20 Book Recommendations From Elon Musk
books Elon Musk recommends

Elon Musk Top 20 Books That Will Advance Your Knowledge

books Elon Musk recommends

Elon Musk recommends the most exceptional readings. While other legends such as Bill Gates led toward imaginative books, Musk’s compilations are about science. The Tesla CEO and founder of SpaceX and PayPal inspire people to dream big. 

Of course, exceptions cover conventional business, but the rest revolve around scientific history or its relation to public policy. Besides, Musk attributes his success to reading books. 

Here are some of the recommendations from Elon Musk’s library.

1. Benjamin Franklin: An American Life by Walter Isaacson

Elon Musk identifies Benjamin Franklin, the character in “An American Life,” as one of his role models. In an interview with Foundation 20, he talked about how Benjamin Franklin was an entrepreneur who started from nothing.

“An American Life” is a Ben Franklin biography that Elon Musk recommends for enhancing living standards. Although Musk’s place of birth is South Africa, he had to travel to the US, where he studied, started entrepreneurship, and later became a full citizen. 

“An American Life” inspires Musk because he considers Ben Franklin the person he (Musk) would like to become.

2. Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman by Robert K Massie

The award-winning book inspires its readers with the mere portrait of a woman. “Catherine the Great” is a story about a Russian princess who develops into one of the most powerful women in history.

There is no doubt that Elon Musk’s life revolved around brilliant, beautiful women, including his sister and former lovers. He draws from Catherine the Great, a historical character who, in many ways, corresponds to the women in his life.

3. Merchants of Doubt

“How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming” by Erik M Conway and Naomi Oreskes talks, in general, about scientists who revealed the truth about Tobacco and its connections to global warming.

 A debate in the book shows how scientists used corporate and political networks to intentionally obscure information about public health matters, including the impacts of smoking. 

The scientists generated income by causing the public to be skeptical about fundamental scientific research. 

Elon Musk recommended the book through a Twitter post in 2013.

4. Acts of Love by Tallulah Riley

“Acts of Love” is a stimulating contemporary romantic love story that will make your heart soar. The romance refreshes our memory on how the most influential relationships do not only concern the couple but also feature the pursuit of self-awareness and self-reflection. 

According to Elon Musk, the story’s plot draws from real-life experiences even though the characters come from fantasy.

5. Chapterhouse Dune by Frank Herbert

“Chapterhouse Dune” is a novel that has been popular for the past few years as the last of the Dune novel series. It was even ranked second on The New York Times best-seller list. 

The book is a work of science fiction that concentrates on the future events occurring in an astrophysical society where noble households regulate planetary lands. 

Musk described the novel as brilliant and added that the book’s author recommends restricting machine intelligence.

6. Screw Business as Usual

Turning Capitalism into a Force for Good by Richard Branson: When it comes to business ventures, Elon Musk advises readers who yearn for a notable future to read “Screw Business As Usual.” 

It is a Sunday Times best seller with some of the most thrilling and inspirational stories about people who can positively excite any reader. 

Elon Musk says that everyone should consider the strategic approach of turning Capitalism into a force for good since it is a smart move.

7. Ignition

“Ignition: An Informal History of Liquid Rocket Propellants” by John D Clark provides a historical account of the design of liquid rocket engines and the technologies used to develop them. It captivates readers with enthusiasm for the research and technological developments beyond the world of computer science. 

8. Life 3.0

If you want to join the discussion on how artificial intelligence (AI) is influencing the world, then “Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence” by Max Tegmark should be your next read. 

Elon Musk agrees that the book provides a tremendous baseline of knowledge on the scientific approach to AI. 

The mastermind behind Tesla Motors went to Twitter to add that the book is worth reading. In his tweet, he states that Artificial Intelligence will be the best or the worst thing ever for the human race, so we ought to get it right. The book also provides excellent insight into the challenges and revolutions of AI in life and the future.

9. Artificial Intelligence and the End of the Human Era by James Barrat

Elon Musk recommends “Our Final Invention” to readers, and the reason behind its reference is somewhat controversial. The book covers the advantages and disadvantages of artificial intelligence to humanity. 

The CEO of Tesla took to Twitter to post, “While on the subject of AI risk, Our Final Invention by @jrbarrat is also worth reading.”

10. Daemon by Daniel Suarez

“Daemon” is a book about a computer program known as Daemon that starts to transform the world after its original programmer dies. Elon Musk recommended the book on Twitter, saying it is a terrific read.

11. Deep Learning by Ian Goodfellow, Yoshua Bengio, and Aaron Courville

This book highlights the idea of industrial methods. In an interview, Elon Musk said that since the authors of the books are specialists in the industrial field, it provides extensive insight into the subject.

According to the SpaceX founder, “Deep Learning” presents a comprehensive approach and scientific groundwork for software engineers and learners pursuing the discipline and acts as a reference for the system. 

12. Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien

In between all the business books on Musk’s bookshelf are some wonderful fiction pieces. Musk recommends “Lord of the Rings,” a book that helped him shape his vision for his future. 

Musk told Friend, “The heroes of the books I read … always felt a duty to save the world.” By the looks of it today, it appears Tolkien’s whimsical tale inspired Musk in his successes.

13. The “Foundation” Trilogy by Isaac Asimov

A sci-fi novel that inspired Musk as a kid is “The Foundation Trilogy” by Isaac Asimov. Musk says that it was one novel that inspired him to pursue a business in space exploration. In an interview with The Guardian, Musk explains why. 

“It’s sort of a futuristic version of Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Let’s say you were at the peak of the Roman empire, what would you do, what action could you take to minimize decline?” 

Musk is doing his best to build a civilization on Mars by the year 2050.

14. Structures: Or Why Things Don’t Fall Down by J.E. Gordon

Musk went from coding to building rockets and attributes J.E. Gordon’s book helps do so. Gordon’s book explains why bridges don’t collapse or skyscrapers fall over. 

Musk tells Frances Anderton, creator of KCRW’s Design and Architecture show, “It is good if you want a primer on the structural design.” If you’re looking to compete with SpaceX, you’ll want to be sure to start with Gordon’s best-seller.

15. Einstein: His Life and Universe by Walter Isaacson

Walter Isaacson is the author of many other biographies and has published books on Steve Jobs, Benjamin Franklin, Leonardo da Vinci, and more. 

Isaacson happens to be one of Musk’s favorite authors to read, citing his book, “Einstein: His Life and Universe” as one. The book explains how Einstein became an inventor after many frustrating years of working as a patent officer through letters Einstein wrote.

16. Look to Windward by Iain M. Banks

The seventh book in the Culture Series, “Look to Windward,” takes place 800 years ago. The 50 billion people who inhabit the fictional planet Masaq are all grieving the aftermath of one of the most horrific wars society has ever seen. 

This is an original novel that anyone who is like Musk and enjoys sci-fi will want to pick up.

17. Lord of the Flies by William Golding

You probably read “Lord of the Flies” in high school. William Golding writes about a group of school children who get stranded on an island. To survive, the group of youngsters has to create a working civilization. Things go south, and everything that can go wrong does. An allegory about the dynamics of politics that Musk suggests everyone should read.

18. Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future by Peter Thiel and Blake Masters

Entrepreneur and investor Peter Thiel says that if you want to build a better future, you must believe in secrets. In his book “Zero to One,” Thiel advocates that progress in business isn’t limited to the tech industry but applies to all industries. This information and a positive approach to running a company made this book a number one best-seller.

19. Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies by Nick Bostrom

“Superintelligence” by Nick Bostrom is another New York Times best-seller that asks whether AI with save or destroy humanity. Right now, nothing is more intelligent and powerful than the human brain. If machine superintelligence becomes more powerful than humans, what will happen next? 

20. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

“The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” by Douglas Adams is a childhood favorite of Musk. Musk says that the comedic sci-fi novel was instrumental to his thinking. 

In 2018 when Musk launched a Tesla Roadster into space, he wrote the words, “Don’t Panic!” an iconic quote from the book, on the car’s center screen. 

Wrapping up

You can acquire extensive knowledge from the readings that Elon Musk recommends. With his love for books, his level of brilliance and innovation is not surprising. Besides being one of the most successful entrepreneurs, he recommends the most terrific reads that can mold your life and career. 

To be able to read all these books Elon Musk recommends and more, enroll in Iris Reading’s speed reading courses today. 

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  • Yash Pandhi

    Great suggestions! Thx.