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Tess Taylor’s Recommended Reading List

by Tess Taylor

Updated April 2020

When I hear people say they have no time to read, I laugh softly to myself. That’s like saying you have no time to learn or improve. How ridiculous. Take a leaf from my father’s book: he carried something to read with him wherever he went, which I do, too – you’ll find a dozen opportunities every day to read a page or two if you have a book with you. It’s a wonderful habit.

And if you think the cost of education (and the time it takes) is too high, consider the cost of ignorance. The key to success is having an edge and an education. Happily, a library card is free. Some of these books are about the music industry specifically, but all of them support the common goal of improving your plan, skills and effectiveness in life, and to become the best possible version of yourself.

Happy reading!  And drop me a line with a few of your favorites, whether on this list or not (scroll down to read how to reach me).

Recently Added (scroll down for summary):


In alphabetical order by title:

RECENTLY ADDED: Awareness: The Perils & Opportunities of Reality by Anthony de Mello.  An eye-opening account of what it means to be aware, hugely practical in its application to everyday situations for all of us that will unburden you of stress and strain.  Already I’ve gifted this book to tons of people and it will be this year’s (2019) Christmas-holiday gift for many more. Highly recommended, read it immediately (if not sooner).  



A Whole New Mind by Daniel Pink. A fascinating examination of why those who wish to succeed in the 21st century must adapt to a whole new way of doing business. The author notes that three major factors – abundance, automation and Asia – have already wrought drastic changes in America’s work force. The one thing that can’t be outsourced, done more cheaply or mass-produced is the production of great ideas. The author recommends ways to avoid obsolescence, stay ahead of the curve and excel in your chosen field.



Authentic Happiness: Using The New Positive Psychology To Realize Your Potential For Lasting Fulfillment by Martin E.P. Seligman, Ph.D.  Seligman is the leading spokesman for the new movement of Positive Psychology, which focuses on mental health rather than on mental illness. He identifies characteristics and strategies of people with positive outlooks, and explains how you can cultivate and experience authentic happiness and other desirable emotional states more of the time.




Benjamin Franklin’s Secret of Success And What It Did For Me by Frank Bettger. Benjamin Franklin’s success principles are laid out here, simple and easy to use. This book contains 13 principles that enabled author Frank Bettger to rise from a cast-off ball player to a leader in a new profession and a best-selling author as well. These are clear, simple, easy-to-follow methods that he adapted from the great statesman and scientist to assure his own success. Now you too can use these secrets to gain new wealth and a richer, happier life. I’ve typed up the 13 principles on 4×6 cards which I rotate through once a week, placed where I see them every day at work.


RECENTLY ADDED: Breaking The Habit of Being Yourself: How To Lose Your Mind and Create a New One by Dr. Joe Dispenza.  Manifesting the best future for yourself via quantum physics and neural programming is what this book is about.  It’s not as complicated as it sounds.  In fact, it’s easy.  A powerful book.  I hope I don’t say this too often here, but when I do, I mean it: this book is a game-changer and I’ve gifted it to dozens of people already and will continue to do so.




RECENTLY ADDED: Bullet Journal Method, The: Track The Past, Order The Present, Design The Future by Ryder Carroll.  I’ve searched for something like this for a long time.  How to keep track of to-do lists, ideas, calls, random notes, lists and the thousand things that flood my mind that I want to hang on to, catalog, refer back to, use at a later date, or just review and savor?  Author Ryder Carroll has hit upon a simple, highly flexible and *manual* method (hand writing) that enables you to capture it all in an organized way so you can FIND IT AGAIN when you need it.  Amazing.  Another game-changer.  You can integrate this with anything else you’d like (digital or otherwise) or use it as a stand-alone method.  It works and my productivity has soared along with the feeling of satisfaction that I know where everything is.


Elements of Style by Strunk & White. Tighten up your grammar, every word counts and these things matter.  Thanks to my grandmother Virginia for gifting this book to me many years ago, I still have and treasure it.






Four Agreements (The): A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom by Don Miguel Ruiz. A New York Times best-seller, not that this matters – lots of great books never make the list, and lots of lousy ones do. In this case, the book is quite good or it wouldn’t be on MY list. And short. The agreements are simple: Be impeccable with your word. Don’t take anything personally. Don’t make assumptions. Always do your best. What could be easier, you say?  Well, then why don’t more people do this?  Well worth your time.  Thanks to Steve Lurie for recommending this one.



4-Hour Workweek (The): Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich by Timothy Ferriss.  What annoyed me about this book is that I SHOULD have written it.  Nevertheless, a great read, lots of cool tips that promote efficiency, stretch the thinking and enable you to live the life you want to lead.  I have since then acquired a few other Tim Ferriss books (some of which I will added to this list) and subscribe to his blog.




Getting Things Done by David Allen. Essential for getting yourself organized, setting priorities.






Good To Great by Jim Collins.  A study of companies that have created and sustained success over a long period of time, and what they have in common.  Highly useful with practical strategies, not purely academic.  Thanks to Kitt Wakely for recommending this one.




How To Succeed in Business By Breaking All The Rules by Dan S. Kennedy. I recently discovered this author and have devoured all of his books. His advice is useful, direct, easy to apply and yields results.





How To Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie. Buy this book now and read it several times a year, every year, for the rest of your life. Contains simple and essential lessons on how to get along with people. Learning skills in this book will put you light years ahead of the competition.





Indie Marketing Power by Peter Spellman. Peter Spellman is one of the few authors I know in the music business who combines practical knowledge and experience with a high level of academic rigor, scrutiny and research. This is an excellent book on marketing.






Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Dr. Robert B. Cialdini. Cialdini’s books are the result of years of study into the reasons why people comply with requests in business (for example, in sales) and other settings. Highly recommended.  I’ve had great success applying principles from this book.





Life is a Contact Sport by Ken Kragen. A top personal manager who has steered many artists to success, Ken Kragen has put down simple yet effective techniques for advancing any career (artist or otherwise).






Making Money Make Music: An Insider’s Guide To Becoming Your Own Music Publisher by Eric Beall. A former struggling songwriter himself, the author is now Creative Director at Zomba Music Publishing. Great book that breaks down in simple terms the complexities of music publishing and how to make money with your music. A must-read for anyone serious about making a career in music, no matter which side of the stage you’re on.




Man’s Search For Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl. A timeless memoir and meditation on finding meaning in the midst of suffering, Frankl’s book has riveted generations of readers, including me.





Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazi. This author is a hardcore networker and shares many excellent insights about how to build your people power base.






New Psycho-Cybernetics (The): The Original Science of Self-Improvement and Success That Has Changed the Lives of 30 Million People by Maxwell Maltz, M.D., F.I.C.S. I’d heard about this book but had avoided it because “psycho-cybernetics” sounded vaguely cult-ish to me. How wrong I was. The premise of this book is that unless and until a person achieves total acceptance of himself, he is bound to self-sabotage at some point. The core message of this book is outstanding, highly recommended.




No B.S. Time Management by Dan Kennedy. This guy is good, I like his “no B.S.” style and subscribe to his free marketing newsletter. You should, too.





Power Schmoozing by Terri Mandell. A former publicist, Mandell’s book is a great practical guide to leaping out of your comfort zone, conquering shyness and learning how to handle social situations so you can enjoy smooth sailing in all your interactions. Essential for conveying yourself and your ideas.






Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki. I wish I’d read this book at the age of 7. Important financial principles are included here in an easy-to-read style. The book busts the myth of working for a paycheck, and it’s changed the way I manage my finances with positive results. The best take-away from this book is how to create passive income so you can earn money in your sleep.




Secrets of Power Persuasion by Roger Dawson. If you can’t negotiate, you’re at a disadvantage. Everything is a negotiable!  Having had no experience with negotiation growing up, I read every book on the topic I could find to correct what I saw to be a huge disadvantage, and Dawson’s books are the best. I was so motivated after reading his first book that I phoned him up and negotiated 25 free copies of the book out of him. That felt good!





Secrets of the Millionaire Mind by T. Harv Eker. Change your way of thinking to change your outcomes. Best advice I took from the book: CZ = WZ. Your comfort zone equals your wealth zone. The more you expand your comfort zone, the more you increase your wealth. In my view, the more you expand your Comfort Zone, the greater your Success Zone will be. 




So Good They Can’t Ignore Your by Cal Newport.  The year I read this, I bought 50 copies as Christmas and Hanukah gifts for NARIP Board members, my friends and a few colleagues.  It’s got the most pointed career advice I’ve read in a long while, and I rate is as highly useful.  Pay special attention to the concept of “deliberate practice.”




Power (The) of Now by Eckhart Tolle. The author explains how living in the now is the truest path to happiness and enlightenment. Tolle is a widely respected teacher whose views go beyond any particular religion or doctrine, showing us how we can access our deepest self by living fully, and intensely, in the now. This book is so powerful that I distributed dozens of copies as gifts to friends and associates the year I read it.





7 Habits of Highly Effective People (The) by Stephen Covey. Simply excellent, a classic. I benefited especially from the chapter on time management and the four quadrants.






Success Profile (The) by Lester Korn. Former U.S. Ambassador Korn met so many top level execs worldwide in his travels that he formed what has become one of the leading global executive search firms today – Korn / Ferry International. In this book, he presents straightforward advice on how someone entering the work force today can distinguish himself and rise to the top in even the most highly competitive industries. Excellent.




Tightwad Gazette (The) by Amy Dacyczn. This book validated my saving habits and frugality, and how important these are for achieving goals and freedom from the dreaded rat race. More importantly, it imparts philosophical concepts that will help you resist the pull to spend money on things you don’t need, rather, to focus on what’s most important to you.





Tipping Point (The) by Malcolm Gladwell. This New York Times Bestseller got on the book charts for a good reason. It’s a fascinating exploration of how trends are created.






RECENTLY ADDED: Thirty Rooms To Hide In: Insanity, Addition, and Rock ‘n’ Roll in the Shadow of the Mayo Clinic by Luke Longstreet Sullivan. Autobiographical account of growing up in a family of six boys with an alcoholic father.  I include this book here for its poignancy and because in the quest for great careers, many people are their own worst enemy.  Often this can be traced back to a difficult childhood.  The effects of abuse in any form are far-reaching and can last long after children grow up and leave the house.  One of the worst things about abuse is, in my opinion, not the abuse itself, but that it can begin to feel commonplace and eventually acceptable.  For this reason (among others) – letting people know that any abuse is unacceptable – this book is immensely important.


RECENTLY ADDED: Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide To The Art of Long-Term World Travel by Rolf Potts.  I love traveling the world and was lucky to do a great deal of it when I was very young, which only made me want to see more.  I back-packed as a student (and loved it) and was reminded of the freedom of movement back then which I plan to recapture.  My goal is to visit at least three new places a year, and most years that’s easy to do.  In my view, the more people can travel at a young age, the more understanding they are likely to have for the rest of the world.  Traveling is a must to improve self-awareness, personal courage and confidence, cultivating a sense of adventure, creating opportunity and forming lifelong friendships.  I love this book.


War of Art (The) by Steven Pressfield. A book about how to break through blocks and win your inner creative battles. Highly useful. It was groundbreaking for me and helped me achieve new levels of creativity.  A game-changer.





Think And Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill. Excellent check list of 13 principles based on commonalities discovered in over 500 super successful business people. Published in 1937, this book has stood the test of time because these principles work.





Write It Down, Make It Happen by Henriette Anne Klauser. I am a big believer in writing things down to make them happen, and this book details why this is such an important practice and the huge rewards it yields to those who do it.  Writing it down is the first commitment to making it real, and manifesting what you want.  See also The Bullet Journal Method and Breaking The Habit of Being Yourself on this Recommended Reading List.





Your Favorites?

Got any favorite books?  Drop me a line and let me know, especially ones that changed your life or that you found utterly fascinating and couldn’t put down. I would love your recommendations to expand my reading list, fiction and non-fiction. Email me at tess AT narip DOT com with “My Favorite Book(s)” in the subject line and it will get special attention.

One last thing: please support your local booksellers, authors, artists and creators.  I buy direct whenever possible.