Book Lists

5 Classic Books That Have Inspired Innovative Thinking Throughout Time

Faisal Hoque
Faisal Hoque
Founder of SHADOKA, Co-Author of Everything Connects

(via Fast Company) Creativity, innovation, leadership, entrepreneurship–they all begin within us; each is very much a human process.

So naturally, the more we humanize the way we think and work, the more progress we can make in these arenas. If we understand the mental and emotional drivers of innovation and creativity, we can be more innovative and creative.

As a modern-day author, I have the privilege of standing on the shoulders of the giants who came before me. Their works, a diverse arrangement of titles and backgrounds, have inspired me to understand what’s behind things like innovation and leadership, and I believe they will inspire you too:

(See also our interview with Faisal for his book Everything Connects: How to Transform and Lead in an Age of Creativity, Innovation, and Sustainability.)

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Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy

1Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy by Joseph Schumpeter

Schumpeter saw the shifts occurring in the world in his day, the movement away from rigid standardization and toward the fluidity that we now know. He argued that evolving institutions, entrepreneurship, and technological change are at the heart of economic growth. He also said that the incentive to innovate is what makes capitalism the best economic system.

The Power of Myth

2The Power of Myth by Joseph Campbell

When we talk about myth, we tend to marginalize the word--to mythologize is to make grand, yes, but also to make unreal and unrelatable. Campbell, the comparative mythologist and student of Carl Jung, spent a lifetime explaining how the mythic may be the most real thing we have--for myths are simply the ways we organize meaning in our lives.

The Essential Drucker

3The Essential Drucker by Peter F Drucker

Containing 26 core selections, The Essential Drucker covers the basic principles and concerns of management and its problems, challenges, and opportunities, giving managers, executives, and professionals the tools to perform the tasks that the economy and society of tomorrow will demand of them.

The Miracle of Mindfulness: An Introduction to the Practice of Meditation

4The Miracle of Mindfulness: An Introduction to the Practice of Meditation by Thich Nhat Hanh

When people ask me about mindfulness, this is the first book I recommend. If you don’t yet know him, Nhat Hanh is a Vietnamese Zen master and one of the foremost living Buddhist teachers. This slim book, now a classic, took shape from a series of letters he wrote to a friend about the nature of meditation--it serves as the most lucid introduction to the practice.

Sādhanā: The Realisation of Life

5Sādhanā: The Realisation of Life by Rabindranath Tagore

Compiled and translated by Tagore from his Bengali lectures, the book consists of eight essays, in which Tagore answers some of the most profound questions of life: Why did God create this world? Why would a Perfect Being, instead of remaining eternally concentrated in Himself, go through the trouble of manifesting the Universe? Why does evil exist? Do love and beauty have a purpose? Tagore masterfully brings the spiritual truths behind these profound questions to light, with his lucid explanations of the Sanskrit verses of the Upanishads (Indian spiritual texts dating back to 800 B.C.) and the eternal teachings of Jesus and Buddha.