What do billionaires read? As they’re making their plans, building their companies and investing their money, what are the books they carry around, gift to friends, and dip into when they have a moment to spare? Surely these books hold the answers to how we too can become billionaires, or at least successful by our own measure.
Richard Reis and Anurag Ramdasan are founders of Most Recommended Books, a simple site that curates the most recommended books of entrepreneurs, athletes, and people of note in a variety of fields. Reis crunched the numbers to work out which books that billionaires most often recommended and discovered the top ten.
Here are the top ten books that billionaires recommend, from data collated by Most Recommended Books.
Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari
Coming in top place and recommended by 11 billionaires on Most Recommended Books; Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Daniel Ek, Keith Rabois, Kishore Biyani, Ray Dalio, Reid Hoffman, Richard Branson, Vinod Khosla, Melinda Gates and Changpeng Zhao. From Wikipedia, Harari “sees the natural sciences as setting the limits of possibility for human activity and sees the social sciences as shaping what happens within those bounds.” Sapiens has sold more than twelve million copies and on Goodreads the book is rated 4.4 out of 5 according to more than 45,000 reviews.
Principles by Ray Dalio
Just behind the top spot and recommended by 10 billionaires, including Drew Houston, Dustin Moskovitz, Howard Marks and Jack Dorsey, Principles has sold nearly one million copies and was named Amazon’s business book of 2017. Billionaires agree that it’s good. In the book, hedge fund manager Dalio shares principles he developed while running Bridgewater Associates, sparked by receiving a frank memo from his top lieutenants in 1993 concerning his interpersonal performance as a manager. Dalio originally published a shorter version of Principles online in 2011, where it received over three million downloads.
High Output Management by Andy Grove
In third place and recommended by 9 billionaires including Brian Armstrong, Brian Chesky, Larry Ellison and Ron Conway, High Output Management has over 800 reviews on Goodreads and an average rating of 4.3. The book is a crash course for middle managers by the former Intel CEO, with a foreword by Ben Horowitz. The book’s blurb describes it as a “legendary business book” and “Silicon Valley staple”. Marc Andreessen said, “Andy exemplifies the best of Silicon Valley. Andy built the model for what a high-quality Silicon Valley company could be.”
Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
Recommended by 8 billionaires, this time including Elon Musk, Ev Williams, Peter Thiel and Mark Cuban, Atlas Shrugged is a 1957 novel depicting a dystopian United States in which private businesses suffer under increasingly burdensome laws and regulations. According to Wikipedia, Rand’s stated goal for writing the novel was “to show how desperately the world needs prime movers and how viciously it treats them” and to portray “what happens to the world without them”. As of 2019 the novel had sold 9 million copies.
The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz
Recommended by 7 billionaires including Keith Rabois, Larry Page, Peter Thiel and Mark Zuckerberg, The Hard Thing About Hard Things deals with the trials and tribulations that Ben Horowitz encountered during his career as founder CEO to VC at Andreessen Horowitz in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Horowitz differentiates between what is right and what is easy and has been described as one of Silicon Valley’s most respected and experienced entrepreneurs, famously funny and straight-talking. From over 3,000 reviews on Goodreads, including one which says, “This is one of the best books you’ll ever read on entrepreneurship and being a CEO.” the book’s average rating is 4.23.
Poor Charlie’s Almanack compiled by Peter D. Kaufman
Recommended by Bill Gates, Daniel Ek, Drew Houston, Marc Andreessen, Patrick Collison and, of course, Warren Buffet, Poor Charlie’s Almanack is a collection of speeches and talks by Charlie Munger, compiled by Peter D. Kaufman and first published in 2005. The book equips investors with the psychological skills required to keep investing simple and easy. Bill Gates says that Charlie Munger “is truly the broadest thinker I have ever encountered” and Drew Houston of Dropbox said Poor Charlie’s Almanack was one of the best books he had ever read.
Blitzscaling by Chris Yeh and Reid Hoffman
The book’s subtitle is the lightning-fast path to building massively valuable companies and as Hoffman explains, “Blitzscaling is what you do when you need to grow really, really quickly. It’s the science and art of rapidly building out a company to serve a large and usually global market, with the goal of becoming the first mover at scale.” With a foreword by Bill Gates and over 5,000 reviews on Goodreads, this book is a popular recommendation of billionaires. With a 3.95 score on Goodreads, it’s not a unanimous favourite, but billionaire fans include Brian Chesky, Eric Schmidt, Vinod Khosla, Changpeng Zhao and Sheryl Sandberg.
Only the Paranoid Survive by Andrew Grove
How to exploit the crisis points that challenge every company, promises the subtitle of the 8th most recommended-by-billionaires book. Only the Paranoid Survive is recommended by Bill Gates, Charlie Munger, Marc Andreessen, Steve Jobs, Vinod Khosla and Jamie Dimon and follows the story of Intel under Grove’s leadership as CEO and president. “Strategic inflexion points” are explored in the book, which Steve Jobs said, “you must learn about, because sooner or later you are going to live through one.” Over 8,000 Goodreads reviews give the book an average of 3.96 stars. Famous management consultant Peter Drucker said, “”This terrific book is dangerous…It will make people think.”
The Innovator’s Dilemma by Clayton Christensen
Written by a Harvard professor and business professional, this book expands on the concept of disruptive technologies, a term Christensen coined in a 1995 article called Disruptive Technologies: Catching the Wave. The Innovator’s Dilemma received the Global Business Book Award as the best business book of the year in 1997, the year it was published. The Economist also named it as one of the six most important books about business ever written. Known billionaire fans are Drew Houston, Ev Williams, Jeff Bezos, Mark Benioff, Mark Cuban and Steve Jobs and the book averages 4.03 stars from over 48,000 ratings on Goodreads.
Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson
A science fiction novel published in 1992, Snow Crash is recommended by Ev Williams, Larry Page, Sergey Brin, Tobi Lütke, Cameron Winklevoss and Mark Zuckerberg. Publisher Randomhouse describes the book as, “a mind-altering romp through a future America so bizarre, so outrageous… you’ll recognize it immediately.” Stephenson originally planned Snow Crash as a computer-generated graphic novel and Goodreads gives it an average of 4.03 stars from over 10,000 reviews (and 258,000 ratings). The book is said to have sold over a million copies in North America alone.
After the top ten come these twelve, in order of popularity: Shoe Dog, Zero to One, The Better Angels of Our Nature, Becoming Steve Jobs, Measure What Matters, Thinking Fast and Slow, “Surely You’re Joking, Mr Feynman!”, Antifragile, The Fountainhead, The Art of War, 7 Powers, The Lean Startup. Each of these books has been recommended by at least five billionaires.
Become a billionaire by acting like one. Act like one by thinking like one. Think like one by reading the books that they read and recommend.