comic drawing book, he received a response directly from Marvel artists. It was all very cool. However, as an older teen, perhaps he wasn’t crazy about being identified as the “kid” of kidreviewer’; not the kind of thing that provides a rep in high school. So he moved on to other things (and found his real passion, film).

      As a dad, it was frustrating because I knew he had the opportunity to soar right there, six figure income potential, speaking, endorsements, maybe even a book. The foundation, the niche, he could have been a contenda! But life isn’t just about money, and I wasn’t going to force my son to continue with his blog because it had potential. He’s won accolades coast to coast for his film work since then, had over 135 film projects under his belt before graduating high school, and is doing what he loves at 20. Multiple Best Film awards, Best Documentary, Promising Young Filmmaker 2014, etc, so I can’t complain.
      For the curious, here’s Chris’ post about KidReviewer.com:
      This was a big deal to Nick, for which he is still greatful for Chris’ time and help to a young content producer.

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