1. How will you measure your life? by Clayton M. Christensen
If the decisions you make about where you invest your blood, sweat, and tears are not consistent with the person you aspire to be, you’ll never become that person.
Especially if you are ambitious by nature, your vision can be clouded by the biased definition of success prevalent in our society. So much so that you might completely lose track of what is important and what is not for being happy. A good book, simply written with good case studies. The fact that it is written by HBS Professor shows how badly MBAs need a reality check.
2. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you
I wish I read this earlier. We think we can change the world by ourselves, in our isolated identities. But later you realize, life is about people and relationships. Even professional success is determined more by your ability to connect than pre talent. Everybody must know how to make friends and how to be agreeable. Period.
3. Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki
Winners are not afraid of losing. But losers are. Failure is part of the process of success. People who avoid failure also avoid success.
Either you understand money because your Dad was good at it and taught you or you will struggle rest of your life trying to find it. Our education trains us to be good employees, not successful. Money comes from a different mindset and Kiyosaki does a good job at setting the stage. What this book does well is piquing your curiosity in personal finance.
4. Economics in One Lesson: The Shortest & Surest Way to Understand Basic Economics by Henry Hazlitt
Everything we get, outside of the free gifts of nature, must in some way be paid for. The world is full of so- called economists who in turn are full of schemes for getting something for nothing. They tell us that the government can spend and spend without taxing at all; that it can continue to pile up debt without ever paying it off, because “we owe it to ourselves.”
It debunks some of the most widespread economics beliefs. Whether you intend to work in a related field or not, I feel you must possess a working understanding of money, finance and economy.
5. Exponential Organizations by Salim Ismail
Today, if you’re not disrupting yourself, someone else is; your fate is to be either the disrupter or the disrupted. There is no middle ground.
Highly relevant in the world of fast moving tech startups that you cannot ignore.
6. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
No matter what he does, every person on earth plays a central role in the history of the world. And normally he doesn’t know it.
Because everything cannot be rationalized. Do not lose touch with magic as you move into the world of adults.
7. The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera
The heaviest of burdens crushes us, we sink beneath it, it pins us to the ground. But in love poetry of every age, the woman longs to be weighed down by the man’s body. The heaviest of burdens is therefore simultaneously an image of life’s most intense fulfillment. The heavier the burden, the closer our lives come to the earth, the more real and truthful they become. Conversely, the absolute absence of burden causes man to be lighter than air, to soar into heights, take leave of the earth and his earthly being, and become only half real, his movements as free as they are insignificant. What then shall we choose? Weight or lightness?
Because everyone craves for love and struggles with keeping it. It is a sublime novel on humans and love and how things are anything but simple. And language is decadent. My writing improved after reading this, I swear.
8. Fountainhead by Ayn Rand
To sell your soul is the easiest thing in the world. That’s what everybody does every hour of his life. If I asked you to keep your soul — would you understand why that’s much harder?
Because there is a time to think irrationally and be driven by your inner fire. As you grow and mature up, you will realize how impractical this book is. Nonetheless, when you are touching your twenties, you want to change the world. And you should read what Howard Roark did.
9. A book from your geography
Then I would recommend reading a good book that talks about the economy and current state of your the society wherever you hail from. Know what is happening and why. It is good to know your roots well.
10. HBR articles and booklets
HBR gives you wisdom in nuggets, easily digestible format. Pick your topic and dig in. I loved their series on Communication.
A good starting point could be — https://www.quora.com/What-are-some-must-read-Harvard-Business-Review-posts-articles
High School, College, Grad School — these are the best times of your life. These books can make it all the more rich and worth cherishing. Enjoy!