Elon Musk: These 7 books were the foundation of his success – you should read them

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Anyone who hears the name Elon Musk is probably thinking immediately of SpaceX, Tesla, the Hyperloop, the GigaFactory, Solar City, OpenAI, the Boring Company or Flamethrower .

Few people think about books. It would not give all the listed projects, if Musk had not been from childhood to an absolute bookworm .

In an interview with ” Rolling Stone, ” Musk said, “I was educated by books. First and foremost from Büchen, secondarily from my parents. ”

His father Errol Musk betrayed ” Forbes “: “While others drank at a party and talked about sports for example, Elon somehow found the host’s library and looked at his books. That was fun for him. ”

CNBC has created a graphic retelling Elon Musk’s CV in detail: Even as a primary school boy he has read ten hours a day. No wonder then that at the age of eight he read the reading material in the school library and he read the complete Encyclopedia Britannica.

His most important life decision met Musk after reading a book and all his knowledge about missiles, he also owes his reading pleasure. Click through the slideshow to find out which books Elon Musk owes his success.


1. “The Lord of the Rings” by JRR Tolkien

During his childhood in Pretoria Elon Musk was teased by other children. They gave him a nickname:  Muskrat.

He read a lot of fantasy and science fiction at that time, as he revealed “The New Yorker” .  The books gave him a vision for his future.

“The heroes in these books felt obliged to save the world,” he says.

Today Elon Musk is doing his best to emulate them:  He is planning a colony on Mars to save humanity when the Earth is no longer habitable,and is co-founder of the nonprofit organization Open AI, which aims to make our approach to artificial intelligence safe .


And when he was asked how did he inspired by “The Lord of the Rings” that was his answer :

2. “Foundation” cycle by Isaac Asimov

In the same interview, he mentions the “Foundation” cycle of Isaac Asimov. In 2014 he read the trilogy one more time and recommended it in a tweet to his followers:

Musk learned from this sci-fi cycle that any great civilization will eventually come to an end, as he  explained “The Guardian” . For this reason, he is working with SpaceX on his plan to make humans an “interplanetary” species .

Musk is so excited by Asimov’s work that he even agreed to shoot the cycle with the Falcon Heavy.

It lies in the form of tiny crystals in the glove compartment of his Tesla Roadster, which revolves around the sun:

3. “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” by Douglas Adams

At the age of about 14 years Elon Musk crashed into a existential crisis and began to search for the meaning of life. “We happened to have books by Nietzsche and Schopenhauer in the house, which should not be read at 14. It’s bad. They are very negative, “he said in an interview for Fresh Dialogues .

But then he came across “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”. Therein a supercomputer finds after millions of years of arithmetic the “answer” to the meaning of the life. It reads: 42  – Unfortunately nobody knows what the exact question was.

Musk explained, “If you can ask the right question, the answer is the easy part.” He sees it as his job to understand the universe better, so it’s easier to find the right question .

4. “Structures: Or Why Things Do not Fall Down” by JE Gordon

When Elon Musk decided in 2001 to found SpaceX, he first had to get used to the basics of rocket engineering .

One of the books that helped him was “Structures: Or Why Things Do not Fall Down” by JE Gordon, a British materials scientist.

“It’s a very, very good book on structural design,” Musk said in an interview with “KCRW . 

5. “Ignition! An informal history of liquid rocket propellants “by John D. Clark

“Ignition! An informal history of liquid rocket propellants is a book about the history of space travel. Musk refers to it in this tweet as his favorite book on the subject of “space”:


Clark was an American chemist who developed rocket propellants in the 1960s and 1970s. In the book he describes how this works and also tells about the development of the research field.

According to this Amazon review,  Clark succeeds in letting his enthusiasm for rockets slip across the reader. That must have worked with Elon Musk .

“Ignition!” Has long been difficult to obtain,  but in May 2018, a new edition should appear .

Urgent people can  take  a look at the issue Musk has read here  or here .

6. “Benjamin Franklin” by Walter Isaacson

Musk has named Benjamin Franklin as one of his personal heroes. That’s why he also recommends his biography of Walter Isaacson in this tweet:

In an interview with “Foundation,”  Musk said, ” He was an entrepreneur.He started at the bottom . He was an outlier. ”

Part of Frankling’s story is that of Elon Musk – he grew up in Pretoria, South Africa, went to school in Canada, then enrolled at the University of Pennsylvania and took his admission to doctoral studies in Stanford to land in Silicon Valley.

“Franklin is pretty great,” says Musk.

7. “Einstein” by Walter Isaacson

In the same interview with Foundation , Musk says he has learned a lot from another biography of Walter Isaacson: Einstein.

Like “Franklin,” this book also tells the story of a genius that changes the world through his intelligence and ambition .

According to blurb,  the book explores “how an ingenious, insolent examiner at the Patent Office – a fought-over father in a complicated marriage who could not get either a teaching post or a doctoral degree – read the minds of the creator of the cosmos”.

See  Also : Microsoft Surface: Patent Describes Foldable Dual-Display Smartphone

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