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What the world's most successful people read

Friday, December 23, 2016 - 05:50

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On Mr Gates' list is Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind - an account of how humans evolved from primates to become the dominant force on the planet.

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Mr Weiner recommends Dalai Lama's book, The Art of Happiness; in this, the spiritual leader examines how one can navigate everyday life.

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Perhaps predictably, folks such as Mr Zuckerberg (above) and Bill Gates are mostly keen on books about business, investment and politics.

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Beyoncé's favourite book is What Will It Take To Make A Woman President? - a collection of interviews and essays by great women.

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Oprah is expectedly into self-improvement and spiritual publications, such as Eckhart Tolle's A New Earth: Create a Better Life.

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Ms Huffington's list includes Carl Jung's Memories, Dreams, Reflections and filmmaker David Lynch's Catching the Big Fish.

Singapore

EVER wondered what the world's most successful people read?

Do they lean on how-to books to guide their success, or scan through personal accounts by their industry competitors to stay ahead?

Do they steep themselves in history, or browse through light-hearted pulp to unwind?

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Market voices on:

Thanks to Sage, a global business software solutions provider, we now know what sits on the bookshelves of the world's top businessmen, politicians and celebrities.

Sage has compiled an interactive list, titled "By The Book" (http://www.sage.co.uk/c/v/by-the-book/), of the book recommendations of the world's 100 most successful people.

Mousing over their photos will pull up their names (in case you don't know them by sight), and the list can be sorted by people or books, and further filtered down into industry, nationality or gender.

Perhaps predictably, folks such as Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg are mostly keen on books about business, investment and politics. It should be noted, however, that also on Mr Gates' list is Yuval Noah Harari's Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind - an account of how humans evolved from primates to become the dominant force on the planet.

While not everyone may agree with Harari's theories, his sharp wit makes for attractive prose.

Virgin Group founder Richard Branson exhibits a more varied anthology: His recommendations range from Jung Chang's 1991 literary tome Wild Swans and her 2002 biography Mao: The Unknown Story, to Nelson Mandela's Long Walk to Freedom, to Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth.

Interestingly, Mr Branson's memoir, Losing My Virginity - chronicling his life and many business ventures - is recommended reading by his competitor, easyJet founder Stelios Haji-Ioannou.

As for the women, The Huffington Post's Arianna Huffington's reading list is pleasantly diverse. Among her recommendations are Carl Jung's Memories, Dreams, Reflections, filmmaker David Lynch's Catching the Big Fish: Meditation, Consciousness, and Creativity, and Buddhist teacher Joan Halifax's Being with Dying: Cultivating Compassion and Fearlessness in the Presence of Death.

Talk-show host and television producer Oprah Winfrey is expectedly into self-improvement and spiritual publications, such as Eckhart Tolle's A New Earth: Create a Better Life and Elizabeth Lesser's The Seeker's Guide: Making Your Life a Spiritual Adventure; while comedian and TV host Ellen DeGeneres likes Miguel Ruiz's The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom.

And, in what perhaps suggests a deeper ambition, pop-icon Beyoncé's favourite book is What Will It Take To Make A Woman President? by Marianne Schnall.

"It's a collection of interviews and essays by great women, including Maya Angelou, Gloria Steinem, and Melissa Etheridge. They will inspire you to become a better leader," Beyoncé is quoted as saying.

Also possibly telling is Linkedin CEO Jeff Weiner's recommendation of the 14th Dalai Lama's book, The Art of Happiness; in this, the spiritual leader examines how one can navigate everyday life - including facets such as relationships and the pursuit of wealth - to achieve inner peace.

Fortunately, not every book on this list (though, most are) is a heavy-going tome on leadership, business, politics or self-help.

One of the more refreshing and light-hearted recommendations comes from James Dyson, founder of the Dyson company and inventor of the bagless vacuum cleaner. In his collection is The Greedy Bastard Diary: A Comic Tour of America by Monty Python alumnus, Eric Idle.

The book, while an exploration of the American landscape, also tells you a lot about the man who warbled the ditty, "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life", while being crucified in Monty Python's Life of Brian. And it is by turns witty, moving and surprising.

Also on Mr Dyson's list are: The Sketchbooks of Chris Wilkinson, by the architect who believes passionately in still drawing by hand, in a time when most renderings are computer-aided; and Olives: The Life and Lore of a Noble Fruit by Mort Rosenblum.

It just goes to show that inspiration comes in different forms, and that experiences, no matter how offbeat, can impart lessons to us all.

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