If there’s one thing that has fundamentally changed the way I think about business, creativity, artistry, and mindset, it’s reading. I owe so much of my growth and success to the books I’ve stumbled upon over the years, penned by brilliant authors who have dedicated their lives to these various topics.
These books have been my guiding light—they’ve helped me build my systems, open my mind, challenge my thinking, and turn my passions (in multiple areas!) into a reality. If you’re looking for guidance in the form of reading, these are my favorites to recommend.
**Note: this blog post is a live post, meaning, I will add to it as I read new books I end up loving.
As a starving artist born of two starving artist parents, the topic of money was/will always continue to be a challenge for me. These 2 must-reads have helped me get out of my own way financially.
You Are a Badass at Making Money
When it comes to books about money, “You are a Badass at Making Money” by Jen Sincero is one that often draws mixed reactions. Some people criticize the author, and dismiss the book as scammy and “girlboss”.
While I 100% understand those concerns, I gotta say—this book had a profound impact on me. In fact, one particular section completely reframed my relationship with money.
Essentially, Sincero addresses the common belief that good and moral people shouldn’t care about money, and suggests that the opposite is actually true. As a good and moral person, I have a responsibility to make lots of money because I will use it for good and moral purposes. This idea was truly eye-opening for me, and it’s something that I still carry with me today. While I may not agree with alllll the contents of her book, this was absolutely transformative for me. I highly recommend picking it up if you are struggling with similar sentiments about money and morality.
We Should All Be Millionaires
Another fantastic money book that I hiiiiiighly recommend is “We Should All Be Millionaires” by Rachel Rodgers. What I love about this book is how Rodgers addresses the unique financial struggles that BIPOC women face. And even though I’m not a BIPOC woman, I still found this book to be incredibly valuable.
One of my favorite takeaways from the book is the concept of “money church.” Rodgers suggests setting aside a specific time each week to focus on your finances and really get your shit together. This can include checking your account balances, making a budget, and even doing some money manifestation exercises. If you’re someone who feels like you need to get your finances in order, “We Should All Be Millionaires” is a must-read.
Even though I recently discovered the business world, I was alllllways creative. (When I was a kid I was an irish dancer, I wrote a novel when I was 13, I went to acting school in NYC, then I went to school for non-ficition writing, then I started a feminist theatre company, and now I’m a web designer. Like… creativity is in my blood.) Here are my favorite books on creativity, hands down.
The Artist’s Way
“The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron is a book that I highly recommend for those going through a creative transition.
I first discovered this book when I was 20, and I decided to do the whole 12-week program inside. (Honestly, it’s less of a book and more like a workbook. But still—do it!) It takes you on a journey of a variety of activities, such as writing three pages of “morning pages” each day, taking yourself on “artist dates,” and answering question prompts. Through this self-guided “program”, I was able to discover new skills and interests that I never even knew I had, and it ultimately changed my life.
This book taught me to let go of self-doubt and embrace creativity as a necessary part of my life. If you’re going through a tumultuous creative phase and don’t know what’s next, I highly recommend picking up a copy of “The Artist’s Way.” (The only thing is, you have to commit to it fully, otherwise it doesn’t work!)
“Big Magic” by Elizabeth Gilbert is another that I highly recommend, especially for creatives looking to tap into their creativity. While this book has gained widespread popularity (and let’s face it—if you’re reading this blog post, I bet you’ve already read it!), I still believe it’s a must-read for anyone looking to expand their mind and creative process.
Gilbert covers many creative concepts in this book, but my favorite is “the muse.” The idea is that creativity is its own force and entity, and it’s up to us to show up and dedicate ourselves to our craft every day. And when we do, we show our muse that we are committed and dedicated. In turn, we are rewarded with great ideas and an abundance of creative flow.
I find this concept to be so powerful because it encourages us to keep showing up and putting in the work, even when nothing seems to be happening or working just yet. If you’re a creative looking to tap into your full potential, “Big Magic” is the book for you.
As someone who’s passionate about marketing, I’ve read my fair share of books on the topic. But there are a few that stand out as absolute must-reads for anyone looking to improve their marketing skills. (Spoiler: These books are so chock-full of useful insights and practical advice that I found myself dog-earing practically every page.) Here are my top picks for the best marketing books out there.
This is Marketing
For those looking to start or grow their own business, I highly recommend “This is Marketing” by Seth Godin. (PS—this book was the catalyst that inspired me to start my own design business, and it can help you too, if you’re wanting to start something new!)
Before reading this book, years ago, I never quite “got” the connection between marketing and storytelling. Luckily, that’s exactly what this book is about. Whether you’re running a business or trying to “brand” yourself as an artist or creative, this book should be your first purchase.
Obsessed by Emily Heyward is one of the most inspiring books on brand building that I’ve ever read. She uses real-life case studies of cool, hip, successful brands to illustrate her insights, and the advice she gives is spot-on. My favorite part is that she doesn’t shy away from giving the advice that all business owners should be their own personal brands now, which, if you know me at all, is something I talk a lot about in my business too.
But what really sets this book apart is how it makes a strong case for intentional, purpose-driven brands and making sure your branding and brand strategy is in actual alignment with what your company says it believes. Heyward shows how the most successful brands are those that have a clear and genuine sense of purpose, and how aligning your brand with your values can be a powerful driver of growth and success.
If you’re gonna read this one, have a highlighter ready. (Don’t say I didn’t warn you!)
Building a Storybrand
Now, let’s discuss Building a Storybrand by Donald Miller. Although I was incredibly late to the game and didn’t read it until 2022, I found this book to be super insightful.
I’ll admit—by the time I read it, I was already familiar with many of the “rules of storytelling” that Miller talks about. But his fresh perspective made me think about them in a new way. In fact, I was so inspired that I even found myself itching to rewrite my website copy entirely, which is a rare occurrence for someone who considers themselves a great writer.
Additionally, as a performing artist myself, I appreciated that in Miller’s book, he used examples from movies, TV shows, and music to highlight his points. It made the book feel relatable and relevant to my creative pursuits, and I felt seen as a multifaceted creative professional.
This book is a must-read for anyone, but especially reccomended for those in the arts!
Who says creativity has to be a solitary endeavor? Not me! Some of my greatest ideas and accomplishments have come from the support and inspiration of my amazing community. This book on building community will show you how to attract your tribe and keep them engaged, so you can all thrive together in your creative pursuits.
I must admit—I maaaaaay be biased when it comes to Reach Out by Molly Beck.
Not only do I personally know the author, but it was my TikTok video about it in 2020 that helped the book reach the Amazon bestseller list.
However, that being said, this book genuinely changed my life. It’s a fantastic guide to networking and building connections that doesn’t feel slimy or sales-y. It’s a quick and easy read, but the strategies Molly presents are practical and effective. In fact, the habits I acquired from this book are habits I still keep today. Highly recommend it!
All of that to say…
They aren’t lyin’ when they say knowledge is power. And what better way to gain knowledge than in some mind blowingly good & entertaining reads? Take ’em on the train, take ’em on the treadmill, fall asleep with them in your hands—however you consume them, get these on your bookshelf now!
Hey, I'm Sarah Kleist.
Brand builder, website designer, and performing artist on a mission to help creatives and business owners step into their digital spotlight.
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