I’m often asked what books I like to read and recommend. I decided it was a good idea to compile them all in one place so I can just direct people here the next time they asked me this question.
On this page, you will find my top reads, the best of the best, the must-reads.
I’ve also included links to two of my favorite online bookstores I normally buy from in Malaysia to make it easy for you to buy them if you want to (unfortunately I don’t read e-books so these are all paperback links).
Although this is a list of good books, it represents less than 1% of the books I have to recommend you.
You see, I have been reading 40 – 80 books a year for many years now. If I could, I would love to recommend you at least 100 books, but that would be too long for this page. So I decided to keep this page to a maximum of 20 books, with a few books in each category.
If you are interested in more recommendations than this page has space for, do subscribe to my book recommendations newsletter below. I will be periodically sending out book recommendations to you as I see fit.
The Lean Startup has now become a classic recommendation for business books so I thought I would include it in this list of essentials. Eric Reiss’ concept of creating a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) helped me to bring my ideas into life back when I was starting out around nine years ago. By being able to use very little money and time to build my MVPs I was able to run more than 20 ideas before settling on the ones I still manage today. Highly recommend for anyone just starting out in business.
Books on Marketing and Advertising
Trust Me, I’m Lying, Ryan Holiday (Book Depository / Kinokuniya Malaysia)
Trust Me, I’m Lying is a book about media manipulation. How much do you trust what you read in the news? Chances are, at least half of them are made up stories, even when they are published on ‘credible’ media sources.
Before I read this book I had a naive view of media. It made me realize that media is not always the most accurate source and most of the time, media is often manipulated by businesses.
This book is a must-read for anyone who wants to be successful in creating publicity for themselves or their businesses using media.
Confessions of an Advertising Man is David Ogilvy’s classic on copywriting. Even if you do not work professionally as a copywriter, I would recommend you pick up this book because people nowadays have come to expect good copy from brands. Ogilvy’s advice on writing is evergreen and can be applied in most industries. This is a must-read for people who want to stand out from the noise online and create a memorable brand name.
Permission Marketing, Seth Godin (Book Depository / Kinokuniya Malaysia)
Permission Marketing is a manifesto and guide on how to do marketing to people who grew up with a lot of marketing messages. Permission Marketing‘s message is simple: if you want to sell to people, build a relationship with them first. When you have a relationship with them, then you can ask their permission to sell something they need to them. This short and easy to read book is one of the best introductions to marketing to warm leads I have ever read. I recommend to anyone who wants to learn the basics of getting warm and interested leads.
Books on Networking and Making Friends
How to Win Friends and Influence People was the first book about building influence and networking I read. As an engineering student, I was pretty awkward around people and didn’t know how to act in social situations. As I was looking for ways to improve my social skills I stumbled upon this classic by Andrew Carnegie. It has been almost ten years since I read this book and I still use the principles from How to Win Friends and Influence People in my day to day interactions with my family, friends, customers and business associates. I highly recommend this book especially for people from technical backgrounds who want to quickly improve their people skills.
Never Eat Alone, Keith Ferrazzi (Book Depository / Kinokuniya Malaysia)
Keith Ferrazzi’s Never Eat Alone is a book about how to networking the right way. He includes details on exactly what to do and when to do it. My favorite networking tip from Never Eat Alone is to organize dinners around interesting guests. After reading this book I went on to build lasting relationships that still fuel a few of my businesses today. I recommend this book to anyone who wants to start networking with people but don’t want to look sleazy or salesy.
Books on Strategy
Robert Greene is the master of combing through history to reveal powerful strategies we can use today in our ‘battles’ in life and business. Of the four books Robert Greene has published, 48 Laws of Power is my favorite one. I’ve used the powerful lessons inside to get myself out of a few tricky business situations and I think I would still be referring back to this book to help me think through sticky situations in the future. The book is also divided into independent chapters so you can jump around and read whichever chapter applies to you in that moment. I highly recommend this book for people who want to sharpen their mind for strategy and think ten step ahead of any situation.
Books about Money
Think and Grow Rich, Napolean Hill (Book Depository / Kinokuniya Malaysia)
Think and Grow Rich is a classic. It’s not only a book about the principles of wealth but also a transformative process by itself. Strangely enough, after reading Think and Grow Rich, my businesses grew 3X. I credit this to the mindset shifts that happened as I was going through the entire book. I don’t quite remember most of the principles Napolean Hill was dispensing throughout the book but I do remember feeling very different after I finished it. If you have doubts about earning more, you should read this book. Think and Grow Rich is definitely one of the books I regret not having read earlier.
Books about Life
These are books that made me realize how important family and purpose was:
Doctor Paul Kalanithi began writing When Breath Becomes Air when he was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Beautifully written, it tells the story of Paul’s upbringing and career as a doctor. What struck me about this story was that Paul had intended to write a book for a long time. But he had put it off to focus on his career as a doctor. Reading this book made me realize that I too was putting off a lot of meaningful pursuits to focus on my businesses. After reading the book I scaled down on my business efforts and made more time to write non-business related articles.
I was still a college student unsure about what to do with my life when I stumbled upon Randy Pausch’s The Last Lecture. Randy was a professor at Carnegie Mellon University and a pioneer in teaching children to code when he was diagnosed with terminal cancer. The one thing I learned from The Last Lecture was how Randy relentlessly pursued his ambitions his entire life so that when he was suddenly diagnosed, he had very little regrets. I thought that was the kind of life I wanted too. Since reading his book, I take nothing for granted and I try my best not to let go off the little irritations in life.
Books on Investing
Even if you’ve never thought about becoming a full-time investor, this book by Warren Buffet’s teacher Benjamin Graham is worth reading from an entrepreneur’s point of view. It teaches you how to value a business based on the fundamentals that make a business valuable. This skill, I feel, is ever more important in our day and age where companies which don’t make money are valued $1billion and above. The same skills can be applied to evaluate the value of your own business, enabling you to improve your business based on the lacks you identify. Highly recommend for people who want to get a basic understanding about how businesses are valued from an intelligent investor’s point of view.
*I will occasionally send free books to random readers on my mailing list so do watch out for that in your mailbox after you subscribe!