The Startup Reading List

start up reading list books

In so many of the conversations I've had with startup founders and venture capitalists in the Bay Area and in New York, a book name gets dropped. Over the past several years, I've been compiling a list of the most popularly recommended titles. The list contains books about creating startups, financing, leadership, management, and more. If you have favorites that you don't see here, please leave your recommendations in the comments below!

I’ve tried to be inclusive here of both general startup materials as well as recommendations for those interested in starting startups in the fashion industry.

Quintessential Startup Books

The Innovator's Dilemma, Clayton Christensen

Zero to One, Peter Thiel

The Lean Startup, Eric Ries

Slicing Pie, Mike Moyer (Basics of funding and equity for startups.) 

How to Win Friends & Influence People, Dale Carnegie (This book is a classic, helpful regardless of your position in the corporate world.)

Crossing the Chasm, Geoffrey a. Moore (Finding product-market fit, growth from niche to mass market)

Four Steps to the Epiphany, Steve Blank

Thinking Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman

Measure What Matters, John Doer (Setting goals and measuring success. Using OKRs.)

Pitch Anything, Oren Klaff (Advice for selling your ideas.)

Free, Chris Anderson



Start with Why, Simon Sinek  

Do the Work, Steven Pressfield

Linch Pin, Seth Godin

The Tipping Point, Malcom Gladwell

Outliers, Malcom Gladwell

Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things, Michael Braungart

Executive Toughness,  Jason Selk (Helpful mantras for getting through challenges in work and in life.)

Extreme Ownership,  Jacko Willink (Tough love leadership, written by a former US Navy Seal.)



Freakonomics, Steven D. Levitt

Delivering Happiness, Tony Hsieh

The Pixar Touch, David Price

Enchantment, Guy Kawasaki

Steve Jobs Biography, Walter Isaacson (I'm reluctant to put this here... many regard characters like Jobs and Musk as their idols, and go on to parrot some of their infamously toxic behaviors.  These are examples of people who succeeded despite these flaws, not because of them.)


Organization and Management

Organize Tomorrow Today, Jason Selk and Tom Bartow

The No Asshole Rule, Robert Sutton (Letting go of the most toxic employees in your organization, no matter how important you believe their work to be.)

The New One Minute Manager, Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson (How to become everyone's dream manager.)

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen R. Covey

What Got you Here, Won't Get you There, Marshall Goldsmith (A management self-help book that walks through common pitfalls and how to overcome them.)

Good to Great, David Campbell (A management research study  comparing companies that failed to become great and those who succeeded .)



Crucial Conversations, Kerry Paterson

3-D NegotiationJames K. Sebenius

Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, Robert Caldini


Fashion and Technology-related

Artificial Intelligence for Fashion: How AI is Revolutionizing the Fashion Industry, Leanne Luce (Our first book about AI in the Fashion Industry.)

Fashionable Technologies, Sabine Seymour (A great overview of the wearables space especially.)

Clothing Appearance and Fit: Science and Technology, Woodhead Publishing

Innovation in Women's Intimate Apparel, Woodhead Publishing (Covers some of the extensive body scanning and fit research behind contemporary bras.)

Advances in Knitting Technology, Woodhead Publishing

Knitting Technology | A Comprehensive Handbook and Practical Guide, David J Spencer (Recommended by knitting experts and professors.)

Patternmaking for Fashion Design, Helen Armstrong (If pattern-making is relevant to your startup, this is the pattern-making book every fashion student learns from.)

Seeking more Recommendations

After I finished putting this list together, I realized that aside from my own book and the pattern-making book by Helen Armstrong, this list is made up of completely male authors. I believe that in order to make this information relevant to all of our readers, this list needs to become more inclusive of different voices in the space. Please include your recommendations below to help me improve this list! 🙏Thank you!