As entrepreneurs, we can gain valuable information from reading non-fiction “how-to” books. The best business writers combine hands-on practical experience with interviews and research to offer great insights into the best methods for starting and running a business.
Novels for the entrepreneur in your life
However, if you have a budding new business owner on your gift list this holiday season or if you could use a little extra insight yourself, you might look to the fiction section as well as the non-fiction section. Many novels offer inspiration to the entrepreneur.
Here is our list of top novels for the entrepreneur in your life.
Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
This huge novel – it is more than 1,000 pages long – is Ayn Rand’s fourth and final book and the one she considered her magnum opus. While its length may be daunting, this book’s views on the role of the individual in society make it an important read for the entrepreneur.
Set in the future during a time when the U.S. economy is collapsing because of the disappearance of business innovators, Atlas Shrugged is part philosophical treatise and part action thriller.
Favorite quote: “What greater wealth is there than to own your life and to spend it on growing? Every living thing must grow. It can’t stand still. It must grow or perish.”
The Financier by Theodore Dreiser
This classic business novel, first published in 1912, reveals the truth in the adage “the more things change, the more they stay the same.” Although the new technology explored in the book is the streetcar, the lessons about power and morals remain relevant today.
The Financier is the first – and the best — of Dreiser’s Cowperwood Trilogy of books that follow the career of ruthless businessman Frank Cowperwood. Later came The Titan (1914) and The Stoic (1947).
Favorite quote: “In short, he was one of those early, daring manipulators who later were to seize upon other and even larger phases of American natural development for their own aggrandizement.”
All the King’s Men by Robert Penn Warren
The 1947 Pulitzer Prize winner is a clear-eyed look at the business of politics, which is especially appropriate for a presidential election year.
Warren sets his tale of power and corruption in the South during the Depression. His protagonist Willie Stark is a not-so-disguised version of former Louisiana governor Huey Long.
Favorite quote: “And what we students of history always learn is that the human being is a very complicated contraption and that they are not good or bad but are good and bad and the good comes out of the bad and the bad out of the good, and the devil take the hindmost.”
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig
Let’s face it – there is a certain mindset to being an entrepreneur, and entrepreneurs need to cultivate that mindset if they want to be successful.
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance has both nothing and everything to do with business. First published in 1974, Robert Pirsig’s book is an intriguing look into life’s big questions. The questions come out of a life-changing summer motorcycle trip a father and young son take.
The story seems simplistic on some levels, but the way Pirsig weaves some complicated philosophical thought into his tale makes it both memorable and thought provoking.
Favorite quote: “You look at where you’re going and where you are and it never makes much sense, but then you look back at where you’ve been and a pattern seems to emerge. And if you project forward from that pattern, then sometimes you can come up with something.”
King Rat by James Clavell
King Rat is James Clavell’s first and arguably best novel. A World War II POW survival story can certainly make for interesting reading, but what makes this novel so compelling is that is it largely Cavell’s own story. He was a prisoner of war in Japan’s Changi Prison Camp in Singapore during World War II.
Clavell creates a fascinating study of what lengths we will go to in order to survive. As his characters vie for power and position, we learn about loyalty and risk and what it really means to be a human being.
Favorite quote: “There are no buts, my son. True there are degrees of honor — but one man can have only one code. Do what you like. It’s your choice. Some things a man must decide for himself. Sometimes you have to adapt to circumstances. But for the love of God guard yourself and your conscience — no one else will — and know that a bad decision at the right time can destroy you far more surely than any bullet!”