Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has set himself the task of reading a new book every two weeks this year. We’ve picked five books that we think should be on that list.

In The Happiness of Pursuit, social entrepreneur Chris Guillebeau looks at the sense of fulfilment and purpose that can be gained from taking on a quest, such as the feat that Zuckerberg is embarking upon. Our lives are circumscribed by routine, but by challenging ourselves to take on something new – be it an artistic enterprise, a philanthropic deed or physical journey – we are able to bridge the gap between the dreams we believe are impossible and everyday reality.

In a similar vein, John-Paul Flintoff’s How to Change the World, part of the School of Life series, reminds us that it has been the courage and actions of individuals that, over the generations, have changed and shaped society. We might feel that we lack the ability or influence to do something transformative. Flintoff says otherwise. Through insights from history, politics and modern culture, he inspires readers to improve the world they live in. Small steps, he argues, can lead to much bigger things.

In order to change the world, perhaps we need to start at ground level and take a look at ourselves. In 59 Seconds, psychologist Richard Wiseman provides fast-acting, myth-busting scientific answers to a huge range of everyday problems. From job-hunting to relationships, and from parenting to self-esteem, Wiseman illustrates that personal and professional success may be less than a minute away.

Yet for Biz Stone, the co-founder of Twitter, the road to success was a tough one, as we see in Things a Little Bird Told Me. In these personal stories from his early life, Stone shows that failure must not to be feared, that opportunity can be manufactured and that empathy is core to success. Stone’s book is funny and illuminating, encourages risk-taking and highlights the power of creativity and self-belief.

Above all, overcoming hurdles gives us the greatest sense of achievement and insight. In Our Iceberg is Meltingwe follow a curious penguin in Antarctica, who struggles to get the rest of his colony to listen to him when he discovers a potentially devastating problem threatening their home. This is a story about resistance to change and heroic action, confusion and insight, seemingly intractable obstacles and tactics for dealing with them. Authors John Kotter and Holger Rathgeber use fable to demonstrate how the same story is occurring in different forms around us each day, and emphasise that we must learn ways of coping in this ever changing world. This is a simple book with profound lessons.