Businessinsider.com recently posted a list of 25 books recommended by Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, and Bill Gates. They say these books are essential to read in order to increase your business and leadership acumen. As an avid reader, I always like to add new (and old) books to my reading list, so, I thought I’d share the list with you.
Recommended by Jeff Bezos:
1. The Remains of the Day: Written by Kazuo Ishiguro, this is a novel about an English butler who questions his loyalty to his employer while on vacation. According to Bezos, it’s the perfect novel.
2. Sam Walton: Made in America: An autobiography by Walmart founder Sam Walton.
3. Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies: I have read this book written by Jim Collins and Jerry I. Porras. The book looks at what separates exceptional companies from their competitors. Bezos deems it his favorite business book. I liked this book as well.
4. Creation: Life and How to Make It: Author Steve Grand writes about artificial life. Grand is also the creator of the 1996 computer game, Creatures.
5. The Innovators Dilemma: I have also read this book written by Clayton M. Christensen. The book looks at various organizations’ successes and failures. It’s a good read.
6. The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement: I actually had to read this book while earning my MBA. Authors Eliyahu M. Goldratt and Jeff Cox look at the theory of constraints from a management perspective. Excellent book.
7. Lean Thinking: Banish Waste and Create Wealth in Your Corporation: Written by James P. Womak and Daniel T. Jones, the book looks at how some of the leanest companies have improved efficiency in their organizations.
8. The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable: This book written by Nassim Nicholas Taleb looks at various events and labels “black swan” events as highly probable, unpredictable, and impactful. This book is next on my reading list.
Recommended by Elon Musk:
1. Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future: Author Peter Thiel looks at how PayPal and Palantir were built.
2. The Lord of the Rings: Elon Musk has a preference for sci-fi books and fantasy books. This one, written by J.R.R. Tolkien, falls at the top of his list, and he has quoted lines from the book on Twitter.
3. The Hitchhikers’s Guide to the Galaxy: Written by Douglas Adams, this is another of Musk’s favorites that he read as a teen.
4. Benjamin Franklin: An American Life: This biography is written by Walter Isaacson.
5. Einstein: His Life and Universe: This book, written by Walter Isaacson, is another one of Musk’s favorites.
6. Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies: This book looks at artificial intelligence and questions if in the future machines will be smarter than people. Written by Nick Bostrom, I can see how this book with interest someone like Elon Musk, who continues to innovate machines.
7. Our Final Invention: Artificial Intelligence and the End of the Human Era: In a 2014 tweet Musk stated that this book, written by James Barrat, is “worth reading.”
Recommended by Bill Gates:
1. Tap Dancing to Work: Warren Buffett on Practically Everything, 1966-2012: This book is written by Warren Buffett and is at the top of Gates’ list.
2. A Full Life: Reflections at Ninety: President Jimmy Carter looks back at his life.
3. Factfulness: Ten Reasons We're Wrong About the World—and Why Things Are Better Than You Think: Gates termed this book, written by, Hans Rosling, as “one of the most educational books I’ve ever read.” Based on the title, this might be a good book as we enter year three of the pandemic. Sometimes you need to remind yourself of all the good in the world.
4. Origin Story: A Big History of Everything: This book covers everything from the Big Bang to dinosaurs to the ice age, mass globalization, and more. It’s written by David Christian.
5. Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World: Written by David Epstein, this book looks at the value of being a generalist versus a specialist. Gates stated that the ideas in the book “even help explain some of Microsoft's success, because we hired people who had real breadth within their field and across domains." It’s an interesting concept considering the talent shortage we are currently experiencing. Maybe someone with broader experience is just what you need to fill a gap.
6. The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History: This is an interesting concept that looks at what might go extinct next. It’s written by Elizabeth Kolbert.
7. Business Adventures: Twelve Classic Tales from the World of Wall Street: Gates has termed this book as the best business book he’s ever read. Written by John Brooks, it compiles 12 articles originally published in The New Yorker that cover success and failure at large companies such as General Electric and Xerox.
8. The Myth of the Strong Leader: Political Leadership in the Modern Age: Written by Archie Brown, this book looks at 20th century political leadership.
9. Making the Modern World: Materials & Dematerialization: Author Vaclav Smil writes about the materials and process that have helped to create the modern world we live in.
10. What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions: This book is on the more light-hearted side. Author Randall Munroe takes a humorous, yet informative, look at some of the craziest hypothetical questions.
One theme I noticed in all three lists is that they like to read about innovation and new ways of thinking. I think it’s a good reminder to look at things from different perspectives and consider various outcomes.
Have you read any books on this list or do you have a book you recommend? Email me at email@example.com. One book I recently read over the holiday, was The Motive by Patrick Lencioni. It’s a leadership fable detailing why so many leaders abdicate their most important responsibilities. I really enjoyed it and plan to write a small review in my next blog.