10 Books to Read This Year

Today is #ReadABookDay, but books deserve more than just one day of love. In fact, if you want to be wealthy, successful, or just really smart, then you should read books. A lot of books. The average CEO reads four to five books per month, which is about one book per week. Whether you’re looking to hone your skills for your Role Play or jumpstart your journey to a corner office, we’ve got the books for you! We searched high and low, read hundreds of Amazon reviews, scoured bestseller lists and compiled every notable person’s reading list the internet would provide. Plus, we threw in a few personal favorites from DECA HQ. This list is tailor-made for young, ambitious, hard-working DECA members, but the book recommendations extend to everyone! Grab your e-reader or a library card and start reading. Read alone or start a book club with your chapter. Whatever you choose, share your selections with on Instagram and Twitter by tagging @DECAInc and #DECABookClub.

Books to fuel your entrepreneurial spirit

Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future

The great secret of our time is that there are still uncharted frontiers to explore and new inventions to create. Zero to One shows how we can find singular ways to create those new things.

Peter Thiel is an entrepreneur and investor. He started PayPal, made the first outside investment in Facebook (where he serves as a director), and has provided early funding for LinkedIn, Yelp, and dozens of successful technology startups. He is a partner at Founders Fund, a Silicon Valley venture capital firm that has funded companies like SpaceX and Airbnb. So, yeah – you can trust him.


A Paperboy’s Fable

A Paperboy’s Fable tells the story of a paperboy who learns the ways of entrepreneurship from scratch, thereby providing the reader with a step-by-step guide to those core principles. The main character, Ty Chandler, is a 16-year-old working to earn money before he leaves for college. His story is presented over the course of 11 chapters, and each chapter focuses on a particular principle.

Deep Patel is a prime example of how successful young people can be. A serial entrepreneur and marketing influencer, Patel published the book when he was the same age as Ty, and the book is an excellent example of an entrepreneur who conquered his fear of strangers’ initial impressions to reach greatness. The book also includes interviews with 15 industry luminaries, such as General David Petraeus and Vine founder Rus Yusupov, to create a high-value resource for every young entrepreneur who isn’t feeling quite sure of him or herself.


Books to help you grow personally and professionally

The Power of Habit

The Power of Habit takes you from the boardrooms of Procter & Gamble to the sidelines of the NFL to the front lines of the civil rights movement to illustrate why some companies struggle to change, while others seem to remake themselves overnight. At its core, The Power of Habit contains an exhilarating argument: The key to being more productive, building revolutionary companies and achieving success is understanding how habits work.

Charles Duhigg was a reporter at the New York Times for over a decade. He won a Pulitzer prize for explanatory reporting for his series “The iEconomy” about Apple. He writes for The New York Times Magazine, The New Yorker and The Atlantic. He has gained a wealth of business knowledge from his schooling (an MBA from Harvard) as well as his years of reporting. Side note: Duhigg’s next book, Smarter Faster Better, is another great read, covering productivity and what it really means. Hear from the author in this video.


Why do some people succeed and others fail? Grit proves that it’s not intelligence or talent that makes for success, but a blend of passion and persistence. As the reader, you’ll travel through the first few days of West Point Military Academy, a day in the life of an inner-city teacher striving for excellence, and even a young finalist in a national spelling bee contest. You’ll experience the thoughts, doubts and ambitions of each person. Grit is an excellent read for those who struggle with the feeling that they are not as intelligent or naturally talented as those they are competing or collaborating with. The book also includes guidance on how to learn grit and trigger lifelong interest, and how to know what the perfect amount of practice is for what you’re trying to achieve.

Angela Duckworth has advised the White House, the World Bank, NBA and NFL teams, and Fortune 500 CEOs. Her experience spans science (earned undergraduate and graduate degrees in Neuroscience from Harvard and Oxford, PhD in Psychology from Penn), nonprofits (founded and CEO of Character Lab), education (founded a summer school for low-income children), and business (worked in management consulting, faculty member at Wharton Business School). She also has one of the most-viewed TED Talks of all time.


Books to help you improve (and win over judges)

Thanks for the Feedback: The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well

We swim in an ocean of feedback. Teachers, coaches, bosses—but also family and friends—they all have “suggestions” for our performance, practice or appearance. We know that feedback is essential for growth and professional development—but we dread it and often dismiss it. This book will teach you how to take criticism productively. Straightforward and direct, this book will provide concrete tools and strategies while challenging you to get a little uncomfortable.

Douglas Stone and Sheila Heen are Lecturers on Law at Harvard Law School and cofounders of Triad Consulting. Their clients include the White House, Citigroup, Honda, Johnson & Johnson, Time Warner, Unilever, and many others. They are co-authors of the international bestseller Difficult Conversations.


How to Win Friends & Influence People

You can go after the job you want—and get it! You can take the job you have—and improve it! You can take any situation—and make it work for you!

An oldie but goody. Time-tested advice for your business and personal lives includes:

  • Three fundamental techniques in handling people
  • Six ways to make people like you
  • 12 ways to win people to you way of thinking
  • Nine ways to change people without arousing resentment



Books that share stories from the greats

Tribe of Mentors

This is the ultimate choose-your-own-adventure book—a compilation of tools, tactics, and habits from 140 of the world’s top performers. From iconic entrepreneurs to elite athletes, from artists to billionaire investors, their short profiles can help you answer life’s most challenging questions, achieve extraordinary results, and learn a thing or two. Don’t let the size of this book scare you off. One of the greatest things about this book is how easily you can pick it up, learn something new, then put it down until tomorrow. You will probably want to have bookmarks or sticky notes on hand, though. Trust us on this one.

Tim Ferriss is a serial entrepreneur, #1 New York Times bestselling author, and angel investor/advisor (Facebook, Twitter, Evernote, Uber, and 20+ more). Tim has been featured by more than 100 media outlets including The New York Times, The Economist, TIME, Forbes, Fortune, Outside, NBC, CBS, ABC, Fox and CNN. He has guest lectured in entrepreneurship at Princeton University since 2003. His blog has more than a million monthly readers, and his Twitter account @tferriss was selected by Mashable as one of only five “Must-Follow” accounts for entrepreneurs.


Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World

Part of being a young entrepreneur is breaking the mold and disregarding norms when it comes to business and behaviors. You are in good company with this book, which examines how leaders can combat groupthink, and how those who go against the grain move our society and technology further and faster. The book tells a number of stories about unique individuals involved in business, politics, sports and entertainment, and describes how, by breaking norms, they were able to rise to the top.

Adam Grant has been Wharton’s top-rated professor for seven straight years. He is a leading expert on how we can find motivation and meaning, and live more generous and creative lives. He has been recognized as one of the world’s 10 most influential management thinkers and Fortune’s 40 under 40. Adam is the host of WorkLife, a TED original podcast.



Books to help you become a marketing master

The Airbnb Story: How Three Ordinary Guys Disrupted an Industry, Made Billions . . . and Created Plenty of Controversy

This is the remarkable behind-the-scenes story of the creation and growth of Airbnb, the online lodging platform that has become, in under a decade, the largest provider of accommodations in the world. At first just the wacky idea of cofounders Brian Chesky, Joe Gebbia, and Nathan Blecharczyk, Airbnb has disrupted the $500 billion hotel industry, and its $30 billion valuation is now larger than that of Hilton and close to that of Marriott.

Leigh Gallagher is an Assistant Managing Editor at Fortune magazine. She is also a co-chair of the Fortune Most Powerful Women and Most Powerful Women Next Gen Summits and speaks regularly at Fortune and other business and economics conferences.


Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike

Nike is an absolute giant in the sports and fashion business in 2018. Flashy, expensive, inspirational advertisements, and high-priced athlete endorsements, have defined the brand for many years. But Nike, like many American business success stories, started small – extremely small. Phil Knight, Nike founder, literally began the athletic apparel giant by selling running shoes out of the trunk of his car. This business memoir recounts Knight’s founding and building Nike’s iconic business and brand.

Phil Knight, the founder of Nike, Inc., is one of the world’s most influential business executives. He served as CEO of the company from 1964 to 2004, as board chairman through 2016, and he is currently Chairman Emertius.


What are your must-read books? Are there certain authors who have really inspired you? If you have books you’d recommend (or you read any of these), share with us @DECAInc.



Categories: Chapter Resources, Compete, Entrepreneurship, Leadership