Which author influenced you most as a kid? Whether read as a grade school-aged child or a high school student, books can be a source of inspiration even many years later. In the case of these business leaders, these authors’ stories spurred a love for reading, new ways of thinking, curiosity, and empowerment.
To help business professionals find the next book to inspire delight and drive in their lives, we asked CEOs and business leaders this question for their best suggestions. From Ann M. Martin to Jane Austen, there are several notable writers whose books may impact your life as much as they did for these business executives when they were growing up.
Here are nine influential authors to add to your (or your family’s) reading list:
- Matt Christopher
- Ann M. Martin
- Dr. Seuss
- Mary Higgins Clark
- Jane Austen
- Kurt Vonnegut
- Isaac Asimov
- Beverly Cleary
- Maurice Sendak
In fifth grade, I entered a reading contest for my school. I went around my neighborhood as part of the contest, obtaining pledges to sponsor my reading efforts. Some neighbors pledged $1 per book. Others sponsored me on a per-page basis. Well, that summer, I won the contest, reading more than 5,000 pages across 50 books. Most of that summer was spent reading titles like “Little Lefty” and “The Kid Who Only Hit Homers” by Matt Christopher. The stories didn’t necessarily influence me, but a love for reading and learning that summer certainly helped shape who I am today. I can thank Matt Christopher for that.
Brett Farmiloe, Markitors
Ann M. Martin
One of the greatest days of my childhood was the day when my parents found a box containing the first 100 books in the Babysitters Club series, by Ann M. Martin, at a yard sale. I read through every single book in that series dozens of times, devouring every word. I would often pretend to start a business with my friends, inspired by the teens and preteens in The Babysitters Club who had done the same. While I can’t say for sure that this influenced my own adult decision to start a business (not playing pretend anymore!), I like to think that the same entrepreneurial spirit I loved in those books as a child remained as an influence over my professional choices until today.
Anna Barker, LogicalDollar
Dr. Seuss was always a very influential author in my childhood. The books he wrote are full of whimsy and out-of-the-box thinking. This way of thinking stuck with me through life and has lent itself to my success as an entrepreneur.
David DiLorenzo, Valentino Beauty Pure
Mary Higgins Clark
When I was young, I read 12 Mary Higgins Clark books in one school year. It was the early 90s, and in my small town, girls were still very stereotyped. Her books weren’t just mysteries; they showed me women who were strong, smart, and capable of saving themselves. Those stories helped me imagine a life where I was strong enough to be my own hero rather than a victim. She passed away not long ago, and I hope her books will still be read. I will always appreciate her.
Lisha Dunlap, UAT
Jane Austen was an outspoken critic and commentator at a period when patriarchy was still in full swing, with works such as “Sense and Sensibility” and “Pride and Prejudice.” Her works examine how women pursued marriage as a means of achieving social status and financial security, and she is now regarded as a 19th-century feminist. With her use of sarcasm and humor in some of the most famous books of the day, Austen paved the way for women. The only regret is that she received most of her acclaim after her death rather than during her lifetime.
Erin Zadoorian, Ministry of Hemp
Kurt Vonnegut was the author who influenced me most as a kid. He wrote one of my favorite short stories titled “Harrison Bergeron.” In the story, the government went tyrannical and created a society where everyone was equal but in an awful way that took away everyone’s freedom 一 especially through physical and mental handicaps. It was an irony that no one was really equal.
Anders Rydholm, PrimetimePokemon
I’ve been an avid sci-fi reader all my life. People always said I should read other genres, but I stuck to sci-fi, and I don’t regret that. For me, Asimov is one of the greatest writers, and I always enjoy his writing style, not just his ideas. Some people say his language is too simplistic, but that’s what I probably like about it because it lets me focus on digesting his ideas. And what’s better than his Foundation and Robots series, all happening in the same bigger universe where robots bound by the three laws of robotics are helping and protecting humanity? Some people like robots, and some hate them for no reason. Now that I’m older, I think this is parallel to racism and bias against other cultures. Asimov might have prepared the adult me for compassion and tolerance for other people, and that’s just perfect.
Ionut-Alexandru Popa, binaryfork_
The Ramona Quimby series was one of my favorite series growing up. They were full of fun, light, and children’s mischief. Beverly Cleary was amazing at capturing the eye of a child. Every kid could relate to her characters. She was great at being eye-level with her audience.
Eric Gist, Awesome OS
The author that influenced me the most as a kid was Maurice Sendak. He wrote the book “Where the Wild Things Are,” and it influenced me a lot as a kid. I found his work to be thought-provoking and interesting. It sparked my curiosity. Perhaps this curiosity led me to start my own company and make the Forbes 30 under 30. I owe all of my curiosity to reading Maurice Sendak’s books, and I am very grateful for his work.
Jordan Nathan, Caraway