Every room in my home—except for the bathrooms—displays part of my library. If you were to call me on Skype, you’d see a wall of books behind me. I live surrounded by books.
What if I could only have 25 books in my library, I mused. Which ones would I keep?
It took days to compile this list, but I ended up choosing those titles that have been read and revisted several times.
My list is also heavily stacked in favor of great storytelling and doesn’t include much how-to. It is, however, a terrific basic library for anyone involved in creative self-employment. I numbered them just to keep count, not to suggest order of importance.
1. Growing a Business by Paul Hawken is still one of the best things written about creating a business that’s an extension of who you are.
2. Selling the Invisible by Harry Beckwith tackles the tricky issue of marketing services.
3. Small is the New Big by Seth Godin is my favorite from this prolific guru. Godin is at his best with short and smart pieces. This keeper is a collection of Godin’s favorite blog posts and covers a wide range of subjects.
4. Write it Down, Make it Happen by Henriette Anne Klauser is worth an annual review. Still my favorite on goal setting.
5. The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell is essential reading for anyone building a business. If you understand how the tipping point is reached, you might be more patient getting there.
6. The Creative License by Danny Gregory is a brilliant workout for your creative spirit.
7. UnMarketing by Scott Stratten advises us to stop marketing and start engaging. Then he shows us how.
8. Business Stripped Bare by Richard Branson is both an autobiography and exploration of lessons learned.
9. The Hungry Spirit by Charles Handy is a thoughtful look at finding purpose and meaning in our work.
10. Callings by Gregg Levoy helps the reader learn to hear (and follow) their own personal callings.
11. War of Art by Steven Pressfield is, quite simply, the best thing I’ve ever read about resistance—and how to act in the face of it.
12. A Whole New Mind by Daniel Pink is subtitled Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future. What more do you need to know?
13. The Element by Ken Robinson is subtitled How Finding Your Passion Change Everything. It’s a wonderful book from a leading authority on creativity.
14. A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller is the eloquent tale of how a bored writer got his passion back.
15. Hershey by Michael D’Antonio is the fascinating story behind a visionary social entrepreneur who just happened to sell chocolate.
16. In Pursuit of the Common Good by Paul Newman and A.E. Hotchner is the often amusing story of the unlikely success we know as Newman’s Own.
17. Whoever Tells the Best Story Wins by Annette Simmons shows how to put the power of storytelling to work in your business.
18. The Art of Possibility by Rosamund Stone Zander and Benjamin Zander is a fresh and inspiring call to actively pursue a life of unlimited possibilities.
19. Make the Impossible Possible by Bill Strickland is an extraordinary tale about making a huge impact in a community others had thought hopeless. Your own challenges will seem tiny in comparison to those faced by the author.
20 Small Giants by Bo Burlingham shines a light on companies that chose to be great instead of big. Marvelous storytelling here.
21. The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp is a handbook for anyone wanting to live a richly creative life.
22. The Gospel According to Coco Chanel by Karen Karbo is a witty collection of life lessons from a pioneering entrepreneur.
23. Ben & Jerry’s Double-Dip by Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield may be harder to track down, but it’s worth the trouble to hear what our favorite hippies-turned-social entrepreneurs have to say.
24. Small is Beautiful by E.F. Schumacher was radical when it appeared and is still a bit ahead of its time.
25. Writing to Change the World by Mary Pipher is aimed more at people with a message to share than it is at professional writers. It’s loaded with advice on crafting a powerful message.
What books can YOU not live without? Share below!
Barbara J. Winter is a booklover who has been self-employed for over 37 years. She is also the author of Making a Living Without a Job and Seminar in a Sentence, as well as the publisher of Winning Ways newslettter, which always includes book recommendations. She conducts seminars for the joyfully jobless throughout the US and sometimes in Canada and the UK.