What are Elon Musk’s favorite books?
I went through every source I could find to learn which books Elon Musk recommends. In total, there were five different interviews referenced, with 18 books mentioned.
Not only that, Elon had some unique insight into the importance of reading. Before you jump into his favorite books, here’s three interesting quotes on reading from Elon.
Elon Musk Quotes on Reading
From a Bloomberg interview on Elon, the article quotes:
Young Elon was a big reader. “He would go through two books in one day,” says Kimbal (his cousin)
From an interview with Kevin Rose:
I didn’t read, actually, very many general business books, but I liked biographies–autobiographies; I think those are pretty helpful.
So I like–and actually, a lot of them aren’t really business [books]–something like, Franklin’s–both his autobiography, and, say, the biography that’s written by… well, not that recently, but in, I guess, 5 or 10 years ago […] the biography by Isaacson on Franklin is really good.
You can sort of see how he kind of… because he was an entrepreneur; he sort of started from nothing he was actually just like a runaway kid, basically. And created his printing business, and just sort of about doing that, and then over time, he also did science and politics. So, I would would say certainly, he’s one of the people I most admire. Franklin’s pretty awesome. But then I also feel it’s worth reading books on scientists and engineers—[for example, Nikola] Tesla, obviously.
From an interview with Alison van Diggelen
I guess when I was around 12 or 15…I had an existential crisis, and I was reading various books on trying to figure out the meaning of life and what does it all mean? It all seemed quite meaningless and then we happened to have some books by Nietzsche and Schopenhauer in the house, which you should not read at age 14 (laughter). It is bad, it’s really negative.
So then I read Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy which is quite positive I think and it highlighted an important point which is that a lot of times the question is harder than the answer. And 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. Then whatever the question is that most approximates: what’s the meaning of life? That’s the question we can ultimately get closer to understanding. And so I thought to the degree that we can expand the scope and scale of consciousness and knowledge, then that would be a good thing.”
Elon Musk’s Favorite Books
To compile the books recommended by Elon Musk, I found these sources:
- Jim Cantrell, his partner at SpaceX, on the books he borrowed but never returned
- In an interview with Kevin Rose
- Business Insider article
- His Twitter
- Interview with Alison van Diggelen
Elon Musk Recommended Biographies
Elon Musk Recommended Business Books
Elon Musk Recommended Fiction Books
- The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
- The Lord of the Rings
- The Foundation Series
- The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress
- The Culture Series
Elon Musk Recommended Science Books
- by George P. Sutton, Oscar Biblarz
- by Roger R. Bate, Donald D. Mueller, Jerry E. White
- by S. Isakowitz, J. Hopkins, J. Hopkins Jr
- by J. Mattingly, H. von Ohain
- Structures: Or Why Things Don’t Fall Down’ by J.E. Gordon
- Ignition!: An Informal History of Liquid Rocket Propellants’ by John D. Clark
- Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies’ by Nick Bostrom
- Merchants of Doubt by Naomi Orestes and Erik M. Conway
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