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7 Mark Zuckerberg Book Recommendations to Expand Your Mind

Mark Zuckerberg has recommended plenty of books through his book club. Here are 7 to learn about human history, global economics, and creative businesses.
by Vanessa Gibbs | Sep 22 2023
Mark Zuckerberg book recommendations

You know him as the founder of Facebook, but Mark Zuckerberg is also an avid reader. He even launched his own book club in 2015 on Facebook called A Year of Books. In it, he read books covering everything from racial injustice to creativity in business, from human history to geopolitics.

As Zuckerberg said at the beginning of his Year of Books: “Books allow you to fully explore a topic and immerse yourself in a deeper way than most media today.”

Want to get insights from these Mark Zuckerberg book recommendations in less time? The Blinkist app shares the most thought-provoking ideas from nonfiction books in 15 minutes, within bite-sized explainers you can read or listen to. 

Here are 7 Mark Zuckerberg book recommendations to dive deeper into important topics.

 

1. The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander

The New Jim Crow covers the criminal justice system in America, and how African Americans are marginalized through mass incarceration. Alexander, a civil rights litigator herself, covers everything from how the Reagan administration started the War on Drugs to how people can work to dismantle their own prejudices. 

“I’ve been interested in learning about criminal justice reform for a while,” said Zuckerberg. “And this book was highly recommended by several people I trust.” 

2. Why Nations Fail by Daron Acemoglu & James A. Robinson

Ever wonder why some countries seem to be stuck in a state of poverty no matter what, while others grow and develop? This book covers 15 years of research from Daron Acemoglu, an MIT professor and one of the world’s top economists, and James A. Robinson, a political scientist and Harvard professor. 

The authors argue that a country’s wealth is based on much more than just its geography or culture—they say it all comes down to political and economic institutions, and whether they’re set up to incentivize prosperity or not. 

To prove it, they look at the vast differences in wealth between similar places, like North Korea and South Korea, or Nogales in the US and Nogales in Mexico, just over the border. 

This is another title Zuckerberg chose to include in his book club as he said he wanted to learn more about the causes of poverty around the world.

3. The Rational Optimist by Mark Ridley

After reading Why Nations Fail, Zuckerberg announced in his book club that he wanted to read The Rational Optimist because it argues many opposing theories on what affects economic progress. 

“I’m interested to see which idea resonates more after exploring both frameworks,” he said.

Bestselling author, Mark Ridley, argues trading goods and services will be the savior of mankind. More innovation and development in trade will bring wealth to poorer countries, and even protect the planet from climate change, as more money for the world means more investment available to go into protection from global warming. 

The book also covers how society and living conditions have changed throughout history, and why the best time to be alive is right now.

4. Creativity Inc. by Ed Catmull and Amy Wallace

Ed Catmull is the co-founder of Pixar and he was the President of Walt Disney Animation Studios. In Creativity Inc., he shares his own journey into management, stories from the companies, and how creativity is at the center of great teams.

There’s plenty of actionable tips for how to boost creativity and productivity at work—everything from how switching tables can empower more open discussions to how coming up with a recovery plan can make you less afraid of failure when trying new things as a company. 

“To be a truly creative company, you must start things that might fail.” — Ed Catmull.

Catmull says these actions won’t make a manager’s job easier, but argues that the goal isn’t ease, it’s excellence. 

Zuckerberg wrote on Facebook that he loves reading first-hand accounts of people building companies like Pixar, and learning how managers can nurture creativity in the office. 

5. The Muqaddimah by Ibn Khaldun

The Muqaddimah was written in 1377 by Islamic historian, Ibn Khaldun. It covers what was understood then about history and science. It dives into everything from Islamic theology to the rise and fall of civilizations, from how food was thought to affect our bodies to the negative impacts of urbanization. 

The Muqaddimah translates as “The Introduction,” and the book was written as an introduction chapter to much longer works about world history. 

“While much of what was believed then is now disproven after 700 more years of progress, it’s still very interesting to see what was understood at this time and the overall worldview when it’s all considered together,” said Zuckerberg.

6. Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari

Zuckerberg is big on reading books that cover different viewpoints, so once he’d read Muqaddimah, he moved onto Sapiens by bestselling author, Yuval Noah Harari. 

“Following the Muqaddimah, which was a history from the perspective of an intellectual in the 1300s, Sapiens is a contemporary exploration of many similar questions,” he wrote on Facebook. “I’m looking forward to reading these different perspectives.” 

Harari covers the history of humankind, starting 2.5 million years ago when humans first evolved and moving through to the modern day. Along the way, the book reveals how things like laws, trade, and agriculture came into existence, and how homo sapiens came to be the only species of human left.

7. Portfolios of the Poor by Daryl Collins, Jonathan Morduch, Stuart Rutherford, and Orlanda Ruthven

Daryl Collins, Jonathan Morduch, Stuart Rutherford, and Orlanda Ruthven bring together 10 years of research to look at how the poor live in their book Portfolios of the Poor. It reveals how those living in extreme poverty in Bangladesh, India, and South Africa survive day to day. 

“It’s mind-blowing that almost half the world—almost 3 billion people—live on $2.50 a day or less. More than one billion people live on $1 a day or less,” Zuckerberg wrote. He added that he hoped reading Portfolios of the Poor would provide insight into ways others could support these people. 

One interesting thing Zuckerberg said he learned from this book? That the poorest people actually earn much less than is usually reported, as their income is adjusted for “purchasing power parity.” So, they may earn $0.50, which could buy the equivalent of what people elsewhere could buy for $2. Essentially, those in poverty often live on much less than you think. 

Want book recommendations from other big tech founders? We’ve rounded up the most-loved books of Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, and Jeff Bezos.

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