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13 books to give away as Christmas gifts that will make people love you

  • By Alan Knott-Craig
  • October 23, 2014

For friends who are entrepreneurs (or want to be):

  1. The Hard Thing About Hard Things, by Ben Horowitz – The bible for life in a startup.
  2. Hackers and Painters, by Paul Graham – The bible for understanding software programmers and the world they (we) live in.
  3. Black Like You, by Herman Mashaba – Inspiring story of Herman Mashaba, a black entrepreneur that grew up in poverty under the Apartheid regime, and succeeded in building a business empire through sheer hard work and resilience.
  4. Anton Rupert, by Ebbe Dommisse – Incredible story of how an Afrikaner living in the small town of Stellenbosch built a global business in an age before cheap commercial flights and telephones.
  5. Uncertainty, by Jonathan Fields – Great book to understand the importance of being able to tolerate uncertainty when starting a business.

For friends who want to be rich:

  1.  The Education of a Value Investor, by Guy Spier – A combination of philosophy, self-improvement, and investor advice. Essential reading for anyone wanting to ethically make a living in the financial services industry without relying on Buffett-like innate genius talent.
  2. Seeking Wisdom, by Peter Bevelin – Epic look at the thinking of Charlie Munger. Dummy’s guide to avoiding stupid thinking, and becoming rich in the process.
  3. The Outsiders, by William Thorndike – Eight under-the-radar CEO’s that generated outsized shareholder returns, and how they did it.
  4. Business Brilliant, by Lewis Schiff – A look at the difference between how the middle class, millionaires and multi-millionaires think.

For friends that love history and politics:

  1. Stalingrad, by Antony Beevor – Gripping account of fight for Stalingrad in WWII. If you ever think you’re having a bad day, read this book and you’ll thank your lucky stars. Life could be worse.
  2. My Early Life, by Winston Churchill – If you want to go into politics, go no further. After reading this it seems impossible that Churchill will ever play a major role in UK politics again, nevermind going on to become a wartime prime minister and one of the famous people in the world ever.
  3. The Shadow of the Sun, by Ryszard Kapuscinski – Best book I’ve ever read on Africa, and I’ve read a lot of books on Africa.
  4. Guns, Germs & Steel, by Jared Diamond – Will change your thinking about race. Argues destiny has everything to do with geography, and nothing to do with genes.