Personal Development

7 Fiction Books Every Entrepreneur Should Read

Expertise: Real Estate Investing Basics, Real Estate News & Commentary, Personal Development, Flipping Houses, Landlording & Rental Properties, Personal Finance
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Brandon Turner reads 27 books a day.

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OK, that’s a slight exaggeration, but he reads all the time. It doesn’t hurt that he’s a speed reader, but that man plows through books in a way that makes me quite jealous. (Of course, he doesn’t have a 10-year-old and 7-year-old currently trying to get into the Guinness Book of World Records for Most Consecutive Hours Fighting like I do, but I digress.)

I aspire to be like Brandon, and you should, too. He is brilliant, and he never stops learning.

There's no shortage of business books out there and there's no shortage of real estate books, either. But sometimes you aren't in the mood for a business book or a real estate book. (I know, crazy talk, right?)

I asked around for fiction book recommendations for entrepreneurs, and I got some really great responses. Many of the same titles were suggested multiple times.

Absolutely my favorite response was recommended by Brian Davis of SparkRental, who also writes for The BiggerPockets Blog periodically and Brett Bastello from Community Tax. Not only did I love this book, but the lessons you can learn while being entertained are numerous.

The Martian by Andy Weir

When an astronaut is accidentally abandoned on Mars all alone, he has only his wits and motivation to survive on. His fate is entirely in his own hands, and it is literally an innovate-or-die scenario. In a neat trick of thematic juxtaposition, Weir tells a parallel narrative of the massive collaborative effort taking place on Earth to try and bring the astronaut home. One narrative is about lone survival against all odds, and the other is about the power of collaboration and teamwork—and the lessons of each are necessary for entrepreneurs to succeed. As a bonus, the prose is witty, funny, and a pleasure to read.

The Richest Man in Babylon by George S. Clason

Recommended by Chris Murray of Varda Kreuz Training, this is a fabulous, timeless book that reveals the secrets to making and keeping personal wealth.

I also read this book after numerous people recommended it. It reads like the King James Version of the Bible, but the lessons it contains are so powerful that I had to stop highlighting it because I was highlighting entire pages!

It was published in 1926 but is every bit as relevant today as it was then.

The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand

Adam Jusko from Credit Card Catalog and Bryan Koontz from Guide Fitter both raved about this book. Adam told me, “I’m sure Ayn Rand’s name will come up over and over. My favorite is The Fountainhead, which not only espouses staying true to your vision but also warns about the naysayers who will try to bring you down. Atlas Shrugged is probably the better-known of Rand’s books, but it is basically a bloated version of The Fountainhead, which is the better read by far.”

Jason Bauman from Trinity Insight shared a couple of books that I have not yet read—nor even heard about before—but I have put them on my list. Based on his description, they cover some pretty important business topics from the extremely timely privacy rights to basic business ideas of figuring out how to create a business by seeing what others do not.

The Circle by Dave Eggers

The Circle is near-future dark satire. I think it’s important for entrepreneurs to read because it lays out some pretty complex questions about the right to privacy and how easy it is to rationalize it away. In today’s connected era, business will have access to a lot of potential information about their customers. How they manage that data should matter. In general, I think that technology is a net positive, but it’s good to keep that optimism grounded in how radically a transparent society would change things.

Quarter Share by Nathan Lowell

Quarter Share is the first of a six-part series of short novels that follow the protagonist, Ishmael Horatio Wang, who leaves his home planet to try and build a life for himself in space. I think this is a great book because it shows how, even when he was just a lowly member of the crew, Ishmael identified how he could improve his ship and eventually make some cash by thinking of novel solutions to problems that others just thought of as a fact of life. Ishmael identifies underserved markets and then leverages what he has available to enter that market and become profitable.
A light-hearted entry into this list is from everyone’s favorite, Dr. Seuss. I actually bought a copy of this book for each of my daughters and am having it signed by every teacher they have as they go through school and will give it to them upon high school graduation. While I’d love to take credit for this idea, I actually found it on Pinterest. It’s so fun for me to see the comments from each teacher and to follow their progress through the years.

Oh, The Places You’ll Go! by Dr. Seuss

“I recommend every entrepreneur read Oh, the Places You’ll Go! by Dr. Seuss. Is this is a kid’s book? Yep! Does it have a powerful message that resonates with all ages? Absolutely! Entrepreneurs are natural explorers. Just as it says in the book, they have brains in their head, feet in their shoes, and can steer themselves in any direction they choose. You’ll have great moments of success alongside your other fellow entrepreneurs, but you will also have moments where you’re left behind in a lurch and trying to figure out what road is best to travel with your small business. Being too hesitant to decide what to do may stick you in the dreaded ‘The Waiting Place’—it’s up to you to keep moving forward through the good and bad times alike. Just remember, ‘Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting. So get on your way!’” —Deborah Sweeney, MyCorporation

The Alchemist by Paul Coelho

I don’t think a fiction-books-for-entrepreneurs list would be complete without The Alchemist by Paul Coelho and neither did Jennifer Martin of Zest Business Consulting, Holly Stokes from The Brain Trainer, and James Sinclair of Trade Finance Global. The Alchemist is about following your dreams, making sacrifices, and not settling for a basic level of comfort. It isn’t the most practical book, but it does give you a sense of perspective about your problems and how to view each obstacle in your path. It is a short, simple, frustrating read—good for any entrepreneur.

You Can Learn From Anything, Anyone, Anywhere

The opportunity to learn surrounds you every day. Every single person on this planet can teach you something, and some of the best learning comes from non-traditional settings.
Do you have a favorite fiction book you’d recommend entrepreneurs read?
Leave your comments below!
Mindy Jensen has been buying and selling homes for more than 20 years. She buys houses, moves in, makes them beautiful, sells them, and starts the process all over again. She is a licensed real estate agent in Colorado, author of How to Sell Your Home, and the community manager for BiggerPockets, where she helps new and experienced investors learn the proper ways to invest in real estate to grow their wealth. Mindy is an alumnus of the School of Hard Knocks and will happily share her experiences with anyone who asks. When you can get her to stop talking about real estate, you can find her on her bike or adventuring in the beautiful mountains of Colorado.
    Chad Carson Investor from Clemson, SC
    Replied almost 4 years ago
    I love this list, Mindy! The Alchemist is a classic and one everyone should read. In fact, so many of Paulo Coehlo’s books are fantastic, life-inspiring books. And Dr. Seuss’s The Places You Will Go is one of my favorites to read to our kids. It poetically explains adventure and going for big, out-of-the-box goals in life in a way kids (and grown-ups) can understand. I can philosophically stomach some but not all of Ayn Rand’s work. But I read her other book, Atlas Shrugged, in college and it was a game changer. It made me realize how many other sources of ideas and beliefs where influencing my opinions and actions in life. To be a “philosopher” you have to control your own mind and decide your own ideas. Not an easy task. Thanks for sharing!
    Cindy Larsen Rental Property Investor from Lakewood, WA
    Replied almost 4 years ago
    Mindy I agree. You can and should learn from everyone you meet. But books are great too. Thank you for the list. I read incessantly, and am always looking for suggestions. There were several books on your list that I haven’t read yet 🙂 I have two suggestions, both with entrepreneurs who are motivated characters who use that drive and their intelligence, including being people-smart, to influence people and events to accomplish their goals. These are both fun reads. The Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court by Mark Twain The Man Who Sold The Moon by Robert A Heinlein. This is a novella, which can sometimes be found on it’s own, but is included in Heinleins future history anthology The Past Through Tomorrow. The Past Through Tomorrow contains a series of interesting science fiction stories that each assume that the stories before it in the anthology actually happened, and were just a part of history. There are no characters that continue from story to story: it is a parallel time line that splits off from ours about 1920. In that time line they develop space travel, with people colonizing the moon and planets well before the year 2000. Each story is a reasonable projection of science, economics and politics in the year that heinlein wrote it, which means some of the science is wrong, since he started writing those stories somewhere around World War II. The science doesn’t matter. They are great stories with great characters: Heinlein understood people. For example have you ever wondered what our future would be like if the extreme religious right united behind one charismatic leader, and took over the government? Read “Revolt In 2100”, another novella in The Past Through Tomorrow. Fun. Also, about Ayn Rand, she has interesting ideas, but I found most of her characters difficult to like. in my opinion her best book is a slim little novel called Anthem, which contains most of her ideas, and is much more accessible.
    Laura Sulak Investor from Temple, TX
    Replied almost 4 years ago
    This is a great list, Mindy! Fiction can break us out of the box of our own mind and assumptions. And I love the line “You can learn from anything, anyone, anywhere.” I totally agree! Sometimes the most unassuming people have the most interesting stories. Thanks for sharing!
    G. Brian Davis from Baltimore, MD
    Replied almost 4 years ago
    Fantastic job on the list Mindy! I truly believe that people who love reading have a leg up in the world, no matter what their current job is. Reading constantly exposes you to new ideas and perspectives. While I love reading physical books, my schedule is busy, so I end up listening to audiobooks while I work out in order to get my fix every day. I’ve never read The Fountainhead (even though I loved Atlas Shrugged), so I think I’ll pick that up next.
    Kevin Yeats Lender from Fort Pierce, Florida
    Replied almost 4 years ago
    I agree with The Richest Man in Babylon … which is in the public domain (which means it is free!)
    Marcus Maloney Wholesaler from Queen Creek, AZ
    Replied over 1 year ago
    Great read Mindy. The Alchemist is in my top 10 favorite books. Richest Man In Babylon is awesome as well. I am going to have to explore Fountainhead and Quarter Share. Thank you for sharing
    Dave Mason Investor from Jerusalem, Israel
    Replied over 1 year ago
    At the very top of my list would be Eliyahu Goldratt’s classic The Goal and his lesser known sequel It’s Not Luck. Then there are a whole bunch of books that I put in the category of semi-fiction, books that have a very thinly written story and mainly exist for conveying a certain idea, including all Ken Blanchard books, Who Moved My Cheese, Built to Sell, and The E-Myth. Finally, I’ll put in a plug for two of my own. The Size of Your Dreams is sort of like Think and Grow Rich meets Dead Poets Society. It teaches techniques for goal setting, productivity, and personal growth through a story set in a high school trigonometry class (happy to send a free digital copy to anyone who wants one). The other one is not yet released (hopefully this coming fall) and is what brought me to Bigger Pockets in the first place. It’s a romance novel that teaches principles of financial independence and financial literacy. The Bigger Pockets community has been instrumental in helping me understand the real estate components I needed to write the book.
    Katie Golownia
    Replied over 1 year ago
    Absolutely love this list! Fiction can help bring out the imaginative side of being an entrepreneur. I’d also recommend Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler. It highlights the importance of learning on the fly, sticking to something even when you want to give up (especially when you want to give up), and mentorship and realizing you don’t have to go at things alone.
    Anthony Khan from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
    Replied over 1 year ago
    Thanks for sharing Mindy! The Go Getter by Peter Kyne is a great short read in this category if you are looking for another book to cultivate the mind on doing the impossible!
    Russell Brazil Real Estate Agent from Washington, D.C.
    Replied over 1 year ago
    Burn the fountainhead.