At age 45, Elon Musk has started two successful companies, attained a net worth of $15.2 billion, and attracted both the adoration and ire of millions of people. But to get to that point, the tech mogul had to read—and now he’s sharing those influential books with us. Here are 5 of the books Musk has recommended to educate our minds and inspire future innovators.
- The Lord of the Rings Series by J.R.R. Tolkien
Before he was a world-famous billionaire, Musk had been a bullied kid finding peace and companionship in Tolkien’s middle earth. Models of honor and sacrifice found in LOTR and other fantasy works shaped the young Musk, who recalled that “The heroes of the books I read always felt a duty to save the world.”
- Einstein: His Life and Universe by Walter Isaacson
Musk’s list is rather heavy on biographies, including this acclaimed account of the life of brilliant physicist and TIME Person of the Century Albert Einstein. Isaacson goes beyond E=mc^2 to create a fully rounded picture of Einstein, a man who transformed how we see the universe yet failed time and again to be a decent father, husband, and teacher. His life offers prudent lessons on the cost of success for even the most brilliant minds on earth.
- Merchants of Doubt by Naomi Orestes and Erik M. Conway
The accomplished businessman shows he is unafraid to get political by recommending this book, a nonfiction work covering the secret relationships between politicians and the scientists they paid to obscure or manipulate facts of public health crises. Musk summed up the book in a 2013 tweet: “Same who tried to deny smoking deaths r denying climate change.”
- The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Series by Douglas Adams
In a marked departure from the more serious fare on his list, Musk credits Adams’ clever space romp for lifting him out of a teenage existential funk and teaching 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.
- Our Final Invention by James Barrat
For a man who has made his fortune creating cutting-edge technology, Musk is awfully concerned with the potential of Aritificial Intelligence to dominate our lives and take over our planet. Barrat paints a terrifying future where humanity must compete with smarter and stronger AI, a struggle that may very well end with the total annihilation of human life. But hey, don’t stop buying Tesla smart cars!
Featured image courtesy of Success Stories