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25 Best Nonfiction Books of All Time According to Richard Branson

Richard Branson, the renowned entrepreneur, adventurer, and founder of the Virgin Group, is not only known for his business acumen but also for his love of reading.

Branson has been an avid reader throughout his life, and he often shares his favorite books with the world.

In this blog post, we'll explore the 25 best nonfiction books of all time, according to Richard Branson.

Affiliate Disclaimer: This post features Amazon affiliate links, which means I may earn a small commission if you make a purchase through these links.

In "Originals," Adam Grant explores the fascinating world of non-conformity and innovation. The book delves into the minds of individuals who dare to think differently and challenge the status quo. Grant presents compelling research and stories that illustrate how original thinkers have shaped the world. Richard Branson values this book for its insights into the creative process and its potential to inspire readers to embrace their own uniqueness.

“Argue like you’re right and listen like you’re wrong.”― Adam M. Grant, Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World

As the founder of Salesforce, Marc Benioff shares his journey from startup to global success in "Trailblazer." He emphasizes the importance of values-driven leadership and creating a business that makes a positive impact on society. Richard Branson appreciates this book for its valuable lessons in entrepreneurship and social responsibility.

“To be effective as a leader, you need a reservoir of trust to draw from. And once you use it all up, it can take years and years to replenish.”― Marc Benioff, Trailblazer: The Power of Business as the Greatest Platform for Change

Sheryl Sandberg's "Lean In" has become a rallying cry for women seeking empowerment in the workplace. Sandberg challenges gender stereotypes and encourages women to lean into their careers with confidence. Richard Branson recognizes the importance of

gender equality and admires Sandberg's call to action in this thought-provoking book.

“What would you do if you weren't afraid?”― Sheryl Sandberg, Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead

Tom Wolfe's "The Right Stuff" immerses readers in the thrilling world of America's early space program. It chronicles the lives of the astronauts who had the courage to venture into the unknown. Richard Branson, a space enthusiast and adventurer himself, finds inspiration in the bravery and determination of these pioneers.

“Night landings were a routine part of carrier operations—and perhaps the best of all examples of how a man’s accumulated good works did him no good whatsoever at each new step up the great pyramid, of how each new step was an absolute test, and of how each bright new day’s absolutes—chosen or damned—were built into the routine.”― Tom Wolfe, The Right Stuff

Rebecca Costa's "The Watchman's Rattle" tackles the complexities of decision-making in a rapidly changing world. The book explores the challenges of solving intricate problems and adapting to a complex society. Richard Branson values this book for its insights into navigating the ever-evolving landscape of business and life.

“The real problem of humanity is the following: We have paleolithic emotions; medieval institutions; and god-like technology.”― Rebecca Costa, The Watchman's Rattle: Thinking Our Way Out of Extinction

"Dava Sobel's "Longitude" tells the remarkable story of John Harrison, a lone genius who cracked the elusive problem of determining longitude at sea. Harrison's invention revolutionized navigation and saved countless lives. Richard Branson admires Harrison's ingenuity and determination in the face of formidable obstacles.

“He wrested the world's whereabouts from the stars, and locked the secret in a pocket watch.”― Dava Sobel, Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time

"A Full Life" is former President Jimmy Carter's reflective memoir, offering a glimpse into his life and experiences. Carter shares stories of his upbringing, his presidency, and his tireless efforts in global diplomacy and humanitarian work. Richard Branson values the wisdom and dedication to public service that Carter conveys in this book.

“I have tried, at least most of the time, to set high objectives, to accept failures and disappointments with relative equanimity, to acknowledge and try to correct my mistakes and weaknesses, and then to set different and sometimes higher goals for the future.”― Jimmy Carter, A Full Life: Reflections at Ninety

In "Mandela's Way," Richard Stengel distills the leadership lessons learned from the extraordinary life of Nelson Mandela. The book explores Mandela's unwavering commitment to justice, forgiveness, and reconciliation. Richard Branson deeply admires Mandela's resilience and the enduring impact of his leadership.

“And that is how he would describe courage: pretending to be brave. Fearlessness is stupidity. Courage is not letting the fear defeat you.”― Richard Stengel, Mandela's Way: Lessons for an Uncertain Age

Nathaniel Philbrick's gripping narrative, "In the Heart of the Sea," recounts the harrowing tale of the Essex, a whaling ship that faced unimaginable challenges at sea. The book explores the themes of survival, determination, and the indomitable human spirit. Richard Branson is drawn to the story's resilience and the relentless will to survive against all odds.

“Hope was all that stood between them and death.”― Nathaniel Philbrick, In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex

Maya Angelou's "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" is a powerful memoir that delves into her childhood, struggles, and triumphs. It addresses issues of race, identity, and resilience, painting a vivid picture of Angelou's remarkable life journey. Richard Branson deeply respects Angelou's ability to inspire and uplift readers through her words.

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”― Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

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Jung Chang's comprehensive biography, "Mao: The Unknown Story," provides a revealing look into the life of Mao Zedong, the founding father of the People's Republic of China. The book sheds light on Mao's complex personality and the turbulent history of China under his rule. Richard Branson appreciates the depth of insight this book offers into a pivotal period of history.

“MAO TSE-TUNG, who for decades held absolute power over the lives of one-quarter of the world’s population, was responsible for well over 70 million deaths in peacetime, more than any other twentieth-century leader.”― Jung Chang, Mao: The Unknown Story

Nelson Mandela's autobiography, "Long Walk to Freedom," is a testament to his remarkable journey from prisoner to president. The book provides a firsthand account of Mandela's tireless struggle to end apartheid and promote reconciliation in South Africa. Richard Branson is deeply inspired by Mandela's unwavering commitment to justice and equality.

“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”― Nelson Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom

"Remote" challenges conventional notions of work and office culture in the digital age. Authors Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson explore the benefits of remote work and the potential for increased productivity and work-life balance. Richard Branson values this book for its insights into the future of work and the advantages of remote collaboration.

“you can’t let your employees work from home out of fear they’ll slack off without your supervision, you’re a babysitter, not a manager. Remote work is very likely the least of your problems.”― Jason Fried, Remote: Office Not Required

Desmond Tutu's "No Future Without Forgiveness" explores the power of reconciliation in post-apartheid South Africa. The book emphasizes the role of forgiveness and healing in the nation's journey toward unity and justice. Richard Branson is inspired by Tutu's unwavering commitment to forgiveness as a means of addressing past injustices.

“Thus to forgive is indeed the best form of self-interest since anger, resentment, and revenge are corrosive of that summum bonum, that greatest good, communal harmony that enhances the humanity and personhood of all in the community.”― Desmond Tutu, No Future Without Forgiveness

In "If I Could Tell You Just One Thing," Richard Reed gathers wisdom from a diverse group of leaders and thinkers. The book offers valuable life lessons and insights shared by influential individuals. Richard Branson appreciates the book's diverse perspectives and the wisdom it imparts to readers.

“We need people with different life experiences so we can hear each other's stories, to add to them, to understand them, to disagree with them, to help people stop feeling self-conscious about bumping into other tribes and help people feel there could be something richer if they experiment with other human relationships”― Richard Reed, If I Could Tell You Just One Thing...: Encounters with Remarkable People and Their Most Valuable Advice

"Limitless" by Ajaz Ahmed explores the qualities that make leadership enduring and impactful. The book delves into the principles and practices that allow leaders to thrive in a rapidly changing world. Richard Branson values the book for its lessons on enduring leadership and adaptability.

Natasha Milne's "101 Reasons to Get Out of Bed" offers a collection of inspiring stories and reasons to embrace life's challenges and opportunities. The book is a source of positivity and motivation, encouraging readers to find purpose and meaning in their lives. Richard Branson appreciates the book's uplifting message and its ability to inspire optimism.

Simon Sinek's "Start With Why" delves into the concept of purpose-driven leadership and the importance of finding a clear "why" for one's endeavors. The book emphasizes the significance of a compelling mission as a driving force for success. Richard Branson values the book's message of purpose and its potential to inspire transformative leadership.

“When you compete against everyone else, no one wants to help you. But when you compete against yourself, everyone wants to help you.”― Simon Sinek, Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action

Stephen Hawking's "A Brief History of Time" takes readers on a journey through the mysteries of the universe. The book explores complex scientific concepts in an accessible way, inviting readers to ponder the nature of time, space, and the cosmos. Richard Branson shares Hawking's fascination with the universe and values this book for its ability to ignite curiosity and wonder.

“Any physical theory is always provisional, in the sense that it is only a hypothesis: you can never prove it. No matter how many times the results of experiments agree with some theory, you can never be sure that the next time the result will not contradict the theory.”― Stephen Hawking, A Brief History of Time

"Abundance" by Peter Diamandis paints an optimistic vision of the future, highlighting the potential for technological advancements and innovation to improve humanity's quality of life. The book challenges pessimistic views and encourages readers to embrace the possibilities of progress. Richard Branson is inspired by the book's hopeful outlook and its call to action.

“Abundance is not about providing everyone on this planet with a life of luxury—rather it’s about providing all with a life of possibility.”― Peter H. Diamandis, Abundance: The Future Is Better Than You Think

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Bruce Chatwin's travel memoir, "In Patagonia," transports readers to the remote and mesmerizing landscapes of Patagonia. Through vivid storytelling, Chatwin captures the beauty, culture, and allure of this unique region. Richard Branson, an adventurer at heart, is drawn to the book's exploration of the natural world and its captivating narratives of travel.

“In Patagonia, the isolation makes it easy to exaggerate the person you are: the drinker drinks; the devout prays; the lonely grows lonelier, sometimes fatally.”― Bruce Chatwin, In Patagonia

Matthieu Ricard's "Happiness" serves as a guide to developing the essential skill of happiness. The book draws on Ricard's experiences as a Buddhist monk and scientist to offer insights into leading a more fulfilling and joyful life. Richard Branson values the book's wisdom and its emphasis on well-being and mindfulness.

“We try to fix the outside so much, but our control of the outer world is limited, temporary, and often, illusory.”― Matthieu Ricard, Happiness: A Guide to Developing Life's Most Important Skill

"Arctica" by Sebastian Copeland is a visually stunning exploration of the fragile ecosystem of the Arctic. Through breathtaking photography, Copeland sheds light on the environmental challenges facing the North Pole and the urgency of protecting it. Richard Branson, a passionate advocate for environmental causes, values this book for its message of conservation and its stunning imagery.

Jamal Edwards' "Self Belief: The Vision" chronicles his journey from a humble background to becoming a successful entrepreneur and influencer. The book is a testament to the power of self-belief and determination in achieving one's dreams. Richard Branson admires Edwards' entrepreneurial spirit and resilience.

On Amazon

"New Power" explores influence, persuasion, and mobilization in our digital age. Jeremy Heiman's book equips readers with insights to navigate our interconnected world, making it essential for entrepreneurs, activists, and anyone curious about evolving power dynamics. This timely guide offers strategies for success in an era where new power dynamics continually reshape how we create impact.

“the right recipe for building an effective group is making people feel like they are part of it and that they can stand out in it.”― Jeremy Heimans, New Power: How Power Works in Our Hyperconnected World—and How to Make It Work for You


If you enjoyed these book recommendations, check out more similar list on my on my blog —

Richard Branson's 25 recommended nonfiction books cover a wide range of topics, offering valuable insights and inspiration for readers of all interests.

From leadership to science, travel to personal development, these books have the potential to enrich your life and expand your horizons.


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