These Are Elon Musk's Life-Changing Book Recommendations

From founding PayPal to becoming CEO of Tesla X, then leader and chief engineer of SpaceX, it’s safe to call Elon Musk one of the world’s most successful magnates and investors. But when asked by SpaceX co-founder Jim Cantrell about where he acquired his specialized knowledge, Musk gave a simple answer, "I read books.” 

This comes as no surprise, considering the innovator grew up reading tomes like the Encyclopedia Brittanica. But thankfully, Musk’s top book recommendations make for lighter reading. Without further adieu, here are Elon Musk’s book picks everyone should read, and they’re his absolute favorites. 

The Biography of Benjamin Franklin

Written by Walter Isaacson, this biography examines the life of Benjamin Franklin — the scientist, inventor, diplomat, and America's first great publicist. From the build-up to the American Revolutionary War to the intimate side of Franklin's personal life with his wife and children, this book details the rise of one of the founding fathers of America. Musk mentioned the book during a 2014 interview with CNN, describing Benjamin Franklin as one of his heroes.

The Lord of the Rings

While it may have evolved into a wildly popular film franchise, The Lord of the Rings was initially the name of the epic fantasy novel by J.R.R. Tolkien. Set in the fictional world of Middle-Earth, this novel follows the journey of a group of Hobbits who set out to destroy the One Ring — created by an evil being to conquer the entirety of Middle-Earth. As someone bullied during childhood, Musk looked up to the protagonists of this book. “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 recalled in an interview with the New Yorker.

Dune Saga

Today Dune is a major science-fiction franchise that includes books, TV shows, movies, and video games, but it originally began as a novel published in 1965. Set in a futuristic society where various noble families rule a variety of planets, the book entertained Musk while simultaneously imparting an important social message that clearly stuck. Musk's even spoken about the novel's author Frank Herbert, saying, "He advocates placing limits on machine intelligence," an issue he's addressed numerous times before.

Screw Business as Usual

In order to be the best, you've got to learn from the best. That was Musk's logic in reading the book written by the founder of Virgin Group, Richard Branson. In fact, he was such a fan of Branson's vision that he praised him on Twitter, saying, "Liked Screw Business as Usual a lot. This approach should be taken to heart by all, as it really is the smart move." As a fellow billionaire entrepreneur, Musk isn't one to pass up advice from other successful business leaders.