Elon Reeve Musk is an engineer, industrial designer, technology entrepreneur, and philanthropist. He is a citizen of South Africa, Canada, and the United States. He is the founder, CEO, and chief engineer/designer of SpaceX, CEO, and product architect of Tesla, founder of The Boring Company, co-founder of Neuralink, and co-founder and initial co-chairman of OpenAI.
In December 2016, he was ranked 21st on the Forbes list of The World’s Most Powerful People and was ranked joint-first on the Forbes list of the Most Innovative Leaders of 2019. A self-made billionaire, as of June 2020 his net worth was estimated at $38.8 billion and he is listed by Forbes as the 31st-richest person in the world.
Born to a Canadian mother and South African father, Elon Musk was born and raised in Pretoria, South Africa. He briefly attended the University of Pretoria before moving to Canada when he was 17 to attend Queen’s University.
He transferred to the University of Pennsylvania two years later, where he received a bachelor’s degree in economics from the Wharton School and a bachelor’s degree in physics from the College of Arts and Sciences.
Elon moved to California in 1995 to begin a Ph.D. in applied physics and material sciences at Stanford University but decided to pursue a business career instead of enrolling. He subsequently co-founded (with his brother Kimbal) Zip2, a web software company, which was acquired by Compaq for $340 million in 1999. Musk then founded X.com, an online bank.
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It merged with Confinity in 2000, which had launched PayPal the previous year and was subsequently bought by eBay for $1.5 billion in October 2002.
In May 2002, Musk founded SpaceX, an aerospace manufacturer, and space transport services company, of which he is CEO and lead designer. He joined Tesla Motors, Inc. (now Tesla, Inc.), an electric vehicle manufacturer, in 2004, the year after it was founded, and became its CEO and product architect. In 2006, he helped create SolarCity, a solar energy services company (now a subsidiary of Tesla).
In 2015, Musk co-founded OpenAI, a nonprofit research company that aims to promote friendly artificial intelligence. In July 2016, he co-founded Neuralink, a neurotechnology company focused on developing brain-computer interfaces. In December 2016, Musk founded The Boring Company, an infrastructure and tunnel construction company focused on tunnels optimized for electric vehicles.
In addition to his primary business pursuits, Musk has envisioned a high-speed transportation system known as the Hyperloop. Musk has said the goals of SpaceX, Tesla, and SolarCity revolve around his vision to “change the world and help humanity”.
His goals include reducing global warming through sustainable energy production and consumption and lessening the risk of human extinction by establishing a human colony on Mars.
In this article, we are going to list all of Elon Musk’s favorite books, which made an influence on him and turned him into the successful person he is today.
Elon Musk’s favorite books that helped him become genius:
The Lord of the Rings – J.R.R. Tolkien
Sauron, the Dark Lord, has gathered to him all the Rings of Power – the means by which he intends to rule Middle-earth. All he lacks in his plans for dominion is the One Ring – the ring that rules them all – which has fallen into the hands of the hobbit, Bilbo Baggins.
In a sleepy village in the Shire, young Frodo Baggins finds himself faced with an immense task, as the Ring is entrusted to his care. He must leave his home and make a perilous journey across the realms of Middle-earth to the Crack of Doom, deep inside the territories of the Dark Lord. There he must destroy the Ring forever and foil the Dark Lord in his evil purpose.
Since it was first published in 1954, ‘The Lord of the Rings’ has been a book people have treasured. Steeped in unrivaled magic and otherworldliness, its sweeping fantasy has touched the hearts of young and old alike.
Or you can buy J.R.R. Tolkien 4-Book Boxed Set: The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings:
Here is a link to the report where Elon Musk admits that in his loneliness he wants to read fantasy and science fiction literature.
Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence by Max Tegmark
AI is the future – but what will that future look like? Will superhuman intelligence be our slave, or become our god?
Taking us to the heart of the latest thinking about AI, Max Tegmark, the MIT professor whose work has helped mainstream research on how to keep AI beneficial, separates myths from reality, utopias from dystopias, to explore the next phase of our existence.
How can we grow our prosperity through automation, without leaving people lacking income or purpose? How can we ensure that future AI systems do what we want without crashing, malfunctioning, or getting hacked? Should we fear an arms race in lethal autonomous weapons? Will AI help life flourish as never before, or will machines eventually outsmart us at all tasks, and even, perhaps, replace us altogether?
Musk is a huge fan of the book and its author Tegmark. He made donations to Tegmark’s Future of Life Institute. Here you can read the article that confirms this.
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
Seconds before the Earth is demolished to make way for a galactic freeway, Arthur Dent is plucked off the planet by his friend Ford Prefect, a researcher for the revised edition of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy who, for the last 15 years, has been posing as an out-of-work actor.
Together these dynamic pair begin a journey through space aided by quotes from The Hitchhiker’s Guide (“A towel is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have.”) and a galaxy full of fellow travelers: Zaphod Beeblebrox, the two-headed, three-armed ex-hippie and totally out-to-lunch president of the galaxy; Trillian, Zaphod’s girlfriend (formally Tricia McMillan), whom Arthur tried to pick up at a cocktail party once upon a time zone; Marvin, a paranoid, brilliant, and chronically depressed robot; and Veet Voojagig, a former graduate student who is obsessed with the disappearance of all the ballpoint pens he bought over the years.
Where are these pens? Why are we born? Why do we die? Why do we spend so much time in between wearing digital watches? For all the answers stick your thumb to the stars. And don’t forget to bring a towel!
Here you can find Elon’s experience with the book.
Ignition!: An Informal History of Liquid Rocket Propellants – John D. Clark
This newly reissued debut book in the Rutgers University Press Classics Imprint is the story of the search for a rocket propellant that could be trusted to take the man into space. This search was a hazardous enterprise carried out by rival labs who worked against the known laws of nature, with no guarantee of success or safety.
Acclaimed scientist and sci-fi author John Drury Clark write with irreverent and eyewitness immediacy about the development of the explosive fuels strong enough to negate the relentless restraints of gravity. The resulting volume is as much a memoir as a work of history, sharing a behind-the-scenes view of an enterprise that eventually took men to the moon, missiles to the planets, and satellites to outer space.
Musk admits that this is a great book and it can be found in the books amazon description where Elon says “There is a good book on rocket stuff called ‘Ignition!’ by John Clark that’s a really fun one,”
Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies – Nick Bostrom
Superintelligence asks the questions: What happens when machines surpass humans in general intelligence? Will artificial agents save or destroy us? Nick Bostrom lays the foundation for understanding the future of humanity and intelligent life.
The human brain has some capabilities that the brains of other animals lack. It is to these distinctive capabilities that our species owes its dominant position. If machine brains surpassed human brains in general intelligence, then this new superintelligence could become extremely powerful – possibly beyond our control. As the fate of the gorillas now depends more on humans than on the species itself, so would the fate of humankind depend on the actions of the machine superintelligence.
But we have one advantage: we get to make the first move. Will it be possible to construct a seed Artificial Intelligence, to engineer initial conditions so as to make an intelligence explosion survivable? How could one achieve a controlled detonation?
This profoundly ambitious and original book breaks down a vast track of difficult intellectual terrain. After an utterly engrossing journey that takes us to the frontiers of thinking about the human condition and the future of intelligent life, we find in Nick Bostrom’s work nothing less than a reconceptualization of the essential task of our time.
This book talks about how we should not allow AI to surpass our intelligence since it will be dangerous for us if there is a higher intelligence form of “life”. This book is probably the reason for Elon Musk’s opinion on AI’s growth, which is not far from that in the book. Read more about Elon’s opinion here.
Benjamin Franklin: An American Life – Walter Isaacson
Benjamin Franklin is the founding father who winks at us, the one who seems made of flesh rather than marble. In a sweeping narrative that follows Franklin’s life from Boston to Philadelphia to London and Paris and back, Walter Isaacson chronicles the adventures of the runaway apprentice who became, over the course of his eighty-four-year life, America’s best writer, inventor, media baron, scientist, diplomat, and business strategist, as well as one of its most practical and ingenious political leaders.
He explores the wit behind Poor Richard’s Almanac and the wisdom behind the Declaration of Independence, the new nation’s alliance with France, the treaty that ended the Revolution, and the compromises that created a near-perfect Constitution.
In this colorful and intimate narrative, Isaacson provides the full sweep of Franklin’s amazing life, showing how he helped to forge the American national identity and why he has a particular resonance in the twenty-first century.
Here is a link to the interview where Elon Musk talks about Benjamin Franklin and how he was an entrepreneur and compares Franklin’s life to his at a young age.
Einstein: His Life and Universe – Walter Isaacson
By the author of the acclaimed bestseller Benjamin Franklin, this is the first full biography of Albert Einstein since all of his papers have become available.
How did his mind work? What made him a genius? Isaacson’s biography shows how the imagination that distinguished his science sprang from the rebellious nature of his personality. His fascinating story, a testament to the connection between creativity and freedom, reflects the triumphs and tumults of the modern era.
Based on the newly-released papers and personal letters, this book explores how an imaginative, impertinent patent clerk – a struggling father in a difficult marriage who couldn’t get a teaching job or a doctorate – became the mind reader of the creator of the cosmos, the locksmith of the mysteries of the atom and the universe. His success came from questioning conventional wisdom and marveling at mysteries that struck others as mundane.
This led him to embrace morality and politics based on respect for free minds, free spirits, and free individuals. These traits are just as vital for this new century of globalization, in which our success will depend on our creativity, as they were for the beginning of the last century, when Einstein helped usher in the modern age.
In this interview, Elon Musk tells how this book affected his way of understanding the world since it is about a genius who transforms the world with his ideas.
Structures: Or Why Things Don’t Fall Down – J.E. Gordon
For anyone who has ever wondered why suspension bridges don’t collapse under eight lanes of traffic, how dams hold back–or give way under–thousands of gallons of water, or what principles guide the design of a skyscraper, a bias-cut dress, or a kangaroo, this book will ease your anxiety and answer your questions.
Structures: Or Why Things Don’t Fall Down is an informal explanation of the basic forces that hold together the ordinary and essential things of this world–from buildings and bodies to flying aircraft and eggshells. In a style that combines wit, a masterful command of his subject, and an encyclopedic range of reference, Gordon includes such chapters as “How to Design a Worm” and “The Advantage of Being a Beam,” offering humorous insights in human and natural creation.
Architects and engineers will appreciate the clear and cogent explanations of the concepts of stress, shear, torsion, fracture, and compression. If you’re building a house, a sailboat, or a catapult, here is a handy tool for understanding the mechanics of joinery, floors, ceilings, hulls, masts–or flying buttresses.
Without jargon or oversimplification, Structures opens up the marvels of technology to anyone interested in the foundations of our everyday lives.
Here is a link to the interview where Elon speaks about the book
The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress – Robert Heinlein
Widely acknowledged as one of Robert A. Heinlein’s greatest works, The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress rose from the golden age of science fiction to become an undisputed classic and a touchstone for the philosophy of personal responsibility and political freedom.
A revolution on a lunar penal colony aided by a self-aware supercomputer – provides the framework for a story of a diverse group of men and women grappling with the ever-changing definitions of humanity, technology, and free will—themes that resonate just as strongly today as they did when the novel was first published.
The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress gives readers an extraordinary, thought-provoking glimpse into the mind of Robert A. Heinlein, who, even now, “shows us where the future is”.
Here is an article where Elon Musk states his opinion on the book.
Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future – Peter Thiel
The great secret of our time is that there are still uncharted frontiers to explore and new inventions to create. In Zero to One, legendary entrepreneur and investor Peter Thiel shows how we can find singular ways to create those new things.
Thiel begins with the contrarian premise that we live in an age of technological stagnation, even if we’re too distracted by shiny mobile devices to notice. Information technology has improved rapidly, but there is no reason why progress should be limited to computers or Silicon Valley.
Progress can be achieved in any industry or area of business. It comes from the most important skill that every leader must master: learning to think for yourself.
Doing what someone else already knows how to do takes the world from 1 to n, adding more of something familiar. But when you do something new, you go from 0 to 1. The next Bill Gates will not build an operating system.
The next Larry Page or Sergey Brin won’t make a search engine. Tomorrow’s champions will not win by competing ruthlessly in today’s marketplace. They will escape competition altogether, because their businesses will be unique.
Zero to One presents at once an optimistic view of the future of progress in America and a new way of thinking about innovation: it starts by learning to ask the questions that lead you to find value in unexpected places.
This is a book by a billionaire investor who has built multiple companies. His philosophy is what Musk endorsed since back at the time he was in competition with Thiel who is cofounder of PayPal.
Howard Hughes: His Life and Madness – Donald L. Barlett and James B. Steele
The life that inspired the major motion picture The Aviator, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and directed by Martin Scorsese. Howard Hughes has always fascinated the public with his mixture of secrecy, dashing lifestyle, and reclusiveness. This is the book that breaks through the image to get at the man.
Here is the video where Elon Musk is talking about reading this book.
Merchants of Doubt – Naomi Orestes and Erik M. Conway
The U.S. scientific community has long led the world in research on such areas as public health, environmental science, and issues affecting the quality of life. These scientists have produced landmark studies on the dangers of DDT, tobacco smoke, acid rain, and global warming. But at the same time, a small yet potent subset of this community leads the world in vehement denial of these dangers.
Merchants of Doubt tells the story of how a loose-knit group of high-level scientists and scientific advisers, with deep connections in politics and industry, ran effective campaigns to mislead the public and deny well-established scientific knowledge over four decades.
Remarkably, the same individuals surface repeatedly-some of the same figures who have claimed that the science of global warming is “not settled” denied the truth of studies linking smoking to lung cancer, coal smoke to acid rain, and CFCs to the ozone hole. “Doubt is our product,” wrote one tobacco executive. These “experts” supplied it.
Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway, historians of science, roll back the rug on this dark corner of the American scientific community, showing how ideology and corporate interests, aided by a too-compliant media, have skewed public understanding of some of the most pressing issues of our era.
Here is Elon Musk’s tweet where he recommends the book.
The ‘Foundation’ trilogy – Isaac Asimov
For twelve thousand years the Galactic Empire has ruled supreme. Now it is dying. Only Hari Seldon, creator of the revolutionary science of psychohistory, can see into the future – dark age of ignorance, barbarism, and warfare that will last thirty thousand years.
To preserve knowledge and save humanity, Seldon gathers the best minds in the Empire – both scientists and scholars and brings them to a bleak planet at the edge of the galaxy to serve as a beacon of hope for future generations. He calls this sanctuary the Foundation.
But soon the fledgling Foundation finds itself at the mercy of corrupt warlords rising in the wake of the receding Empire. And mankind’s last best hope is faced with an agonizing choice: submit to the barbarians and live as slaves—or take a stand for freedom and risk total destruction.
Here is the interview where Elon Musk says how he was influenced and amazed by the book.
The ‘Culture’ series – Iain M. Banks
The war raged across the galaxy. Billions had died, billions more were doomed. Moons, planets, the very stars themselves, faced destruction, cold-blooded, brutal, and worse, random. The Idirans fought for their Faith; the Culture for its moral right to exist. Principles were at stake. There could be no surrender.
Within the cosmic conflict, an individual crusade. Deep within a fabled labyrinth on a barren world, a Planet of the Dead proscribed to mortals, lay a fugitive Mind. Both the Culture and the Idirans sought it. It was the fate of Horza, the Changer, and his motley crew of unpredictable mercenaries, human and machine, to actually find it – and with it their own destruction.
Here is a tweet by Elon Musk that is connected to the book.
Our Final Invention: Artificial Intelligence and the End of the Human Era – James Barrat
Artificial Intelligence helps choose what books you buy, what movies you see, and even who you date. It puts the “smart” in your smartphone and soon it will drive your car. It makes most of the trades on Wall Street, and controls vital energy, water, and transportation infrastructure. But Artificial Intelligence can also threaten our existence.
In as little as a decade, AI could match and then surpass human intelligence. Corporations and government agencies are pouring billions into achieving AI’s Holy Grail—human-level intelligence. Once AI has attained it, scientists argue, it will have survival drives much like our own. We may be forced to compete with a rival more cunning, more powerful, and more alien than we can imagine.
Through profiles of tech visionaries, industry watchdogs, and groundbreaking AI systems, Our Final Invention explores the perils of the heedless pursuit of advanced AI. Until now, human intelligence has had no rival. Can we coexist with beings whose intelligence dwarfs our own? And will they allow us to?
Here is a tweet by Elon Musk where he suggests the book to his followers.
Lord of the Flies – William Golding
At the dawn of the next world war, a plane crashes on an uncharted island, stranding a group of schoolboys. At first, with no adult supervision, their freedom is something to celebrate.
This far from civilization they can do anything they want. Anything. But as order collapses, as strange howls echo in the night, as terror begins its reign, the hope of adventure seems as far removed from reality as the hope of being rescued.
Here is the article where Elon Musk talks about how this book made him successful.
Elon Musk is Tony Stark of our time. He is a great role model for every engineer and really everyone with a dream. He taught us that with hard work, dedication, and vision we can make everything possible.
He shows that no matter who you are you can change the world for the better.
Reading these books will not make you Elon Musk, but they might help you find a better you, someone who will make changes in his/hers/their life and become someone who he/she/they always dreamed of becoming.
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Like with every post we do, we encourage you to continue learning, trying, and creating.