In previous posts, I've reviewed Bill Gates's summer reading list and the books that Steve Jobs wanted people to read.
Elon Musk's reading recommendations are quite different. Where Gates's tastes tend towards the whimsical and Jobs's towards the metaphysical, Musk's list is all about science.
Only one of his recommendations is a traditional business book, with the rest dealing either with the history of science or the relationship of science to public policy:
1. Benjamin Franklin
Author: Walter Isaacson
Why It's Inspiring: Musk was born in South Africa but was always drawn to the United States, where he took multiple degrees, founded his businesses, and gained citizenship at the age of 41. Musk probably sees Franklin as the type of American he himself would like to be and become: a combination of statesman, inventor, and businessman.
Best Quote: "His morality was built on a sincere belief in leading a virtuous life, serving the country he loved, and hoping to achieve salvation through good works. That led him to make the link between private virtue and civic virtue, and to suspect, based on the meager evidence he could muster about God's will, that these earthly virtues were linked to heavenly ones as well. As he put it in the motto for the library he founded, 'To pour forth benefits for the common good is divine.' In comparison to contemporaries such as Jonathan Edwards, who believed that men were sinners in the hands of an angry God and that salvation could come through grace alone, this outlook might seem somewhat complacent. In some ways it was, but it was also genuine."
2. Catherine the Great
Author: Robert K. Massie
Why It's Inspiring: Musk is surrounded by intelligent, creative, beautiful women. His sister is a well-known film director and producer, his first wife an accomplished novelist, and his second wife (with whom he's had an off-and-on relationship) a successful actress who studies physics and the natural sciences. It's not hard to see how Musk might be drawn to an historical figure who in many ways resembles the women in his life.
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