12 Books Elon Musk Thinks Everyone Should Read

Elon Musk, the CEO of SpaceX, Tesla, and other larger-than-life tech companies, somehow also seems to find time to read.

Musk has said that reading a variety of books — from epic works of fantasy like the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy to complex how-to books on building rockets — is crucial to his success.

We looked through Musk's past interviews and social media history to come up with a list of 12 books the billionaire entrepreneur thinks everyone should read.

Take a look below.

"The Lord of the Rings" by J.R.R. Tolkien

Musk had a nickname when he was a shrimpy, smart-mouthed kid growing up in South Africa: Muskrat.

The New Yorker reported in 2009 that "in his loneliness, he read a lot of fantasy and science fiction."

Those books — notably "The Lord of the Rings" by J.R.R. Tolkien — shaped Musk's vision of his future self.

"The heroes of the books I read ... always felt a duty to save the world," he told The New Yorker.

For those who've already read the books and seen the movies but are still hurting for more Middle Earth, Amazon recently announced a "Lord of the Rings" TV series.

"The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" by Douglas Adams

In this comedic sci-fi book, a supercomputer finds the "answer" to a meaningful life: the number 42.

To Musk, who read this as a young teenager in South Africa, the book was instrumental to his thinking. He was so enamored with it, in fact, that when he launched his Tesla Roadster into space in February, he put the words "Don't Panic!" — which graced the cover of some early editions of the book — on the car's center screen.

When asked in a 2015 interview about his favorite spaceship from science fiction, he said, "I'd have to say that would be the one in 'The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy' that's powered by the improbability drive."

"Benjamin Franklin: An American Life" by Walter Isaacson

Musk has repeatedly described Benjamin Franklin, one of the US' Founding Fathers and an accomplished inventor, as one of his heroes.

Franklin was one of the first to prove that lightning is electricity in his famous kite experiment, which led to the invention of the lightning rod. He's also credited with inventing bifocals: glasses with two distinct optical lenses.

In this biography of Franklin, "you can see how he was an entrepreneur," Musk said in an interview with Foundation, a platform for nonprofits working on climate-change issues. "He was an entrepreneur. He started from nothing. He was just a runaway kid."

Musk added: "Franklin's pretty awesome."

"Structures: Or Why Things Don't Fall Down" by J.E. Gordon

When Musk started SpaceX, he was coming from a coding background. But he took it upon himself to learn the fundamentals of rocket science.

One of the books that helped him was "Structures: Or Why Things Don't Fall Down," a popular take on structural engineering by J.E. Gordon, a British material scientist.

"It is really, really good if you want a primer on structural design," Musk said in an interview with KCRW, a southern California radio station.

Because of his interest in rocket mechanics, Musk got intimately involved with the planning and design of SpaceX's Falcon Heavy rocket. He has served as the chief designer at SpaceX as well as CEO.

"The reason I ended up being the chief engineer or chief designer was not because I wanted to — it's because I couldn't hire anyone; nobody good would join," Musk said during a talk last year about how he plans to colonize Mars.

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