CEO Reading List: 9 Books Tim Ferris Recommended in 2019

CEO Reading List: 9 Books Tim Ferris Recommended in 2019

Tim Ferris is an efficiency guru who cracked the code to escaping the 9-5 life with his self-help book “The 4–Hour Workweek” in 2007. The book was subsequently translated to more than 35 languages and sold over 1.3 million copies, retaining a best-selling rank on the New York Times list for 4 consecutive years. We delved into the Tim Ferris book recommendations for 2019 and hand-picked a list of the top 9 books from Tim Ferris’s bookshelf that he recommended to entrepreneurs and readers as “must-reads” through his podcasts and his Youtube channel this year. So let’s jump right in.

1. Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari


Sapiens is a book that has been recommended by everyone from Barack Obama to Bill Gates and it takes the first place on our list because it has been the most recommended book by Tim Ferris over the years. Dr Yuval’s exploration of human history is a wide-ranging survey of the history of our species which draws on insights from several subjects such as biology, anthropology, paleontology and economics. The book examines profound topics such as religion, greed, emotions, and success. Sapiens explores the history of the development and migration of our species, analyzing the factors that have shaped our societies and personalities and explores what our world could look like in the millennia to come. 

2. Anything You Want: 40 Lessons for a New Kind of Entrepreneur by Derek Sivers

anything you want- bookcover

Idealistic entrepreneur Derek Sivers packs his 10 years of experience of building and running a business into a short and easy read for aspiring entrepreneurs in his book  Anything You Want. This book is a blend of unconventional entrepreneurial wisdom, fantastic advice and great stories and has been recommended by Tim Ferris and Seth Godin as a “must read for every entrepreneur”. In his own review, Ferris called the book “short, hilarious and profoundly practical.”

3. The 80/20 Principle: The Secret to Achieving More with Less by Richard Koch

3. The 80:20 Principle- bookcover

Used by some of the most highly effective people in the world as a guide, The 80/20 Principle is a book that teaches how to leverage the Pareto Principle, also known as the 80/20 rule which states that “80% of the effects are a result of 20% of the causes”. This essentially boils down to the simple fact that you can achieve much better results if you focus your time, energy and resources on identifying and focusing on the 20% of stuff that really makes a difference. Richard Koch shows us how we can achieve extraordinary results by investing less effort and time and how we can greatly improve our effectiveness by systematically applying the 80/20 principle in our lives.

4. How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big by Scott Adams

How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big-bookcover

The creator of the world-famous comic strip Dilbert shares his experience as a serial failure and the strategy he used since his teenage years to embrace and overcome failures in his book How to Fail At Almost Everything and Still Win Big. Adams humorously narrates the accounts of his failures in his corporate career, inventions, investments and his two restaurants and shows us how embracing one failure after another can eventually (albeit painstakingly) be turned into something good and long-lasting. Ferris called the book “an incredible approach to career planning that beats all odds and can help anyone do the same.”

5. Moral letters to Lucilius by Seneca

Moral letters to Lucilius-bookcover

A collection of 124 letters written by the philosopher Seneca to his friend Lucilius. Moral Letters to Lucilius is a treasure chest of stoic beliefs and perennial philosophic wisdom. The letters contains refreshing and inspiring advice on topics such as endurance, escaping desire, living a simple life and rejection of luxuries. The ideas are just as relevant today as they were more than 2000 years ago. Ferris said the book teaches us “the ultimate way of thriving in high-stress environments,” and included it in his list of 4 books he has gifted the most over the years.

6. Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman! by Richard P. Feynman

Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!-bookcover

Richard P. Feynman is a Nobel Prize-winning physicist who was involved with the Manhattan Project. Feynman was a polymath who had several interests besides science, such as a fascination with safe-cracking, studying several languages and playing the bongo in his leisure time. In his insightful autobiography, the highly accomplished scientist takes us down memory lane and recounts his experience exchanging ideas with brilliant minds such as Einstein and Bohr. The book is a collection of reminiscences, dotted with anecdotes and stories of his eccentric life. Ferris said that the book hugely impacted every aspect of his thinking and made him want to become “a better teacher and, ultimately, a world-class parent.”

7. The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer

The Art of Asking-bookcover

Musician and TED speaker Amanda Palmer knows what being a struggling artist is all about. Palmer is an extremely talented artist who has done it all from performing as a statue on the streets to crowd-surfing as a rock-star. In The Art of Asking the singer and songwriter explores why society isn’t comfortable with the simple act of asking and why a lot of people are afraid to ask for help. Palmer explores the barriers that prevent us from asking for help and shows us how this is detrimental to our lives, relationships, and our emotional and mental health. Ferris said: “I tend to isolate myself, often at the worst times possible. Amanda helped me to learn to ask friends and family for help. It was a game changer.”

8. The Effective Executive by Peter F. Drucker

bookcover-The Effective Executive

The Effective Executive is a classic in the genre of management and business. Peter F. Drucker underscores the importance of doing “the right things” instead of being obsessed with the notion of “efficiency” in The Effective Executive.  The short and extremely interesting page-turner is one of Ferris’s all time favorite and he has described it as “an incredible way to learn how to outpace everybody by focusing on effectiveness instead of efficiency.”

9. Zorba the Greek by Nikos Kazantzakis


First published in 1946, this classic novel chronicles the adventures of two men and their unlikely friendship. The book revolves around themes of living in the moment and having a zest for life. Ferris called Zorba The Greek “an outstanding book that pits instinct against intellect and the care-free simpleton against the fastidious over-thinker,” adding that “it gave him a reminder to step outside of his own brain.” 


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