For the first 24 years of my life I didn’t read books. I found it hard to focus on them and most repetitive and boring. But then I noticed that many of the indie founders I was talking to at the time often recommended books for me to read. Instead of responding with “I don’t read” I figured I would try to give it a go.

The first book I read was actually “How to Get Rich” by Felix Dennis, which is frankly a terrible title but it was suggested by Sam Parr who calls his podcast “My First Million”. I digress. The book itself was fantastic. Captivating, funny and a ton of lessons to be learned.

After reading this book I was hooked on reading. I found the process of switching off from a screen and spending 15 minutes to a few hours sitting there turning pages to be incredibly cathartic. And even if I wasn’t taking notes I was absorbing and learning about new topics.

Now I find the best way to get up to speed on a topic is to read a book on it, which is something Aaron Francis recommended on episode 96 of Indie Bites.

The podcast is also where I started collecting recommendations of the best book from every indie hacker I spoke to on the show. Most people I interview are successful entrepreneurs, so I’m always interested in the book they most recommend to other founders.

I link to the book in question in the show notes of every episode, but I’ve never created a directory of those books.

So, I created

Here I’ve taken all the books recommended by my guests, added the author, who suggested that book and a link to buy. I’ve also added some useful categorisation including “Indie Must Reads” which are the books recommended by the most guests.

Of those books, there were a few standouts that were recommended over and over again.

  • Shoe Dog, by Phil Knight (6 guests recommended)
  • Atomic Habits, by James Clear (6)
  • Deep Work, by Cal Newport (4)
  • The Mom Test, by Rob Fitzpatrick (4)
  • Traction, by Gabriel Weinberg/Justin Mares (4)

Interestingly, almost every guest suggested a different book, but these were the clear standouts.

A caveat...

Over the past few years of reading business books I’ve started to see similar patterns and concepts be repeated over and over again, so my favourite way to consume a book is to speed read. Generally you can tell after the first chapter if it’s something you’d feel like continuing with. Sometimes it can just become the same concept drilled into you chapter after chapter to hit a word count, in which case, you can put it down.

This has also meant that I’ve started to dabble in fiction books which is an altogether different, but very pleasant experience.

So, there you have why I love reading and why I created to collect the books suggested by the brightest indie minds. Next time you are wondering what book you should add to your bookshelf, check it out.