The mastermind behind PayPal, SpaceX, and Tesla, Elon Musk, is also dedicated to reading. He credits many of his successes to the books he reads as both a kid and as an adult. Did you know that his family says that as a child, Elon always had a book with him no matter where he went?
So, take it from one of the biggest and successful individuals in tech and add these books Elon Musk suggests to your list.
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
This book is a childhood favorite of Elon Musk. He says that the comedic sci-fi novel was extremely instrumental to his thinking. In 2018, when he launched a Tesla Roadster into space, he wrote the words, “Don’t Panic.” It is an iconic quote from the book itself, on the center screen of the car.
Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies – Nick Bostrom
This book is a New York Times bestseller, which begs the question of whether artificial intelligence (AI) will save or ruin humanity. As it stands today, nothing is more powerful and intelligent than the human brain.
Just imagine if machine superintelligence becomes stronger and powerful than humans. What will happen next?
Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future – Peter Thiel and Blake Masters
Investor and entrepreneur Peter Thiel cite that if you lie to create a better future, you need to believe in secrets. This book empowers that development in business is not limited to the tech industry but applies to every industry.
It is that information and positive approach to running a business that made this book a top bestseller.
Lord of the Flies – William Golding
You maybe have heard of this book back in high school. William Golding writes about a group of school kids who get stranded on an island. To survive, the group of youngsters has to make a working civilization.
However, things go south, and everything that could go wrong does. This book is an allegory about the dynamics of politics that Elon Musk recommends everybody must-read.
Look to Windward – Iain M. Banks
This is the seventh book in the Culture Series. The book happens 800 years in the future. The fifty billion individuals who live on the fictional planet Masaq are all mourning the result of one of the most terrible wars society has ever experienced.
Look to Windward is an original novel that anyone who is like Elon and enjoys sci-fi would like to pick up.
Einstein: His Life and Universe – Walter Isaacson
Did you know that Walter Isaacson is the famous author of many other biographies? In fact, he has published books on Leonardo da Vinci, Benjamin Franklin, Steve Jobs, and many more.
Isaacson happens to be one of the favorite authors to read of Elon, citing his book, Einstein: His Life and Universe as one of them. This book cites how Einstein became an inventor after so many challenging years of working as a patient officer through letters Einstein himself wrote.
Our Final Invention – James Barrat
Something that Elon talks about often is artificial intelligence and the impact it will have on humanity at the rate it’s being made today. James talks about in his book how AI could become the competitor of humanity.
The author also begs the question of whether or not people could coexist with something that could become stronger and more powerful over time. Elon rated this book as the top five books people must read about the future.
Structures: Or Why Things Don’t Fall Down – J.E. Gordon
Elon started from coding to creating space rockets and attributes Gordon’s book useful in doing so. Structures: Or Why Things Don’t Fall Down clearly discuss why bridges do not collapse or skyscrapers fall over.
Musk also mentioned in one show that it’s a good book if someone is looking for a primer on the structural design. So, if you are simply planning to compete with SpaceX, then you would like to be confident, to begin with, Gordon’s bestseller.
The “Foundation” Trilogy – Isaac Asimov
This book is another sci-fi novel inspiring Musk as a child. He says that it was the novel that motivated him to pursue a business in space exploration. In one interview with The Guardian, Elon cites why it is a kind of futuristic version of Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.
Musk is currently doing his best to establish a civilization on Mars by the year 2050.
Merchants of Doubt – Naomi Oreskes
This book narrates the story of how a loose-knit group of scientific advisers and high-level scientists with deep connections in industry and politics ran successful campaigns to mislead the public and refute well-established scientific knowledge over four decades.
Naomi Oreskes, along with Erik Conway, are both historians of science. They roll back the rug on this dark corner of the American scientific community, presenting how corporate interests and ideology, supported by too-compliant media, have skewed public understanding of some of the most pressing concerns of the modern era.
Life 3.0 – Max Tegmark
How will AI influence jobs, society, justice, war, crime, and our sense of human being? The advent of artificial intelligence has the potential to change the future more than any other technology. There is no better situated or qualified to discover that future than Max Tegmark, an MIT professor who has helped mainstream research on how to keep AI useful.
In an editorial review on the book, Elon Musk mentioned that the book is a compelling guide to the choices and challenges in our quest for a great future of consciousness, intelligence, and life—one Earth and beyond.
Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien
In between all the business books on Elon’s bookshelf are some amazing pieces of fiction. He suggests Lord of the Rings, a book that aided him in shaping his vision for his future. Elon told Friend that the heroes in the book always felt a duty to save the world.
By the looks of it now, it seems like the whimsical tale of Tolkien motivated Musk in his successes.