9 Essential Books For Bloggers and Freedom Seekers (or How To Save $50,000 On An MBA)


It feels kind of odd doing a list post. It’s not usually my bag, but it’s refreshing. A few days ago, as I unpacked a box of books I mailed to my Parents, I came across my marketing library. I ran to my computer and immediately pumped out this article. It’s that important.

Learning about marketing is essential no matter what you want to do in life. Whether marketing yourself to prospective employers, marketing a product to the public, or marketing your blog online, you can learn a lot from old school marketers like the ones in this list.

Marketing isn’t about being sleezy. It’s about understand people. It’s about understanding yourself. It’s about doing a great job at giving people what they want. Which, in turn, will get you what you want.

As always, all of the links are Amazon affiliate links. Click on them or don’t. No worries.

1) Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion
by Robert B. Cialdini, Phd

I’ve read this book and listened to the audio so many times I can’t even count. (OK, that’s a lie, I’m sure I can count to 1 million!) If you haven’t read it yet go buy it, borrow it, or steal it now.

2) Breakthrough Advertising
by Eugene M. Schwartz

First published in 1966 and if you ask anybody who knows anything about copy writing they’ve read this book.

Fortunately, it’s $95, so that keeps it out of too many hands. :)

Yes, these books are listed in order of how I think you should read them. Get The Psychology of Persuasion first, then get Breakthrough Advertising.

When your world view has been sufficiently rocked move on to…

3) My Life in Advertising and Scientific Advertising
by Claude C. Hopkins

This one’s from the 1920s.

The quote on the cover is from David Ogilvy (I didn’t include his book in this list, but it’s also a must-read): “Nobody should be allowed to have anything to do with advertising until he has read this book (Scientific Advertising) seven times. It changed the course of my life.”

Enough said.

4) Method Marketing
by Denny Hatch

This book dissects how 8 successful multi-million dollar businesses were built. Companies you’ve heard of and companies you haven’t.

Getting into an abundance mindset is critical if you want to have Ridiculously Extraordinary Freedom. Not much else puts you in that frame of mind like reading how other people built successful companies.

5) The Boron Letters
by Gary Halbert

I paid $100 for my copy. (It’s the big book with no cover in the picture above.) You can have it free at the late Gary Halbert’s Web site: http://www.thegaryhalbertletter.com/newsletter-archives.htm

The actual letters are linked in the middle of the page there. Scroll down or do a search. 25 chapters of gold. Enjoy. (Then read every other letter at Gary Halbert’s Web site.)

6) Getting Everything You Can Out of All You’ve Got: 21 Ways You Can Out-Think, Out-Perform, and Out-Earn the Competition
by Jay Abraham

I love this book and I will review it in only 2 words: “host beneficiary.” Learn about it. Use it.

Host beneficiary helped me pocket 5 figure days a couple of times. I’m using it on a top secret Freedom project at this very moment. I’ll probably write about that project some time in the future.

7) The Robert Collier Letter Book
by…uhh…Robert Collier! :)

Written in 1937, another old time classic. ~500 pages. Read every word.

8) The Ultimate Sales Letter
by Dan S. Kennedy

I hate to list this book here. Why? About 5 years ago Dan ran a seminar that was promoted as an “absolutely no pitch all content” event. That meant the speakers would be providing massive value and not just standing up and selling us their garbage.

The cost was over $2,000. Add in a flight to Cleveland, a hotel for a few nights, and food and the total was over $3,000.

And guess what? It was a non-stop pitch fest with almost no content. There were a lot of big name marketers there (I won’t name names) who all agree with this statement, but not one of them would state it in public for fear of retribution. Me? I’m proud to commit commercial suicide.

So it’s bittersweet that I’m listing The Ultimate Sales Letter here. It’s an absolutely phenomenal book about copy writing and you should read it. But don’t pay the $3,000 idiot tax that I paid. ;)

9) Tested Advertising Methods
by John Caples

Proven headlines. Proven ads. Proven techniques. Tested Advertising Methods.

There you have it. Want to save $50,000 on an MBA? Read those books and go fail in a business or two. ;)

If you follow my Twitter you may have already read this but:

“Success can be built upon repeated failures when failures aren’t taken personally.” – Brendan Moynihan in What I Learned Losing a Million Dollars
(read that one too)


Did you participate in Ridiculously Extraordinary Challenge #1: Quit Drinking Alcohol For 30 Days? If you made it until today, congrats! You can drink again if you so desire. If you didn’t make it, are you going to start over? As we just learned, don’t take failures personally. I know you can do it.


  1. Hey Karol,

    I’ve read a few of the books you mentioned and they are the best. If you want to get a marketing education, I’m sure these books will help, especially if you take action on what you read.

    Great post and Happy Holidays!


  2. Argh,

    another great list of books to read. When one should find time for all this reading? And place for stacking all those books waiting to be read? Life is hard for curious people. :P

  3. Karol… I’ve read a lot of marketing books and haven’t come across these. So thanks for the leads on some good positive reading. Marketing has always been so powerful and no more so than in today’s technology.

    I look forward to reading some new material…


    • You’re right Jason. Marketing will always be powerful. And the essence of it doesn’t change. Technology changes around it. :)

      Enjoy the new reading. :)


  4. Can you also tell me how to save $20k on an MFA in Creative Writing? Because that’s what I’m considering. I already quit the MBA. Never, never start with statistics as your first course! I’ll def. be going through these.

  5. Awesome list of books. I actually have not read any of these. I shall read these, reading your blog I can tell you have some good writing skills. Very attractive headlines too!

    Tried out the 55L pacsafe on my Deuter Futura 32L, works awesome!

  6. Thanks for the list! I saw a pretty heafty list of books that include new classics for people interested in doing a “personal MBA”, but I think I’ll start with yours… it’s a shorter list!

    And you have beautiful floors!

  7. 48 Laws of Power
    The 50th Law
    Hypnotic Writing
    Maximum Persuasion (audio series)
    BodyMod.TV (plug for my new site that has nothing to do with this posting =)

    .: Adam

    • haha, dude…last time I linked to your site (from my Munich article) I got a few e-mails. :)

      Thanks for the book recs. Hopefully they have Kindle versions so I can check em out while I’m on the road.

  8. Have read them all, and thoroughly endorse their value.

    I now have most of them on audio so I can continue to listen & learn from intelligent, useful information when driving, walking etc. It’s amazing how much more you absorb from the second or third reading/listening.

    Well done.

    • Thanks Trevor! I only have the most important one on audio: Cialdini’s Influence. :) I probably should look into getting the rest as well.

  9. Thanks for the list! I found your site through the post on Zen Habits last night and have been on and off on it all day! Great material, hopefully i can be the girl version of you! ha

    Have a good one!!

    • Hi Laila!

      The girl version of me, huh? The world might be in trouble if we were to ever join forces! :)

      Thanks for finding me through ZH! Glad you’re into what I’m doing here.


  10. Hey Karol!

    Just found this list through your ZH post, looks like an awesome place for me to start my business library. Thanks for the list, and good luck with your launch!

  11. Hi Karol!

    Thank you for the list! I’ve already read Cialdini’s Influence in russian. It’s awesome! That’s just the beginning of your list) Hope to find other books in russian, if not I’ll try them in english:)

    • Oh, very cool! That’s awesome that Cialdini is translated into Russian. :)

      I hope you find everything else you’re looking for Rodion.


  12. Hey Karol,
    I’ve got 7 out of 9- not the Jay Abraham or Kennedy book. Have read a few of them several times. Saw that comment by Ogilvy as well.
    I had seen Kennedy’s stuff, but was hesitant to get it, since I had also heard the negative side…. I actually noticed a copy of it at a book bazaar in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Didn’t pick it up though.
    It’s funny that your review which does not speak well of his seminar might actually make me get it this time.
    Thanks for putting the list together, glad I stumbled across your site.

    • Hey Neal! Thanks for coming by. Fortunately, a lot of Kennedy’s general info can be used for good. :)

      Abraham’s book rocks, by the way. I definitely recommend it.

  13. Yes! I’ve just been searching for -exactly- the kind of books you mentioned here. I started the first book yesterday (Robert Cialdini), and today I found this list.

    This is an awesome list, and if I don’t end up reading every one of these books, promise me that you’ll kick my ass

  14. I read all but the Denny Hatch one… and just ordered it :) I love discovering new books. Thanks for the list.

    For some reason, I seem to be the only one who thinks the Robert Collier Letter Book is overrated. At some point I’m going to have to pull it out and read it again… I just don’t get the fuss.

    Also worth mentioning:

    Joe Sugarman’s Copywriters Handbook

    Ben Suarez 7 Steps to Financial Freedom (one of the best I’ve read that helped me understand the math behind marketing)

    Positioning By Jack Trout and Al Reis

  15. Greetings from India, working in a market research company, and believe me, most of the days, I just want to be get out of here…I am not enjoying working any more, with the same kind of disciplined work (if I must say). I am just fed up of it. Whenever I have free time (most of the time I am free) . I love to read blogs, and I came across yours.
    So, may be some day, I will quit, and will do all the things that I wanted to do. And in this process may be I will also able to fulfill my dream…

  16. What an awesome list. I haven’t yet read any of the books you mentioned but am looking forward to doing so. Btw Karol, you have outstanding content and, have really inspired me!

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