Every now and then, a bit of inspiration can go a long way in providing a much-needed boost in combating burnout, overcoming obstacles, and making sense of day-to-day life as a changemaker. We chose an admittedly difficult gig, and it’s nice to be reminded of why we’re putting purpose before profit and choosing to make our world a better place.

To inspire, inform, and generate ideas from the comfort of home, we’ve generally got three options: social impact documentariespodcasts, and books.

While the digital world has become a popular medium of choice for digesting information, sometimes there’s nothing as powerful as a good old fashioned book. As such, we’ve rounded up 5 books that we think every budding social entrepreneur needs to read.

Getting Beyond Better by Roger L. Martin and Sally R. Osberg

Getting Beyond Better is top on our list because it provides everything a budding changemaker might need when “social enterprise” is still a new and unrecognizable concept. The authors discuss what social entrepreneurship is, and how it works.

They travel through history, unpack some theory, and provide a framework for anyone trying to transform our world for the better. Whether you’re an individual, organisation, entrepreneur, civil society worker, or policymaker, we reckon you’ll learn something in these 272 pages.

Middlemarch by George Eliot

George Eliot’s Middlemarch is unlike the rest in this list. It’s a novel that was published in 1871—far before the idea of using business as a force of good had taken the world by storm. As a study of provincial life, the novel covers it all: society, self, human relationships, art, religion, science, and politics.

The book explores what it is to live a meaningful life, even when it may not be extraordinary, and ends on a perfect quote for reminding us that our most influential acts may go unrecognised:

“[F]or the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.”

Building Social Business by Muhammad Yunus

If Yunus’ name sounds familiar, it’s likely because you’ve heard of him before. In 2006, he won the Nobel Peace Prize after pioneering microfinance and founding Grameen Bank. So, it’s safe to say he knows a thing or two about changing the world.

Building Social Business: The New Kind of Capitalism that Serves Humanity’s Most Pressing Needs is an exploration of what it is to be a social business, as well as how the concept has evolved over the years. Perfect for budding social entrepreneurs, he also presents a road map for how a social enterprise can grow and truly thrive.

While Yunus has been a professor, don’t expect to get bogged down by heavy academic jargon. The book is an easy read and includes ideas, insights, and practical ideas for everyone.

Rocking the Boat by Debra E. Meyerson

Rocking the Boat: How Tempered Radicals Effect Change Without Making Trouble takes a deep dive into challenges and solutions for those of us who want to make a change—but without making too many waves in the world, organisation, or personal sphere we operate in.

She discusses the desire to do good and the difficulty in sometimes staying true to one’s values, and shares stories about how we can make a difference—even in places where it’s least expected.

Start With Why by Simon Sinek

Simen Sinek is a household name in the world of social entrepreneurship. His book, Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action introduces us to one of his main ideas, The Golden Circle.

Incorporating stories of individuals who have had influence over our world, Sinek reminds us that inspiring people, building organisations, and leading movements require us to first be clear on our why.

5 Books to Read to Be a Better Social Entrepreneur