Best Science Books: Read like Elon Musk

Table of Contents

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

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

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 Psychology in a Nutshell: The Science of Happiness

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

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 Myths and Realities: Bringing Science to the Energy Policy Debate

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

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

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

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

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 Courage Quotient: How Science Can Make You Braver

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

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 Compassionate Instinct: The Science of Human Goodness

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

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

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

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

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 Age: How a Change of Climate Made Us Human

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

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

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 Gay Science

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

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