My Book Recommendations (Lockdown Reading List)

We’re several weeks into lockdown, which means that I’ve been able to get in more reading than normal – there really hasn’t been a better time to catch up on reading.

I’ve meant to put a reading list together for a while, but it was tough to pick which books to include, since I didn’t want to just give out a massively overwhelming list of every book I’ve ever enjoyed.

These are the most important books that I’ve read in regards to being an online entrepreneur, with special regard to the context of everything going on right now: Changing times, some hardship, handling difficult situations, increasing importance of digital communication, and getting in front of the right people online, and more.

The following books recommendations cover a wide range of subjects that I think are non-negotiable reads if you want to be an expert in online business and marketing. Even better – your competition probably hasn’t read them, meaning you’ll have a powerful advantage, and a gap that they’re not likely to close.

Becoming an expert in advertising by only studying advertising books is like trying to bake a cake by only using chocolate. It takes a balance of different ingredients, some which you wouldn’t expect, in order to get the end result of a chocolate cake. You don’t taste the eggs in your cake, but the cake would never happen without them.

In the same fashion, you don’t notice the psychology involved in good advertising or web design – but it’s a critical part.

With that in mind, I won’t attempt to summarize any of these books, as it wouldn’t even come close to capturing the value contained inside.

I’ll still give each book a bit of context for being included in this list, and remember: Each one of the books below comes with my highest recommendation. I suggest reading them all, so go with whatever catches your eye.

To anyone who wants to improve their business and life during this lockdown, here are the books I recommend.

Morgan’s Lockdown Reading List

Adweek Copywriting Handbook (Advertising & Copywriting) [Amazon]
If I had to recommend just one book about copywriting, this would be it. Like most books written by a copywriter, it’s very well written, and provides a comprehensive explanation of advertising & copywriting in a way that’s easy to learn from and apply in your own business (or for clients).

The Boron Letters (Business Mindset & Advertising) [Amazon]
This is probably my most recommended read. This series of letters was written by the late great Gary Halbert, and despite their format, I feel like it classifies as a short book. You can find it for free online (I’ve gathered the links here). It’ll probably take just a few hours tops to get through them all.

Confessions Of An Advertising Man (Advertising & Business) [Amazon – ~10 in stock]
Is it possible to become a great advertiser without studying the legends of the past? David Ogilvy is regarded as the “Father Of Advertising”, and he wrote this book. Nothing more needs to be said about this book.

How To Win Friends & Influence People (Mindset & Psychology) [Amazon ~18 in stock]
This book is so well known that it feels a bit cliche to recommend it – although I’d wager a guess that many people who reference or recommend it haven’t actually read it themselves (Totally anecdotal based on what I’ve heard from other folks). This one’s popular for good reason, which is why I’ve read it again and again, often referencing chapters that are relevant for my own situations.

Influence (Psychology & Persuasion) [Amazon]
Similar to the last book, this one also feels like a bit of a cliche in the sense of how well know and highly recommended it is. That said, I’ve still spoken to far too many entrepreneurs who have read about it, but haven’t actually read the book. Outside of the marketing lessons, this book is a must-read for anyone who wants to navigate the modern world on their own terms without being dragged from one place to another by all of the external influences that you can’t ignore without knowing about them.

On Writing (Writing) [Amazon]
The ability to write well is arguably more important than ever. Website copy, emails, social media posts – they all boil down to written communication. This book isn’t about advertising or business, but becoming a better writer will help you perform better in both areas. Your text/messenger communications will benefit, too.

Meditations (The Emperor’s Handbook) (Philosophy & Mindset) [Amazon]
This is an excellent translation of Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations, a time-tested collection of entries from his personal journal, examining life and his place in it. I re-read these pretty often, and my day (and life) is always better because of it.

Thick Face Black Heart (Business Mindset & Philosophy) [Amazon]
I particularly like this book because of the accessible style that it was written. The lessons inside are great, providing insight into some of the Eastern approaches to business philosophy that we rarely see in the West. Each chapter has a useful summary of the key points that it covered, which is a handy and quick reference that I found often matched up with my own highlights.

How to Argue and Win Every Time (Persuasion & Mindset) [Amazon]
A great read on negotiation, persuasion, and a surprising amount of mindset. I got way more value out of this book past the claim of the title. It’s also an easy read.

Deep Work (Productivity & Mindset) [Amazon]
This book is a computer scientist’s perspective on getting focused work done in today’s busy world. It examines the problems we face in getting important work done with so many distractions, along with practical ways to overcome the challenges.

Man’s Search For Meaning (Psychology & Mindset) [Amazon]
This is an unforgettable read with some very powerful lessons inside that will stick with you. The writing is captivating, as Victor Frankl uses storytelling to bring you through his own journey through the Nazi concentration camps, along with his explanations of psychology, his discoveries in psychotherapy, and his insights on the meaning of life. If you’re struggling with a lack of direction in life or business, you need to read this.

Who Moved My Cheese (Business Mindset)
This book has a strange place in my heart. It’s very simple, but that’s also why I like it. Even though the writing can be a bit kitschy at times, I found the lessons inside to be both value, and impossible to forget simply based on how it’s written. A worthy read, even if just to study how it was done. [Amazon]

The Greatest Salesman In The World (Sales & Mindset) [Amazon]
This is another business ‘parable’ with some important lessons taught through storytelling. It can be a bit heavy-handed sometimes, but it also helps make the rules it teaches to stick. There’s a lot to be learned about perseverance and how to approach sales (and life) in this time tested book.


That’s all for now – these should be plenty to keep you busy for the next few weeks at least.

I could double this list with more recommendations, but I wanted to get this out sooner than later. Keep your eyes peeled for a part 2.

While you’re here, do you have any favorites from the list, or a recommendation of your own? If so, leave a comment below.

2 Comments

  1. Oshidipe Ganiyu Omobowale

    I love your recommendations

  2. Paul E

    A fantastic list of classics for anyone wanting to learn the craft of copy writing, advertising or marketing.
    Thanks for taking the effort to put this list together Morgan!

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