Top 150 Books for Startup Founders and Entrepreneurs

Lists are awesome.

Popularity lists have the amazing ability to condense a complex system into a simple overview that is guaranteed to be fascinating and controversial. Pop lists are always insightful and always wrong. That’s why people never get tired of making them and discussing them.

As the founder of Agility Scales, I need to learn as much as possible about what it takes to start, run, and scale a company. Combined with my love for books and my passion for lists, it is easy to see why I spent a rainy weekend researching all the books I could find (in English) about and for entrepreneurs and founders.

I began by googling for “best books for startups and entrepreneurs” and by asking founders in various groups about their favorite entrepreneurial publications. For several hours, I then used the recommendation engine of GoodReads to find all related books until I exhausted both myself and the AI and we both needed a coffee.

Finally, I ranked the many books I found by their average rating on GoodReads (an indication of quality), their number of reviews (popularity), and their age (antiquity). I calculated the average of these findings to get a list that is biased towards recent, favorite, quality books. I also removed any publications that were not explicitly written about or for startups/scaleups. Books such as The 7 Habits and Predictably Irrational had to go. Sorry.

The result is what you find here. Feel free to praise it, vilify it, or both. I’m sure this Top 150 list is both inspiring and incomplete, fascinating and controversial. Either way, it is worth checking out for your reading backlog in 2018.

  1. Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of NIKE — Phil Knight (2016)
  2. Elon Musk: Inventing the Future — Ashlee Vance (2015)
  3. Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future — Peter Thiel, Blake Masters (2014)
  4. Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration — Ed Catmull, Amy Wallace (2014)
  5. Chaos Monkeys: Obscene Fortune and Random Failure in Silicon Valley — Antonio Garcia Martinez (2016)
  6. The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers — Ben Horowitz (2014)
  7. Steve Jobs — Walter Isaacson (2011)
  8. Sprint: How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days — Jake Knapp (2016)
  9. The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon — Brad Stone (2013)
  10. The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution — Walter Isaacson (2014)
  11. Curious?


  • For Startups, Free Is Stupid
  • Pivot, Patch, or Persevere (I Patched the Lean Startup)
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