12 Life-Changing Books to Read in 2015

books to read in 2015 mainWhat’s one of the best resolutions you can make for the new year? To read more. Yes… I know you’re already busy enough as it is, but even adding in just 15 minutes of reading a day can help you:

  • Reduce stress
  • Slow progress of and possibly prevent Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia
  • Expand your vocabulary and improve writing skills
  • Boost your knowledge
  • Improve your memory
  • Strengthen analytical thinking skills
  • Improve focus and concentration
  • Foster creativity, imagination, and new ideas

To help you create a reading list for 2015 that’s filled with the most motivating, educational, and worthy books out there, I talked to 12 entrepreneurs and business professionals to get their recommendations on what you absolutely must read in the new year.

And whether you hit all 12 (a damn-fine goal) or even just a couple, know that with every word you read, you’re bettering yourself, your mind, and your business — and that’s a year-long resolution you can be incredibly proud of.

Check out the top 12 books to read in 2015 below:

1. The Four Agreements, Don Miguel Ruiz

Joey Wilhelm, developer for GoDaddy, says, “The best way I can describe this book is that it contains four agreements to make with yourself about how to live your life in order to make it suck less. Keeping these four simple things in mind every day has improved every aspect of my life, both personally and professionally, and I find new ways to apply them daily. I can truly say that I would not be who I am today, and in the position that I am, without the guidance provided in this book.”

2. How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie

Michael Maguire, principal of Michael Maguire Consulting, believes this book’s teachings are timeless and beneficial to all small business owners. He says, “Old school I know, but no less valuable in terms of effectively and easily managing customers, vendors, and staff.

3. Dataclysm: Who We Are (When We Think No One’s Looking), Christian Rudder 

Daniel Leeman, entrepreneur, recommends this book, written by the founder of OkCupid, because it “shares fascinating insights about the human condition, drawn from the millions of users on the OkCupid dating website. Equally important is its focus on big data, and I believe it paints an exciting picture for the future for small businesses to transform aggregate data into meaningful stories.”

4. Rework, Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson

Since long books can often feel overwhelming to business owners with packed schedules, Matt Simpson, a sales and marketing consultant, is recommending Rework, which he says is more of a daily meditation book for entrepreneurs. “It provokes enough thought to push buttons without overwhelming the already-taxed mind. Read one passage every morning and spend five minutes reflecting. Perhaps, like me, you’ll be inspired too.”

5. Act Like a Leader, Think Like a Leader, Herminia Ibarra

Cindy Boynton, vice president of operations at Scott’s Marketplace, notes, “The saying goes ‘Think first, then act’ but this book challenges you to do the opposite: act first, then think. Learning from your experiences and your environment is a great way to learn about yourself and your business. As a small business owner, you are more inclined to think first because there is so much to take into consideration before doing. Take a chance by reading this book and challenging your leadership style while building your small business.”

6. Simple Numbers, Straight Talk, Big Profits, Greg Crabtree

As entrepreneur and CEO of web design company, Crosshatch Creative, John Durso strongly recommends Simple Numbers, Straight Talk, Big Profits to new entrepreneurs. He says, “The author is a CPA and business owner, and the book makes business finance and the effect of your decisions on your business very, very clear. I’d give anything to have read this two years ago starting out.”

7. The Four Steps to the Epiphany, Steve Blank

“This is probably the most influential book I’ve read as far as relevancy to starting a tech company,” says Scott Curry, founder of Scott’s Marketplace. “The customer development process is something that I completely endorse and strongly recommend. You have to build a company on what your customers need, not what you think they want.”

8. The Grammar Devotional: Daily Tips for Successful Writing, Mignon Fogarty

This book recommendation comes from me (Shannon Willoby) and the reason why I like it is that it refreshes you on grammar basics you may have forgotten and elevates your knowledge by teaching you interesting tidbits you probably never even knew, both of which will help you with your everyday communications. (Plus, it’ll push you to produce better blog posts, marketing materials, business plans, etc.) I’ve learned a lot and love that it’s broken up into daily tips.

9. The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It, Michael E. Gerber

Walter Lim, founder of Cooler Insights and a chief content strategist at Hashmeta, said that this is one of the few books that has resonated with him and that he highly recommends it. “The book’s key takeaways are beautifully presented in the form of a compelling narrative involving the author and a small business owner named Sarah. I was whisked away on an enchanting entrepreneurial journey while learning the techniques needed to build a better business.”

10. StrengthsFinder 2.0, Tom Rath

“This is by far the most influential book I’ve read as a small business owner,” says Katy Blevins, co-owner of The Studio at Hampton Roads. “I find myself coming back to it again and again. Understanding my unique talents and areas of strength have made me a more effective and focused leader. Bringing this book to my business partnership has allowed us to each explore the best ways to apply our individual skill sets to compliment our business relationship, communicate more honestly and effectively, and streamline our organizational management. This book gave us the insight and direction to maximize our ability to serve our clients with excellence, and ultimately grow our business together.”

11. Ogilvy on Advertising, David Ogilvy

Brian LaFrance, CMO at Authority Labs, says, “Ogilvy on Advertising is probably one of the most important books anyone in business can read. It may be old and seem a little outdated since it’s from the days of print advertising, but the ideas and principles in the book still apply to any kind of advertising or website today. Good/great advertising can make a world of difference for any company and bad advertising can do more harm than not driving sales.”

12. Getting Real, Jason Fried, David Heinemeier Hansson, and Matthew Linderman

“In business, it’s easy to try to do too much,” says Brian Poole, full stack developer at BX3 Interactive, a web development company. “Getting Real inspires you to focus your efforts on creating products that are simple, purposeful, and successful. The book is written for developers and project managers of web applications, but its principles can be applied to almost any process your business may face.”

 Which of these books will you read in 2015?

About the Author

Shannon Willoby

Shannon is the director of content marketing for Scott's Marketplace and has been writing since she was old enough to hold a pencil. (Or crayon.) When she's not blogging, you can find her daydreaming that she's Khaleesi from Game of Thrones.


  1. says

    I have read How to Win Friends and Influence People and Rework. I have heard so much about Gerber’s book, so I will read The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It. Ogilvy on Advertising, David Ogilvy is classic!

    Shannon: I will check out your book tip, The Grammar Devotional: Daily Tips for Successful Writing, Mignon Fogarty.

    In the these troubling times, I will reread Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand.

    • Shannon Willoby says

      Hey, Pamela! Will you be adding any (or all) of these books to your reading list for this year? A friend loaned me The Four Agreements, so I can’t wait to get started on that!

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