Here’s what’s on our summer reading list for entrepreneurs

Summer reading. When I was in high school (1882-1886), each summer there would be a reading list to prepare for the fall. I will refrain from any snarky comments about what is appropriate to read depending on what state you live in, but instead, just share our list.

“Principles” by Ray Dalio. Principles are what allow you to live a life consistent with those values.” Dalio is a billionaire running one of the most successful hedge funds in the world. He is known to be a difficult taskmaster. He argues for “hyperrealism.” Accepting reality rather than wishing it was different. Good stuff for entrepreneurs.

“Thinking, Fast and Slow” by Dan Kahneman. He is a Nobel Prize winner in behavioral economics. In simple English, he tries to help you make fewer stupid decisions. Required reading for startup entrepreneurs.

“Give and Take” by Adam Grant. Givers, Matchers and Takers. You know which one wins. Need I say more?

“Being Mortal” by Atul Gawande. Just a note to all young entrepreneurs, you ain’t going to live forever. And how to die teaches us all how to live.

“The Bed of Procrustes” by Nassim Taleb. Procrustes is a figure from Greek mythology who abducted travelers and stretched or chopped their bodies to fit the length of his bed. Venture capitalists call this funding model an “equity haircut.” Taleb is a genius, read “The Black Swan” and enjoy the darkness.

“The Hard Thing About Hard Things” by Ben Horowitz. A must-read for every entrepreneur. Nota bene: his partner is Marc Andreessen, minor-league venture capitalist.

“Catcher in the Rye” by J.D. Salinger. When you find out where the Central Park Lagoon ducks go in winter, you will be ready for your series A financing.

“Seinfeldia” by Jennifer Armstrong. We are all George even though we want to be Kramer.

“Shackelton” by Roland Huntford. OK, so you go for an afternoon sail and your entire world freezes over. This story trumps all other books about leadership. MBA graduate school could be condensed into this one book, one semester.

“Bob Dylan Chronicles, Volume One” I ain’t gonna work on Maggie’s farm no more. That’s what all entrepreneurs say when they begin.

“I Did It” by Neil Senturia and Barbara Bry. The story of Gina Champion-Cain and the largest woman-run Ponzi scheme in American history.

Now recommendations from my bride, Barbara Bry.

Most of my recommendations are fiction in which the themes are relevant to the entrepreneurial journey which is not a straight line and which requires you to stay in the game even when you think you’re out of options.

“Lessons in Chemistry” by Bonnie Garmus. How can you not love and admire Elizabeth Zott, an entrepreneurial chemist and single mother in the 1960s who confronts discrimination with humor and a relentless spirit as she uses chemistry and cooking to empower women.

“The Covenant of Water” by Abraham Verghese. The story of three generations of a family in India explores the importance of relationships, family, love, loyalty and how our choices can impact generations to come. It details the lives of the characters and their determination to make a better life for their families.

“Demon Copperhead” by Barbara Kingsolver. A modern version of Charles Dicken’s David Copperfield about a boy who grows up in southern Appalachia with a single drug-addicted mother and perseveres through many chapters. (Neil loved it also.)

“Joan: A Novel of Joan of Arc” by Katherine J. Chen. This is not the Joan of Arc that I remember from my high school history class. This Joan is physically strong, independent, confident and threatening to the powerful men around her. Perhaps she suffers from too much hubris, which ends up being her downfall.

“King: A Life” by Jonathan Eig. This new biography about Martin Luther King provides a comprehensive overview of the early days of the Civil Rights movement. Most importantly, the book describes King’s courage, spirit and commitment, his deep religious conviction and portrays him as a human being with both flaws and inner demons.

“Small Mercies” by Dennis Lehane who writes great crime stories. This one is the story of the 1974 desegregation of Boston schools and the tragic consequences for many families.

Rule No. 774: “Read, read, read” — William Faulkner

Senturia is a serial entrepreneur who invests in early stage technology companies. Please email ideas to Neil at

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