12 Books You Should Add To Your Reading List

Reading is key to staying ahead of the curve as a leader. With reading, you’re able to stay up to date on the latest trends, discover old classics, and find enjoyment.

I’ve found all of that and more as I’ve expanded my reading library. There’s been must-read fiction books that I’ve devoured. And business books that have given me new insights.

With the new year just kicking into gear, I thought it would be a perfect time to share my list of books you should add to your reading list this year.

Remember, with just a little effort every day, you can fly through books. Reading as little as 10 pages a day (Approximately 10 minutes), you can finish an average 200 page book in 20 days. That means you can finish all twelve of these recommended books by the end of the year.

1. 20,000 Days And Counting by Robert D. Smith – I finished this book near the end of 2013 and was blown away by the insights Robert D. Smith offered. After reading this book, you’ll begin counting your days.

2. Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook by Gary Vaynerchuk – The de-facto book on social media. So many books only skim the surface. Gary takes you deep into the world of social media with Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook.

3. The In-Between by Jeff Goins – Jeff has a way with words that lives you stunned and shattered. The In-Between is no different. This book will leave you changed.

4. Secrets To Dynamic Communication by Ken Davis – Secrets To Dynamic Communication is a great primer for those looking to communicate better and enter into the public speaking arena. Ken Davis has the experience and know-how and that’s what he shares with you in this informative book.

5. Love Does by Bob Goff – Are you ready to live a life full of escapades and capers? If so, grab Love Does. Bob shares his life story and how he lives an exciting life that brings change to others.

6. EntreLeadership by Dave Ramsey – Did you know Dave Ramsey isn’t just a money guy? He really knows his leadership as well. EntreLeadership proves it as he shares his years of leadership experience building his company from the ground up. Learn what to do (and not to do) by reading this book!

7. Good To Great by Jim Collins – The recent classic business book is a must read for anyone looking to grow their organization. Jim Collins studied the habits of many successful companies and shares the secrets to their success.

8. Who Moved My Cheese By Spencer Johnson – I loved this modern day fable. Spencer shows why we must be willing to adapt or be left behind.

9. Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay – Yes, that’s right. It’s not a business book but a fiction book that I’m recommending. Darkly Dreaming Dexter is about Dexter Morgan, a blood splatter analyst who also takes out the bad guys at night. A fascinating read but not for the faint of heart.

10. Moneyball by Michael Lewis – This isn’t your traditional business book but there are many valuable business lessons you can pick out from Moneyball. You may also want to check out the movie starring Brad Pitt (Not Tom Cruise as I mistakenly mentioned before).


Thanks to 2 keen eyed readers, I learned I’d left off 2 books from the reading list. Interesting it was 2 readers and 2 books. Is that a sign? Anyways, here’s the final 2 books I think you should add to your reading list.

11. YOUtility by Jay Baer – Want to draw customers to your business and make them really like you? This is the business book for you. Jay explains what businesses are doing to get noticed and how you can apply these tactics to your business.

12. Untitled: Thoughts On The Creative Process by Blaine Hogan – In Untitled, Blaine Hogan offers up advice on how to fill the blank pages and exposes the nuances of the creative process.

There’s my list for the year. It’s one book per month if you want to take it slow. Or you can plow through the list and finish them sooner. The choice is up to you.

Question: What book would you recommend reading this year? Please share your recommendation in the comment section below and help out your fellow readers.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • I’m behind the game with you here Joe, I’ve just finished Gary Vaynerchuk’s ‘Thank You Economy’ which stills seems pretty relevant to me. Looking forward to reading some of the titles you mention – pleased to see a couple I’d include on mine! I’m also adding Peter Block’s, ‘The Answer to How is Yes’.

  • Good list Joe, Happy New Year!! Be Great 🙂

  • Great list Joe, I have a few of these already on my 2013 list and a few I read in 2013. I am going to looking the Ken Davis good! Thanks for the suggestions.

    • Great Paul! Ken’s book was a nice read. It’s short, to the point, and gives actionable steps to take.

  • Dan Erickson

    I’ve read the first book on the list. Although I’m sure these are all good books, do you ever feel like they are communicating the same messages over and over again in different words? That is one reason I cut back on my business and self-help reading. It seems redundant to me.

    • Sometimes I think so Dan but I’m stubborn and a similar book may reach me in a different way.

  • Hi Joe. I have read 5 out of the 10 books you recommended. Loved all of them. Right now I am reading “Unbroken,” by Laura Hildebrand. Whoa! This book is hard to read but even harder to put down. It is being made into a movie as well. If you ever thought you’ve gone through more than most people (uh…that would be me) you should read this book…and I have a suspicion the ending is going to bring tears to my eyes. By the way, “Love Does, by Bob Goff was a fantastic read…think I may reread that one this year.

    • Awesome Linda. For Love Does, I can’t believe Bob actually put his actual phone number in the back of the book. What’s Unbroken about?

      • Hi Joe. Unbroken, by Laura Hillebrand, is the story of a WWII hero and the atrocities of the war. No matter what, he is not broken. It is the story of God’s grace and redemption. It is an amazing story of the human spirit and the healing that comes when one leans on the Lord. It is the only book I have read that has over 6000 people giving it 5 stars!

        • Sounds really interesting Linda. Going on the list!

        • Rebecca Jo Cannon

          I will check that book out. I am a disabled veteran, both my sons are veterans & a lot in our family are. My Grandpa who is in heaven now was on a Navy ship in WWII.

          • Rebecca…it was a really good book. Might be kind of triggering though…God bless you for your service to our country!

            • Rebecca Jo Cannon

              That’s quite alright. It will keep me praying for my son’s & our troops. I see you live in Helena, MT. While being a single mom was assistant to Adjudant General Prendergast. I lived in Whitefish, MT. Glad I found you through Michael Hyatt, then Joe Lalonde. Getting some great connections here! God is amazing.

              • Hi Rebecca…yes…Helena, MT. I love Whitefish too. The people we meet within these groups are amazing…and of course, I always think God is leading us. Let’s stay connected!

  • Love posts like this Joe. I need to get Gary Veynerchuk’s book. Have you checked out the 52 book challenge yet? 52 books in a year? Take a look on https://www.facebook.com/52bookschallenge

    • Thanks Chris. I haven’t checked out that challenge. Could be good but I have a problem processing large amounts of books and applying what I’ve gotten out of them.

      • Agreed application is better than quantity. The challenge can include fiction too, which means there can be some brain dead before bed consumption. None the less, I think it will be a fun source of book ideas – both non fiction and fiction

        • Awesome Chris. Looking forward to how you enjoy it. Will you be writing about it after you finish?

  • Thanks for the list. I’ve read two (Good to Great and Who Moved My Cheese) and look forward to checking out the others. Although I read a number of books in 2013, the one that stands out most as a must read was The Three Laws of Performance.

    • Hope you enjoy the ones from the list you check out. What impressed you the most about The Three Laws of Performance?

      • Joe, I am always on the lookout for material that goes beyond Leadership 101 and The Three Laws of Performance does this quite well. Definitely worth the read.

        • Sweet! It’s nice to get out of a lot of the fluff.

  • Great list, Joe. I’ve read a good number of these, but not Ken Davis’ book. That’s one I want to pick up.

    • If you’re looking to communicate better, Ken’s book is the perfect thing to help you along.

  • Josh Tandy

    Love the idea of a predetermined list, but I think you meant Brad Pitt and not Tom Cruise. Unless that was an easter egg to see who was reading closely. Then well played.

    • You’re right Josh. Sometimes I get carried away and accidentally get those two switched around.

  • Good list Joe. i have read Good to Great and 20,000 days and counting. Both great reads. I would add a book I just finished: Becoming a Coaching Leader: The Proven Strategy for Building Your Own Team of Champions by Daniel S. Harkavy. It gives a practical plan for helping managers add the role as Executive Coach to help their people grow beyond their position.

    • Thanks for the book suggestion Jon. I’ll have to add that to my reading list. Sounds really good! What’s one major takeaway you got from that book?

      • It encourages the leader to see those he or she leads beyond their job description. The leader as coach takes an honest concern for all aspects of someones life. The leader helps one become a better person and not just a better worker.

        The author puts it like this, “Coaching isn’t merely something he does for short bursts of time during a phone call or a meeting with a client. It’s how he sees life. It gives meaning and purpose to virtually everything he does. He is a fanatic, a surfer, a father, a husband, and a nut. He is completely authentic and cannot help but bring out the best in everyone he meets.”

        • Oh, that sounds like a book I should read. It’s going on the reading list.

  • I would add Love Works by Joel Manby to this list.

    • That’s a fantastic book as well Jon. I happened upon a copy of it in a thrift store one time and had to pick it up. Best 50 cents I’d spent in a long time (-;

    • I love that book Jon. I actually met Joel and got a signed copy. He embodies loving leadership. So good!

  • Hey Joe, have you read “Boys in the Boat”? I’m reading it as I write this. Wow, it’s a FANTASTIC read and has amazing reviews!

    • I haven’t read that yet Paul. I’ll have to add it to my list. What’s it about?

  • Great list Joe, I would add Business in Blue Jeans, fabulous book!

    • Thanks Kimanzi. What’s so great about Business In Blue Jeans?

  • I love Wild at Heart. I also just finished re reading Who moved my cheese the other day. I loved it. I also would read the MAgic of Thinking Big.

    • Wild At Heart is a fantastic read Jason. I read it a few years ago and loved it. In fact, it needs to be on my 2014 to read list.

  • Great list. I have only read one book on the list so it looks like I will be adding a few more. Jab, Jab, Jab, right hook is my next book. What did you think about it Joe?

    • It’s a fantastic book about social media. If you’re looking for a better way to do it, this is the book for you.

      • Always looking to help my team grow. And I subscribe to success magazine and he is on the cover. Then I heard him speak on a conference I was at. So it sounds like that is the book I will get next.

        • Just got that issue in the mail as well. Can’t wait to dig into it. Dig you get a lot out of that issue?

  • John Thurlbeck

    Hi Joe

    I’ve read three of the books on your list, although I failed miserably on my goal to read one a month last year! I have just finished and would recommend ‘Disciplined Dreaming’ by Josh Linkner, in which he explores a proven, easy-to-apply process that will help people and their teams develop their creativity. I found it very helpful.

    Thanks for the list and the other great books that respondents have recommended! I’m expecting to meet my one a month target this year … and now I have some other great choices!

    • You know, even though you may not have met your goal, you probably read more books than you would have had you not set that goal. So don’t feel bad about failing to reach the goal!

  • Rebecca Jo Cannon

    Thanks for the list Joe. I have two off the list. I think I will try 20,000 days & counting and Love Does to start. My book list includes many different types. I would suggest Lone Survivor. I read it when it 1st came out as my son was in Iraq outside the wire. Meaning not in protected area. No matter what your political thinking is; this country was founded on God. The things our troops go through I believe people should know. The media doesn’t tell all. My son told me of the bad & the good; neither of which you ever heard about. The book is pretty graphic – I read it because I really needed to know what was going on when my son was there. It helped me being a prayer warrior. Prayer saves lives! 🙂

    • Those two books are truly life-changing Rebecca. I hope you’ll enjoy the reads.

      Sounds like a great book. I’ll definitely check it out. Thanks for the recommendation!

  • Great list. ‘Love Does’ is high on my to read list, heard so many great reviews. I read 20,000 Days and counting but it wasn’t as good as I expected. Maybe because it came so highly recommended, I came in with high expectations. Jab, ja, jan, right hook sounds like something I need to read as well, I’d never heard of it but the topic appeals to me.

    One thing that puzzled me: the post title says 12 books and you talk about reading one book a month, but on the list there’s only 10 books. Where happened to the last two? 🙂

    • Do you have a copy of Love Does yet? If not, let me know and I’ll hook you up.

      And you caught me! I never finished writing out the last 2 books. It’s something I have to go back and correct.

      • Glad to hear I wasn’t imagining things or going blind 🙂

        I don’t have Love Does actually, so I’d appreciate it, cool!

        • Send me your address Rachel and I’ll get the book out to you.

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  • Great list, Joe! Expanding my list now!

    • What books did you add? Be sure to let me know what you thought of them!

      • A couple that were on my radar, but are now officially on my list: 20,000 days and Counting; Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook; Love Does; and Good to Great.

        • Nice Joshua. The great part about 20,000 Days is it’s short but powerful. I truly hope you enjoy the book!

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  • DanKnight

    Adding 20,000 days and Counting; Jab, Jab…to my list.
    Plus “Crush It”, which someone else referred to on another one of your posts; Adding it simply for the title…I have no idea what its about, but with a title like that it’s got to have potential.

    • Awesome Dan. I think you’ll like those two titles. 20,000 Days is pretty challenging and Jab, Jab, Jab is like a text book you want to read.

  • Great list. Currently reading “The Power of Your LIfe Message: Decisions that Define Us” by David Crone. It’s an easy to read book that helps us in finding our life message.

    • Jason and Chelsea, glad you liked the list. Have you read anything from it yet? I’ll have to check out Crone’s book, thanks for the suggestion.

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  • RcMaFitness

    I would add to that list Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach! It’s a very simple little book & yet extraordinary. 🙂

    • Never heard of the book before. But it’s on my list now.

      • RcMaFitness

        You’re going to find it useful, indeed inspiring. You can purchase your own copy, or you can read it online. http://csermelyblog.tehetsegpont.hu/sites/default/files/angol%20sirály.pdf

        • Thanks for sharing the link to the PDF. Saved me a few dollars (-:

          • RcMaFitness

            You’re more than welcome! Enjoy it!

      • LadyGrace

        Neil Diamond wrote the entire score for the movie. It was quite a “deep” movie, yet very simple at the same time. Didn’t know there was a book! Movie came out in the late 70’s…