5 Non-Business Books to Get the Entrepreneur in Your Life

December 8, 2017

9:20 am

Chances are good if you’re on this site that you live and breath startups, tech gadgetry, and the small business world. You likely have plenty of friends with the same interests.

Well, I’m here to tell you to lean back in your ergonomic standing desk and take a deep breath or five while meditating on this truism: It’s okay to take a break from working sometimes.

Workaholism is a big problem among entrepreneurs and the tech community at large — one in three tech employees suffer from it and the mental impact can be brutal. The impact on creativity, while often overlooked, is something to keep in mind: Since creativity feeds off of unexpected connections between seemingly unrelated things, constantly hyper-focusing on your next business move won’t give it the space it needs to breath.

Bill Gates knows this better than anyone, and he knows the solution, too: Reading a variety of books. Sure, tech books are great — particularly Sarah Lacy’s new one, which we’ve excerpted here — but the wider the variety, the more well-rounded the reader.

“Every book teaches me something new or helps me see things differently,” Gates told TIME earlier this year. “I was lucky to have parents who encouraged me to read. Reading fuels a sense of curiosity about the world, which I think helped drive me forward in my career.”

With that in mind, here’s a selection of books that techies and entrepreneurs will probably love — none of which so much as mentions the term “synergy.”

Stories of Your Life and Others, by Ted Chiang 

You might recognize Chaing’s short story ‘Story of Your Life’ from the title it received when adapted as the Hollywood blockbuster, Arrival. While the movie’s great, I personally love the short story even more, and this collection includes it alongside plenty of other mind-bending explorations of interesting, existential, or weird concepts. Since it’s a collection, this won’t be as daunting for someone unused to sci-fi novels, but each story is satisfactorily dense and you’ll likely want to re-read them all.

I Contain Multitudes, by Ed Yong

Science writer Ed Yong’s punchy style can pull in anyone, and in this book he focuses on the most fascinating aspects of biology and microbes, from glowing squid to bioengineered mosquitoes. It’s a New York Times Bestseller among plenty of other awards, and it’s a compelling way to dive into a world you might not be familiar with.

Reading Like a Writer, by Francine Prose

The aptly-named Prose has penned one of the most accessible and engaging modern instruction manuals on how to appreciate writing and how to become a writer yourself. Besides, any would-be thought leader out there needs to write a book in order to bump up their lecture fee, and you might as well write a good one.

Hark! A Vagrant, by Kate Beaton

Sometimes you just want to learn the most esoteric facts about history and literature. In the form of haphazardly doodled comics. Combined with jokes about which historical figures were the most hipster. This collection of Beaton’s popular webcomic features “sexy Batman, the true stories behind classic Nancy Drew covers, and Queen Elizabeth doing the albatross,” which should really tell you all you need to know about whether you’ll like it or not.

Paperbacks from Hell: The Twisted History of ’70s and ’80s Horror, by Grady Hendrix

Okay, I’ll confess I just want someone to buy this one for me.

Read about more tech-oriented gift ideas on TechCo

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Adam is a writer with an interest in a variety of mediums, from podcasts to comic books to video essays to novels to blogging — too many, basically. He's based out of Seattle, and remains a staunch defender of his state's slogan: "sayWA." In his spare time, he recommends articles about science fiction on Twitter, @AdamRRowe

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