26 books everyone should read in their lifetime, according to Australian executives

Mohssen Assanimoghaddam/picture alliance via Getty Images

The Christmas break might be over but summer certainly isn’t.

And if you’ve already powered through your literary gifts, don’t worry, we have 26 must-read books that are perfect for a weekend at the beach.

From classics like A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess to more recent works such as Fight Like a Girl by Clementine Ford, these are the books Australian executives believe everyone should read in their lifetime.

Enjoy.

Life Without Limits by Nick Vujicic

Amazon

I find the best stories are borne from powerful personal testimonies. It’s incredible that a man born without arms or legs can inspire purpose, hope and a message for how to live a “ridiculously good life” full of true happiness. Nick speaks about finding your life’s purpose, and despite difficulties one may face, never giving up.

— Tara Commerford, Vice President and Managing Director of GoDaddy ANZ

Find it here.

The Essays of Warren Buffet: Lessons for Corporate America by Warren Buffett and Lawrence Cunningham

Amazon

Because everyone loves Warren.
— Adam Schwab, Co-Founder and CEO of Luxury Escapes

Find it here.

How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie

Amazon

I think this book should be compulsory reading for everyone, not only people in business. It was originally written in 1936, but the lessons on how to deal with people are still completely relevant – which is a sign of how good the book is. I’ll be making all of my kids read this before they finish school. In short, people love working with good people and this book provides some key lessons on how to interact with other people – it’s probably more relevant for millennials than any other demographic. They have published an updated version, but I’d recommend reading the original – it’s much better.

— Ryan Hanly, CEO & Co-Founder at Travello

Find it here.

Dispatches by Michael Herr

Amazon

I had an American mentor early in my career who was a Vietnam War veteran, and I became fascinated by the whole story from both sides. Michael Herr went to the Vietnam War as a writer (not a journalist), and so he has a unique ‘stream of consciousness’ perspective on what he did and what he saw – it’s fascinating and somewhat disturbing stuff.

— Simon Banks, SVP and MD of APAC, Hyperwallet

Find it here.

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

Amazon

I was going to say A Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, which is still so relevant today, but one book that I was engrossed in and opened my eyes was haunting, disturbing, heart-warming and charming in equal measures, was The Kite Runner. It’s a life-questioning gem that opened my eyes to modern Afghanistan and I recall it was so of the moment with what was happening in the world. It challenges our feelings of prejudice, shame, friendship and honour, through the many ways the story can be interpreted, but my enduring feeling was of hope for civilisation and most of for this war-torn country.

— James Wright, Global CEO of Havas PR Collective

Find it here.

How Remarkable Women Lead by Joanna Barsh, Geoffrey Lewis and Susie Cranston

Amazon

Authored by McKinsey consultants, this book offers case studies on senior female leaders from around the world, examining what they do differently that sets them, their team and their businesses up for success. It provides a model for centred leadership and shares practical advice from successful leaders such as Woolworths Australia’s Jule Coates – a really great read for emerging and experienced leaders, both men and women.

— Kelly Quirk, CEO of Harrier Human Capital

Find it here.

1984 by George Orwell

Amazon

It’s a must read because it is still so eerily relevant, now more than ever.

— Kym Atkins, CEO of The Volte

Find it here.

A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson

Amazon

A celebration of curiosity and scientific endeavor, and hugely fun to read. These are stories about our world that everyone should know about – and we need more people to find the joy in science. Make sure you get the 10th anniversary edition as it’s more… accurate.

— Ken Wallace, CEO of Educator Impact

Find it here.

The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje

Amazon

It’s a beautifully written book that is both sensual and epic. It’s infused with humanity, mystery and adventure. A joint winner of the Mann Booker prize in 1992 (I’m showing my age) it was recently selected as the best Mann Booker winner in the past 50 years. It’s a joy to read and it’s totally transportive, if you want to get lost then this is a book you must read.

— Martin Mercer, CEO and Managing Director of Arq Group

Find it here.

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari

Amazon

This is one of the books that you just cannot afford to miss. It’s extremely informative and will likely change the way you think about the world and your place in it.

— Adrian Przelozny, CEO of Independent Reserve

Find it here.

Shoe Dog by Phil Knight

Amazon

It’s a great reminder of the ups and downs every business goes through.

— Alexis Soulopoulos, Co-Founderof The Sharing Hub and CEO of Mad Paws

Find it here.

Deep Work by Cal Newport

Amazon

Being able to dive deep on a problem is increasingly becoming a competitive advantage as more things try for our attention. The Deep Work mantra is a way to differentiate and solve real, deep, problems in the world.

— Elliot Smith, CEO of Maxwell Plus

Find it here.

Principles by Ray Dalio

Amazon

This is a great read and something I see myself picking up to read or reference again (especially as a business founder). There are so many situations in life and business where these frameworks apply. I walked away and chalked out my own principles post-read.

— Detch Singh, Co-CEO and Co-founder of Hypertap

Find it here.

Moneyball by Michael Lewis

Amazon

There’s a huge list of classics like Steinbeck through to more business specific hits from Jack Welch – but I am going to go with something a bit different. Fetch CEO Scott Lorson put me onto this and it’s one of my all time favourites. Not only is it a great sports story but the key message of challenging the accepted norms and not being afraid to try new things is fantastic, and very relatable to business and life.

— Greg Bader, CEO of Rent.com.au

Find it here.

A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess

Amazon

There are many books that speak to you in different ways at different times in your life and this is one of them. Every time I read it I get something new as it’s a journey that evolves with you throughout your life.

— Richard Watson, Country Director of Twilio

Find it here.

Zero to One by Peter Thiel

Amazon

All the things you need to know about starting a business, the essential things in life, and the importance of being creative and thinking differently.

— Mark Gustowski, CEO of QUT Creative Enterprise Australia

Find it here.

Fight Like A Girl by Clementine Ford

Amazon

A thought-provoking book that made me challenge my own perspective of the patriarchal nature of society. A perspective derived from growing up in the 70s and 80s in a white, middle class Melbourne suburb, with two brothers and no sisters, attending an all boys school, and playing and watching team sports. You want to see a brave, fearless, fighter? Forget Mayweather and McGregor. Check out Clementine.

— Adrian Harrison, CEO of Huobi Australia

Find it here.

Never the Last Journey by Felix Zandman and David Chanoff

Amazon

This is an incredible story of a highly successful business man, Felix Zandman, and his moving personal history. His childhood experience in Nazi occupied Poland and the harrowing experiences he had which gave him the drive, discipline, and generosity of spirit that made his later success possible. He is the embodiment of a successful entrepreneur and has been a huge source of personal inspiration to me.

— Haggai Alon, CEO of Security Matters

Find it here.

The Obstacle is the Way by Ryan Holiday

Amazon

Great, practical intro to stoicism which can help you change your perspective on every aspect of life. This has helped me not only accept obstacles in my life but has made me even grateful for them. Something I would not have thought possible prior to reading this book.

— Nick Lavidge, CEO and founder of Alley

Find it here.

Mahatma Gandhi Autobiography: The Story Of My Experiments With Truth by Mahatma Gandhi

Amazon

Mahatma Gandhi was one of the greatest leaders of our time. A leader by example that enabled change through the practise of non-violence. Gandhi was also extremely persistent in achieving his vision. Key takeaway for me here was practise what you preach and never give up.

— Zane Yoshida, CEO, Fiji Kava

Find it here.

Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future by Martin Ford

Amazon

The book has particular relevance for me because it deep dives into the application of AI for the future of both health and education but it doesn’t matter what sector you operate in, this book has some thought provoking insights. Martin Ford has done a tremendous amount of research and backs up his story with compelling details and examples you will not find anywhere else making this a must read for any CEO. I have actually made my teenage children read this book because it is so well written and relevant.

— Tony Brennan, CEO of Talisium

Find it here.

The Culture Code: The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups by Daniel Coyle

Amazon

Coyle makes the case for the true meaning of “culture as derived from the Latin cultus, which means care”. Where does great culture come from? And how do you build it and sustain it in your company or repair in a culture that needs attention? Many issues compete for a CEO’s attention. This book is an antidote to one of the big ones.

— Ross Macdonald, CEO of Cynata

Find it here.

The Breakthrough Experience by Dr John Demartini

Amazon

This book will provide you with powerful solutions to overcome adversity, fears, objections, self doubt, grief and anything that might be stopping you from fulfilling your dream life. Dr Demartini is a human behaviour expert and his method of balancing emotions will help you to achieve your highest potential in whatever you choose to do with your professional or personal life. Be ready to have a whole new perspective on the world and the people in it.

— Christie Whitehill, CEO and founder Tech Ready Women

Find it here.

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy by John Le Carre

Amazon

Le Carre probably my favourite author but I’m hesitant to say that because choosing my favourite author is a bit like choosing which is my favourite child.

— Jaimie Fuller, Executive Chairman of SKINS

Find it here.

The Lean Startup by Eric Ries

Amazon

Whilst this book was written during a different era, there are some points which fundamentally revolutionised startup business practice. Here are three good learning’s from the book which changed my way of thinking and influence the way I work to this day:

    1. The primary role of the business startup is to be a learning and experimental organisation. “The only way to win is to learn faster than anyone else.”
    2. The idea of creating a Minimal Viable Product rather than building a full business product initially.“The lesson of the MVP is that any additional work beyond what was required to start learning is waste.”
    3. Using the “Build-Measure-Learn feedback loop” as the primary dynamic for growing your business. Therefore, shortening the gap between business strategy changes and feedback to rapidly pivot and re-pivot the company.

— Dr. Sud Agarwal, Co-founder and Chairman of Cannvalate

Find it here.

The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It by Michael E. Gerber

Amazon

A life changing book. If you are thinking of getting into business, read this book first. It totally changed my perception of what it means to run a business and made me question what I need to build my business and how to do it.

— Nima Yassini, CEO and founder of New Republique

Find it here.

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