Books every founder should read in 2023

Harry Truman once said: “Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.” The source of myriad mental and physical benefits, it’s no wonder highly successful entrepreneurs and business leaders frequently credit obsessive reading as instrumental to their outperformance. In honor of UNESCO World Book Day, Antler is excited to share books every founder should read in 2023.

kimberley-tait

Kimberley Tait

Kimberley is a published author with 20+ years of experience leading communications, brand marketing, and content strategy at financial firms including Goldman Sachs. A Canadian, Swiss, and American with a lifelong passion for language, she earned an MBA from Columbia Business School and a BA from Dartmouth College.

Kimberley is the global head of Antler's brand and content. She is a published author with 20+ years of experience leading communications, brand marketing, and content strategy at financial firms including Goldman Sachs. An alumna of Columbia Business School and Dartmouth College, she has a great passion for language, trail running, all things alpine, and her Welsh terrier Henry.

From creating new neurons in our brains and preventing age-related cognitive decline to improving memory and even reducing our risk of mortality, reading delivers powerful health benefits.

While digital distractions increasingly drive us to skim read, deep reading—uninterrupted for an extended period of time—is the type of reading that strengthens our ability to grasp complex ideas, be empathetic, and unlock our creativity.

It’s no wonder highly successful entrepreneurs and business leaders frequently credit obsessive reading as instrumental to their outperformance.

Antler founders share some of their top motivations for reading:

“If you are not reading, the chances are good that you are not curious and/or critically thinking. If you aren’t doing either of those, the odds are good you shouldn’t be leading an organization.” —Andrew Pedley, co-founder & CEO of Carbonaught.
“I read to learn, re-think, and challenge my assumptions and beliefs about the world. Through books, I am exposed to new ideas and perspectives. Reading has helped me develop a greater understanding and appreciation of the diversity of the world and the people who inhabit it.” —Cathrine Delp, co-founder & CEO of Ekvi.
“Reading can be likened to sitting down 1:1 with someone, and in that time, the writer transfers some of their mastery.” —Leroy Kerry, founder &CEO of Magic Refunds.
“It fuels my curiosity. It makes me hold onto a Peter Pan sense of wonder and exploration.” —Leonor Montero, co-founder of Nevemind.
“It's the cheapest way to have access to an individual you probably can't / won't have IRL.” —Jane Peh, co-founder & CEO of Pawjourr.

With so much upside, consciously carving out reading time can give founders a critical edge. Following our hugely popular 2022 reading list, we compiled a fresh list of books every entrepreneur should read this year, recommended by Antler founders and team members.

The Martian

Author: Andy Weir

Genre: Science fiction

Recommended by: Sergio Massano, Antler partner in Iberia. “Hard science fiction book that gave birth to a well-known movie. A human gets stuck on Mars and tries to get back to earth by ‘solving one problem at a time.’ Perfect analogy for building a company.”

F*ck It, I'll Start Tomorrow

Author: Action Bronson

Genre: Memoir

Recommended by: Leroy Kerry, founder & CEO of Magic Refunds. "It reminds you to get going today and quit telling yourself you'll get started tomorrow.”

Unstoppable: Siggi Wilzig's Astonishing Journey from Auschwitz Survivor and Penniless Immigrant to Wall Street Legend

Author: Joshua M. Greene

Genre: Biography

Recommended by: Leonor Montero, co-founder of Nevemind. “It changed my mindset completely. It is just incredible how relentless grit and determination will create endless opportunities. The state of mind allows us to be our best selves and accomplish all our desires.”

The Mom Test

Author: Rob Fitzpatrick

Genre: Business non-fiction

Recommended by: Vegard Medbø, Antler co-founder & COO. “Best book I've read for the super early validation part of testing an idea. It's super short—a 3-4 hour read—but helps avoid the ‘false positives’ in user feedback and can save founders years of time working on the wrong problem.”

Cold Start Problem

Author: Andrew Chen

Genre: Non-fiction

Recommended by: Peder Søholt, co-founder & CTO of Plaace.

Contagious: Why Things Catch On

Author: Jonah Berger

Genre: Business non-fiction

Recommended by: Karam Sethi, co-founder & CEO of Terra. “Recommended sequence of reading: The Mom Test -> Cold Start Problem -> Contagious.”

The Rules of the Game: Jutland and British Naval Command

Author: Andrew Gordon

Genre: Historical non-fiction

Recommended by: Andrew Pedley, co-founder & CEO of Carbonaught. “A meticulous analysis of changing the culture of an organization from an established, ineffective ‘looking good’ outfit to a hardened war fighting force. Helped me set the tone of our business in the face of the Silicon Valley paradigm.”

The Prophet

Author: Kahlil Gibran

Genre: Poetry

Recommended by: Cathrine Delp, co-founder & CEOof Ekvi. “The Prophet offered profound insights and wisdom that helped me navigate my founder journey. The poems inspired me to connect with myself, find meaning, and build a business driven by passion and purpose.”

Do You Talk Funny?

Author: David Nihill

Genre: Personal growth/humor

Recommended by: Erik Jonsson, Antler partner in Vietnam. “A very practical and succinct book about how to become a better public speaker, written by a stand-up comedian who has drawn learnings from some of the best public speakers in the world: stand-up comedians. Becoming a better orator and storyteller is crucial to founders when fundraising or in any public setting in which they showcase their businesses."

Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity

Author: David Allen

Genre: Personal growth

Recommended by: Malik Alimoekhamedov, co-founder & CTO of Zvook. “A reality check when it comes to what you can and can't accomplish in a day/week/month/year. A systematic approach to managing tasks and projects.”

The Great CEO Within

Author: Matt Mochary

Genre: Personal growth

Recommended by: Jane Peh, co-founder & CEO of Pawjourr. “Unlike other advice, the book gives actionable frameworks and methods to improve productivity as a founder and within the organization. This allows for immediate implementation instead of trying to figure out what to do next.”

Pitch Anything

Author: Oren Klaff

Genre: Personal growth / Business non-fiction

Recommended by: Marie Tricot, Antler’s capital director in France. “Great book to approach the dynamics at hand when pitching and really when having any discussion.”

Indistractable: How to Control Your Attention and Choose Your Life

Author: Nir Eyal

Genre: Personal growth

Recommended by: Gentian Kuqica, Antler’s global scouting associate. “Excellent tips on how to tame your susceptibility to small distractions. For founders, it is very easy to switch from task to task, without getting any deep work done.”

AlI I Want To Know Is Where I'm Going To Die So I'll Never Go There

Author: Peter Bevelin

Genre: Business non-fiction

Recommended by: Susmit Patodia, Antler’s capital director in India. “It simplifies life-changing decisions.”

From Start-Up to Grown-Up

Author: Alisa Cohn

Genre: Personal growth / Business non-fiction

Recommended by: Kevin Brennan, associate partner on Antler’s global capital team. “Practical, critical pointers, from the human side. I listened to the audiobook and then bought three copies to gift!”

Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World

Author: Cal Newport

Genre: Personal growth

Recommended by: Max Liedtke, Antler’s scouting analyst in Oslo. “Blocking out the noise of daily activities and not getting lost in things that do not matter has helped every founder I have worked with achieve days with actionable results instead of meetings overload.”

The Fountainhead

Author: Ayn Rand

Genre: Fiction

Recommended by: Kimberley Tait, Antler’s global head of brand and content. “The story of a young architect battling to maintain his principles and not yield to convention. A testament to the power of defiantly pursuing a vision against the odds. As Ayn Rand famously writes: ‘The question isn't who is going to let me; it's who is going to stop me.’"

Smart Brevity

Authors: Jim VendeHei, Mike Allen, and RoySchwartz

Genre: Personal growth / Business non-fiction

Recommended by: Ali Fern, Antler’s senior manager of business development and collaborations. “With so much of the building process centered around getting buy-in for your vision, this book has helpful frameworks for distilling the information that matters and delivering it in away that stands out.”

Beyond Digital: How Great Leaders Transform Their Organizations and Shape the Future

Authors: Paul Leinwand and Mahadeva Matt Mani

Genre: Business non-fiction

Recommended by: Altan Tutar, partner engineer at NEAR Foundation. “This book helps you how you structure your organization as you scale. Leadership is the most important skillset of a founder, and this books gives you that guidance.”

Searching for a community of builders, operators, and trailblazers to kickstart your entrepreneurial journey? Apply to an Antler residency in 20-plus cities across six continents.

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