Dear Entrepreneur, STOP Reading “How To” Books

6 min readMay 10, 2021


If you are an entrepreneur, business owner, online influencer, content creator, or someone who works for themselves and is striving toward a life of abundance and freedom… there is a very good chance you’re reading the WRONG books!

Don’t feel bad. You are not alone.

I too read these wrong books for far too long.

It’s difficult not to. Each day you scroll through social media, listen to podcasts or watch your favorite YouTube channels, read articles, blog posts, and commentaries from thought-leaders and experts further down the road than you… and they talk about certain books.

The same ones seem to appear time and time again.

When a new must-read launches, EVERYONE shouts about it.

So you buy it. You add it to your reading pile.

Maybe you even read it and enjoy it.

You take some value from it, create a few social media posts about it, and then what happens??

You move on.

Because in truth, you’ve already read that book many times before.

The Problem with Books You Just “Have To” Read…

The types of books I’m talking about are those nonfiction, “how-to” titles that flood your newsfeed.

Are they all bad?

Of course not. Many of them are great.

They’re written by talented individuals and share interesting stories. They have the power to change lives, but the question is whether it has the power to change YOUR life.


But then again, maybe not…

The whole point of reading a book is to take something from it. A nonfiction, “how-to” book is specifically written (more often than not) to teach you something. It’s about how to increase your profit margins, for instance, or be more productive during your working day, or to rid your life of bad habits and replace them with better ones.

If you specifically want to learn about profits, productivity, or habits… such a book is worth your while.

Yet this isn’t usually what happens. We read a book because we hear how amazing it is. It’s the sort of book an entrepreneur like you should read to better yourself, your business, your whatever

So you read it for the sake of it.

You gain knowledge, but rarely do anything with it.

The Books “Successful” People Read…

While researching my latest book ‘Beyond The Pale’, I spoke to a number of people I admired. The kind of folk further along than me, who not only had success in terms of money but genuinely seemed successful in the way they feel.

Content and living a life of purpose, if you will.

I would ask them the sort of books they read, and they rarely mentioned the sort of books you see online. Sure, they had read some of them in the past. They had many of them on their bookshelves, having known the authors and been sent complimentary copies.

These were usually avid readers. The kind that read daily.

Yet they didn’t read the sort of books entrepreneurs are supposed to read.

Why? A phrase I heard more than a few times was, “Once you’ve read ten of them, you’ve read them all.”

A lot of the time, you can distill what you personally need from a “how-to” book within a few pages. A single chapter gives you what you crave, meaning the rest of the book is knowledge for the sake of knowledge at best, and a waste of your time at worst.

In the beginning when you’re first “figuring it out” the idea of more knowledge is great. You need more of it because you don’t feel like you have enough of it. But, more often than not, it’s a means to distract you.

You’re fearful and insecure, and reading the books you “need” to read makes you feel better.

But they don’t. Not really.

What makes you feel better is progress, and progress requires action and intention. So, if you read a book and then act upon what you learn, reading said book is worth your while. Whereas if you read and let what you learn fester in that brain of yours… it’s nothing but a waste of the precious time you’re given.

So does this mean you should not read?

Is reading nothing but a luxury reserved for those already successful?

Oh no, far from it…

The Books You Should Read…

If those “successful” folk I spoke to didn’t read the books everyone raves about, what do they read?

Each person differed, of course, but most involved:

  • Fiction
  • History
  • Biographies
  • Philosophy
  • Psychology
  • Science
  • Spirituality

They would still read a “how-to” book if they needed to learn something specific, yet they also appreciated that if this need was so great, there are better approaches than reading: a video course, for instance, or hiring a coach/mentor.

Reading, for these people, is less about learning and more about escaping, reflection, and inspiration.

Like many of us, they live busy and often intense lives. They struggle to switch off. They worry and over-think, and reading is a form of therapy. A way to escape, but not needlessly like you do when binging on the latest Netflix series, but rather in a way that inspires you and encourages you to dive within.

To reflect.

To think.

To be in the moment…

Whether you read a novel from an amazing mind or dive into one of history’s greatest, you detach yourself from your “everyday” and allow your inners to breathe. You still learn, and you still take on new ideas, inspiration, and creative inclinations, but it’s not forced upon you in a step-by-step framework.

It’s more natural. It’s fed to you in the form of a story.

A heavier book on the sciences or spiritual realm can achieve the same. A science book may be written to teach you, but because you’re not a scientist you take “bigger picture” aspects from it. A new insight into the human mind, maybe, or how groups of people tend to act.

You learn and gain knowledge, but you do it in a way that empowers you to think and reflect.

To think and reflect on how it applies to you.

To think and reflect on how you’re feeling and what you are going through.

You don’t get this when reading the latest business “how-to”, no matter how amazing the person who wrote it may be. You’re still “on”. You’re forcing your mind to learn.

It’s like you finish work and take it to school when all it wants to do is play for a while.

The Reading Habits of Successful Folk…

It can be hard to find the time to read. Maybe you are a lover of books and never fail to find time to dive amongst a few pages. But maybe you find it a struggle, never drawn to books as a child like some are.

There is no right or wrong approach to reading.

Whether you read one book a year or one-hundred…

It’s a personal choice, and this is what I hope you take from this article. Those books you feel like you “need” to read because everyone else does… You do not have to read them.

In fact, by not reading them you may set yourself apart from everyone else.

Instead, find books that bring you joy. You’ll still learn regardless, and your brain will conjure up magic: be it a novel, comic, biography, or whatever else…

Unless you specifically want to learn something specific, read books that will simply expand your mind. Not fill it with new knowledge per se, but empower you to think, reflect, and dive within.

This is how most of the business folk you admire read. This is the approach they take.

They read what they want, not what they “should”.

The sooner you do… well, you may find you serve those you need to far better.




hi, i’m turndog... a writer/ghostwriter on a mission to ensure you escape the hustle — come be part of the [no hustle] movement →