‘I Read This 20 Times:’ Five Founders Pick The Best Books For Startups

Five founders pick the best books for startups. One French entrepreneur recommends a literary classic she’s read 20 times and says the principles within it have everything to do with her business. Entrepreneurs from around the globe weigh in with their most inspiring business books.

Gabriel García co-founded Mailtrack, based in Barcelona. Mailtrack adds the double checks to Gmail for read receipts.

My pick: Rework by Jason Fried and David Hansson

Why:When I’m asked to recommend books about entrepreneurship, I always suggest Rework. The book questions business standards that we read about and repeat, just because someone else applied them. Of course, caution and good examples are essential and important principles to apply to any business, but we have to keep in mind that conclusions aren’t one size fits all. Each of them occurred at a specific time, within a certain context, with specific constraints, and all that changes fast, especially in the startup environment.

The most important message from the book is that planning and thinking need to be limited and time framed. Planning is important, but getting things done is even more so. For startups this principle is crucial: if you don’t start doing it, someone else will.

Ryan Hoover is founder and CEO of Product Hunt, a San Francisco-based site that curates and showcases the new, new things in apps, tech products and websites.

My pick: The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

Why: Some of today’s most successful products aim to transform users’ habits. We’re constantly checking social media accounts, emails, and locations on our smartphone apps. Building great products nowadays demands empathy and understanding how people think and act. The Power of Habit arms readers with an understanding of human psychology that can be applied in life, business, and the products we create. Acquiring and applying the knowledge I gained from this book helped me identify the intrinsic values necessary to make a product part of a customer’s habit.

Cameron Adams is founder and CPO at Canva, a Sydney-based graphic design platform accessible to pro’s and hobbyists.

My pick: Startupland by Mikkel Svane

Why: Svane details his journey from founding Zendesk to its launch on the NYSE. There’s plenty of advice about raising funds, finding a great team and how to handle growth. But, perhaps the most interesting part of the story is that it’s a counterpoint to the popular media fable of the 20-something American college graduates who create a social network. It’s about a real business founded by people with real lives and families. While Startupland skips over some of the later stage in-the-trenches, stuff that would be helpful, it’s an inspiring story that resonates with my own startup experiences and had me smiling wryly in agreement.

Bram Kanstein is founder of Startup Stash, an Amsterdam-based directory of resources and tools for startups.

My pick: Four Thousand Days: My Journey From Prison To Business Success by Duane Jackson

Why:After reading Jackson’s Medium post My Night with the DEA and 6,500 Ecstasy Tablets, I was immediately intrigued by his story. Jackson’s book was such a good read, I read it in no time. After serving a prison sentence, he started a business that became KashFlow, a SaaS accounting product. Two years ago, Jackson sold the business for millions. His life story, detailed in the book, from growing up in care homes, to prison on two continents, to making millions 10 years after his release from jail is inspiring for any entrepreneur.”

Celine Lazorthes is founder and CEO of Leetchi.com, a Paris-based online money collection site.

My pick: The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera

Why:I’ve read this book 20 times. It’s a philosophical book which has significantly marked my life, and has everything to do with my business. This classic title deals with lightness and weight in life. The ambivalence of the characters between these two notions makes us discover on one hand the lightness of feelings, and on the other the weight of principles and values.

Just like the Kundera’s characters. I apply the principles from the book on an emotional level to professional activities, from being an investor to giving conferences. It’s a matter of love, friendship, ideology and great freedom…everything that an entrepreneur needs! An entrepreneur is as much an artist as an intellectual.

This article originally appeared on Forbes.com.