The Favorite Books of the World’s Most Successful People

Most of the world’s most successful people from Nelson Mandela to Mark Zuckerberg credit their success to the knowledge they’ve gotten from reading. We explore some of these books and the lessons they teach in this article.

The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” ― Dr. Seuss

The world’s most successful people have a number of things in common, one of which is a love of books. In fact, some of the world’s most influential people have a similar favorite book.

Many have also credited books as the root of their success. Warren Buffett, the third richest man in the world, was once asked about the key to success, he pointed to a stack of nearby books and said, “Read 500 pages like this every day. That’s how knowledge works. It builds up, like compound interest. All of you can do it, but I guarantee not many of you will do it.”

Oprah Winfrey, renowned media mogul and North America’s first multi-billionaire black person, says she gets inspired, challenged, and sustained by books, and selects one of her favorite books every month for her Book Club members to read and discuss.

In 2015, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg resolved to read a book every two weeks, and even started a book club called “A Year of Books” so that he could discuss those books with the Facebook community.

It’s clear that the knowledge provided by books is a strategic key to success and an important vehicle for keeping momentum in an ever evolving world. So what are the favorite books of the world’s most successful people? Here are some of them;

1. Security Analysis by Benjamin Graham

Warren Buffett said that “Security Analysis,”a Book by Benjamin Graham, had given him “a road map for investing that I have now been following for 57 years.”

The book’s core insight: If your analysis is thorough enough, you can figure out the value of a company — and if the market knows the same.

Buffett who also lists the “intelligent investor” by Benjamin Graham as one of his favorites has said that Graham was the second-most influential figure in his life, after only his father.

This book is also one of the favorites of Jamie Dimon chief executive officer of JPMorgan Chase, the largest of the big four American banks.

2. The Remains of the day by Kazuo Ishuguro

Jeff Bezos, the founder, chairman, and chief executive officer of Amazon.com, the world’s largest online shopping retailer, says that he learned more from novels than nonfiction and proclaims this book as his favorite! Bezos says that he didn’t think a perfect novel was possible. It’s a book that taught him about life and regret.

3. The Power Of Now by Eckhart Tolle

Oprah Winfrey lists this book as one of her all time favorites “Meg Ryan and Ellen DeGeneres gave me copies of this book, and it’s gotten me through more crises than I can count. It truly helped me discover how to live in the now—to not linger on past mistakes, but to learn from them and then let them go. For me, this is the Mama Jama of super-soulful books. At every moment, it keeps me in a state of awe and amazement.”


4. The End of Power by Moisés Naím

Mark Zuckerberg launched his book club back in 2015 with this lofty title from Naím, former executive director of the World Bank and senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

The book is a historical investigation of the shift of power from authoritative governments, militaries, and major corporations to individuals. This is clearly seen in what’s now become a common term in Silicon Valley circles: the disruptive startup.

“The trend towards giving people more power is one I believe in deeply,” Zuckerberg writes.

5. The Complete Works of Shakespeare by Williams Shakespeare

When Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for many years on Robben Island, one of the political prisoners smuggled a copy of Shakespeare’s complete works into the jail, and then it was secretly circulated among the prisoners. Many of them signed and dated their names near the most favorite passages. Mandela put his name next to the passage, which included the following lines: “Cowards die many times before their deaths/The valiant never taste of death but once.”

6. The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom by Don Miguel Ruiz

Jack Dorsey, the CEO of twitter and Square, has listed this book as one of his favorites. Four practices are all you need for a better life, Ruiz,says and millions of readers have agreed with him as the book has spent seven years on the New York Times Bestsellers list. The premise of the book is that a few lifelong changes need to be made which are verbal integrity, questions without assumptions, a refusal to personalize, and making the best happen.

This Book has also been listed as one of Oprah’s favorites.

7. Look Homeward, Angel by Thomas Wolfe

Maya Angelou was an American poet, memoirist, and civil rights activist. A passionate reader, Angelou lists this classic as one of her favorite books. She says about the book, I’ve read everything Thomas Wolfe ever wrote; my brother and I memorized whole chapters of You Can’t Go Home Again and Look Homeward, Angel. It’s hard to select just one of Wolfe’s books, but his story of a man who leaves his North Carolina town to seek a better life was probably the most important to me.”

Read also: The 10% Rule: How To Read (A Lot) More Books In A Year.