Elon Musk’s favorite Books

Hey Musk, how do you learn to build rockets?

“I read books…”

~ Musk Interview

“The heroes of the books I read always felt a duty to save the world,” – Musk

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.” – Musk Interview

In Franklin’s biography, “you can see how [Franklin] was an entrepreneur,” Musk says in an interview with Foundation. “He was an entrepreneur. He started from nothing. He was just a runaway kid.” – Musk Interview

Musk says he learned a lot from another biography by Walter Isaacson: “Einstein.” – Musk Interview

“It is really, really good if you want a primer on structural design,” – Musk Interview

“There is a good book on rocket stuff called ‘Ignition!’ by John Clark that’s a really fun one,”  – Musk

it’s “worth reading” Nick Bostrom’s “Superintelligence,” a book that makes the daring inquiry into what would happen if computational intelligence surpassed human intelligence. – Musk

“Peter Thiel has built multiple breakthrough companies, and ‘Zero to One’ shows how,” – Musk

“Definitely want to make sure I don’t grow my fingernails too long and start peeing in jars,” – Musk

“Same who tried to deny smoking deaths r denying climate change.” – Musk Tweet

In terms of sci-fi books, I think Isaac Asimov is really great. I like the Foundation series, probably one of the all-time best. – Musk

The lessons of history would suggest that civilisations move in cycles. You can track that back quite far — the Babylonians, the Sumerians, followed by the Egyptians, the Romans, 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 cause that technology level to decline. Given that this is the first time in 4.5bn 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. – Musk Interview

I think that’s Heinlein’s best book, honestly. – Musk Interview

Reading The Culture series by Banks. Compelling picture of a grand, semi-utopian galactic future. Hopefully not too optimistic about AI. – Musk Tweet

While on the subject of AI risk, Our Final Invention by is also worth reading – Musk Tweet


  • http://www.businessinsider.com/elon-musk-favorite-books-2015-10/#the-lord-of-the-rings-by-jrr-tolkien-1
  • etc
Karl Niebuhr

Karl Niebuhr

Hi there,
I often learn awesome stuff while reading and it makes me want to share that shit. That's what this site is for, hope you not just learn from it but enjoy it like I do!
Karl Niebuhr

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