When asked where he learned to build rockets, Musk responds, “In books.” A bookworm of a child, he was thirsty for knowledge. Here are 5 books or authors that are/were seminal for Musk:
1. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. As a young teen, Elon Musk was looking for professional direction and a meaning to life. He found all that and more in this witty sci-fi read by British writer Douglas Adams. The characters are searching for the answer to the “Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe and Everything. “Hitchhiker’s Guide” taught me that the most difficult part is asking the right questions, explained Musk in September 2012 on Bloomberg.
2. Structures : Or Why Things Don’t Fall Down by J.E. Gordon. Musk devoured this book while he was launching SpaceX and needed the structural know-how to put a rocket together. He may also have learned of the role a Paris dressmaker played in aerospace history or what traditional Chinese junks have in common with bat wings.
3. Superintelligence : Paths, Dangers, Strategies’ by Nick Bostrom. A foundational text for Musk’s avant-garde philosophy on artificial intelligence. It’s a bold serious inquiry into what might happen if AI usurped human decision-making.
4. The Fundation by Isaac Asimov. Nothing plants cool futuristic ideas like science-fiction. Like any space nut, Elon Musk devoured Isaac Asimov (inspirational to Georges Lucas for Star Wars), who famously broached the subjects of galactic colonization and the future of humanity. For Musk, Mars is just the beginning.
5. Zero To One by Peter Thiel. Elon Musk doesn’t conceive an invention without considering its impact on mankind. To ensure an invention’s success and its widest-possible distribution, he puts business acumen first. And this book forged his vision of what a start-up should be and what a young CEO should do.