8 Top “Guilty Pleasure” Books for Summer Reading

If you buy something through our links, we may earn money from our affiliate partners. Learn more.

Just to be clear, my business book addiction also takes a vacation.  There’s only so much marketing strategy any small business owner can read about, right? Sometimes, you have to change it up and this is my summer reading list that has a small business spin, but is certainly not all business.

Summer Reading List

A Brief History of Swearing by Melissa Mohr

summer reading listAfter spending about 25 years in manufacturing, I’m ashamed to say that I’ve acquired a sort of potty mouth.  So when I saw this book on the NPR website, I thought I’d add it to my reading list.

Melissa Mohr takes us on a historic journey of swearing that will transform the way you react to swearing.  For example, she covers the difference between obscenities and oaths and goes into details about how swearing or not swearing in the Middle Ages could be a matter of life and death.  The book also covers censorship and the rise of racial slurs.

Overall, this book will make you a more refined consumer of language and add to some colorful cocktail talk over the summer.

The Entrepreneur Diet : The On-the-Go Plan for Fitness, Weight Loss and Healthy Living by Tom Weede

summer reading listFor those of us in colder climates, Summer is an ideal opportunity to lighten our eating and a great time to get healthy.

Entrepreneurs lead busy and stressful lives and The Entrepreneur Diet looks like a great book to point small business owners in a healthier direction.

This book is published by Entrepreneur Magazine, so you know they understand how we live.  Inside you’ll find habits for shedding fat, habits that work with busy schedules, stealth exercises that can be done on an airplane and many more healthy strategies for busy business people on the go.

A Curious Man: The Strange and Brilliant Life of Robert “Believe It or Not!” Ripley by Neal Thompson

summer reading listWhat’s a Summer reading list without a good biography?  When I saw this title about Robert Ripley (from Ripley’s Believe it or Not) it took me back to my childhood and one of my favorite books to grab when it was reading time and my favorite cartoon in the newspaper.

You’ll enjoy getting to know this cartoonist turned millionaire adventurer through the eyes of Neal Thompson (@NealThompson).  Ripley embodied the entrepreneurial spirit with his penchant for making outrageous statements that often turned out to be true such as that Charles Lindbergh was only the sixty-seventh man to fly across the Atlantic or that “The Star Spangled Banner” was not the national anthem. (Really?  I didn’t know this!)

This is why I loved Ripley and you will find his story inspirational.

Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us by Michael Moss

summer reading listSo if the healthy entrepreneur book didn’t get your attention, maybe Salt Sugar Fat will.  I heard about this book from some friends and then I heard an interview on NPR and this is how it ended up on my list.

I’m not one for conspiracies, but if you love documentaries like Food Nation, then you’ll want to grab this book for yourself.  Michael Moss (@saltsugfat), Pulitzer Prize winning writer for the New York Times unearths the “secret sauce” behind our cravings for all things salty, sweet and fattening.  (Whew!  I’m glad it’s not just my lack of willpower!)

As it turns out, food companies spend a lot of research dollars and time figuring out exactly what trips our taste buds into wanting more and more of their products.  They call it the “bliss point” and you’ll call this book riveting.

Hacking Your Education by Dale J. Stephens

summer reading listThis is the season where young people are either heading into college and about to spend more money than you can earn in a decade or getting out of college with relatively poor job prospects.

If you’re part of either of these conversations, then this will be a book for your summer reading list.  Dale Stephens (@DaleJStephens) claims that you can hack your education and that college degrees are antiquated.  The new generation of “Hackademics” (as he calls them) are building successful careers and futures with nothing more than curiosity, confidence and grit.

Hmm, sounds like the attributes of budding entrepreneurs, doesn’t it?

Top Dog: The Science of Winning and Losing by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman

summer reading listMany of you are going to be spending the summer at a variety of sporting events.  If you’re there with your kids or grandchildren, you might see everyone get a trophy and you’ll either applaud it or go on a rant. Whichever camp you fall into, here’s a book that will keep you company in the shade.

Top Dog is all about identifying your own competitive style and learning how to tip the odds in your favor.  For example, home field advantage matters in sports as well as in diplomacy and business, women are better at judging risk while men are better at ignoring it.

There are tons of other interesting strategic game plans you can learn from the world of sports that you can incorporate to build a winning business.

Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation by Michael Pollan

summer reading listSince I’m a foodie, Cooked grabbed my attention.  This is a really interesting book, not just about food and mastering the art of elemental cooking, but about impact of NOT cooking.

When we stop cooking, we hand off a critical component of nutrition as well as relationships to corporations.

Michael Pollan’s (@michaelpollan) position is that taking back control of cooking may be the single most important step anyone can take to help make the American food system healthier and more sustainable.

Start: Punch Fear in the Face, Escape Average and Do Work that Matters by Jon Acuff

summer reading listThe idea of “success first and significance later” is dead.  This is the phrase that stopped me cold in my tracks.  It explained why Gen X, Gen Y and the Millennials put such a high priority on the quality of how they spend their time and who they spend it with.

Jon Acuff (@JonAcuff), Wall Street Journal best selling author explains how much the idea of success has changed over the last 100 years.  Baby Boomers are starting second and third careers and technology has given rise to a whole new tribe of entrepreneurs.  Acuff explores the idea that there are only two ways to get through in life; average and awesome.  Average is the easier path and doesn’t require much effort, while the awesome path is extremely challenging.

So where is the middle?  You’ll have to read the book to find out.

As I pulled this summer reading list together, I noticed that I didn’t have any totally off the business path books.  Do you have any on your list?  What are you reading this summer to get your mind off of business?

Save money on shipping costs for your Amazon purchases. Plus, enjoy thousands of titles from Amazons video library with an Amazon Prime membership. Learn more and sign up for a free trial today.

Ivana Taylor Ivana Taylor is the Book Editor for Small Business Trends. She is responsible for directing the site’s book review program and manages the team of professional book reviewers. She also spearheads the annual Small Business Book Awards. Ivana publishes DIYMarketers, where she shares daily do-it-yourself marketing tips, and is co-author of "Excel for Marketing Managers."