Best Science Books: Read like Elon Musk

The best science books come in many different forms. Whether it’s an in-depth analysis of the universe or a picture book about the different species on the planet, you’ll find exactly what you need.

Famously, Elon Musk really understands rocket technology. He studied it a lot by reading all the best science books he found. I’ve read in his biography that one of the engineers was really surprised by his grasp of really complicated concepts. Any entrepreneur should have an understanding of the science behind their work. They don’t need to have PhDs in their field, but a little bit of reading helps a lot in communicating with your engineers.

Science is by far one of the fascinating subjects on the planet; it makes us what we are and is responsible for the beauty we see every day. You can also bet that with every read, you’ll have a new experience, and you’ll learn innovative and exceptional things that you never knew before.

As an incredibly vast and diverse genre of books, there’s something for everyone when it comes to science. Gripping tales of gene mutations, explanations of black holes from the world’s top cosmologists, or even stories from modern environmentalists are just a few examples. You can learn absolutely anything from how humanity is said to have started to where it is predicted 20,000 years from now.

The best science books have inserts and topics that are easy enough for the everyday person to understand, as you’ll want to diversify your knowledge but still be enthralled. However, multiple titles are best left for professionals in their field, as these books contain specific information to help you build further on your career.

The more science-based books you read, the more you’ll know about the world, its beautiful creatures, and what makes the universe as exceptional as it is. There’s something about science that is so captivating, possibly because there is so much more yet to be discovered. From marine life deep within Mariana’s Trench to more common species in the Amazon, the planet has plenty of interesting questions that we all want answers to.

If you’re searching for something that will be inspiring and jaw-dropping, you’ve certainly come to the perfect genre. Every reader will be able to find a title that suits their needs once you start to search for the best science books that money can buy. Why not try something a little different and explore more of what our world has to offer?

 

 

Best Science Books

 

Physics

Physics of the Future: How Science Will Shape Human Destiny and Our Daily Lives by the Year 2100

Kaku interviews some of the world's best and brightest scientists to find out what they're working on. What he unveils is a future of sci-fi-like innovations and breakthroughs worth sticking around for.
Michael Dell
CEO/Dell
Genius:

Genius: The Life and Science of Richard Feynman

I’ve been reading Perfectly Reasonable Deviations, and I’ve also been rereading Genius.
Naval Ravikant
CEO & Co-Founder/AngelList
Information:

Information: The New Language of Science

If you want an introduction to information theory, and, in a way, probability theory from the real front door, this is it. A clearly written book, very intuititive, explains things, such as the Monty Hall problem in a few lines. I will make it a prerequite before more technical great books, such as Cover and Thompson.
Nassim Nicholas Taleb
Flaneur

The Science of Selling: Proven Strategies to Make Your Pitch, Influence Decisions, and Close the Deal

This book is a breath of fresh air. While most sales books are based on the author's experience, every chapter in this superbly well-written book is rooted in science.

Gerhard Gschwandtner
CEO/Selling Power
Moonwalking

Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything

Of the five books I finished over vacation, the one that impressed me the most – and that is probably of broadest interest – is Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything, by science writer Joshua Foer. This is an absolutely phenomenal book that looks at memory and techniques for dramatically improving memory. Foer actually mastered these techniques, which led him to the finals of the U.S. Memory Championship. His book gives fascinating insights into how the mind works.
Bill Gates
CEO/Microsoft

Body by Science: A Research Based Program for Strength Training, Body building, and Complete Fitness in 12 Minutes a Week

I feel guilty for not having posted a review earlier: I owe a lot to this book. I figured out the value of intensity training and maximizing recovery. I use the ideas but with minor modifications (my own personal workout is entirely based on free weights and barbells, but I incur --and accept --a risk of injury). I have been applying the ideas for more than three years. Just get over the inhibitions (and illusions of control) and accept the idea of training less. Gratitude.
Nassim Nicholas Taleb
Flaneur
How

How Nature Works: The Science of Self-organized Criticality

This book is a great attempt at finding some universality based on systems in a critical state, with departures from such state taking place in a manner that follows power laws.

The sandpile is a great baby model for that. Some people are critical of Bak's approach, some even suggesting that we may not get power laws in these sandpile effects, but something less scalable in the tails. The point is :so what? The man has vision. I looked at the reviews of this book. Clearly a few narrow-minded scientists do not seem to like it (many did not like Per Bak's ego).

But the book is remarkably intuitive and the presentation is so clear that he takes you by the hand. It is even entertaining. If you are looking to find flaws in his argument his pedagogy allows it (it is immediately obvious to us who dabble with simulations of these processes that you need an infinite sandpile to get a pure power law). Another problem. I have been ordering the book on Amazon for ages.

Copernicus books does not respond to emails. I got my copy at the NYU library. Bak passed away 2 years ago and nobody seems to be pushing for his interest and that of us his readers (for used books to sell for 99 implies some demand). This convinces me NEVER to publish with Springer.

Nassim Nicholas Taleb
Flaneur
The

The Art and Science of Training

I have invested the last 10 years in training, people development and learning design. I suggest that anyone who wants to try this path should first read The Art and Science of Training by Elaine Biech. It will give them a very clear idea if this is for them or not. Then they can participate in a public speaking course to see if they like being in front, or a design thinking workshop to see if they like prototyping. Other than that, it's a lot of learning by doing. There are many books out there on instructional design, gamification etc., but whatever is out there, needs testing and piloting first.
Armina Sirbu
Serial Entrepreneur
The

The Science of Conjecture: Evidence and Probability before Pascal

As a practitioner of probability, I've had to read many books on the subject. Most are linear combinations of other books and ideas rehashed without real understanding that the idea of probability harks back to the Greek pisteuo (credibility) [and pithanon that led to probabile in latin] and pervaded classical thought. Almost all of these writers made the mistake to think that the ancients were not into probability. And most books such as Against the Gods are not even wrong about the notion of probability: odds on coin flips are a mere footnote. Same with current experiments with psychology of probability. If the ancients were not into computable probabilities, it was not because of theology, but because they were not into highly standardized games. They dealt with complex decisions, not merely simplified and purified probability. And they were very sophisticated at it.

The author is both a mathematician and a philosopher, not a philosopher who took a calculus class hence has a shallow idea of combinatorics and feels dominated by the subject, something that plagues the subject of the philosophy of probability. This book stands above, way above the rest: I've never seen a deeper exposition of the subject, as this text covers, in addition to the mathematical bases, the true philosophical origin of the notion of probability.

Finally, Franklin covers matters related to ethics and contract law, such as the works of the medieval thinker Pierre de Jean Olivi, that very few people discuss today.

Nassim Nicholas Taleb
Flaneur
Social

Social Intelligence: The New Science of Human Relationships

This book is the key to understand the way societies reacts and why.

Corneliu Bodea
CEO / Adrem

How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence

Michael Pollan masterfully guides us through the highs, lows, and highs again of psychedelic drugs. How to Change Your mind chronicles how it’s been a longer and stranger trip than most any of us knew.

Daniel Goleman
Author
Peak:

Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise

This book is a breakthrough, a lyrical, powerful, science-based narrative that actually shows us how to get better (much better) at the things we care about.
Seth Godin
Author & Entrepreneur
The

The Science of Getting Rich

I read everything with an open mind, often challenging myself by choosing books with an odd perspective or religious/spiritual views. These books do not reflect my personal feelings but are books that helped shape my perspective on life, love, and happiness.
Chelsea Frank
Founder/Life and Limb Gel
Science

Science and Sanity

Science and Sanity, by Alfred Korzybski. OK, General Semantics was the 30s equivalent of pop-psychology in the 70s, but there are some great concepts there. The map is not the territory. The idea is that people get stuck in concepts and don't go back to observation. My friend George Simon applied General Semantics to psychology, and gave me a grounding in how to see people and to acknowledge what I saw that is the bedrock of my personal philosophy to this day. There are many popular introductions to General Semantics on the market, and also a fun science-fiction book, A.E. van Vogt's The World of Null-A.
Tim O'Reilly
Founder/O'Reilly Media
Unlimited

Unlimited Power: The New Science of Personal Achievement

First, a word on career paths. In time, I realised that career paths are like one-way streets. Magic happens in unexplored territories. Plus life is how you choose to live every moment, every day. So today, rather than building a career, I prefer to make lateral moves in life, working with great people and being part of ambitious projects impacting the world. There are a few books that got me here: [...] Tony Robbins Unlimited Power: The New Science of Personal Achievement.
Cristina Riesen
Founder/We Are Play Lab
Thanks

Thanks for the Feedback: The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well

These books and their core ideas have stuck with me the most and continue to guide me when I hit crossroads along the way.
Andra Zaharia
Freelance Content Marketer/The Content Habit
The

The Structure of Scientific Revolutions

It's a history of science book that explores the question of whether science and technology make consistent forward progress or whether progress comes in bursts related to other social forces. I tend to think that science is a consistent force for good in the world. I think we'd all be better off if we invested more in science and acted on the results of research. I'm excited to explore this theme further.
Mark Zuckerberg
CEO/Facebook
A

A Mind for Numbers: How to Excel at Math and Science

A good teacher will leave you educated. But a great teacher will leave you curious. Well, Barbara Oakley is a great teacher. Not only does she have a mind for numbers, she has a way with words, and she makes every one of them count
Mike Rowe
CEO/MikeRoweWorks Foundation, Former TV Host/Dirty Jobs
Buddhist

Buddhist Biology: Ancient Eastern Wisdom Meets Modern Western Science

I have no favorite book, but I can tell you a particular genre that continues to capture my literary interests: metacognition. Books like The Tao of Physics, Everyday Zen, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Buddhist Biology, Zen and the Brain, and The Physics of Consciousness all run the gamut of challenging and considering to think of how we think.
Ari Iaccarino
Co-Founder/Ridj-it
This

This Is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human Obsession

Fascinating though older book.
Vinod Khosla
Co-Founder/Sun Microsystem
The

The Self-Driven Child: The Science and Sense of Giving Your Kids More Control Over Their Lives

A few years ago, Bill Stixrud and Ned Johnson started noticing the same problem from different angles: Even high-performing kids were coming to them acutely stressed and lacking motivation. Many complained they had no control over their lives. Some stumbled in high school or hit college and unraveled. Bill is a clinical neuropsychologist who helps kids gripped by anxiety or struggling to learn. Ned is a motivational coach who runs an elite tutoring service. Together they discovered that the best antidote to stress is to give kids more of a sense of control over their lives. But this doesn't mean giving up your authority as a parent. In this groundbreaking book they reveal how you can actively help your child to sculpt a brain that is resilient, and ready to take on new challenges.

The Self-Driven Child offers a combination of cutting-edge brain science, the latest discoveries in behavioral therapy, and case studies drawn from the thousands of kids and teens Bill and Ned have helped over the years to teach you how to set your child on the real road to success. As parents, we can only drive our kids so far. At some point, they will have to take the wheel and map out their own path. But there is a lot you can do before then to help them tackle the road ahead with resilience and imagination.

David Heinemeier Hansson
Co-Founder/Basecamp
Positive

Positive Psychology in a Nutshell: The Science of Happiness

When asked what books he would recommend to youngsters interested in his professional path, Stephen mentioned Positive Psychology in a Nutshell.
Stephen Lew
Director/The School of Positive Psychology

Bounce: Mozart, Federer, Picasso, Beckham, and the Science of Success

And while you are at it, throw in “Bounce” by Mathew Syed, who was the UK Ping Pong champion when he was younger.

I love any book where someone took their passion, documented it, and shared it with us. That’s when you can see the subtleties, the hard work, the luck, the talent, the skill, all come together to form a champion.

Heck, throw in, “An Astronaut’s Guide to Earth” by Commander Chris Hadfield.

James Altucher
Founder/StockPickr

Giftology: The Art and Science of Using Gifts to Cut Through the Noise, Increase Referrals, and Strengthen Retention

Question: What books would you recommend to young people interested in your career path?

Answer:

  • 50 Signs You Know You Are An Entrepreneur - John Rampton and Joel Comm
  • Giftology - John Ruhlin
John Hall
CEO & Co-Founder/Influence & Co
Energy

Energy Myths and Realities: Bringing Science to the Energy Policy Debate

Vaclav Smil is probably my favorite living author. If you care about energy issues, I recommend this volume, though its unvarnished look at the realities of energy use and infrastructure may be disconcerting to anyone who thinks solving our energy problems will be easy. Smil provides a rational framework for evaluating energy promises and important lessons to keep in mind if we’re to avert the looming climate crisis.
Bill Gates
CEO/Microsoft

The Moral Animal: Why We Are, the Way We Are: The New Science of Evolutionary Psychology

This is probably the definitive beginner text on evolutionary psychology and one of the easiest to get into. It’s a little depressing at first, realizing how ruthless many of our so called “good” feelings are. But then you realize that truth is better than ignorance, and you emerge seeing the world as it truly is for the first time.
Ryan Holiday
Founder/Brass Check
Who

Who We Are and How We Got Here: Ancient DNA and the New Science of the Human Past

I will write a longer review, but this is a monument, not just a book. And the beginning of a new cultural program.

On a scale of 0 to 100, paternity tests count as 99.99 and written/oral history should count for .01. Apply that to populations. That’s plain statistics/probability. We are seeing science in action: information theory displaces BS, the handwaving just so stories we got from historians.

Nassim Nicholas Taleb
Flaneur
The

The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars: Dispatches from the Front Lines

Very few people have sounded more important alarms about our climate future, and very few people have paid a higher price for doing so. Michael Mann is a hero, and this book is a remarkable account of the science and politics of the defining issue of our time.
Bill McKibben
Founder/350.org

Peak Performance: Elevate Your Game, Avoid Burnout, and Thrive with the New Science of Success

An essential playbook for success, happiness, and getting the most out of ourselves.
Arianna Huffington
Founder/Thrive Global
The

The Courage Quotient: How Science Can Make You Braver

When asked what books he would recommend to youngsters interested in his professional path, Stephen mentioned The Courage Quotient.
Stephen Lew
Director/The School of Positive Psychology
The

The Charisma Myth: How Anyone Can Master the Art and Science of Personal Magnetism

Proud of our friend and neighbor Olivia Fox Cabane - her book 'The Charisma Myth' launched today and is already #122 of all books on Amazon. It went into its second printing even before launch!
Marissa Mayer
Former CEO/Yahoo!
The

The Compassionate Instinct: The Science of Human Goodness

“The Compassionate Instinct” is a great resource for those who wish to enhance their socio-psyche abilities for thought leadership, especially for wellbeing leadership development. The literature probes into the infinite resources of human capital, particularly into avenues of humans’ compassionate instinct. Our compassionate instinct plays a cardinal role in how we choose to connect to others.
Stephen Lew
Director/The School of Positive Psychology

Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress

Pinker is at his best when he analyzes historic trends and uses data to put the past into context. I was already familiar with a lot of the information he shares—especially about health and energy—but he understands each subject so deeply that he’s able to articulate his case in a way that feels fresh and new.

I love how he’s willing to dive deep into primary data sources and pull out unexpected signs of progress. I tend to point to things like dramatic reductions in poverty and childhood deaths, because I think they’re such a good measure of how we’re doing as a society. Pinker covers those areas, but he also looks at more obscure topics.

Here are five of my favorite facts from the book that show how the world is improving:

  • 1. You’re 37 times less likely to be killed by a bolt of lightning than you were at the turn of the century—and that’s not because there are fewer thunderstorms today. It’s because we have better weather prediction capabilities, improved safety education, and more people living in cities.
  • 2. Time spent doing laundry fell from 11.5 hours a week in 1920 to an hour and a half in 2014. This might sound trivial in the grand scheme of progress. But the rise of the washing machine has improved quality of life by freeing up time for people—mostly women—to enjoy other pursuits. That time represents nearly half a day every week that could be used for everything from binge-watching Ozark or reading a book to starting a new business.
  • 3. You’re way less likely to die on the job. Every year, 5,000 people die from occupational accidents in the U.S. But in 1929—when our population was less than two-fifths the size it is today—20,000 people died on the job. People back then viewed deadly workplace accidents as part of the cost of doing business. Today, we know better, and we’ve engineered ways to build things without putting nearly as many lives at risk.
  • 4. The global average IQ score is rising by about 3 IQ points every decade. Kids’ brains are developing more fully thanks to improved nutrition and a cleaner environment. Pinker also credits more analytical thinking in and out of the classroom. Think about how many symbols you interpret every time you check your phone’s home screen or look at a subway map. Our world today encourages abstract thought from a young age, and it’s making us smarter.
  • 5. War is illegal. This idea seems obvious. But before the creation of the United Nations in 1945, no institution had the power to stop countries from going to war with each other. Although there have been some exceptions, the threat of international sanctions and intervention has proven to be an effective deterrent to wars between nations.
Bill Gates
Founder/Microsoft
Three

Three Scientists and Their Gods: Looking for Meaning in an Age of Information

Charlie Munger recommends this title in the book Poor Charlie's Almanack: The Wit and Wisdom of Charles T. Munger.
Charlie Munger
Vice Chairman/Berkshire Hathaway

Barking Up the Wrong Tree: The Surprising Science Behind Why Everything You Know About Success Is (Mostly) Wrong

Eric Barker puts out some great content on his blog and his book combines a lot of those insights into a single read. Growing up I was much more critical and hard on myself than I should’ve been, and this book gives great insight as to what Success actually is and how to get there.
Cody McLain
CEO/SupportNinja

Bad Science: Quacks, Hacks, and Big Pharma Flacks

I agree wholeheartedly with a lot of the co-opted science, which people can read a book called Bad Science, which is by a doctor named Ben Goldacre. It’s great.
Tim Ferriss
Author & Entrepreneur
Ice

Ice Age: How a Change of Climate Made Us Human

(The) best work of science exposition and history that I've read in many years!
Charlie Munger
Vice Chairman/Berkshire Hathaway

Scale: The Universal Laws of Growth, Innovation, Sustainability, and the Pace of Life in Organisms, Cities, Economies, and Companies

The physics behind biology, cities, economics and companies. Do they grow, scale and die by the same math equations? New insights that are enlightening and delightful.
Vinod Khosla
Co-Founder/Sun Microsystem

What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions

I have lots of books to recommend, but they are not related to my career path. The only one that is remotely related is Peter Thiel’s Zero to One. That said here are books I would recommend.
Fabrice Grinda
Serial Entrepreneur, Investor
The

The Gay Science

I have been running my own businesses for the last 15 years. Just before that, before diving head-on into entrepreneurship and independence, I used to be the country monitor of a large accounting and consulting network for China. Having had some ethical differences with members of my former network, I decided to break away from it. However, since I was equipped with a very expensive education, everybody around me was recommending that I would go and work for another firm. I was mired in doubt and was considering going back to management consulting. I have always had two go-to books when having moments of self-doubt like this. Those books are the Zarathustra and the Gay Science by Nietzsche. As I was reading through the prologue of the Zarathustra, and the title character was seeing the acrobat crossing between towers on the marketplace of Baghdad, I realized that staying in a cushy job would not help me cross between the beast and the superman, in a manner of speaking. Hence, Nietzsche helped me make a decision that I had already made in my heart, and which consisted in starting my own company.
Stephane Grand
Managing Partner/S.J. Grand Financial and Tax Advisory

The Ghost Map: The Story of London’s Most Terrifying Epidemic–and How It Changed Science, Cities, and the Modern World

I read the Ghost Map, a book about 1854 London Cholera outbreak. The outbreak was stopped because of a map created by Dr. John Snow. You can see hints of this map in some of our customer discovery tools because it was such an effective way of pinpointing a solution to a seemingly insurmountable problem.
Alison Alvarez
Co-Founder & CEO/Blastpoint.io

The Madhouse Effect: How Climate Change Denial Is Threatening Our Planet, Destroying Our Politics, and Driving Us Crazy

For centuries, powerful forces of greed have tried to hide the truth, but that doesn't change reality--the earth is round and climate change is very real. The Madhouse Effect brilliantly dissects the climate denial industry, empowering all of us to see the facts and take action before it's too late.
Leonardo DiCaprio
Oscar Winning Actor

The Magic of Reality: How We Know What’s Really True

Dawkins, an evolutionary biologist at Oxford, has a gift for making science enjoyable. This book is as accessible as the TV series Cosmos is for younger audiences—and as relevant for older audiences. It’s an engaging, well-illustrated science textbook offering compelling answers to big questions, like “how did the universe form?” and “what causes earthquakes?” It’s also a plea for readers of all ages to approach mysteries with rigor and curiosity. Dawkins’s antagonistic (and, to me, overzealous) view of religion has earned him a lot of angry critics, but I consider him to be one of the great scientific writer/explainers of all time.
Bill Gates
Founder/Microsoft
Regenesis:

Regenesis: How Synthetic Biology Will Reinvent Nature and Ourselves

I tend to jump from book to book and may switch if I am interested in some new topic. This is a pleasure for me (which I also do benefit work wise from too). It’s quite a random list because I have eclectic interests (or just scatterbrained most likely) on tech business, AI, general global economy, geopolitics, rising Biotech economy & history. I'm basically 15% to 50% into all these books.
Marvin Liao
Partner/500 Startups
Explaining

Explaining Social Behavior: More Nuts and Bolts for the Social Sciences

I read this book twice. The first time, I thought that it was excellent, the best compendium of ideas of social science by arguably the best thinker in the field. I took copious notes, etc. I agreed with its patchwork-style approach to rational decision making. I knew that it had huge insights applicable to my refusal of general theories [they don't work], rather limit ourselves to nuts and bolts [they work].

Then I started reading it again, as the book tends to locate itself by my bedside and sneaks itself in my suitcase when I go on a trip. It is as if the book wanted me to read it. It is what literature does to you when it is at its best. So I realized why: it had another layer of depth --and the author distilled ideas from the works of Proust, La Rochefoucault, Tocqueville, Montaigne, people with the kind of insights that extend beyond the ideas, and that makes you feel that a reductionist academic treatment of the subject will necessary distort it [& somehow Elster managed to combine Montaigne and Kahneman-Tversky]. So as an anti-Platonist I finally found a rigorous treatment of human nature that is not Platonistic --not academic (in the bad sense of the word).

Nassim Nicholas Taleb
Flaneur

The Simulation Hypothesis: An MIT Computer Scientist Shows Why AI, Quantum Physics and Eastern Mystics All Agree We Are In a Video Game

The Simulation Hypothesis presents a radical alternative to current models of reality. Riz Virk’s book, relying his unique experience designing digital games, results in a stunning reappraisal of what it means to be human in an infinite universe.
Jacques Vallée
Scientist, VC, author

Linked: How Everything Is Connected to Everything Else and What It Means for Business, Science, and Everyday Life

Written before Facebook, this book predicts what the world will look like with amazing precision.
Bill Barhydt
Founder/Abra
The

The Evolution of Everything: How New Ideas Emerge

The Evolution of Everything by Matt Ridley, one of my favorite authors. I’ve read everything of his, and reread everything of his.
Naval Ravikant
CEO & Co-Founder/AngelList
Deep

Deep Simplicity: Bringing Order to Chaos and Complexity

… it's pretty hard to understand everything, but if you can't understand it, you can always give it to a more intelligent friend.
Charlie Munger
Vice Chairman/Berkshire Hathaway
The

The End of the Long Summer: Why We Must Remake Our Civilization to Survive on a Volatile Earth

Dianne Dumanoski understands, as few have, the scale of the changes coming at us from our warming planet, and the scale of the changes we must make in return. A timely book, and a deep one.
Bill McKibben
Founder/350.org
Invariances:

Invariances: The Structure of the Objective World

Philosophy has been under severe challenge from science, literally eating up its provinces: philosophy of mind went to neuroscience; philosophy of language to Artificial Intelligence and Computer Science,etc. This book shows that there is a need for someone to just specialize in the TRUTH, its scructure, its accessibility, its INVARIANCE.

Aside from the purely philosophical answers that scientists were grappling with, the book is like a manual for a new regimen in philosophy. It reviews everything from epistemology to the logic of contingency, with insights here and there about such topics as the observer biases (about computing probabilities when our existence has been linked to a particular realization of the process).

I am not a philosopher but a probabilist; I found that this book just spoke to me. It certainly rid me of my prejudice against modern philosophers.

Nassim Nicholas Taleb
Flaneur
Leonardo

Leonardo da Vinci

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has plunged into what must be an advance copy of Leonardo da Vinci by Walter Isaacson, who has written biographies of Steve Jobs, Albert Einstein and Ben Franklin. Isaacson’s biography is based on the Renaissance master’s personal notebooks, so you know we’re going to be taken into the creative mind of the genius.
Satya Nadella
CEO/Microsoft
The

The Order of Things: An Archaeology of the Human Sciences

The Order of Things by Foucault literally changed my life forever as it demonstrated to me that language is how we make the world.
Bill Liao
General Partner/RebelBio, SOSV.com
Cosmos

Cosmos

Today is World Book Day, a wonderful opportunity to address this #ChallengeRichard sent in by Mike Gonzalez of New Jersey: Make a list of your top 65 books to read in a lifetime.
Richard Branson
Founder/Virgin Group

Stealing Fire: How Silicon Valley, the Navy SEALs, and Maverick Scientists Are Revolutionizing the Way We Live and Work

Stealing Fire discusses the many alternate states of consciousness and how to leverage them to achieve creativity, vision, and FLOW. While this isn’t 100% a business book, it has had the biggest impact on me professionally by helping me find and stay in flow. The book’s greatest lesson, however, is in realizing why FLOW is so important - it leads to the best quality of work. Maximum output for minimal input.
Adam Johnston
CEO & Co-Founder/Last Call Trivia
The

The Beginning of Infinity: Explanations That Transform the World

Reading has given me more perspective on a number of topics — from science to religion, from poverty to prosperity, from health to energy to social justice, from political philosophy to foreign policy, and from history to futuristic fiction.

This challenge has been intellectually fulfilling, and I come away with a greater sense of hope and optimism that our society can make greater progress in all of these areas.

It's fitting to end the year with The Beginning of Infinity by David Deutsch, about how the way we explain things unlocks greater possibilities.

Mark Zuckerberg
CEO/Facebook
The

The Gene: An Intimate History

Mukherjee wrote this book for a lay audience, because he knows that the new genome technologies are at the cusp of affecting us all in profound ways, Gates wrote. Mukherjee is what Gates calls a quadruple threat. He's a practicing physician, teacher, researcher, and author.
Bill Gates
CEO/Microsoft
Genome:

Genome: The Autobiography of a Species in 23 Chapters

This book aims to tell a history of humanity from the perspective of genetics rather than sociology. This should complement the other broad histories I've read this year, as well as follow Energy well in focusing on science.

I've wanted to read Matt Ridley's books for a while. His recent book The Rational Optimist about how progress and the economy evolve is also near the top of my ever-growing pile of books to read.

Mark Zuckerberg
CEO/Facebook

How We Learn: The Surprising Truth About When, Where, and Why It Happens

He does a brilliant job proving that our thinking about learning is rooted more in superstition than in science. And boy this book is filled with science. It is extremely evident that the author is a science nerd because this book is 95% filled with studies and experiments on lots and lots of topics related to the learning: memorization, forgetting, associations, perceptions etc. This could make the book boring for a reader hungry for the bite-size advice (who has the time for any of this?) but I found the research fascinating and I went the extra mile in a lot of cases by going through the source material.
Vladimir Oane
Founder/UberVU

The Wizard and the Prophet: Two Remarkable Scientists and Their Dueling Visions to Shape Tomorrow’s World

The Wizard and the Prophet is an important book, and I urge you to read it. (The chapter on climate change, including its fascinating history, is alone worth the effort.)

To combat climate change, should we stop flying (as meteorologist Eric Holthaus has urged) & switch to renewable energy or should we capture carbon from coal plants & build nuclear power plants? GMO crops or community-based organic farming? How can 10 billion people be happy and prosperous without ruining the planet?

I came to this book with an open mind, and came away far more informed about the debate but even more unsure about the way forward. The book offers no easy answers — it’s difficult to tell where Mann himself stands on the wizard/prophet continuum (although I would suspect more wizard than prophet, which is likely my leaning as well) — but it does ask many of the right questions. Wizards can order the book from Amazon while Prophets should seek it out at their local bookstore or library.

Jason Kottke
Blogger & Designer
Influence:

Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion

It taught me so much about marketing and human psychology. I keep referring back to that book all the time. It has been instrumental in inspiring the marketing strategies I used to propel Rails and Basecamp.
David Heinemeier Hansson
Co-Founder/Basecamp
Range:

Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World

In a world that’s increasingly obsessed with specialization, star science writer David Epstein is here to convince you that the future may belong to generalists. It’s a captivating read that will leave you questioning the next steps in your career—and the way you raise your children.
Adam Grant
Author
The

The Wisdom Paradox: How Your Mind Can Grow Stronger As Your Brain Grows Older

If you like the thinker's prose, the so-called romantic science,a style attributed to the Russian neuroscientist A. R. Luria,which consists in publishing original research in literary form, you would love this book. Clearly intellectual scientists are vanishing under the weight of the commoditization of the discipline. But once in a while someone emerges to reverse such setbacks. Goldberg, who was the great Luria's student and collaborator, is even more colorful and fun to read than the master.

He is egocentric, abrasive, opinionated, and colorful. He is also disdainful of the conventional beliefs in neurosciences --for instance he is suspicious of the assignment of specific functions, such as language, to anatomical regions. He is also skeptical of the journalistic triune brain. His theory is that the hemispheric specialization is principally along pattern matching and information processing lines:the left side stores patterns, while the right one processes novel tasks. It is convincing to see that children suffer more from a right brain injury, while adults have the opposite effect. There is a little bit of open plugging of Goldberg's for-profit institute;he would have gotten better results by being subtle.

A fre minor points. I did not understand why Goldberg discusses modularity, of which he is critical, as if it were the same thing in both neurobiology and in cognitive science. In neurobiology, modularity implies regional localization, while cognitive scientists (Marr, Fodor, etc.) make no such assumption: for them it is entirely functional and they would be in great agreement with Goldberg. Also I did not understand why he attributes the language instinct to Pinker, not Chomsky, and why he makes snide remarks about behavioral scientists like Kahneman and Tversky. But these are very minor details that do not weaken the message (I still gave the book 5 stars). I am now spoiled; I need more essays by opinionated, original,and intellectual, contemporary scientists.

Nassim Nicholas Taleb
Flaneur
Algorithms

Algorithms to Live By: The Computer Science of Human Decisions

When asked what books he would recommend to young people interested in his career path, Emi Gal mentioned Algorithms to Live By.
Emi Gal
CEO/Teads Studio
The

The End of Average: How We Succeed in a World That Values Sameness

It does a great job exploring the opportunity for personalization in education, medicine and countless other fields — which will hopefully drive countless other opportunities.
Anne Dwane
Founder/GSV Acceleration
The

The Surprising Science of Meetings: How You Can Lead Your Team to Peak Performance

In workplaces around the world, meetings are where productivity and creativity go to die. Steven Rogelberg is the world's leading expert on how to fix them, and here he shares the best evidence on how we can stop wasting time and falling victim to groupthink.
Adam Grant
Author
Chimpanzee

Chimpanzee Politics: Power and Sex among Apes

It completely changed my view of chimpanzees and Homo sapiens alike. Probably the most funny science book I have ever read. A must-read for politicians of all species!
Yuval Noah Harari
Historian
Life

Life at the Speed of Light: From the Double Helix to the Dawn of Digital Life

(Note: When asked what books had the biggest impact) A few that come to mind include: Abundance by Peter Diamandis, Life at the Speed of Light by Craig Venter and How Will You Measure Your Life? by Clayton M. Christensen, James Allworth, and Karen Dillon. However, every book I’ve read has impacted my thoughts in a different way. Whenever I am excited by a new topic or industry, such as the microbiome – which has resulted in the formation of Viome, I read any and all books on the topic. Each book contributes to my thought process and what is the next step to take.
Naveen Jain
Founder/Moon Express, Viome

Big World, Small Planet: Abundance within Planetary Boundaries

Today is World Book Day, a wonderful opportunity to address this #ChallengeRichard sent in by Mike Gonzalez of New Jersey: Make a list of your top 65 books to read in a lifetime.
Richard Branson
Founder/Virgin Group
The

The Ideas of Particle Physics: An Introduction for Scientists

Folks frequently ask “What are the books that changed your life?” If I tell them, they are usually radically disappointed. I find that curious. I just cleared out of an office, and these are 4 shelves of spines of books that mattered enough to me to bring home. So here they are.
Eric Weinstein
Managing Director/Thiel Capital
To

To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others

Like Charlie Munger once said: “I’ve long believed that a certain system - which almost any intelligent person can learn - works way better than the systems most people use [to understand the world]. What you need is a latticework of mental models in your head. And, with that system, things gradually fit together in a way that enhances cognition. Just as multiple factors shape every system, multiple mental models from a variety of disciplines are necessary to understand that system. You can read this book to start building a latticework of mental models in your head.

Ola Olusoga
Co-founder/Populum
How

How To Build Websites That Sell

In terms of business, some of the must-read books I would mention are Hooked by Nir Eyal, Web Analytics: An Hour A Day by Avinash Kaushik, Call To Action and Always Be Testing by Bryan Eisenberg, Epic Content Marketing by Joe Pulizzi, How To Build Websites That Sell by Peep Laja, Content Chemistry by Andy Crestodina.
Raluca Radu
Owner/MTH Digital

Training Essentials for Ultrarunning: How to Train Smarter, Race Faster, and Maximize Your Ultramarathon Performance

Books that had biggest impact in 2017: when it comes to running, it's Jason Koop -Training Essentials for Ultrarunning, a book that completely changed my training approach.
Robert Hajnal
Founder of Trail Runing Academy

Faraday, Maxwell, and the Electromagnetic Field: How Two Men Revolutionized Physics

It's a combination of scientific biography and explanation of the physics, particularly relating to electricity. It's just the best book of its kind I have ever read, and I just hugely enjoyed it. Couldn't put it down. It was a fabulous human achievement. And neither of the writers is a physicist.
Charlie Munger
Vice Chairman/Berkshire Hathaway
Waking

Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion

Very well thought through analysis of spirituality without religion.
Fabrice Grinda
Serial Entrepreneur, Investor
Mapping

Mapping the Mind

I started my interest in neurobiology in December 1998 after reading a discussion by Rita Carter in the FT showing that rational behavior under uncertainty and rational decision making can come from a defect in the amygdala. Since then I've had five years of reading more technical material (Gazzaniga et al is perhaps the most complete reference on cognitive neuroscience) and thought that I transcended this book.

But it was not so. I picked up this book again last weekend and was both astonished at a) the ease of reading , b) the clarity of the text and c) the breadth of the approach! I was looking for a refresher as I am trying to capture a general idea of the functioning of that black box and found exactly what I needed without the excess burden of prominent textbooks. Very pedagogical.

I read here and there comments by neuroscientists dissing the book over small details perhaps invisible even to experts. I just realize that Carter should keep updating it, as it is invaluable in my suitcase when I travel! I do not conceal my suspicion of science writers and journalists more trained in communicating than understanding and usually shallow babblers but Carter is an exception. Perhaps the science of the mind requires breadth of knowledge that she has. She is a thinker in her own right not just a medical journalist.

Nassim Nicholas Taleb
Flaneur
The

The Pleasure of Finding Things Out: The Best Short Works of Richard Feynman

It looks like co-founder of Google, Larry Page, is more into science books. “The Pleasures of Finding Things Out” is a genuine work of art.
Larry Page
CEO/Google

Brain Rules: 12 Principles of Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home and School

I can say that my area, or my background involves a lot of practical work, traveling, learning and performing a big variety of sports, meeting new people and making contacts. But taking into account that being a young entrepreneur I wish I had known a lot of things before starting everything. Therefore, what I would suggest people to do is invest a lot in themselves professionally and personally, where I put a lot of emphasis on developing an equilibrium between mind, body and spirit. This equilibrium will help a lot in everything you do in your daily life. So these are the books I would recommend.
Tudor Teodorescu
Founder/Transylvania Uncharted

You Should Test That!

I work in digital marketing so I would [recommend]: [...] You Should Test That by Chris Goward.
Raluca Radu
Owner/MTH Digital
Yes!

Yes! 50 Secrets from the Power of Persuasion

I find it difficult to say I have a favorite business book, there is no perfect book in my opinion, each has its own elements to take away, and each will inevitably have elements that don’t apply to you or you disagree with. [...] Yes! 50 Secrets from the Power of Persuasion sticks in my mind as one I particularly enjoyed reading. [...] very entertaining and a great insight into people's minds, marketing and selling. I was writing a lot of web copy at that time and this book really helped me get to grips with the ‘what’ and ‘why’ I was writing.
Gary Bury
Co-Founder/Timetastic

The Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life, One Night at a Time

Arianna shows that sleep is not just vital for our health, but also critical to helping us achieve our goals. Sometimes we need to sleep in to lean in!
Sheryl Sandberg
COO/Facebook
Mama's

Mama’s Last Hug: Animal Emotions and What They Tell Us about Ourselves

A captivating and big-hearted book, full of compassion and brimming with insights about the lives of animals, including human ones.
Yuval Noah Harari
Historian

Limitless Mind: Learn, Lead, and Live Without Barriers

Boaler is one of those rare and remarkable educators who not only know the secret of great teaching but also know how to give that gift to others.
Carol S. Dweck
Author
The

The Referral Engine: Teaching Your Business to Market Itself

I don't think there are many people who know more about small business marketing than John does, and I'm certain that there's no one more generous in sharing tips and insights. What, exactly, are you waiting for? This book will pay for itself in one day
Seth Godin
Author & Entrepreneur
Our

Our Final Invention: Artificial Intelligence and the End of the Human Era

While on the subject of AI risk, Our Final Invention by @jrbarrat is also worth reading
Elon Musk
Founder/SpaceX
The

The Double Helix: A Personal Account of the Discovery of the Structure of DNA

It gives you an insider’s look at how innovation happens, the struggles in it and the rivalry in the race to get to the heart of molecular structures. It felt like a business story but it’s really about science and innovation.
Matt Calkins
CEO/Appian

The Strange Order of Things: Life, Feeling, and the Making of Cultures

So here are my three must read books. I've been reading a lot of great books like: Outsmart Your Instincts, The Culture Code, and Antonio Damasio’s The Strange Order, and sometimes when you read a lot of nonfiction it’s very enriching, sometimes you need a novel. I really believe you should take a minute and read something beautiful. Listen, listen to Lolita by Nabokov. But also listen to Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy and listen to Richard Poe narrate that. Those are two of the greatest feats of the english language that I can think of. Then there’s Fortress of Solitude, an amazing book, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, these are great novels. Cold Mountain is a beautiful novel, Snow Falling On Cedars, I mean they’ve been around for a while. But goddamnit, get those under your belt. Those are the novels I think you should read. You know Love In The Time Of Cholera it just makes you ache. Kind of like a Hemingway thing, where Hemingway “ahh!”, it’s the same thing, you know. So I don’t know, I’m a fan of all those books. Those are my 3 slash 20 books.
Bryan Callen
Co-Host/The Fighter and the Kid
The

The Emperor of Scent: A True Story of Perfume and Obsession

For my science friends, I ask them to read The Emperor of Scent, by Chandler Burr, about my friend Luca Turin. It talks about a renegade scientist being stymied by the journal Nature, by various conferences, by the established research centers, and it's just a wonderful introduction to how the dissident voice is marginalized. Because Luca is such a genius of olfcation and chemistry, he's able to take a perspective, which may or may not be true, but keep pushing forward and battling. So, that's one of my favorites.

Eric Weinstein
Managing Director/Thiel Capital
Blueprint:

Blueprint: The Evolutionary Origins of a Good Society

It’s rare for a physician to become a prominent social scientist. It’s even rarer for that person to write a book that opens your eyes to a fresh way of understanding the world. Blueprint is a contrarian exploration of how good societies may be shaped less by historical forces and more by natural selection.
Adam Grant
Author
Merchants

Merchants of Doubt

I recommend people read a book called Merchants of Doubt. All they need to do is create doubt.
Elon Musk
Founder/SpaceX
The

The Dreaming Void

Fascinating space opera for relaxation after work, this is the second saga from him. I became fan of Peter Hamilton.
Ovidiu Drugan
Owner/Set Sail Nautic School
Models

Models of My Life

An autobiography of Nobel laureate Herbert A. Simon, a remarkable polymath who more people should know about. In an age of increasing specialization, he’s a rare generalist — applying what he learned as a scientist to other aspects of his life. Crossing disciplines, he was at the intersection of “information sciences.” He won the Nobel for his theory of “bounded rationality,” and is perhaps best known for his insightful quote “A wealth of information creates a poverty of attention.”
Charlie Munger
Vice Chairman/Berkshire Hathaway

The Geography of Genius: A Search for the World’s Most Creative Places from Ancient Athens to Silicon Valley

The book just a great job describing how communities through the world and history were able to be more innovative than others. It contains some big surprises too.

Colleen McCreary
CEO/CCKPartners

The Disease Delusion: Conquering the Causes of Chronic Illness for a Healthier, Longer, and Happier Life

On the healthcare side on the microbiome, I really love the book called, Disease Delusion by Jeff Bland and The Human Superorganism. I just love both of them. It gives you a whole holistic view of the body.
Naveen Jain
Founder/Moon Express
Storms

Storms of My Grandchildren: The Truth About the Coming Climate Catastrophe and Our Last Chance to Save Humanity

When the history of the climate crisis is written, Hansen will be seen as the scientist with the most powerful and consistent voice calling for intelligent action to preserve our planet's environment.
Al Gore
Founder/Alliance for Climate Protection
The

The War for Kindness: Building Empathy in a Fractured World

In a time when it seems empathy is a lost cause and compassion is a dying art, it may not be too late to revive the better angels of our nature. Jamil Zaki is one of the bright lights in psychology, and in this gripping book he shows that kindness is not a sign of weakness but a source of strength.
Adam Grant
Author

I Think, Therefore I Laugh

I found this copy last week at Waterstone in London . It made me feel the plane ride was very short! I should have bought a couple. This is a great book for a refresher in analytical philosophy: pleasant, clear. Great training for people who tend to forget elementary relationships.

I did not know that JAP was a logician. Go buy this book!

The only competition is Think by Blackburn (rather boring).

Nassim Nicholas Taleb
Flaneur

Eat Fat, Get Thin: Why the Fat We Eat Is the Key to Sustained Weight Loss and Vibrant Health

Dr. Mark Hyman has helped thousands of people lose weight and lead happier, more energetic lives. His powerful insights on the dynamics of dietary fat will change the way you think about everyday eating, and show you how easy it is to enjoy a healthier, more satisfying diet.

Toby Cosgrove
Former Doctor & CEO/Cleveland Clinic
My

My Inventions: The Autobiography of Nikola Tesla

I didn't read actually very many general business books, but I like biographies and autobiographies, I think those are pretty helpful. Actually, a lot of them aren't really business. [...] I think it's also worth reading books on scientists and engineers. Tesla, obviously.
Elon Musk
Founder/SpaceX

The Future of the Mind: The Scientific Quest to Understand, Enhance, and Empower the Mind

[One of the books that had the biggest impact on Dominic Steil.]
Dominic Steil
CTO/Dapps Inc

Models.Behaving.Badly.: Why Confusing Illusion with Reality Can Lead to Disaster, on Wall Street and in Life

Here is what I wrote in my endorsement: Emanuel Derman has written my kind of a book, an elegant combination of memoir, confession, and essay on ethics, philosophy of science and professional practice. He convincingly establishes the difference between model and theory and shows why attempts to model financial markets can never be genuinely scientific. It vindicates those of us who hold that financial modeling is neither practical nor scientific. Exceedingly readable.

From the remarks here, people seem to be blaming Derman for not having written the type of books they usually read... They are blaming him for being original! This is very philistinic. This book is a personal essay; if you don't like it, don't read it, there is no need to blame the author for not delivering your regular science reporting. Why don't you go blame Montaigne for discussing his personal habits in the middle of a meditation on war inspired by Plutarch?

Nassim Nicholas Taleb
Flaneur

The Perils of Perception: Why We’re Wrong About Nearly Everything

You’ll be wrong at work. Lots of people don’t like getting things wrong. Both these books [Factfulness & The Perils of Perception] explain the cognitive biases that lead people to being wrong every day. Both of them helped me accept being wrong graciously.
Ella Botting
Founder/CyberWomen.co.uk
The

The Planet Remade: How Geoengineering Could Change the World

One of the best 3 books I've read in 2019
The CEO Library Community (through anonymous form)
Reader

Nine Pints: A Journey Through the Money, Medicine, and Mysteries of Blood

If you get grossed out by blood, this one probably isn’t for you. But if you’re like me and find it fascinating, you’ll enjoy this book by a British journalist with an especially personal connection to the subject. I’m a big fan of books that go deep on one specific topic, so Nine Pints (the title refers to the volume of blood in the average adult) was right up my alley. It’s filled with super-interesting facts that will leave you with a new appreciation for blood.
Bill Gates
Founder/Microsoft

Good Calories, Bad Calories: Challenging the Conventional Wisdom on Diet, Weight Control, and Disease

Gary Taubes is a true empiricist. I can't believe people hold on to the Platonicity of the thermodynamic theory of diet (calorie in = calorie out). Read it twice, once for the diet, once a a rich document in the history of science.

Nassim Nicholas Taleb
Flaneur
The

The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable

[From the book The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon]

“The scholar argues that people are wired to see patterns in chaos while remaining blind to unpredictable events, with massive consequences. Experimentation and empiricism trumps the easy and obvious narrative,” Stone writes.

Jeff Bezos
CEO/Amazon
The

The Statistical Mechanics of Financial Markets

Very useful book, particularly in what concerns alternative L-Stable distributions. True, not too versed in financial theory but I'd rather see the author erring on the side of more physics than mathematical economics. As an author I don't ask much from books, just to deliver what they indend. This one does.

Clear historical description of Einstein/Bachelier. Hopefully one day we will call derivatives pricing the Bachelier valuation.

The book in short provides an excellent perspective on the statistical approach to asset price dynamics. Very clear and to the point.

Nassim Nicholas Taleb
Flaneur
Understanding

Understanding Research Methods: An Overview of the Essentials

Question: What five books would you recommend to young people interested in your career path & why?

Answer: In addition to Built to Change, Process Consultation, and Flawless Consulting, I would add:

  • The Wisdom of Teams by Katzenbach & Smith
  • Diagnosing and Changing Organizational Culture by Cameron & Quinn
  • Designing Organizations by Galbraith
  • Understanding Research Methods by Patten
  • Competitive Strategy by Michael Porter
Denise Morris Kipnis
Founder & Principal/ChangeFlow Consulting
The

The Master Algorithm: How the Quest for the Ultimate Learning Machine Will Remake Our World

If you want speculation about what the master AI might need (one view). For a slightly more technical read, I’d suggest Ian Goodfellows Deep Learning.
Vinod Khosla
Co-Founder/Sun Microsystem
Fooled

Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets

Like Charlie Munger once said: “I’ve long believed that a certain system - which almost any intelligent person can learn - works way better than the systems most people use [to understand the world]. What you need is a latticework of mental models in your head. And, with that system, things gradually fit together in a way that enhances cognition. Just as multiple factors shape every system, multiple mental models from a variety of disciplines are necessary to understand that system. You can read this book to start building a latticework of mental models in your head.
Ola Olusoga
Co-founder/Populum
The

The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt and the Golden Age of Journalism

I’m especially interested in the central question that Doris Kearns Goodwin raises in The Bully Pulpit. How does social change happen? Can it be driven by a single inspirational leader, or do other factors have to lay the groundwork first? Sometimes a single leader can make a big difference: In the field of global health, Jim Grant almost single-handedly created a global constituency for children, sparking a movement to double vaccination rates and save millions of lives. But Roosevelt’s case was different. Although he tried to push through a number of political reforms earlier in his career, he wasn’t really successful until journalists at McClure’s and other publications had rallied public support for change.
Bill Gates
CEO/Microsoft
The

The Stuff of Thought: Language as a Window into Human Nature

[One of the books that had the biggest impact on Dominic Steil.]
Dominic Steil
CTO/Dapps Inc
Coders:

Coders: The Making of a New Tribe and the Remaking of the World

If you have to work with programmers, it’s essential to understand that programming has a culture. This book will help you understand what programmers do, how they do it, and why. It decodes the culture of code.
Kevin Kelly
Author, Founding executive editor/Wired

Factfulness: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong about the World–and Why Things Are Better Than You Think

This was a breakthrough to me. The framework Hans enunciates is one that took me decades of working in global development to create for myself, and I could have never expressed it in such a clear way. I’m going to try to use this model moving forward.
Bill Gates
Founder/Microsoft

The Biology of Belief: Unleashing the Power of Consciousness, Matter & Miracles

A moment when something read in a book helped: The book from Dr. Bruce Lipton The Biology of Belief where he talks about how we SEE the world around us is a reflection of what is going on in our inner world​ (our mind)​. What we perceive or interpret as reality we project into our environment. The gold nugget here is… if you want to change your environment – change the way you see it, ​then ​change the meaning you give it and ​therefore you will change your behaviours and get the result that you are after.
Catherine Plano
Executive Coach

Futureface: A Family Mystery, an Epic Quest, and the Secret to Belonging

As 2018 draws to a close, I’m continuing a favorite tradition of mine and sharing my year-end lists. It gives me a moment to pause and reflect on the year through the books I found most thought-provoking, inspiring, or just plain loved. It also gives me a chance to highlight talented authors – some who are household names and others who you may not have heard of before. Here’s my best of 2018 list.
Barack Obama
Former USA President
The

The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming

I don't know a lot about climate change, but I'm interested in learning more in this big gnarly topic. Wallace-Wells offers a potential portrait of what could happen, using science to show us how our lives will almost inevitably change. He also explores possibilities for what living in this new world could do to politics, our economy, our health, etc. While outcomes are impossible to know with any precision, the path seems clear.
Shane Parrish
Founder/Farnam Street Blog
Seeing

Seeing like a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed

I tend to jump from book to book and may switch if I am interested in some new topic. This is a pleasure for me (which I also do benefit work wise from too). It’s quite a random list because I have eclectic interests (or just scatterbrained most likely) on tech business, AI, general global economy, geopolitics, rising Biotech economy & history. I'm basically 15% to 50% into all these books.
Marvin Liao
Partner/500 Startups
Seven

Seven Brief Lessons On Physics

I’ve read that one at least twice.
Naval Ravikant
CEO & Co-Founder/AngelList
The

The Prince

Of course, this is a must read. Machiavelli is one of those figures and writers who is tragically overrated and underrated at the same time. Unfortunately that means that many people who read him miss the point and other people avoid him and miss out altogether. Take Machiavelli slow, and really read him. Also understand the man behind the book–not just as a masterful writer but a man who withstood heinous torture and exile with barely a whimper.

Machiavelli is a glimpse into a time when power was literal and out for public viewing–when he talks about making an example of someone, he doesn’t mean calling them out, he means putting their head on a pike. Don’t let that scare you because we’re not as far from that world as we’d like to think. Deny that at your own peril.

Ryan Holiday
Founder/Brass Check
Sex

Sex on the Brain: The Biological Differences Between Men and Women

One of the better books on evolutionary biology that focuses almost entirely on the biological and psychological differences between men and women. It’s written by a journalist (who cites scientists) so it’s easy to read if you’re not studied in the field. If you want to get into evolutionary psychology–which you totally should–this is a good starting point because it covers all the basics. Essentially, it discusses how men and women have benefited evolutionarily through different behaviors and strengths so it would only make sense that they would have developed into two very different entities.
Ryan Holiday
Founder/Brass Check
Drawdown:

Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming

This is the ideal environmental sciences textbook—only it is too interesting and inspiring to be called a textbook.
Peter Kareiva
Director/Institute of the Environment and Sustainability, UCLA
A

A Short History of Nearly Everything

I have lots of books to recommend, but they are not related to my career path. The only one that is remotely related is Peter Thiel’s Zero to One. That said here are books I would recommend.
Fabrice Grinda
Serial Entrepreneur, Investor
Antifragile:

Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder

Like Charlie Munger once said: “I’ve long believed that a certain system - which almost any intelligent person can learn - works way better than the systems most people use [to understand the world]. What you need is a latticework of mental models in your head. And, with that system, things gradually fit together in a way that enhances cognition. Just as multiple factors shape every system, multiple mental models from a variety of disciplines are necessary to understand that system. You can read this book to start building a latticework of mental models in your head.
Ola Olusoga
Co-founder/Populum
Thorium:

Thorium: The Eighth Element

This book was recommended by Antonio when asked for titles he would recommend to young people interested in his career path.
Antonio Eram
Founder & CEO/NETOPIA mobilPay
Unequal

Unequal Democracy: The Political Economy of the New Gilded Age

He may have the country’s finest experts at his fingertips, but it still doesn’t hurt to read up on environmental and economic issues.
Barack Obama
Former USA President
Willpower:

Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength

The psychologist Roy F. Baumeister has shown that the force metaphor has a kernel of neurobiological reality. In Willpower, he has teamed up with the irreverent New York Timesscience columnist John Tierney to explain this ingenious research and show how it can enhance our lives. . . . Willpower is an immensely rewarding book, filled with ingenious research, wise advice and insightful reflections on the human condition.
Steven Pinker
Author
How

How to Read a Book: The Classic Guide to Intelligent Reading

Sergey Brin had “How to Read a Book” by Mortimer J. Adler as one of his most recommended books.
Sergey Brin
Co-Founder/Google
The

The Importance of Being Little: What Young Children Really Need from Grownups

The Importance of being Little: What Young Children Really Need from Grownups by Erika Christakis - It’s a good read for anyone who wants to be a educator.
Ng Rong Xin
Co-Founder/Explorer Junior
The

The Souls of Black Folk

According to the president’s Facebook page and a 2008 interview with the New York Times, these titles are among his most influential forever favorites:

  • Moby Dick, Herman Melville
  • Self-Reliance, Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Song Of Solomon, Toni Morrison
  • Parting The Waters, Taylor Branch
  • Gilead, Marylinne Robinson
  • Best and the Brightest, David Halberstam
  • The Federalist, Alexander Hamilton
  • Souls of Black Folk, W.E.B. Du Bois
  • The Power and the Glory, Graham Greene
  • The Quiet American, Graham Greene
  • Cancer Ward, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
  • Gandhi’s autobiography
  • Working, Studs Terkel
  • Wealth of Nations, Adam Smith
  • Theory of Moral Sentiments, Adam Smith
  • All the King’s Men, Robert Penn Warren
Barack Obama
Former USA President
Being

Being the Change: Live Well and Spark a Climate Revolution

A plethora of insights about nature and ourselves, revealed by one man's journey as he comes to terms with human exploitation of our planet.
James Hansen
Former Director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies
Nonzero:

Nonzero: The Logic of Human Destiny

One of the very few books I think about all the time is Robert Wright’s Nonzero: The Logic of Human Destiny.

Nonzero is an intriguing lens through which to view current events (which is why it’s often in my thoughts). As Chopra notes, cooperation isn’t always the norm…Trumpist Republicans and Brexit proponents are both veering towards the zero sum end of the spectrum and I don’t think it will work out well for either country in the long run.

Jason Kottke
Blogger & Designer
The

The Mysterious Island

I will pick Jules Verne’s Mysterious Island for a non-business favorite. I don’t claim this is the best book out there. Not even in its category (whatever that is). But I adored this book as a young boy. I remember that the night when I was approaching the end of the book a power outage happened, and I finished it reading it with the help of candle light. I love this book that much. Jules Verne introduces a world full of mysteries, with challenges that seem insurmountable but with heroes that always find ingenious ways to overcome them using science and strength of character. It is also part of a Universe (like the Marvel one), building on some of the reveals from “Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea” or “In Search of the Castaways”. Maybe your readers shouldn’t rush and grab this one unless they are 14 yrs old or deeply into steampunk adventure stories. But it meant a lot to me at the time. Maybe it sparked my interest in sciences or cultivated my sense of adventure.
Vladimir Oane
Founder/UberVU
Darwin

Darwin Among The Machines: The Evolution Of Global Intelligence

This book was recommended by Antonio when asked for titles he would recommend to young people interested in his career path.
Antonio Eram
Founder & CEO/NETOPIA mobilPay
A

A Crack in Creation: Gene Editing and the Unthinkable Power to Control Evolution

I tend to jump from book to book and may switch if I am interested in some new topic. This is a pleasure for me (which I also do benefit work wise from too). It’s quite a random list because I have eclectic interests (or just scatterbrained most likely) on tech business, AI, general global economy, geopolitics, rising Biotech economy & history. I'm basically 15% to 50% into all these books.
Marvin Liao
Partner/500 Startups
Stuff

Stuff Matters: Exploring the Marvelous Materials That Shape Our Man-Made World

Mark Miodownik’s personal and professional obsession, as he explains in his book Stuff Matters, is basic materials we often take for granted such as paper, glass, concrete, and steel -- as well as new super-materials that will change our world in the decades ahead. I’m pleased to report that he is a witty, smart writer who has a great talent for imparting his love of this subject. As a result, Stuff Matters is a fun, accessible read.
Bill Gates
CEO/Microsoft
Why

Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About It

I get most of my information about nutrition from medical studies. I haven’t read any books about nutrition that I agree with 100%. These are a few nutrition related books that I’ve read recently that I thought were interesting: Eat to Live (Joel Fuhrman), Why We Get Fat (Gary Taubes), and The 4-Hour Body (Tim Ferris).
Dr. Monali Y. Desai
Cardiologist & Founder/If We Were Family
The

The Idea Factory: Bell Labs and the Great Age of American Innovation

My next book for A Year of Books is The Idea Factory: Bell Labs and the Great Age of American Innovation.

I'm very interested in what causes innovation -- what kinds of people, questions and environments. This book explores that question by looking at Bell Labs, which was one of the most innovative labs in history.

As an aside, I loved The Three-Body Problem and highly recommend it. If you're interested in Chinese history, virtual reality and science fiction -- I'm three for three! -- then you'll enjoy this book. I'm going to try to fit in the sequel before the end of the year as well.

Mark Zuckerberg
CEO/Facebook
Prisoners

Prisoners of Geography: Ten Maps That Explain Everything About the World

Depending on your interest and goals, if you are like me and always looking for the trends in the big picture then I highly recommend being an active contrarian reader. Read what no one else is reading. Your goal is to think outside the box. To look at the world and ask “why hasn’t this been solved?” And that gives you a roadmap as to what opportunities may exist for your entrepreneurial efforts. So to that, here’s a snapshot, in no particular order, of what might help you push your intellectual boundaries:

  • Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah
  • 23 Things They Don't Tell You About Capitalism by Ha-Joon Chang
  • Postcapitalism: A Guide to Our Future by Paul Mason
  • Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty
  • Who Gets What--And Why: The New Economics of Matchmaking and Market Design by Alvin E. Roth
  • The Political Economy of Participatory Economics by Michael Albert and Robin Hahnel
  • The Zero Marginal Cost Society: The Internet of Things, the Collaborative Commons, and the Eclipse of Capitalism by Jeremy Rifkin
  • Why America Misunderstands the World by Paul R. Pillar
  • A Theory of Justice by John Rawls
  • Prisoners of Geography by Tim Marshall
Lucas Morales
Founder & CEO/Zeall.us
The

The Kelly Capital Growth Investment Criterion: Theory and Practice

There are two methods to consider in a risky strategy.

1) The first is to know all parameters about the future and engage in optimized portfolio construction, a lunacy unless one has a god-like knowledge of the future. Let us call it Markowitz-style. In order to implement a full Markowitz- style optimization, one needs to know the entire joint probability distribution of all assets for the entire future, plus the exact utility function for wealth at all future times. And without errors! (I have shown that estimation errors make the system explode.)

2) Kelly's method (or, rather, Kelly-Thorpe), developed around the same period, which requires no joint distribution or utility function. It is very robust. In practice one needs to estimate the ratio of expected profit to worst- case return-- dynamically adjusted to avoid ruin. In the case of barbell transformations, the worst case is guaranteed (leave 80% or so of your money in reserves). And model error is much, much milder under Kelly criterion. So, assuming one has the edge (as a sole central piece of information), engage in a dynamic strategy of variable betting, getting more conservative after losses (cut your losses) and more aggressive with the house's money. The entire focus is the avoidance of gambler's ruin.

The first strategy was only embraced by academic financial economists --empty suits without skin in the game -- because you can make an academic career writing BS papers with method 1 much better than with method 2. On the other hand EVERY SURVIVING speculator uses explicitly or implicitly method 2 (evidence: Ray Dalio, Paul Tudor Jones, Renaissance, even Goldman Sachs!) For the first method, think of LTCM and the banking failure.

Let me repeat. Method 2 is much, much, much more scientific in the true sense of the word, that is rigorous and applicable. Method 1 is good for job market papers . Now this book presents all the major papers for the second line of thinking. It is almost exhaustive; many great thinkers in Information theory and probability (Ed Thorpe, Leo Breiman, T M Cover, Bill Ziemba) are represented... even the original paper by Bernouilli.

Buy 2 copies, just in case you lose one. This book has more meat than any other book in decision theory, economics, finance, etc...

Nassim Nicholas Taleb
Flaneur

The Passion Paradox: A Guide to Going All In, Finding Success, and Discovering the Benefits of an Unbalanced Life

Passion is a roller coaster ride that can send us on a sudden, precipitating plunge from the heights of happiness to the depths of despair. This thoughtful, immediately readable book shows how to manage passion so it brings out the best in us—rather than the worst in us.
Adam Grant
Author

Loonshots: How to Nurture the Crazy Ideas That Win Wars, Cure Diseases, and Transform Industries

This book has everything: new ideas, bold insights, entertaining history and convincing analysis. Not to be missed by anyone who wants to understand how ideas change the world.
Daniel Kahneman
Nobel Prize Winner, Author
Why

Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams

Several friends, who know I both love to sleep and am intrigued with how sleep works, recommended that I read Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams. It was excellent. While my self-assessment of my sleep habits are very positive, I learned a few things. More importantly, I now have a much better understanding of the “Why” surrounding sleep, especially around sleep’s importance to a healthy and long life.
Brad Feld
Co-Founder/Foundry Group
Impossible

Impossible to Ignore: Creating Memorable Content to Influence Decisions

For more science on the topic of how intentional mistakes can aid in memory retention, I recommend the book Impossible to Ignore by Dr. Carmen Simon. The gist of it is that you need to surprise the brain or to make it work a little extra to form memories. Our brains automatically delete our routine memories fairly quickly. Most of us don't know what we were doing on this day a year ago. But we easily remember things that violate our expectations.
Scott Adams
Creator of Dilbert
Army

Army of None: Autonomous Weapons and the Future of War

Autonomous weapons aren’t exactly top of mind for most around the holidays, but this thought-provoking look at A.I. in warfare is hard to put down. It’s an immensely complicated topic, but Scharre offers clear explanations and presents both the pros and cons of machine-driven warfare. His fluency with the subject should come as no surprise: he’s a veteran who helped draft the U.S. government’s policy on autonomous weapons.
Bill Gates
Founder/Microsoft
I

I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life

Yong succeeds in his intention to give us a 'grander view of life' and does so without falling prey to grand, unifying explanations that are far too simplistic. He presents our inner ecosystems in all their wondrous messiness and complexity. And he offers realistic optimism that our growing knowledge of the human microbiome will lead to great new opportunities for enhancing our health.
Bill Gates
CEO/Microsoft
The

The 48 Laws of Power

There is no living writer (or person) who has been more influential to me than Robert Greene. I met him when I was 19 years old and he’s shaped me as a person, as a writer, as a thinker. You MUST read his books. His work on power and strategy are critical for anyone trying to accomplish anything. In life, power is force we are constantly bumping up against. People have power of over us, we seek power ourselves that we might be free enough and influential enough to accomplish our goals—so we must understand where power comes from, how it works and how to get it. But pure power is meaningless. It must be joined to mastery and purpose. So read his book Mastery so that you can figure your life’s task and how to dedicate yourself to it.
Ryan Holiday
Founder/Brass Check
Consciousness

Consciousness

I am glad to find a complete book dealing with all aspects of consciousness in CLEARLY written format, with graphs and tables to facilitate comprehension. The book covers everything I had seen before from Artificial Intelligence to Philosophy to Neurology to Evolutionary Biology.

Say one wants to get an idea of Dan Dennett's theory of consciousness (without having to get through Dennett's circuitous, unfocused and evasive prose) or Searle's Chinese room argument or Turing's test or Chalmer's position or Churchland's neurophilosophy or a presentation of research on the neural correlates of consciousness...Everything I could think about is there.

Nassim Nicholas Taleb
Flaneur
Heraclitean

Heraclitean Fire: Sketches from a Life Before Nature

I have another weird recommendation, which is the book Heraclitean Fire by Erwin Chargaff, who effectively shorted Watson and Crick. He told Watson and Crick that he didn't think that they were very good or very smart, and that they didn't know their chemistry. They weren't qualified to work on DNA, etc. It turned out that they got it right, and he got it wrong. When I heard that there was somebody who bet against Watson and Crick, I thought, Well, this is just going to be the laugh of the century, but it turned out that just to short those guys required another genius. He writes about trying to suppress these guys and failing because they were right and he was wrong. He has enough presence of mind to struggle with it. [...] These are books that I think are incredibly powerful because they talk about what it's like to be one against the many.
Eric Weinstein
Managing Director/Thiel Capital

The Ice at the End of the World: An Epic Journey into Greenland’s Buried Past and Our Perilous Future

Jon Gertner takes readers to spots few journalists or even explorers have visited. The result is a gripping and important book.
Elizabeth Kolbert
Author

The Second Law: Energy, Chaos and Form

One of the books that Chris has found himself gifting a lot is an out-of-print book on thermodynamics called The Second Law. It was written by an Oxfod physical chemistry professor named P. W. Atkins. That book is just a phenomenal, casual, infographic-laden read on how the world works from an energy perspective. I found that so incredibly useful in trying to understand how to do something, how to make something work, whether something's even possible. It's frequently my bullshit detector.
Chris Young
Founder & CEO/ChefSteps
Deep

Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World

I've been a fan of Cal for a long time. His book So Good They Can't Ignore You is one of my favorites, but it's his new book that's probably had the biggest and most immediate impact on me. For those of you who enjoyed Tyler Cowen's Average is Over, you already know how important the ability to focus, be creative, and think at a high level is going to be in the future. This is a book that explains how to cultivate and protect that skill--the ability to do deep work. One thing I've already started doing since reading this book is recording the number of hours of deep work I do each day in my morning journal. It's a way of keeping a running tally and monitoring if I begin to get distracted or slow my pace. Anyway, great book!
Ryan Holiday
Founder/Brass Check

Should We Eat Meat? Evolution and Consequences of Modern Carnivory

I can’t think of anyone better equipped to present a clear-eyed analysis of this subject than Vaclav Smil. I have written several times before about how much I admire Smil’s work. When he tackles a subject, he doesn’t look at just one piece of it. He examines every angle. Even if I don’t agree with all of his conclusions, I always learn a lot from reading him.
Bill Gates
CEO/Microsoft
How

How to Enjoy Writing: A Book of Aid and Comfort

I found this quote in How to Enjoy Writing by Janet and Isaac Asimov and I realized I’m actually doing something akin those lines, even if I never defined it.
Bobby Voicu
Founder/The CEO Library
21

21 Lessons for the 21st Century

Harari is such a stimulating writer that even when I disagreed, I wanted to keep reading and thinking. All three of his books wrestle with some version of the same question: What will give our lives meaning in the decades and centuries ahead? So far, human history has been driven by a desire to live longer, healthier, happier lives. If science is eventually able to give that dream to most people, and large numbers of people no longer need to work in order to feed and clothe everyone, what reason will we have to get up in the morning?

It’s no criticism to say that Harari hasn’t produced a satisfying answer yet. Neither has anyone else. So I hope he turns more fully to this question in the future. In the meantime, he has teed up a crucial global conversation about how to take on the problems of the 21st century.

Bill Gates
Founder/Microsoft
The

The Brain That Changes Itself

I don't have favourite books. I equate a favourite something with wanting to do it over and over again and I've never wanted to read a book too many times. I have favourite authors and I have books that changed me in significant ways because they moved me or taught me something or changed my view of the world. So, here's some of those books...
Bogdana Butnar
Head of Strategy/Poke
The

The Making of the Atomic Bomb

My favorite book is The Making of the Atomic Bomb by Richard Rhodes. It's a book that covers a vast range of topics over a fifty year period. It talks about the scientific advances that led to the bomb, the personalities that made those advances, and at the same time covers the political choices and escalation of violence over the course of the first half of the 20th Century that paint the use of the atomic bomb on Japan as an almost inevitable conclusion of that escalation. The prose is as incredible as the story. It's really a treat to rea

Bill Earner
Founder/Connect Ventures

The Undercover Economist: Exposing Why the Rich Are Rich, the Poor Are Poor – And Why You Can Never Buy a Decent Used Car!

Like Charlie Munger once said: “I’ve long believed that a certain system - which almost any intelligent person can learn - works way better than the systems most people use [to understand the world]. What you need is a latticework of mental models in your head. And, with that system, things gradually fit together in a way that enhances cognition. Just as multiple factors shape every system, multiple mental models from a variety of disciplines are necessary to understand that system. You can read this book to start building a latticework of mental models in your head.

Ola Olusoga
Co-founder/Populum
Truth

Truth About Chernobyl

The Truth About Chernobyl is essential reading from a Soviet physicist's perspective... and Grigori Medvedev had his boots on the ground. An excellent combination of historic recounting and clear science.
Craig Mazin
Creator, Writer, Producer/Chernobyl TV Series
Statistical

Statistical Models: Theory and Practice

I spent my life focusing on the errors of statistics and how they sometimes fail us in real life, because of the misinterpretation of what the techniques can do for you. This book is outstanding in the following two aspects: 1) It is of immense clarity, embedding everything in real situations, 2) It uses the real-life situation to critique the statistical model and show you the limit of statistic. For instance, he shows a few anecdotes here and there to illustrate how correlation between two variables might not mean anything causal, or how asymptotic properties may not be relevant in real life.

This is the first statistics book I've seen that cares about presenting statistics as a tool to GET TO THE TRUTH.

Please buy it.

Nassim Nicholas Taleb
Flaneur

Rational Ritual: Culture, Coordination, and Common Knowledge

The book is about the concept of common knowledge and how people process the world not only based on what we personally know, but what we know other people know and our shared knowledge as well.

This is an important idea for designing social media, as we often face tradeoffs between creating personalized experiences for each individual and crafting universal experiences for everyone. I'm looking forward to exploring this further.

Mark Zuckerberg
CEO/Facebook
Authentic

Authentic Happiness: Using the New Positive Psychology to Realise your Potential for Lasting Fulfilment

When asked what books he would recommend to youngsters interested in his professional path, Stephen mentioned Authentic Happiness.
Stephen Lew
Director/The School of Positive Psychology
The

The Origins of Virtue: Human Instincts and the Evolution of Cooperation

Getting into the more evolution, science kind of books, I really highly, highly recommend picking up [...] Origins of Virtue.
Naval Ravikant
CEO & Co-Founder/AngelList
The

The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves

My next book for A Year of Books is The Rational Optimist by Matt Ridley.

Two of the books I've read this year -- The Better Angels of Our Nature: and Why Nations Fail -- have explored how social and economic progress work together to make the world better. The Better Angels argues for that the two feed off each other, whereas Why Nations Fail argues that social and political progress ultimately controls the economic progress a society makes. This next book argues the opposite -- that economic progress is the greater force is pushing society forward. I'm interested to see which idea resonates more after exploring both frameworks.

This is also the second one of Ridley's books I've read this year. Here's a photo from a few weeks back of me reading his book Genome with my dog Beast.

Mark Zuckerberg
CEO/Facebook
Probability

Probability Theory

I know which books I value when I end up buying a second copy after losing the first one. This book gives a complete overview of the basis of probability theory with some grounding in measure theory, and presents the main proofs. It is remarkable because of its concision and completeness: visibly prof Varadhan lectured from these notes and kept improving on them until we got this gem. There is not a single sentence too many, yet nothing is missing.

For those who don't know who he is, Varadhan stands as one of the greatest probabilists of all time. Learning probability from him is like learning from Aristotle. Varadhan has two other similar volumes one covering stochastic processes the other into the theory of large deviations (though older than this current text).

The book on Stochastic Processes should be paired with this one.

Nassim Nicholas Taleb
Flaneur
I,

I, Asimov: A Memoir

In I, Asimov I’ve discovered a genuine happy person, someone that did what he loved his entire life. I discovered that one of the biggest authors of Science Fiction actually stopped writing fiction novels almost completely for 20 years. I discovered that he enjoyed writing mystery short stories a lot. And this shouldn’t surprise me since most of the books in his SF series are, actually, mysteries. Especially the Robots ones.

His autobiography reads like the archive of a blog, with anecdotes and short stories of the author’s life. It made me smile so often, I didn’t believe it. I was reading in bed and I would read out loud to my fiancée something that made me laugh loudly.

Besides the laughs, I also appreciated the power of Asimov’s convictions. I’m taking example, as well, since sometimes I forget to support my opinions as strongly as I should. If you enjoyed Asimov's books, you're gonna love this one.

Bobby Voicu
Founder/the CEO Library

Introduction to Gauge Field Theories (Theoretical and Mathematical Physics)

Folks frequently ask “What are the books that changed your life?” If I tell them, they are usually radically disappointed. I find that curious. I just cleared out of an office, and these are 4 shelves of spines of books that mattered enough to me to bring home. So here they are.
Eric Weinstein
Managing Director/Thiel Capital
A

A Certain Ambiguity: A Mathematical Novel

I'd recommend reading anything that helps develop your ability to understand and solve a problem. Triaging issues by importance and properly identifying their causes is critical in almost every aspect of business. Without that, you can easily spend a lot of time on the wrong problem, or an ineffective solution, and your time is, more or less, your most valuable commodity. So I'd suggest books like A Certain Ambiguity by Gaurav Suri and Hartosh Singh Bal, or Freakonomics by Stephen Levitt‎ and Stephen Dubner - books which will explore different ways of delving into problems and understanding their impact.
Dave Child
Founder/Readable.io
The

The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom

Honourable Mentions: Four Hour Work Week, The Happiness Hypothesis, Meditations, Catch 22, A Guide To The Good Life.
Mike Benkovich
Founder/Anatomonics

The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail – but Some Don’t

Anyone interested in politics may be attracted to Nate Silver’s The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail—but Some Don't. Silver is the New York Times columnist who got a lot of attention last fall for predicting—accurately, as it turned out–the results of the U.S. presidential election. This book actually came out before the election, though, and it’s about predictions in many domains besides politics. Silver knows a lot about baseball, and I especially liked his explanation of hold’em poker. A few pages – where he talks about how early computers supposedly made everything less efficient—are utter nonsense. I wish he had gone into more depth on some things, like why it is that voters are increasingly polarized. I liked the book, though I wish he’d gone deeper on a number of topics.
Bill Gates
CEO/Microsoft

The Vital Question: Energy, Evolution, and the Origins of Complex Life

Nick is one of those original thinkers who makes you say: More people should know about this guy's work. He is trying to right a scientific wrong by getting people to fully appreciate the role that energy plays in all living things. Even if the details of Nick's work turn out to be wrong, I suspect his focus on energy will be seen as an important contribution to our understanding of where we come from.
Bill Gates
CEO/Microsoft
How

How Not to Be Wrong: The Power of Mathematical Thinking

The writing is funny, smooth, and accessible -- not what you might expect from a book about math. What Ellenberg has written is ultimately a love letter to math. If the stories he tells add up to a larger lesson, it’s that 'to do mathematics is to be, at once, touched by fire and bound by reason' -- and that there are ways in which we’re all doing math, all the time.
Bill Gates
CEO/Microsoft
Thinking,

Thinking, Fast and Slow

This book is amazing—it didn't change my mind, so much as it has changed the way I think. It helps to understand the difference between the way you make quick decisions, versus considered decisions—it takes different mechanisms in the brain. Understanding which you're doing at any given time can have a profound impact on what you ultimately decide.

John Lilly
Partner/Greylock Partners
The

The Red Queen: Sex and the Evolution of Human Nature

Getting into the more evolution, science kind of books, I really highly, highly recommend picking up [...] The Red Queen.
Naval Ravikant
CEO & Co-Founder/AngelList
The

The Trachtenberg Speed System of Basic Mathematics

From this I learned how powerful the individual human mind could be, and also how much school wasn’t teaching me. It began to occur to me that the mainstream doesn’t necessarily have the best or only methods. That said, non-mainstream approaches still have the responsibility of coming up with the right answer. Query: does it these days ever make sense to actually use this stuff?
Tyler Cowen
Founder/Marginal Revolution University
River

River Out of Eden: A Darwinian View of Life

The book I’d give [every graduating senior in college or high school] would be [...] 'River From Eden' by Richard Dawkins. Another very short book on evolution, it just really puts things in perspective.
Ray Dalio
Founder/Bridgewater Associates
The

The Upside of Irrationality: The Unexpected Benefits of Defying Logic at Work and at Home

I have lots of books to recommend, but they are not related to my career path. The only one that is remotely related is Peter Thiel’s Zero to One. That said here are books I would recommend.
Fabrice Grinda
Serial Entrepreneur, Investor
A

A Gentleman in Moscow

I promote range and diversity. Thus, I recommend readers to expose themselves to as many different topics as possible. I usually have 2-4 books I refer back to at any given time. They range in topics from management, art, spirituality and philosophy. Trying to get the engineering thing going but don't much of a mind for science.
Henry Medine
Co-Founder/Space Jam Data

Smartcuts: How Hackers, Innovators, and Icons Accelerate Success

My list would be (besides the ones I mentioned in answer to the previous question) both business & Fiction/Sci-Fi and ones I personally found helpful to myself. The business books explain just exactly how business, work & investing are in reality & how to think properly & differentiate yourself. On the non-business side, a mix of History & classic fiction to understand people, philosophy to make sense of life and Science fiction to picture what the future could be like (not always utopian).
Marvin Liao
Partner/500 Startups
Superfoods:

Superfoods: The Food and Medicine of the Future

Because we need to think about our body like an engine, and its main fuel is healthy food.
Robert Hajnal
Founder/Trail Running Academy
How

How We Got to Now: Six Innovations That Made the Modern World

This book really showed me the amazing pathways that led to innovations that make our lives work today. The stories are told almost like a dramatic mystery to make the history come to life with excitement and aha moments.
Bill Gross
Founder/Idealab
How

How To: Absurd Scientific Advice for Common Real-World Problems

Brilliant... a wonderful guide for curious minds.
Bill Gates
Founder/Microsoft
On

On Intelligence: How a New Understanding of the Brain Will Lead to the Creation of Truly Intelligent Machines

I’m reading “On intelligence” by Jeff Hawkins. I am really enjoying it. It’s a very specific theory of how our brain learns and makes predictions (the root of our intelligence) explained for average people unfamiliar with the field. It’s also very related to computer science and artificial intelligence since it tried to prove the current approaches to those are flawed. I’m getting a better understanding of how our brain works and how does our behaviour affects our thinking as much as our thinking affects our behaviour. Thus, it’s interesting to connect it with the idea of habits and how we can really benefit from them.
Joan Boixados
Founder/everydayCheck
Perfectly

Perfectly Reasonable Deviations from the Beaten Track

I’ve been reading Perfectly Reasonable Deviations, and I’ve also been rereading Genius.
Naval Ravikant
CEO & Co-Founder/AngelList

The 4 Hour Body: An Uncommon Guide to Rapid Fat Loss, Incredible Sex and Becoming Superhuman

I get most of my information about nutrition from medical studies. I haven’t read any books about nutrition that I agree with 100%. These are a few nutrition related books that I’ve read recently that I thought were interesting: Eat to Live (Joel Fuhrman), Why We Get Fat (Gary Taubes), and The 4-Hour Body (Tim Ferriss).
Dr. Monali Y. Desai
Cardiologist & Founder/If We Were Family

General Relativity (Graduate Texts in Physics)

Folks frequently ask “What are the books that changed your life?” If I tell them, they are usually radically disappointed. I find that curious. I just cleared out of an office, and these are 4 shelves of spines of books that mattered enough to me to bring home. So here they are.
Eric Weinstein
Managing Director/Thiel Capital
Possible

Possible Minds: Twenty-Five Ways of Looking at AI

More a set of reports and reflections, in his new book John Brockman assembles twenty-five of the most important scientific minds, for an unparalleled round-table examination about mind, thinking, intelligence and what it means to be human. A must read!
Gerd Leonhard
Futurist
On

On Immunity: An Inoculation

The eloquent essayist Eula Biss uses the tools of literary analysis, philosophy, and science to examine the speedy, inaccurate rumors about childhood vaccines that have proliferated among well-meaning American parents. Biss took up this topic not for academic reasons but because of her new role as a mom. This beautifully written book would be a great gift for any new parent.
Bill Gates
Founder/Microsoft
Excellent

Excellent Sheep: The Miseducation of the American Elite and the Way to a Meaningful Life

There’s a guy who I just had on my podcast, Mark Deresiewicz, who wrote a book called Excellent Sheep. He was a Yale professor, and took a look at the essentially what was wrong with higher education, at these elite institutions, primarily places like Amherst and Yale and Harvard. And one of the things he said is that we’re breeding excellent sheep. You’ve got 31 flavors of vanilla. These kids are so obsessed with essentially achievement for its own sake, not fulfillment or meaning, but rather achievement for its own sake, so they can get into a great – become rich doctors or lawyers, or consultants or investment bankers. And even that becomes an extension of what they’ve been doing their whole life, which was hey, I want to please my boss, jump through these loopholes and be in an elite person. And it’s an interesting book. But one of the things he talked about was that these elite institutions are – there’s a feeder system of about 100 high schools in this country, about 100 high schools, and that’s it, that provide students to these universities. So something like QuestBridge is desperately needed, so that we can create an equality of opportunity. That’s always what it is, right?
Bryan Callen
Co-Host/The Fighter and the Kid
The

The Net and the Butterfly: The Art and Practice of Breakthrough Thinking

Currently reading a fascinating book about the brain science of creativity, The Net & the Butterfly

Joe Gebbia
Co-founder/Airbnb
Give

Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success

Gotta say, I'm pretty flattered every time asks me if I've read @AdamMGrant book Give and Take. Good guy. Good book
Simon Sinek
Best-selling Author
Where

Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation

Author Steven Johnson argues in his 2010 book that innovation comes from the collision of ideas. This can happen when an individual working in isolation builds off years of existing knowledge to fuel his insights, or it can happen much more quickly when several creative types bounce ideas off each other in a community like Silicon Valley.

This theory is one of the reasons why Hsieh decided to invest $350 million of his own money in 2010 into the Downtown Project, which is building a community of entrepreneurs in Zappos' neighborhood.

Tony Hsieh
CEO/Zappos

Supermanifolds (Cambridge Monographs on Mathematical Physics)

Folks frequently ask “What are the books that changed your life?” If I tell them, they are usually radically disappointed. I find that curious. I just cleared out of an office, and these are 4 shelves of spines of books that mattered enough to me to bring home. So here they are.
Eric Weinstein
Managing Director/Thiel Capital

Happiness: A Guide to Developing Life’s Most Important Skill

The author of this book has sometimes been called the happiest man in the world. He is a French Biochemist turned Buddhist monk and has been in a unique position to merge science with mindfulness and meditation.

The underlying theme of the book is that happiness is indeed within our control, and is much more a skill than something that simply happens to us.

One of the biggest revelations for me in this book was the way that it linked happiness with altruism, asserting that there is an undeniable correlation and that helping others can provide a much more lasting satisfaction and happiness than pleasure activities such as watching a movie or enjoying a banana split. This was something I had intuitively when I got into helping early stage founders, and reading it in this book made me recommit to helping others as a way of life, which in turn makes me very happy.

Joel Gascoigne
Co-founder/Buffer
The

The Selfish Gene

Charlie Munger recommends this book in the second edition of Poor Charlie’s Almanack.
Charlie Munger
Vice Chairman/Berkshire Hathaway
Twenty

Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea

Today is World Book Day, a wonderful opportunity to address this #ChallengeRichard sent in by Mike Gonzalez of New Jersey: Make a list of your top 65 books to read in a lifetime.
Richard Branson
Founder/Virgin Group

Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life

I promote range and diversity. Thus, I recommend readers to expose themselves to as many different topics as possible. I usually have 2-4 books I refer back to at any given time. They range in topics from management, art, spirituality and philosophy. Trying to get the engineering thing going but don't much of a mind for science.
Henry Medine
Co-Founder/Space Jam Data

David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants

Buy Malcolm Gladwell’s book “David and Goliath” and read the interesting stories about how the Davids of that moments have defeated the Goliaths.
Robert Katai
Founder/Instagramology
Tribe

Tribe of Mentors: Short Life Advice from the Best in the World

My good friend @tferriss is back with another great book. Tribe of Mentors features some of the most influential moguls across industries who offer advice on how to navigate life. It comes out Monday, so make sure you add this to your reading list.
Daymond John
Founder/FUBU
How

How to Create a Mind: The Secret of Human Thought Revealed

Then the great book that Ray Kurzweil wrote, How to Create a Mind really tells you about how human brain works.
Naveen Jain
Founder/Moon Express
Diet

Diet for a Hot Planet: The Climate Crisis at the End of Your Fork and What You Can Do about It

These books propelled me to want to work on a social enterprise and underscored my passion for making a difference in food policy. I believe we can build an innovative company that has deep social impact. That we can use the same mindsets that single bottom-line companies have to build successful triple and quadruple bottom-line companies. It is the holy grail -- for your work to present the challenge to be creative, innovative, quick on a daily basis but also at the end of the day, the knowledge that you are making a real difference in people's lives. I feel extremely fortunate to be in this position right now.
Leah Lizarondo
Co-Founder/412 Food Rescue
How

How to Lie with Statistics

I picked this one up after seeing it on a Wall Street Journal list of good books for investors. It was first published in 1954, but it doesn’t feel dated (aside from a few anachronistic examples—it has been a long time since bread cost 5 cents a loaf in the United States). In fact, I’d say it’s more relevant than ever. One chapter shows you how visuals can be used to exaggerate trends and give distorted comparisons. It’s a timely reminder, given how often infographics show up in your Facebook and Twitter feeds these days. A great introduction to the use of statistics, and a great refresher for anyone who’s already well versed in it.
Bill Gates
Founder/Microsoft

Breathe To Succeed: Increase Workplace Productivity, Creativity, and Clarity through the Power of Mindfulness

Breathe to Succeed is an excellent prescription for any aspiring or current leader. Sandy Abrams’ new book offers valuable insights into addressing the hectic schedule and constant stress of everyone from an employee to the CEO. By understanding the causes and effects of stress on the human body, Sandy offers tools of the mind and breath to find your way through the storm and achieve optimal health.
Mark Bertolini
Former Chairman & CEO/Aetna
Code

Code Complete: A Practical Handbook of Software Construction

If my career path is hackers turned business people, I’d say:

Start with the basics and fundamentals:

  • SICP: Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs
  • Code Complete 2
Santiago Basulto
Co-Founder/rmotr.com
The

The Soul of the Marionette: A Short Inquiry into Human Freedom

This book was recommended by Antonio when asked for titles he would recommend to young people interested in his career path.
Antonio Eram
Founder & CEO/NETOPIA mobilPay
The

The Soros Lectures: At the Central European University

I promote range and diversity. Thus, I recommend readers to expose themselves to as many different topics as possible. I usually have 2-4 books I refer back to at any given time. They range in topics from management, art, spirituality and philosophy. Trying to get the engineering thing going but don't much of a mind for science.
Henry Medine
Co-Founder/Space Jam Data
Peak

Peak Performers

Question: What five books would you recommend to young people interested in your career path & why?

Answer:

  • 7 Habits Highly Effective People - life blueprint
  • Swim with the Sharks - realize people and how you relate to them are key
  • How to Win Friends and Influence People - a classic that matters a lot in our digital world
  • A Curious Mind by Brian Grazier - we all need to put curiosity higher as a priority
  • Peak Performers, by Charles Garfield - examples of greatness

Most of these books are 25 years old or more (Not A Curious Mind).... But the books you read when you are young set the patterns and habits that impact you. I read these when young and they had real impact on my succes

Thom Singer
Podcaster/Cool Things Entrepreneurs Do
The

The Wealth of Nations

Which books should be read by every single intelligent person on planet? [...] The Wealth of Nations (Smith) [to learn that capitalism is an economy of greed, a force of nature unto itself]. If you read all of the above works you will glean profound insight into most of what has driven the history of the western world.
Neil deGrasse Tyson
Astrophysicist, Author & Science Communicator
Probability,

Probability, Random Variables and Stochastic Processes

When readers and students ask to me for a useable book for nonmathematicians to get into probability (or a probabilistic approach to statistics), before embarking into deeper problems, I suggest this book by the Late A. Papoulis. I even recommend it to mathematicians as their training often tends to make them spend too much time on limit theorems and very little on the actual plumbing.

The treatment has no measure theory, cuts to the chase, and can be used as a desk reference. If you want measure theory, go spend some time reading Billingsley. A deep understanding of measure theory is not necessary for scientific and engineering applications; it is not necessary for those who do not want to work on theorems and technical proofs.

I've notice a few complaints in the comments section by people who felt frustrated by the treatment: do not pay attention to them. Ignore them. It the subject itself that is difficult, not this book. The book, in fact, is admirable and comprehensive given the current state of the art. I am using this book as a benchmark while writing my own, but more advanced, textbook (on errors in use of statistical models).

Anything derived and presented in Papoulis, I can skip. And when students ask me what they need as pre-requisite to attend my class or read my book, my answer is: Papoulis if you are a scientist, Varadhan if you are more abstract.

Nassim Nicholas Taleb
Flaneur

The 10% Entrepreneur: Live Your Startup Dream Without Quitting Your Day Job

The 10% Entrepreneur and Girlboss. Both empower people to create a strategic plan and risk-taking that are needed for considering entrepreneurship. A lot of it is experimenting, learning and just doing.
Andrea Loubier
CEO/MailBird
When

When Breath Becomes Air

Reminded me that life could end in an instant and that I need to focus on living, not working.
Tracy Osborn
Founder/Wedding Lovely

The Happy Vegan: A Guide to Living a Long, Healthy, and Successful Life

Salute Russell Simmons on his new book the Happy Vegan lot of great information in here that could save your life!!
Charlamagne Tha God
Radio Presenter/The Breakfast Club
Finite

Finite and Infinite Games: A Vision of Life as Play and Possibility

While I was thinking of the best books to add to this short list, I realized that not even half of them are directly related to digital marketing. This is because I believe that the best marketers are people who understand human nature deeply and aim to bring out the best in it. Call me naive, but that’s how I see it. If I were to want to pursue a career in marketing, I’d read [...] Finite and Infinite Games.
Andra Zaharia
Freelance Content Marketer/The Content Habit
King

King of Hearts: The True Story of the Maverick Who Pioneered Open Heart Surgery

One of the books that Peter Attia considers to be an important read for people interested in his career path.
Peter Attia
Founder/Attia Medical
Scientific

Scientific Advertising

Like Charlie Munger once said: “I’ve long believed that a certain system - which almost any intelligent person can learn - works way better than the systems most people use [to understand the world]. What you need is a latticework of mental models in your head. And, with that system, things gradually fit together in a way that enhances cognition. Just as multiple factors shape every system, multiple mental models from a variety of disciplines are necessary to understand that system. You can read this book to start building a latticework of mental models in your head.
Ola Olusoga
Co-founder/Populum
Blink:

Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking

CEO Marilyn Hewson recommends this book because it helped her to trust her instincts in business.
Marillyn Hewson
CEO/Lockheed Martin
The

The Chrysalids

The Chrysalids by John Wyndham, great sci-fi and very apt book when looking at our socio-political environment today.
Liam Martin
Co-founder & CMO/Time Doctor & Staff.com
Learned

Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life

Learned Optimism by Martin Seligman because it was the turning point in psychology: a focus on the positive and human potential to flourish. As a speaker in this field, I would say this book is really inspiring material.
Shaen Yeo
Founder/Positive Education
The

The Antichrist

Question: What five books would you recommend to young people interested in your career path & why?

Answer:

  • The Glass Bead Game by Herman Hesse
  • Foucault's Pendulum by Umberto Eco
  • The Antichrist by Friedrich Nietzsche
  • The Castle by Franz Kafka
  • 1984 by George Orwell and Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Igor Debatur
CEO/UploadCare
The

The Little Book of Big Change: The No-Willpower Approach to Breaking Any Habit

I read everything with an open mind, often challenging myself by choosing books with an odd perspective or religious/spiritual views. These books do not reflect my personal feelings but are books that helped shape my perspective on life, love, and happiness.
Chelsea Frank
Founder/Life and Limb Gel
Succeed:

Succeed: How We Can Reach Our Goals

I just started reading Succeed: How We Can Reach Our Goals, by Heidi Grant-Halvorson. I'm curious about finding out more about the inner forces that drive us to tirelessly pursue certain goals and carelessly abandon others.
Cristian-Dragos Baciu
Direct Response Copywriter
Elements

Elements of Information Theory

Folks frequently ask “What are the books that changed your life?” If I tell them, they are usually radically disappointed. I find that curious. I just cleared out of an office, and these are 4 shelves of spines of books that mattered enough to me to bring home. So here they are.
Eric Weinstein
Managing Director/Thiel Capital
The

The Man Without Qualities

Musil’s book is about many different things. The difference between Germany and Austria, Idealism and pragmatism, for example. But for me there was one huge takeaway: It explains why the lives of humans can only be partially studied in natural science. Counting people and their response to questions is less efficient than reading our poetry and listening to music if you want to understand the world we live in. When he writes “It was a fine spring day in Vienna,” we understand exactly and in great detail what that feels like. You can measure temperature, pressure and wind as much as you like, but sometimes science only muddies our understanding of each other.
Christian Madsbjerg
Founder/ReD Associates

The Art of Strategy: A Game Theorist’s Guide to Success in Business and Life

I am curious of how strategy can apply on all kinds of industries. By reading this book, I want to find out things I might not have known before, or maybe I have been played by this strategy mind game (As a customer, consumer). And I want to see if this book could drastically change my logical thinking in my daily life.
Kimberly Gloria Choi
Founder/Marchbaby Collective
Breaking

Breaking The Habit of Being Yourself: How to Lose Your Mind and Create a New One

I read everything with an open mind, often challenging myself by choosing books with an odd perspective or religious/spiritual views. These books do not reflect my personal feelings but are books that helped shape my perspective on life, love, and happiness.
Chelsea Frank
Founder/Life and Limb Gel
Meditations

Meditations

To me, this is not only one of greatest books ever written but perhaps the only book of its kind. Just imagine: the private thoughts of the most powerful man in the world, admonishing himself on how to be better, more just, more immune to temptation, wiser. It is the definitive text on self-discipline, personal ethics, humility, self-actualization and strength. If you read it and aren’t profoundly changed by it, it’s probably because as Aurelius says “what doesn’t transmit light creates its own darkness”.
Ryan Holiday
Founder/Brass Check
Anna

Anna Karenina

My list would be (besides the ones I mentioned in answer to the previous question) both business & Fiction/Sci-Fi and ones I personally found helpful to myself. The business books explain just exactly how business, work & investing are in reality & how to think properly & differentiate yourself. On the non-business side, a mix of History & classic fiction to understand people, philosophy to make sense of life and Science fiction to picture what the future could be like (not always utopian).
Marvin Liao
Partner/500 Startups
Moral

Moral Man and Immoral Society: A Study in Ethics and Politics

I love him. He’s one of my favorite philosophers.
Barack Obama
Former USA President
The

The Windup Girl

Novels: The Windup Girl and Pattern Recognition are chock full of images and ideas that will stick with you for months.

Seth Godin
Author & Entrepreneur
The

The Rosie Project: A Novel

Anyone who occasionally gets overly logical will identify with the hero, a genetics professor with Asperger’s Syndrome who goes looking for a wife. (Melinda thought I would appreciate the parts where he’s a little too obsessed with optimizing his schedule. She was right.) It’s an extraordinarily clever, funny, and moving book about being comfortable with who you are and what you’re good at. I’m sending copies to several friends and hope to re-read it later this year. This is one of the most profound novels I’ve read in a long time.
Bill Gates
CEO/Microsoft
Shantaram

Shantaram

Today is World Book Day, a wonderful opportunity to address this #ChallengeRichard sent in by Mike Gonzalez of New Jersey: Make a list of your top 65 books to read in a lifetime.
Richard Branson
Founder/Virgin Group
The

The Four Pillars of Investing: Lessons for Building a Winning Portfolio

Four Pillars has a good methodology for thinking about how to save and invest personally so definitely useful.
Bill Earner
Founder/Connect Ventures

A Matter of Degrees: What Temperature Reveals about the Past and Future of Our Species, Planet, and Universe

In my whole life, I have known no wise people (over a broad subject matter area) who didn't read all the time—none. Zero. You'd be amazed at how much Warren reads—and how much I read. My children laugh at me. They think I'm a book with a couple of legs sticking out.
Charlie Munger
Vice Chairman/Berkshire Hathaway
Adventure

Adventure Capitalist: The Ultimate Road Trip

My list would be (besides the ones I mentioned in answer to the previous question) both business & Fiction/Sci-Fi and ones I personally found helpful to myself. The business books explain just exactly how business, work & investing are in reality & how to think properly & differentiate yourself. On the non-business side, a mix of History & classic fiction to understand people, philosophy to make sense of life and Science fiction to picture what the future could be like (not always utopian).
Marvin Liao
Partner/500 Startups
Autobiography

Autobiography of a Yogi

One book in particular stayed with Jobs his entire life, and Isaacson noted that it was the only book Jobs had downloaded on his iPad 2: “Autobiography of a Yogi,” “the guide to meditation and spirituality that he had first read as a teenager,” Isaacson writes, “then re-read in India and had read once a year ever since.”
Steve Jobs
CEO/Apple

Sex at Dawn: How We Mate, Why We Stray, and What It Means for Modern Relationships

A few months ago, I was drinking a Noah’s Mill whiskey (cute) with my good buddy Brian Balfour and talking about life... During the conversation, we got on the topic of books that changed our lives. I want to share them with you. I judge a book's success if a year later I'm still using at least 1 thing from the book.
Noah Kagan
Founder/Sumo

The Art of the Start 2.0: The Time-Tested, Battle-Hardened Guide for Anyone Starting Anything

Art of the Start by Guy Kawasaki was my bible when I started up. If you plan to become an entrepreneur – this is an absolute must-read.
Deepak Hariharan
Founder & CEO/MentorYes

Lifespan: Why We Age―and Why We Don’t Have To

Prepare to have your mind blown. You are holding in your hands the precious results of decades of work, as shared by Dr. David Sinclair, the rock star of aging and human longevity.
Dave Asprey
Founder and CEO/Bulletproof

The Mixing Engineer’s Handbook

The Recording Engineer Handbook and The Mixing Engineer Handbook. These are the books that helped me record music at the level I hoped for. For years I lived frustrated that Romania doesn’t have even one sound engineer that could rise to the level of Western ones and this frustration pushed me to learn recording techniques which are, in my opinion, the most important steps in producing an album. Even more important than mixing or mastering.
Andi Dumitrescu
Musician, Film Maker

One Hundred & One Reasons To Get Out of Bed

Today is World Book Day, a wonderful opportunity to address this #ChallengeRichard sent in by Mike Gonzalez of New Jersey: Make a list of your top 65 books to read in a lifetime.
Richard Branson
Founder/Virgin Group
Clean

Clean Meat: How Growing Meat Without Animals Will Revolutionize Dinner and the World

I tend to jump from book to book and may switch if I am interested in some new topic. This is a pleasure for me (which I also do benefit work wise from too). It’s quite a random list because I have eclectic interests (or just scatterbrained most likely) on tech business, AI, general global economy, geopolitics, rising Biotech economy & history. I'm basically 15% to 50% into all these books.
Marvin Liao
Partner/500 Startups

The Elements of Statistical Learning: Data Mining, Inference, and Prediction

Very comprehensive, sufficiently technical to get most of the plumbing behind machine learning. Very useful as a reference book (actually, there is no other complete reference book).

The authors are the real thing (Tibshirani is the one behind the LASSO regularization technique). Uses some mathematical statistics without the burdens of measure theory and avoids the obvious but complicated proofs.

I own two copies of this edition, one for the office, one for my house, and the authors generously provide the PDF for travelers like me.

Nassim Nicholas Taleb
Flaneur
Originals:

Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World

It's always interesting just to learn different perspectives, but to be careful of not trying to just say, 'Oh this book is the Bible, and we should copy that,' [...] Instead, I want us t0 take the parts that make sense for Zappos and try to incorporate them.
Tony Hsieh
CEO/Zappos