10 Must Read Books for Ambitious Creative People

There are a lot of books out there to help you figure out what you want to do with your life. Some books are good…and some not so good. Ok, most are not so good. And for that very reason we decided to put together a list of our all-time favorite books specifically for creative entrepreneurs and ambitious artists who are looking for that combination of career advice and creative insight. Below you will find the perfect mixture to get you motivated, inspired and empowered. We hope you find it helpful along your path to your dreams! Feel free to leave your book suggestions in the comments section below if you think we missed something important. Happy reading!

.   .   .   .



Learn The Right Way to Quit Your Day Job And Go After Your Dreams

Quitter by Jon Acuff

If you are someone with a strong creative streak, and are stuck doing something decidedly uncreative to make ends meet (so basically around 99% of you reading this right now), you likely spend most of your time at work day dreaming about quitting your day job and chasing your big dream. Whether your calling is fashion or documentary filmmaking, this clever book by Jon Acuff will help you find a way from shitty day job, to fulfilling creative career. NOTABLE QUOTE: “More often than not, finding out what you love doing most is about recovering an old love or an inescapable truth that has been silenced for years, even decades. When you come to your dream job, your thing, it is rarely a first encounter. It’s usually a reunion.”

.   .   .   .


Overcome Creative Block and Artistic Insecurity

Art & Fear by David Bayles and Ted Orland

This book is like creative hot sauce, you can put it on every creative situation and you are going to make it better. If you’re an artist, or any kind of creative entrepreneur this thought provoking book about creativity and emotion is a must read. It will get you through some serious creative dry spells and help with that overly critical voice inside your head that keeps you from producing your best work. Art and Fear is about how creativity works, why it sometimes doesn’t work, and why so many artists give up along the way. NOTABLE QUOTE: “To the artist, all problems of art appear uniquely personal. Well, that’s understandable enough, given that not many other activities routinely call one’s basic self-worth into question.”

.   .   .   .


When You Need a Creative Kick In The Ass

Damn Good Advice (For People with Talent!) by George Lois

This book really delivers on its damn good promise. Damn Good Advice is formatted in a way that lets you open the book to any random page and get valuable inspiration, and a creative kick in the ass when you need it most. You can easily read the book from cover to cover in one sitting, but that’s not how you use this book. It’s something that you’ll pick up again and again when you’re feeling stuck. This book is fiercely motivating. NOTABLE QUOTE: “If a man does not work passionately – even furiously – at being the best in the world at what he does, he fails his talent, his destiny, and his God.”

.   .   .   .


When You Desperately Need a Mentor

The Best Advice I Ever Got by Katie Couric

Most of us will need a mentor at one point or another, but not all of us are lucky enough to find one. When your dreams are so big they go far beyond the guidance your teachers and parents can offer, and you have no one to turn to for desperately needed professional advice, this book is perfect. It is a collection of advice and inspiration from successful people that serve as a kind of North Star for young professionals trying to figure it all out. NOTABLE QUOTE: “In the end, your finest moments in life aren’t necessarily those in which you finish first but, instead, the times when you know that you simply gave it your best – when you did it heart and soul, and held nothing back.” Michelle Kwan.

.   .   .   .

obstable is the way

When You Need To Find Your Inner Ninja

The Obstacle Is the Way by Ryan Holiday

You will either love this book or hate it depending on what kind of person you are. If you are looking for a practical step by step guide to overcoming adversity, you won’t find anything groundbreaking here. But what makes Ryan Holiday’s book so powerful is its emotional charge. It’s an exhilarating read and will get you out of your self-defeating mentality. Most artists already have everything they need to succeed inside them, they just need something to help them get unstuck and motivated. This book will do exactly that. NOTABLE QUOTE: “There is no good or bad without us, there is only perception. There is the event itself and the story we tell ourselves about what it means.”

.   .   .   .


How To Stand Out From a Crowd

Linchpin by Seth Godin

The main idea behind Linchpin is that being skilled and hard working is no longer enough to succeed. Being “good enough” is no longer enough. The book argues that around every corner there is someone just as talented as you, who is likely willing to work for lower pay. According to author Seth Godin, if you intend to survive, you need to find a way to stand apart. You must be a linchpin. NOTABLE QUOTE: “Here’s the truth you have to wrestle with: the reason that art (writing, engaging, leading, all of it) is valuable is precisely why I can’t tell you how to do it. If there were a map, there’d be no art, because art is the act of navigating without a map. Don’t you hate that? I love that there’s no map.”

.   .   .   .


Turning Self Doubt Into Self Love

I Am That Girl by Alexis Jones

This book has been called a “game changer” by many readers looking to turn their lives around and “be that girl” they’ve always wanted to be. This book has been credited for helping girls all over the planet find their path in life. “I Am That Girl” is a deeply empowering book about accomplishing your dreams, finding your potential and staying true to your values. NOTABLE QUOTE: “Integrity is the most important accessory you’ll ever have, it will never go out of fashion, get old, or fade. It’s the greatest investment you’ll ever make, and a noble fight you’ll spend your lifetime pursuing.”


.   .   .   .


If You Want To See The World Differently

Ways of Seeing by John Berger

John Berger’s “Ways of Seeing” should be on every artist’s bookshelf. Period. It is a fascinating exploration of the way we see the world, especially in the context of beauty and art. Many times Berger sheds new light on things that we have long taken for granted, sometimes to a disturbing degree. This book does a fantastic job cutting away some of the bullshit associated with our appreciation of what we find beautiful. NOTABLE QUOTE: “You painted a naked woman because you enjoyed looking at her, put a mirror in her hand and you called the painting “Vanity,” thus morally condemning the woman whose nakedness you had depicted for you own pleasure.”

.   .   .   .


If You Are Looking To Be Discovered And Grow Your Audience

Show Your Work by Austin Kleon

Austin Kleon wrote a lot of similar books for artists, but this one is by far the most useful. It is full of ideas and to-the-point advice about how to grow your audience, and make sure that people discover your amazing work. NOTABLE QUOTE: “Forget about being an expert or a professional, and wear your amateurism (your heart, your love) on your sleeve. Share what you love, and the people who love the same things will find you.”

.   .   .   .


Essential Knowledge For All You Boss Ladies in Training

Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office by Lois P. Frankel

Ok so obviously this book is strictly for the girls (sorry guys!), but we feel strongly that every ambitious woman absolutely needs to read it. “Nice Girls Don’t Get The Corner Office” outlines all the subconscious ways you might be jeopardizing your success, and teaches you how subtle changes in your behavior can translate to huge gains in how confident and competent you appear. An absolute must-read. NOTABLE QUOTE: “There is something you must always remember. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”


.   .   .   .

Honorable Mentions



kelly cutrone

susan sontag

Natalia Borecka

Natalia is the editor in chief and publisher of Lone Wolf Magazine. She founded the publication in 2012.

  1. Ooo, looking up the books at my local library now! I love finding new recommendations on this subject. Who is the “344 Questions” book in the “honorable mentions” area written by – I can’t see the author’s name.


    1. Natalia Borecka says:

      Giedre, the author’s name is Stefan G. Bucher, and the full title of the book is “344 Questions: The Creative Person’s Do-It-Yourself Guide to Insight, Survival, and Artistic Fulfillment (Voices That Matter”

  2. Very interesting suggestions

  3. Really fantastic list of books here! I think “Quitter” sounds really inspiring. I have a book to add to this list called “Life in Half a Second: How to Achieve Success Before it’s Too Late” bu author Michael Michalewicz (www.LifeinHalfaSecond.com) <—- you can download the first chapter of his book here for free. Not only is it an inspiring self help book but it is also aimed to help those who want to advance their careers (whatever that may be). The author gives practical advice for just about everyone, whether you're a CEO, small business owner, a student, or just starting out on your journey. It provides a step by step guide for achieving success that is proven to work by studies and decades of research. That's what I liked most about the book; it's not opinion based, it's fact based. The author is an expert in his field and has started and sold businesses using the same formula he provides in his book. I can't recommend it enough… It's inspiring and it works. Hope you and your readers will check it out

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>