Elon Musk’s #1 secret to rocket ships

Books can shape a person's life.

Elon Musk, one the world’s richest men, has a secret to building rocket ships.

Photo credits: Wikipedia

As you probably know, he’s the founder of SpaceX and Tesla. And co-founder of PayPal.

But how did he learn to build rocket ships?

When asked this question during a media interview, he answered, “I read!”

Musk loves books. It’s how he learned to build prototypes for SpaceX rocket ships.

Just like me, he’s a nerd.

Books have always shaped Musk’s life.

As a lonely child, he read science fiction books to learn of new worlds. As an entrepreneur, he finds inspiration in business books. As a visionary, he uses books as a telescope into the future.

What are some of Musk’s favorite books?

In researching this topic, I found nearly 20 books that Musk has recommended over the years. But they fall into 5 main categories. For this list, I chose the top book for each genre.

These are my top 5 books from Musk’s reading list, by genre.

Science Fiction

1. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams

This novel takes readers on a rollicking journey through the universe after the Earth is slated for destruction to make road for a highway.

Musk loved science fiction books as a boy. Now he’s turning their ideas into reality.


2. Benjamin Franklin: An American Life, by Walter Isaacson

This biography showcased the maverick as an inventor, statesman and entrepreneur.

Musk finds inspiration from entrepreneurial scientists in history.


3. Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future, by Peter Thiel

Written by Musk’s former business partner at PayPal, this book shares insights into Thiel’s unconventional strategies.

Yes, Musk actually read it and recommended it.


4. Ignition!: An Informal History of Liquid Rocket Propellants, by John D. Clark

When Musk started SpaceX, he couldn't hire top space engineers to join his company. He relied on books, so he could do the work himself.

If you're going to build a rocket ship, it helps to know something about it. Musk read this book to learn how.

Artificial Intelligence

5. Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence, by Max Tegmark

What happens when A.I. takes over everything?

How do we as humans navigate the world?

Musk has often warned of the dangers of Artificial Intelligence. This book tells us how to live in the world that Musk fears, yet he's creating.

Will your book create new worlds?

Can it change the course of human history?

Or will it inspire the next Elon Musk?

If you would like support with your book, let’s explore.

As with Musk, books opened my imagination as a child and continue to inspire me into the future. That’s why I love helping authors bring forth their books.

Let’s build your book rocket ship together. Click here.

To your dreams,

by Helen Chang, ABM Editorial Director

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