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9 Books Elon Musk Thinks Everyone Should Read

When he's not launching rockets, drilling beneath the streets of Los Angeles, or propelling vehicles beyond our atmosphere, Elon Musk spends considerable time reading. Here are 9 non-fiction books recommended by Musk that he believes everyone should dive into.
by Rob Gillham | Jun 7 2024
elonjupiter Elon Musk, the billionaire CEO of SpaceX, Tesla, and other game-changing tech companies, somehow finds time to read a lot of books when he’s not sending rockets into space.

From classic sci-fi works to complex studies on artificial intelligence, Musk credits books with helping him achieve his success. In fact, when asked how he learned to build rockets, he famously replied, “I read books.” And he proves it, because Musk’s book recommendations are more than just titles; they’re pathways that have shaped his groundbreaking endeavors.

The expansive range of Elon Musk’s recommended books reveals not only his multifaceted interests but also the profound depth of his knowledge. Whether it’s contemplating the fate of humanity or dissecting the intricacies of AI, Musk’s reading list serves as a window into his intellectual universe.

However, the luxury of delving into books daily is not something everyone can afford. According to a study by the Bureau of Labour Statistics, most Americans find time to read just 17 minutes per day. At that rate, it could take you more than a month to read one of Musk’s recommended non-fiction books.

Enter Blinkist. The award-winning knowledge app that breaks down lengthy non-fiction books into their core concepts. You can get through most of Blinkist’s explainer packs in as little as 15 minutes and even take learning with you using the app’s audio function.

“When we started in 2012, most apps were for social media or gaming. We wanted to do something different and build an app that would help change someone’s life with the power of reading. Now, with collections, we can give our users book recommendations from some of the world’s smartest and most well-read people.”
– Holger Seim, CEO of Blinkist

Blinkist’s newest feature is Guides, an exciting new way to learn and absorb knowledge in a comprehensive and effective manner. Guides allow you to take an even deeper dive into a particular topic you are curious about. Guided by experts and thought leaders, Blinkist utilizes both new, original audio content and existing Blinks to provide practical insights of great value. By adding quizzes and practical tools to the routing, this feature helps you test and retain what you’ve learned. Guides also include valuable resources such as exercises, infographics, and recaps to facilitate your learning journey.

And while we may not see an exclusive Elon Musk course on there just yet, who’s to say what the future holds? For now Blinkist does offer guided courses by Tiago Forte and Nir Eyal among others.

Want to start simple first? Let’s see the books recommended by Elon Musk, which he credited for changing his life, each available in the Blinkist library.

9 Books From Elon Musk’s Reading List

1. Human Compatible by Stuart Russell

Human Compatible explains why the creation of artificial intelligence could be humanity’s final act, a topic that Musk has been very vocal about. The book calls to attention the potential catastrophe that society is heading towards and discusses what needs to be done to avoid it. Get the key ideas with Blinkist in just 12 minutes.

2. Zero to One by Peter Thiel with Blake Masters

In praise of this book, Musk tweeted: “Peter Thiel has built multiple breakthrough companies, and (this book) shows how.” Zero to One explores how companies can better predict the future and take action to ensure that their startup is a success. The author enlivens the book’s key takeaways with his own experiences. Get the key ideas with Blinkist in just 18 minutes.

3. Merchants of Doubt by Naomi Oreskes & Erik M. Conway

This book examines some of the world’s foremost scientific debates on the environment, smoking, and nuclear weapons. The explainer will describe how a handful of highly vocal scientists have heavily misrepresented these issues through the mainstream media, often to aid corporate and industry interests. Get the key ideas with Blinkist in just 13 minutes.

4. Life 3.0 by Max Tegmark

If you’re sensing a common theme among the books on this list, Musk is really into exploring the future of artificial intelligence. In this work, MIT professor Max Tegmark writes about keeping artificial intelligence beneficial for human life and ensuring technological progress remains aligned with humanity’s goals for the future. It’s one of the few books Elon Musk recommends that deals with the possibility of AI being used as a force for good in the world rather than evil. Get the key ideas with Blinkist in just 13 minutes.

5. The Big Picture by Sean M. Carroll

Musk is all about the future and origins of humanity and making life multi-planetary. The Big Picture is an ambitious look at the world as we know it and how we can use scientific thinking to make sense of most of it. An insightful examination of the origins of life, consciousness, and the universe itself, this book gives readers a deductive way of considering the most challenging questions that philosophy, physics, and biology have to offer. Get the key ideas with Blinkist in just 13 minutes.

6. Lying by Sam Harris

Lying explains why the act of telling lies is so dangerous. And that means all lies, from the tiny lies that people tell on a daily basis to the massive lies sometimes told on the world stage. All in all, it’s always better to tell the truth. Get the key ideas with Blinkist in just 9 minutes.

7. Superintelligence by Nick Bostrom

Musk has repeatedly warned against the dangers of unchecked artificial intelligence. “We need to be super careful with AI,” he tweeted in 2014, saying it’s “potentially more dangerous than nukes.” To find out why these risks are so scary, Musk says it’s worth reading Superintelligence. The book in Elon Musk’s reading list makes a daring inquiry into what would happen if computational intelligence surpassed human intelligence. Get the key ideas with Blinkist in just 15 minutes.

8. The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith

A staple in the Elon Musk Reading List, The Wealth of Nations stands as a profoundly influential work in the realm of economics. It is a profoundly influential work in the study of economics and examines precisely how nations become wealthy. Adam Smith — who Musk is a fan of even tweeting “Adam Smith FTW” — advocates that by allowing individuals to freely pursue their self-interest in a free market, without government regulation, nations will prosper.

9. Radical Candor by Kim Scott

One of Elon Musk’s core drivers for successful leadership is his unwavering appreciation for feedback, be it positive or negative. He is a fan of the feedback loop, stating in an interview that, “it’s very important to have a feedback loop, where you’re constantly thinking about what you’ve done and how you could be doing it better.”

Drawing from Musk’s wisdom and his collection of Elon Musk recommended books, Radical Candor by Kim Scott serves as a valuable roadmap for leaders seeking to build strong relationships with their employees. This insightful management approach unveils the secrets to creating a work environment where great ideas flourish, individuals reach their full potential, and employees take pride in following their boss’s lead.
Get the key ideas with Blinkist in just 9 minutes.

Dive Even Deeper Into Elon’s Mind With These Guided Learning Courses

1. How To Think Big Like Elon Musk

This guided learning course shares stories from Elon Musk’s life. It explores his bold approach to trying to save humanity, and explores what the reader or listener can take from his life when it comes to having a vision and executing it. The course is filled with additional possibilities for person reflections and will help you apply his visionary approach to your life as well. Get the key information in 25 minutes.

2. 5 Lessons From Thought Leaders

How can you reach your potential? How can you get from where you are in life to where you truly want? In this guided course, you’ll learn lessons from some of world’s brightest thought leaders: Adam Grant, Brené Brown, Tim Ferriss, Angela Duckworth, and Daniel Pink. Whether you want to become more courageous, leverage the power of grit, or craft a life of true freedom—this Guide can teach you something for your personal life. Get the key information in 65 minutes.

Learn from the Best

Blinkist has collections from the world’s CEOs, business leaders, and top thinkers.

Blinkist’s library of nonfiction titles has over 5,700 explainer packs spread across 27 categories of learning. Plus, with the addition of collections, you can see what the world’s top thinkers — not only Elon Musk — recommend. From Thrive Global Founder and CEO Arianna Huffington to podcast host and author Natalie Lue.

“If I had this app in college, I’d be Elon 2.0!”
– anonymous 5-star review on the App Store

In essence, with platforms like Blinkist, deep knowledge and insights from influential figures like Elon Musk are more accessible than ever. Whether you’re seeking to delve into Musk’s book recommendations or other eminent thought leaders, Blinkist streamlines the learning process, ensuring you remain informed and inspired, even on the go. Embrace the digital age of condensed knowledge and never stop learning.


“Blinkist has helped me read more — period. I love that I can get the key learnings from 10+ books a week and immediately implement them in my own life. Blinkist has also helped me filter the books I purchase — if I couldn’t get enough of the Blinks, I buy it. ”
– Hitha Palepu, entrepreneur and author

Start learning from Elon Musk’s recommended books and take Blinkist for a test drive today.

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