‘I was raised by books. Books, and then my parents,’ Musk said in an interview with Neil Strauss for Rolling Stone’s latest cover story.
Here are eight books that shaped the revolutionary entrepreneur:
1. “Structures: Or Why Things Don’t Fall Down” by J.E. Gordon
“It is really, really good if you want a primer on structural design,” Musk says.
2. “Benjamin Franklin: An American Life” by Walter Isaacson
“You can see how [Franklin] was an entrepreneur. He was an entrepreneur. He started from nothing. He was just a runaway kid.”
3. “Einstein: His Life and Universe” by Walter Isaacson
4. “Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies” by Nick Bostrom
5. “Merchants of Doubt” by Erik M. Conway and Naomi Oreskes
Musk recommends this argument by two historians who believe that scientists with political and corporate connections have purposefully muddied the facts around many public health issues, such as the negative effects of smoking. He posted his recommendation on Twitter in 2013.
6. “Lord of the Flies” by William Golding
“The heroes of the books I read always felt a duty to save the world,” he told the New Yorker.
7. “Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future” by Peter Thiel
An interesting exploration of the process of building super successful companies.
8. The “Foundation” trilogy by Isaac Asimov
In a 2013 interview with The Guardian, Musk said Asimov’s books taught him that “civilizations move in cycles,” a lesson that encouraged the entrepreneur to pursue his radical ambitions.
“Given that this is the first time in 4.5 billion years where it’s been possible for humanity to extend life beyond Earth,” he said, “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 told Rolling Stone he found Asimov’s work influential because of its parallel to historian Edward Gibbon’s 18th-century famous series “The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire” as applied “to a sort of modern galactic empire.”
“The lesson I drew from that is you should try to take the set of actions that are likely to prolong civilization, minimize the probability of a dark age and reduce the length of a dark age if there is one,” Musk said.
This is a shortened version of this article. We did not write it, we only shortened it.