Books have always been best friends of Elon Musk. He was smarter enough to get into a PhD., then dropped out because he thought it wasn’t relevant to him. His hunger for the written words has always accompanied him on his journey.
Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien
Musk was sharp and smart-mouthed kid of Pretoria of South Africa, where he got a nickname, Muskrat. He said that while he was alone, he used to read science fiction and fantasy, most common the Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien; which later helped to shape his future. Musk said, “The heroes of the books I read always felt a duty to save the world,”
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
When he was about 12 to 15, Elon Musk was suffering from an existential crisis. He couldn’t find the meaning of life even going deep into philosophers like Arthur Schopenhauer or Friedrich Nietzsche. It was the time he found a book which gave the best instructions to young Musk, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams.
He said, “If you can properly phrase the question, then the answer is the easy part, so, to the degree that we can better understand the universe, then we can better know what questions to ask.
Benjamin Franklin: An American Life by Walter Isaacson
Musk’s life was much like the life of Benjamin Franklin; he grew up in Pretoria, migrated to schooling in Canada, then landed up at the University of Pennsylvania and moved to Silicon Valley for the Stanford University’s PhD. program- are events which were much similar to the roadmap of Benjamin Franklin’s life.
Elon Musk said, “You can see how [Franklin] was an entrepreneur, he was an entrepreneur. He started from nothing. He was just a runaway kid.”
Einstein: His Life and Universe by Walter Isaacson
Einstein: His Life and Universe explore how an imaginative, impertinent patent clerk — a struggling father in a difficult marriage who couldn’t get a teaching job or a doctorate — became the mind reader of the creator of the cosmos.
Elon Musk said this book also inspired him very much besides the one of Benjamin Franklin. It is the story of a genius who has enlightened the world with his intelligence and ambition.
Structures: Or Why Things Don’t Fall Down by J. E. Gordon
While starting with SpaceX, the book that helped him in learning the basics of rocket science was J. E. Gordon’s Structures: Or Why Things Don’t Fall Down. Musk said, “It is really, really good if you want a primer on structural design,”
Ignition: An Informal History of Liquid Rocket Propellants by John D. Clark
This is a very rare book by an American Chemist and this book is EXTREMELY hard to get nowadays. Written about the growth of rocket fuels and how the science works this book contains the most amazing technical details, as well the politics involved. Musk said, “There is a good book on rocket stuff called ‘Ignition!’ by John Clark that’s a really fun one,”
Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies by Nick Bostrom
“Worth reading Superintelligence by Bostrom. We need to be super careful with AI. Potentially more dangerous than nukes.” This was Musk’s review after reading the book Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies of Nick Bostrom. This book introduces you to the events of what would happen if the Superintelligence surpasses the human being; which is why musk now has a bird-eye view on his advanced technologies of SpaceX, Tesla, and SolarCity.
Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future by Peter Thiel
Musk said, “Peter Thiel has built multiple breakthrough companies, and Zero to One shows how.”
When Thiel wrote his book about how to start a startup business, Musk has endorsed it completely.
Howard Hughes: His Life and Madness by Donald L. Barlett and James B. Steele
Musk said, “Definitely want to make sure I don’t grow my fingernails too long and start peeing in jars,” it’s a biography of an extraordinary filmmaker and aviation tycoon by Donald L. Barlett and James B. Steele, who became slightly mad at the end of his life.
Merchants of Doubt by Naomi Orestes and Erik M. Conway
‘Merchants of Doubt’ is an amazing documentary by two historians, Naomi Orestes and Erik M. Conway on how a handful of scientists obscured the truth on issues from tobacco smoke to global warming. Musk recommended the book at a D11 Conference in 2013 as well tweeted, “Same who tried to deny smoking deaths r denying climate change.”
The Foundation Trilogy by Isaac Asimov
Musk said, “The lessons of history would suggest that civilizations move in cycles. You can track that back quite far — the Babylonians, the Sumerians, followed by the Egyptians, the Romans, and China. We’re obviously in a very upward cycle right now and hopefully, that remains the case. But it may not. There could be some series of events that may cause the technology level to decline. Given that this is the first time in 4.5 bn years where it’s been possible for humanity to extend life beyond Earth, it seems like we’d be wise to act while the window was open and not count on the fact it will be open a long time.”
The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress by Robert Heinlein
A science fiction classic by Robert Heinlein, not much far in future, it gives us a picture of Dystopia. Just like the dream of Musk; this is an amazing yet realistic world where after being exiled to the moon, a team of scientists builds a libertarian society on it. Later, some rebels including a one-armed computer technician and a supercomputer called Mike starts a revolution on the colony in 2076 against the earthbound rulers.
The Culture Series by Iain M. Banks
It’s a compelling picture of a grand, semi-Utopian galactic future’, Musk tweeted, ‘Hopefully not too optimistic about AI.’ Musk has been deep in this semi-anarchist society, known as Culture. This future city has everything that is predicted, humanoid robots, artificial intelligence, aliens everything summed up.
Our Final Invention by James Barrat
The warning of Elon Musk about the artificial intelligence is very prominent. Even just to keep an eye on what’s going on with artificial intelligence; he also invested in AI Firm DeepMind. Barrat painted a close look at the very future of AI, measuring both the advantages and disadvantages of them, Elon Musk referred to it as one of the best in his collection and worth reading.