24 Books You Must Read in 2024: Top CEOs, Entrepreneurs, Actors And Authors Tell Us Why – Entrepreneur

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By Kabir Singh Bhandari
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Mythology. Finance. Entrepreneurship. Business. Life. Loss. Health. The various categories of books that are out there for us to read can fill up entire rooms. The million dollar question which arises is that which ones should you read? Over the last year, we spoke to CEOs, founders, actors, authirs, businessmen and more who told us the books which they loved the most, which affected the way they thought and shaped their life.
Here are 24 of those books, and why you should read them, in the voice of those we spoke to. How many of these books have you read? Did you like them? And which books would you want to recommend for reading? Tell us in the
Rajesh Jain, Founder, Netcore Cloud and author of ‘Startup to Proficorn’:
1. Jim Collins: Beyond Entrepreneurship 2.0
While Jim Collins has written a number of books, this one is my favourite because it essentially brings out all the best ideas from his previous books. In the book there is also a map, what he calls ‘The Map’, and that encapsulates the ideas from the previous books. The book contains enduring principles which help one think big about how you want to build a company and how to ensure that it becomes a great company and one that is built to last.
2. Uri Levine: Fall in Love with the Problem, not the Solution
The title of the book actually tells the story. I think this is a great teaching for an entrepreneur that many times what entrepreneurs do is create a solution and then they are go out in search of the problem That is not the right way to build a business. When I have tried that several times in my life, I have actually failed. So the correct way is to figure out the problem, fall in love with the problem. The book talks about what is it that one is going to solve for the target segment that you have and then how can you test the thesis inexpensively and quickly. It makes you ask essential questions such as are there enough people with the same problem to create a profitable business overtime?
3. Richard Rumelt: The Crux
The third book that I would like to recommend is Richard Rummel’s book called The Crux. The core idea is around strategy, that when you are looking to solve problems, figure out those problems or that that one particular problem which is the most important and most solvable.
Many times we look at the important problems but do not look at look at solvability. Strategy at the end of the day really is about choices and what Rumelt distils down even further in the book is that at every pivotal time moment in your company, identify the most important and most solvable problem.
Nirvaan Birla, Founder and Managing Director, Birla Open Minds Education and Birla Brainiacs
4. Indias Greatest CEOs by Suhel Seth
A very inspirational and motivating book which helped me at the start of my professional career. It gave a deep insight into how the Indian industries and markets are won over and how the best in India have done it using different strategies.
5. Good To Great by Jim Collins
A very insightful and knowledgeable book for me on how some companies went on to create history while others could not make that jump and fell short. It gives a lot of examples with stock and P&L balance sheet analysis on the mistakes companies made and the practices followed by those who went all the way.
6. Vikramaditya Veergatha by Shatrujeet Nath
It’s a series of books on King Vikramaditya and his band of courtiers and councilmen, about how they have to fight off the Devas and the Asuras who both try to invade the kings army and take over the kingdom and possess a very powerful artefact held by Vikramaditya. It was a very fascinating, thrilling read for me because I’ve always been a fan of Indian mythology and Indian scriptures. The series creates a fascinating and captivating universe with different characters from our past and scriptures and puts them together in a fictional world so well.
Actor Vivaan Shah, author of ‘Living Hell’ and ‘The Forsaken Wilderness’
7. My favourite book of all time is Moby Dick by Herman Melville, as it is a book which is essentially, in John Huston’s words, ‘a blasphemy!’. In his interpretation, which has subsequently become mine as well, it is a book about what happens when a single individual decides to shake his fist at the almighty, and challenge the very powers of wind and earth, and also the divine force whose laws govern reality. He is challenging God to vanquish him and defeat his purpose. It is about what happens when a deranged Captain/leader decides to lug along a boatload of blue-collar workers in pursuit of his goal, and not theirs, or even a collective one. As Huston said, the purpose of a whaling voyage is to furnish the oil lamps of the world, and hence to serve a practical and beneficial function to society. But Captain Ahab, disregarding his duty towards society, decides to chase his duty towards his own madness. It is about the quintessential descent into madness!
8. My second favourite book is Joseph Conrad’s Outcast of the Islands, and also Conrad’s Nostromo. Outcast of the Islands is one of the most uncompromising portraits of a thoroughly unscrupulous protagonist. It is about a dishonest man, and his falling to pieces. There are moments of poetry, and tranquility in Conrad’s prose that are quite unparalleled. It is also one of the earliest critiques of imperialism, and the business interests of colonialism. And is a very mature and profound study of the relationship between the white man and the indigenous people his country has colonized. Nostromo on the other hand is a rousing story of adventure, governance, armed conflict, martial ways, treasure-hunting, and above all courage and character. It is a densely textured book, and is not an easy read but an ultimately rewarding one. It is a vivid work of the imagination with a firm grounding in real world events and politics. In it, Conrad creates his own Republic, Costaguana, and the architecture of his book is almost like a work of town-planning.
9. One of my favourite books of all time, a close tie with Moby Dick, is Jim Thompson’s hardboiled crime novel ‘The Getaway’. It is just everything I love about the genre. It is a heist novel, a lovers-on-the-lam book, a road noir, a brutal work of bleak poetry and nihilism, a study of the underworld of squalor and criminality, and a psychological hellscape of torment. But it is, above all, a tender love story. Carter Doc McCoy and his wife Carol are the most fascinating married couple in literature. Thompson’s way with suspense, action, and idiosyncratic characterization is something that had a huge influence on my second novel ‘Midnight Freeway’. His crime novels can also be abstract, somewhat esoteric, and all the more disturbing for their essentially enigmatic quality. The ending of the book in the hellish retreat of El Ray is a work of surrealism and social commentary that haunts and never leaves the reader.
Ankit Agrawal, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, InsuranceDekho
10. Masters of Scale
It is about always curious and insanely successful entrepreneurs who have observed something that others haven’t. This book is also about how inquisitiveness, persistence, humility, and risk have helped turn apparently impossible ideas into profitable big businesses. I would recommend this book to those who are ready to build their ventures, the business principles in this book will help you deploy your strategy with creativity, integrity, and realism.
11. Roller Coaster: An affair with banking.
It is an enjoyable read. This book not just covers the achievements and challenges of India’s commercial and central bankers but also, brings out their humane, light and fun sides. It gives an in-depth look into their personalities & leadership styles and how they shaped the culture and values of the Indian banking sector. Anyone with slightest interest in the Indian banking world would enjoy this book as it chronicles some of the most interesting stories of the biggest names associated with Indian banking.
12. The Power Law: Venture Capital and the Art of Disruption
It is an exciting read full of enticing anecdotes. Anyone who wants to understand the fundamentals of venture capital should certainly read this book. This is the most informative and engaging economic narrative history since Liaquat Ahamed’s Lords of Finance.
Naiyya Saggi, co-founder, Good Glamm Group
13. Winning Middle India By Bala Srinivasa And T.N Hari
Staying in our air conditioned offices we don’t know how people live. The book gives a very sharp, insightful look and also is a great study on how the 500 million folks of middle India work, shop, their purchasing decisions and how they live. It also has a chapter on trust and how when middle India faced a deficit of trust, certain entrepreneurs were able to bridge that gap.
14. Founders At Work By Jessica Livingston
This was one of the first books I read when I was starting off my entrepreneurial journey. It gives you a peek into the early days of founders who have built epic companies. So whether its PayPal, Hotmail, AirBnb and so many others, the book is full of fascinating details and information, along with the personal and professional challenges they went through. It’s a great behind the scenes look.
15. No Rules Rules: Netflix And The Culture Of Reinvention By Reed Hastings And Erin Meyer
Reed is a legend. The book tells us about how Netflix got built, through a culture of innovation and their approach to building up talent density and how people blossom in a candid atmosphere. A great point discussed in the book is how Netflix lessened controls, as they were supporting an environment of innovation. What Netflix has been able to build is very inspiring.
Yashovardhan Birla, chairman of the Yash Birla Group, Author of ‘Building The Perfect Body’ and ‘On A Prayer.’
16. One of my favourite books which I read years ago, is Autobiography Of A Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda, which many individuals read at the starting point of their spiritual journey.
17. A book which I find exceedingly great in a spiritual quest for anyone and a high level of knowledge is Ashtavakra Gita by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.
18. Another book which falls in the same category is Yoga Vasistha by Swami Venkatesananda.
19. Patanjali Yoga Sutras, again by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar is also a favourite.
Sumeet Vyas, actor
20. Animal Farm by George Orwell
It’s one of my all-time favourite books. It’s one book which has left a deep impact on the way I see the world and politics.
21. 1984 by George Orwell
It’s an incredible book and it’s amazing how it is still relevant in the current scenario. It’s almost as if he saw the future and wrote it.
22. What I talk about when I talk about running by Haruki Murakami
I started reading Murakami seven years back and read quite a few of his books, but this one definitely stands out. He talks about his journey as a marathon runner and triathlete and how it has helped him as a writer. It’s a great insight into his mindset and really inspired me to be a better writer also be fit. The author has a great insight into the human mind.
23. Men Without Women by Haruki Murakami
This is another book by him which is about men who have lost their better halves or are alone and offers touching insights into the human race. There was one story about a theatre actor, which was written as if he had an inside peek into the individuals mind.
24. Anxious People by Fredrik Backman
I read this book last year and was very impressed by it. It reminded of the theatre world and I would love to adapt it into a play. What I loved about the book is that it has many characters but at the core of it talks about good people in a small town who are facing a particular situation. I was relieved that even by the end of the book they remained decent human beings.
The author can be reached at bkabir@entrepreneurindia.com and Instagram.com/kabirsinghbhandari
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