People have followed the favorite books of Elon Musk throughout his career in hopes they’ll get a glimpse of how he founded such successful companies. Musk has been transparent about his adoration for reading and thirst for knowledge, with some of his early inspirations including popular science fiction novels. Although he often talks of these as his favorite, as Elon Musk grew up, the books on his shelf evolved, and so did his recommendations. Consequently, the Elon Musk favorite books list now includes many more genres, not exclusive to the world of fantasy.
Although he is famous for his work on Tesla and pioneering the future of electric vehicles, there is a surprising lack of material on global warming. At the same time, much of Musk’s reading material focuses on tech, including AI. He also recommends business books and those centering space. With this in mind, many people are eager to learn: what are Elon Musk’s favorite books?
This article explores Musk’s favorite books, offers reading material to help you understand the man himself, and provides further reading into his preferred genres.
Elon Musk is a South African-born American entrepreneur best known for co-founding global payment firm PayPal and his other companies, Tesla and SpaceX. Musk also acquired Twitter in 2022, making headlines for his approach.
From Twitter to interviews, Elon Musk’s favorite books aren’t hard to come by. However, considering his success in the electric vehicle (EV) industry, Elon Musk’s favorite books don’t include many climate change topics.
While he often refers to books about AI, business, and space technology, the top three favorite books of Elon Musk may include Steve Jobs by Walter Issacson, Einstein by the same author, and Zero to One by Peter Thiel.
Getting through ideas from Musk’s favorite books list can take a long time. Fortunately, you can read or listen to the key concepts in any of these books on the Headway app. Get a feel for the material before committing to the entire text!
Who is Elon Musk?
Elon Musk is one of the most successful entrepreneurs in history. He is a Canadian-American business magnate, investor, engineer, and inventor. Today, he is best known for his role as CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, but he also founded several other companies. In his true entrepreneurship nature, Musk made headlines in 2022 for acquiring Twitter and his approach to running the business. Though, who was Elon Musk before all this, and what led him to become the world-famous personality he is today?
A gray building with Elon Musk’s SpaceX logo on the top.
Although Elon Musk was born in Pretoria, South Africa, he left in the late 1980s after getting a Canadian passport. In his early days, Elon Musk co-founded an online financial services company, X.com, which became globally known as PayPal. In 2002, Musk went on to develop Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX). He began with the intention of creating affordable rockets, but since, SpaceX has grown into a major player in the aerospace industry with contracts from NASA and other governmental agencies around the world.
Since the start of his success, Musk has been vocal about his desire to get humans to Mars and often spoke about his ambitious plans regarding space travel. For example, a 2009 New Yorker interview outlined his aim to take tourists into space and around the moon by 2014. He has a rich and compelling history that shows throughout his book choices. In the following sections, you’ll see how his interests, business endeavors, and life experience influence his reading and vice versa.
What are Elon Musk’s favorite books?
As a notable personality, Musk has often shared his thirst for reading and learning on social media and in interviews. Discovering new ideas is how Musk has kept up such a successful lifestyle. So, what can you learn from someone’s library? For one, you begin to grasp where their creativity stems from, what philosophies they follow, what interests them, and maybe, the key to their success.
Looking into Musk’s favorite books might give us an insight into the entrepreneur’s mind. The below books might’ve influenced his leadership skills and approach to business.
Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson
The American author and journalist Walter Isaacson is the former CEO of the Aspen Institute and a university professor. Steve Jobs requested Isaacson to write this biography, in which he explored the life of the former Apple CEO, including his early adventures with tech, as well as his downfalls and trials. Like Elon Musk, Steve Jobs is known for creating his own way in the industry. So, it’s no wonder Musk labels this as one of his favorite reads.
Einstein: His Life and Universe by Walter Isaacson
Once again, Isaacson makes it into Elon Musk’s favorite books list. In fact, he’s an author that Musk recommends often. In this iconic read, the writer dives into the mind of Albert Einstein, arguably one of the greatest scientists. The key concepts in Einstein consider what made this man a genius and how his creativity and rebellion paved the way for his discoveries.
Zero to One by Peter Thiel with Blake Masters
In this book about building startups for the future, readers will discover what it means to think for yourself and how to apply an innovative mindset to business. When Musk recommended this book, he praised how it told the reader about Thiel’s talent in building companies. Coming from a well-accomplished businessman like Musk, it leaves us to assume this could be a great learning tool for anyone with a startup.
For fans of Elon Musk: nine favorite books inspired by his success
In the next few sections, you’ll discover nine books inspired by Elon Musk and his favorite reads.
As one of the world’s most affluent and accomplished people, it’s no surprise Elon Musk has had books written about him. These titles might reveal a lot about his empire, but if you’re interested in learning about the businessman himself, you may find these books particularly thought-provoking.
Elon Musk by Ashlee Vance
If you’re reading the favorite books of Elon Musk to learn more about him, it’s time to turn the page to Elon Musk, a biography written by Ashlee Vance. Vance shadowed the thought leader for 12 months before creating this compelling tale where Musk reveals all about his life. From his trials and tribulations in South Africa to his journey to becoming an American citizen and founding numerous companies. This is the ultimate read for those desperate to know more about what made Elon Musk the man he is today.
The Space Barons by Christian Davenport
If you’re interested in billionaires Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos, this one takes you on a journey beyond Earth. While Vance published his biography in 2015, Davenport’s 2018 book closely examines the commercial space industry. This book offers a more up-to-date account of Elon Musk’s adventures with SpaceX and Tesla. Readers will also discover more about other industry competitors and how they reignited the long-forgotten goal of colonizing the cosmos.
Similar for those who can’t get enough of Elon Musk’s favorite books
A person sits at a desk reading a book and writing in a notebook.
Elon Musk is known for reading widely, especially regarding AI, rocket science, computers, and business. Below we’ve suggested some iconic reads similar to Elon Musk’s favorite books and the work he pioneers.
AI Superpowers by Kai-Fu Lee
Musk has been vocal about his interest in AI over the years. Especially the possibilities of such tech and how humans should approach it cautiously. It’s no wonder this AI-focused text, written by the tech expert Kai-Fu Lee has made it onto our list. The author takes you on a journey to uncover the truth about AI, its development across the United States and China, and how this technology will impact jobs and dictate the future.
How to Avoid a Climate Disaster by Bill Gates
The infamous Bill Gates takes to paper to tell the world about his findings regarding global warming. In this book, readers will learn about climate disasters, what resources we already have, and what needs to happen next for our world to continue. It’s a practical and relevant text that many can benefit from.
The New Climate War by Michael E. Mann
Much like Elon Musk’s mission, this book is for people who want to understand the world and improve our future. Mann looks at the true causes of the climate crisis and how change is possible.
The Future We Choose by Christiana Figueres and Tom Rivett-Carnac
Whether you’re a fan of Elon Musk or not, it’s undeniable that he’s influenced EVs and clean energy thanks to his innovations. Therefore, if you’re looking for an optimistic read, The Future We Choose is a practical and encouraging book from the perspective of two experts. This book says we can beat climate change and shows you how.
The Upstarts by Brad Stone
As an avid businessman, Musk has founded several companies in his lifetime, many of which are Silicon Valley staples. It’s no secret that Silicon Valley is where many greats reside, particularly in the tech sphere. Therefore, this recommendation is for business-minded readers with a thirst for knowing how it all works. From the development of Uber, Airbnb, and many other Silicon Valley startups, this book is a riveting look into tech startups changing the world.
No One is Too Small to Make a Difference by Greta Thunberg
Like Elon Musk, the climate change activist, Greta Thunberg, has been making headlines with her determination for a better world. It’s another look into how people can make a difference in the climate crisis. In particular, this text explores Thunberg’s speeches across the topic to inspire readers to make a change.
The Industries of the Future by Alec Ross
Finally, the last recommendation based on the favorite books of Elon Musk is this exploration of the future, which touches on the developments of AI. The author delves into which industries will thrive in the next few years, what advancements to expect and how we can prepare ourselves and the next generation for these changes. This is a thought-provoking book for business people everywhere.
Read your favorite Elon Musk books on the Headway app
With such an extensive reading list inspired by Musk’s recommendations and business adventures, it can take a long time to get through all of Elon Musk’s favorite books.
Headway is the solution you didn’t know you were looking for. You can discover your favorite Elon Musk books by reading or listening to bite-sized insights from each text. Not only does it introduce you to the subject in an easy format, but it also saves readers time choosing their next book. With just 5 minutes a day, you can read more and increase productivity.
If you still want to read books in full, you can use the Headway app to understand better what each book on this list is about and only read the books you know you’ll love. Download Headway today and get yourself closer to thinking like Elon Musk!
The favorite books of Elon Musk range from nonfiction books about business and tech to fantasy fiction. In many of these recommendations, you’ll see Musk is well-versed in leadership and thinking innovatively — something we are sure has contributed to his global success.
If you’re interested in Elon Musk’s reading material or how he became so triumphant, we are sure you’ll find something that aligns with your reading goals.
Download the Headway app to optimize your reading experience and discover the joy of learning on the go.
Does Elon Musk recommend any books?
Elon Musk has shared his favorite books on Twitter and in interviews. Some of the most prevalent recommendations span popular sci-fiction series and notable nonfiction reads, including Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson and Zero to One by Peter Thiel with Blake Masters.
What type of books does Elon Musk read?
Elon Musk’s favorite books cover a range of genres, from fiction to nonfiction. Most of Musk’s favorite books center around AI evolution, science fiction, and business development.
Who is Elon Musk’s favorite author?
Elon Musk reads a variety of authors, but Walter Isaacson is one that often reappears in his recommended reading list. Popular titles by this author include Steve Jobs and Einstein: His Life and Universe.