My fantasy vacation would be a long train ride (perhaps across Canada) accompanied by a stack of books I’ve been meaning to read. Of course, I’m never without a book–or several–in some stage of completion. Since summer is a downtime for parts of my business, I take advantage of that by upping my reading. My reading list always includes at least one classic, often one that I had overlooked such as East of Eden or a return visit to Dickens or Jane Austen.

Whether you’re headed for the beach or staying busy at home, here are a few suggestions for some obvious and not-so-obvious reading for the Joyfully Jobless.

Since I’ve long resented the snobbery that classifies some work as Good and other as Bad, I was excited to learn about Shop Class as Soulcraft. Author Michael B. Crawford, the philosopher with a wrench, abandoned his academic path and found bliss running  his own motorcycle repair shop. He says, “This is a moment when the useful arts have an especially compelling economic rationale. The imperative of the last 20 years to round up every warm body and send it to college, then to the cubicle, is tied to a vision of the future in which we somehow take leave of material reality and glide about in a pure information economy. But this has not come to pass. To begin with, such work often feels more enervating than gliding.”  

At the last minute, I grabbed Ernest Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast to take along on my trip to Madison last week. I had read this nonfiction work several years ago, but this time it struck me in a whole different way. This memoir covers the years Hemingway spent in Paris before he became a famous writer. It’s a powerful testimony to our capacity for creating a rich life even when money is scarce. “The one who is doing his work and getting satisfaction from it is not the one the poverty bothers…But then we did not think of ourselves as poor,” Hemingway recalls.

A  pair of books that will delight any booklover is Christopher Morley’s Parnassus on Wheels and The Haunted Bookstore. The hero is the owner of a traveling bookstore in the first volume and the owner of a conventional one in the second. Funny and eccentric, the passionate booklovers in these stories will endear themselves to you if you’re a bibliophile yourself.

Morley’s characters aren’t the only entrepreneurial protagonists; all sorts of mysteries center around a main character who is an entrepreneur. In Diane Mott Davidson’s culinary mysteries we meet crime-solving caterer Goldy Schulz. John Dunning’s Cliff Janeway is a detective-turned-antiquarian-bookseller. And, of course, there’s the beloved Precious Ramotswe (the Miss Marple of Botswana) in Alexander McCall Smith’s No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series. While these books are fun to read for the mystery plot line, they’re even more intriguing if you’re an entrepreneur yourself.

Benjamin Franklin advised, “Write something worth reading or live something worth writing.” Lynda Resnick has done both. A lifelong entrepreneur, Resnick’s Rubies in the Orchard is a terrific book on marketing woven into her autobiographical tale of growing several successful businesses. Obviously, this is a woman who was paying attention to the lessons along the way and the reader is the beneficiary of her wisdom.

One of my favorite books of this year is The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows which is out in paperback just in time for summer. I also loved the audio version with its perfect cast of narrators. This is storytelling at its finest. 

Got a book you’d like to add to the list? Let us know.

Don’t have time to read? Take a minute and check out Nicholas Bate’s  14 Reasons For Reading Books.

The other day one of my Twitter friends posted a message that said, “Listening to two 50-year-old men complaining about their boss Never want that to be me.” I’ve eavesdropped on those kinds of conversations myself and am always reminded that such grumbling would never happen in a chat with my joyfully jobless friends. 

It’s not just conversation that’s different, of course. Entrepreneurs develop a different mindset. So why was I perturbed when I saw another Twitter post that said, “EMPLOYEE MINDSET=accept what you can’t change. CEO MINDSET=change what you can’t accept”? For starters, CEOs are often not true entrepreneurs. They are, however, the chief perpetrators of the employee mindset. 

Unfortunately, most of us have had far more training on how to behave like an employee than on how to behave like an entrepreneur. Even after we make the transition to self-employment, that old thinking– which may have served us well when we worked for someone else–follows us into our own enterprise. When that happens, it can wreak havoc with our best and brightest dreams. 

Often, employee thinking is sneaky companion. Take the oh-so-emotional area of money. If we spent years justifying staying too long in a bad job by convincing ourselves that the money compensated for our misery, we may have a hard time accepting money for doing something we find deeply pleasurable. 

As Paul Hawken warns us, “Owning a business and working for one are as different as chalk and cheese.” The good news is you can learn Entrepreneurial Thinking and put it to work building the business of your dreams. While it does require effort, it’s easier than learning a new language or Texas Hold ‘em. 

One of the best ways I know to accelerate that process is by spending a day in my What Would an Entrepreneur Do? seminar. (The next one is happening on June 19 in Madison, WI). 

Even if you’re thousands of miles away from Madison, you can consciously build an Entrpreneurial mindset. Make an effort to listen and learn from the successful. Follow successfully self-employed people on Twitter or Facebook and notice what they find important enough to pass along. You’ll start noticing inspiring quotes, interesting articles, success stories about other entrepreneurs. Soak it up. 

Hop over to my book page and you’ll find several great reads written by entrpreneurial thinkers. There’s Lynda Resnick’s Rubies in the Orchard, Anita Roddick’s Business as Unusual, Paul Newman and A.E. Hotchner’s Shameless Exploitation: In Pursuit of the Common Good.

However you choose to build your  entrepreneurial mindset, don’t wait. Initiate. That’s what an entrepreneur would do.

A few weeks ago, I had to make a trip to the brake shop and grabbed a new book I’d received to keep me company. I settled in on a hard chair with a styrofoam cup of bad coffee and resigned myself to a long wait. Half an hour later, I was so enchanted by Lynda Resnick’s Rubies in the Orchard, I found myself hoping the repair would take a long time. 

I’ve been raving about the book ever since. When I saw that Resnick had written an article  called Five Reasons Americans Can Be Happy, of course I checked it out. Here’s a little sample:

Now is the time for which entrepreneurs have been longing. Those who choose to shun their muck-colored glasses for rosy ones will see the opportunity awaiting them. What’s more, they will see that innovation and altruism will attract the many talented individuals currently seeking employment, because those attributes are more lasting than the oversized tactics employed by yesterday’s dinosaurs.

America is the Home of True Innovation

Most of modern society’s greatest discoveries are the direct byproduct of the can-do spirit of the American inventor and entrepreneur. Think of some of the most recent achievements of our fellow citizens… the Human Genome Project, space exploration, computer technology and the Internet (there’s a reason code is written in English and not Hindu or Chinese). Now, faced with the potential devastation of global warming and the dangers of our dependence on foreign oil, America will focus its efforts on environmental advancements and be an example for change.

In America, technological breakthroughs breed like mechanical rabbits, with one new disruptive technology hopping after another. Some of the most innocuous inventions have proven earth-shattering, with reverberations felt around the planet. The Internet is the poster child for disruptive technology, but even such inventions as Amazon’s Kindle and Apple’s iPod have rocked their respective industries by changing how we entertain ourselves. There will be more disruptive technologies in this time of need. In a garage somewhere, two kids are cooking up a widget that will make our lives both easier and less expensive.

If you’d like to read the entire article, you’ll find it here.


Quick reminder that if you want to add seminars & workshops to your repertoire, there’s still time to join me for A Beginner’s Guide to the Seminar Business, my teleclass that’s coming up on Thursday, March 19, 8 PM Eastern, 5 PM Pacific.