7 Books That Inspire Elon Musk

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Different things inspire us all. For some, it's music and art. For others, it's doubters.

But what about Elon Musk - the entrepreneur behind Tesla Motors, SpaceX and the Hyperloop, and one of the most inspirational figures in the modern world?

For him, it's reading. Musk is a well-known bookworm, drawing motivatation for his futuristic ideas from books both old and new.

From rich fantasies like Lord of the Rings to obscure non-fiction like Twelve Against the Gods, her are some of the books that inspire him to change the world.

Lord of the Rings

J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantasy series is one of Musk’s favorite reads.

It's not hard for one to draw parallels between the protagonist Frodo Baggins, tasked with saving the world, and Musk, who aims to drastically lower carbon emissions with Tesla.

“The heroes of the books I read, ‘The Lord of the Rings’ and the ‘Foundation’ series, always felt a duty to save the world,” Musk told the New Yorker in 2009.

Zero to One

Written by the famous venture capitalist best known for co-founding PayPal with Musk and his early investment in Facebook, in Zero to One, Peter Thiel shows how we can find singular ways to create new and life-changing technology.

It's no wonder why Musk finds inspiration in Thiel's book, which maintains an optimisic outlook when it comes to American innovation.

“Peter Thiel has built multiple breakthrough companies, and Zero to One shows how,” Musk said.

The Moon is a Harsh Mistress

This 1966 science fiction novel by American writer Robert A. Heinlein is about a Lunar colony's revolt against rule from Earth in the year 2075.

It’s lauded for the level of detail in its depiction of life on the moon, and it’s easy to see how it could have ignited the SpaceX founder’s interest in interstellar travel.

Benjamin Franklin: An American Life

Walter Isaacson details an exhausting history of Franklin in this biography, showing how one of the most popular founding father’s helped define our national character.

Like Musk, Franklin was a master of innovation, inventing bifocals, mapping the gulf stream and of course, discovering electricity.

“It was interesting to see how he is creating his business, then go to science and politics,” Musk said in a review of the book. “I could say he is one of the people I most admire.”

Structures: Or Why Things Don’t Fall Down

If you’re going to send humans to Mars, you’ll need to know a little bit about physics.

Professor J.E. Gordon explains in basic terms the principles of engineering and physics in this book that Musk has recommend as a primer on structural design to multiple publications.

It looks at how dams can hold back thousands of gallons of water, or how bridges can support eight lines of traffic.

While it may not give you the secrets of space travel, Musk says it's definitely a start.

Tesla: Inventor of the Electrical Age

Nikola Tesla is more than just the namesake for Musk’s car company.

His discoveries led to the development of AC electricity, radio and television, and W. Bernard Carlson’s biography of him focuses on his inventions themselves as well as the creation and maintenance of his celebrity.

Although Musk is not responsible for naming his eponymous company, he is clearly a fan of Tesla. He donated $1 million in 2014 to the Serbian-American's museum in Long Island, New York.

Twelve Against the Gods

Twelve Against the Gods obscure, 87 year-old book from William Bolitho documenting the history of some of history’s most influential figures like Alexander the Great, Casanova, and Christopher Columbus.

Musk revealed he was reading the book in July, after which prices rose from $6.35 to $99.99 on Amazon.

If the mogul continues on his trajectory, and updated version might just feature himself one day.

There you have it - 7 books that inspire this founder who changed the world.

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