5 Books Elon Musk Wants You to Read

July 13, 2018 ...

Don’t have time to read? Then give it a listen

When people ask him how he learned to build rockets, Elon Musk says,    “ I read a lot of books.”

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Elon Musk, the tech mastermind has started two successful companies, is now one of the greatest entrepreneurs the world has ever seen. This CEO of Tesla and SpaceX was picked on a lot during his childhood, hence he would retreat into books to cope. He was a kid with an unquenchable inclination for books. At the age of nine, he pored through the entire Encyclopedia Britannica which has somewhat 32,000 pages in total. He believes that this voracious reading habit has helped him to launch his history making career. And even now, he somehow finds time to read books.

Here are 5 books which have been always important to Musk, inspiring him as a child or giving him heroes as an adult or helping him to learn rocket science and he wants you to read these too.

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1. The Lord of The Rings – J.R.R Tolkien

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During his upbringing in South Africa, Musk had been a bullied kid finding companionship. He reported that he experienced tremendous loonliness which he used to overcome by reading fantasies and science fictions. The Lord of the Rings had been a great companion of him and shaped his visions for the future. The heroes of the books I read … always felt a duty to save the world,”  he said.

2. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams

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Did you ever think what’s the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything? If yes, then The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy will  give you the answer which is 42! Well, that’s the answer to a meaningful life calculated by an enormous supercomputer named Deep Thought over a period of 7.5 million years!` But unfortunately the question was never figured out. And that’s what made the book Musk’s favorite.

While suffering a major existential crisis between the ages of 12 and 15, Musk read this book. To him, the book was instrumental to his thinking. It taught him the importance of curiosity- especially when it comes to the importance of seeking questions instead of answers.  “If you can properly phrase the question, then the answer is the easy part,” Musk said. “So, to the degree that we can better understand the universe, then we can better know what questions to ask.” Moreover, when asked about his favorite spaceship from science fiction he replied, “I’d have to say that would be the one in ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’ that’s powered by the improbability drive.”


 3. Einstein: His Life and Universe – Walter Isaacson

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Musk’s list contains biographies too and is rather heavy. This book of Isaacson tells the story of a genius who transformed the world with his intelligence and ambition. And that’s no less different from Musk’s life. He learnt a lot from Einstein’s biography as his life has prudent lessons to offer.  The book explores how an imaginative person became the mind reader of the creator of the cosmos- yet failed time and again to be a decent father, husband, and teacher.

4. The “Foundation” trilogy – Isaac Asimov

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The books center on the fall of the fictional Galactic Empire, which consists of millions of planets settled by humans across the Milky Way galaxy. Hence, this series was quite helpful to build up Musk’s early interest in science fiction. Musk says Asimov’s books taught him that “civilizations move in cycles,” a lesson that encouraged the entrepreneur to pursue his ambitions. Musk reported that this is one of the books that made him more successful. “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 says, “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.”

5. Lord of the Flies – William Golding

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This classic novel is about a group of boys surviving in an isolated island. This book of survival, competition and greed left its mark on Musk. The story is a cautionary tale about what can happen when men are left to their own devices. For instance, Musk has publicly spoken about the dangers of artificial intelligence in the hands of humans. In an open letter,  he has written that people should “be worried.” The protagonist of the book helped him shaping his life’s mission: To save mankind.

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/7624.Lord_of_the_Flies

From fantasies to science fictions to biographies, Musk shaped his vision for future by reading books. And the result is just before your eyes. So what are you waiting for? Collect the books and start reading. Maybe, you can also find your passion after reading the books! And if you find this list helpful, don’t forget to share it with your friends.

This article’s audiobook is read by Rafsan Lazim.

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