11 Book Recommendations From Elon Musk's Reading List

11 Book Recommendations From Elon Musk's Reading List

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While Tesla and SpaceX have really taken off in recent years, Elon Musk does not let his professional achievements get in the way of his spotlight and often makes headlines with his tweets.

The successful engineer has a considerably large audience on social media with whom he shares bits of his personal life, including book recommendations. Take note: Even with his presumably busy schedule, Musk finds time to cozy up with a good book.

Out of his book recommendations from the past several years including his childhood favorite to his mom's book, we have featured 11 of our picks below.

1. Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future, 2014

"This author has built multiple breakthrough companies, and this book shows how." - Elon Musk

"Zero to One," written by the famous investor and entrepreneur Peter Thiel and Blake Masters, focuses on the startup world in general and gives great tips for entrepreneurs in the modern business world.

2. Steve Jobs, 2011

"Quite interesting." - Elon Musk

This biography of the late Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson is based on Jobs' interviews and information collected from family and friends, colleagues, and rivals over a two-year-period. The book was written at Jobs' request before he passed away in 2011.

3. Dune, 1965

"Brilliant. The author advocates placing limits on machine intelligence." - Elon Musk

"Dune" is the first book of a science-fiction book series with the same name. Written by Frank Herbert, the saga has five sequels and is set in the distant future, on another planet.

First adapted to the screen by David Lynch in 1984, a new Dune adaptation is expected to hit the theaters in 2020, starring Timothée Chalamet.

4. Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence, 2017

"A compelling guide to the challenges and choices in our quest for a great future of life, intelligence, and consciousness — on Earth and beyond." - Elon Musk

In "Life 3.0," MIT professor Max Tegmark discusses frequently-asked questions about the future of artificial intelligence: How is AI going to affect the world of tomorrow? What will become of our sense of humanity after the rise of AI?

5. Surface Detail, 2010

"I recommend all of Banks' books. Especially this book." - Elon Musk

Musk recommends almost all of Banks' books, especially the Culture series. "Surface Detail" is the ninth book of the series. "The Culture," science-fiction series by Iain Banks (one of Musk's favorite authors), is mainly about "The Culture", a utopian society made up of humanoid races and artificial intelligence. Looking to embark on a space odyssey? Here's your ticket.

6. Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies, 2014

"Worth reading this book. We need to be super careful with AI. Potentially more dangerous than nukes." - Elon Musk

Swedish philosopher Nick Bostrom presents us with another good read about artificial intelligence. The book tackles how to handle the fast-growing technology industry. Superintelligence asks whether machine intelligence will someday surpass human intelligence, and what might happen afterwards.


7. Waiting for Godot, 1953

"Have recently come to appreciate the awesome, absurdist humor of this book." - Elon Musk

While not exactly a novel, Musk recommends this classic theater masterpiece, "Waiting for Godot" from Samuel Beckett, and it's clear to see why. This absurd comedy will enlighten you in ways you never knew could be.

8. The Machine Stops, 1909

"Worth reading." - Elon Musk

E.M. Forster's short story, "The Machine Stops," is about a dystopia where humans live underground, have lost contact with one another, and worship an entity called "The Machine" that provides for them while they sit idly in their rooms.

9. Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Climate Change, 2010

"Worth reading [this book]. Same who tried to deny smoking deaths are denying climate change." - Elon Musk

This controversial book from Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway received a lot of feedback from all around the world, not all positive. The book encompasses delicate matters that have affected humanity: Global warming, cancer, acid rains, ozone hole, and more. Merchants of Doubt dives into the world of experts' opinions and looks for the hard reality.

10. Atlas Shrugged, 1957

"A counterpoint to communism and useful as such, but should be tempered with kindness." - Elon Musk

"Atlas Shrugged" shows us a dystopian future with a sinking economy and a crumbling society under government oppression. Ayn Rand, the writer of this modern classic of the American literature, was a true visionary.

11. The Wealth of Nations, 1776

"Adam Smith FTW obv." - Elon Musk

"The Wealth of Nations" is a pioneering work about the political economy. The book has helped shape the world's economy today. Economist and moral philosopher Adam Smith discusses the evolution of the free-market economy in great detail in this classic work.

At a time when the tech superpowers like SpaceX are taking us out of this world, it's interesting to note that the greatest advancements always start in our minds — and it's by reading books that we challenge ourselves to improve the human condition.

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