Musk found himself in a slump in his early teen years after having read too many works by moody philosophers Nietzsche and Schopenhauer. Then he found this Douglas Adams gem, and something clicked. “I was reading various books on trying to figure out the meaning of life and what does it all mean?,” Musk told Alison van Diggelen in an interview. “So then I read ‘Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,’ which is quite positive, I think. And it highlighted an important point, which is that a lot of times the question is harder than the answer. And if you can properly phrase the question, then the answer is the easy part.” (Get the book here.)

It only makes sense for one genius to be inspired by an earlier genius, no? This book, which Musk recommends in an interview with Foundation, tells the story of a brilliant man who transforms the world with his intelligence and ambition. Hmm, sounds familiar. (Get the book here.)

Speaking of rockets, Musk suggests checking out this influential classic book in an interview with MediaBistro: “There is a good book on rocket stuff called ‘Ignition!’ by John Clark that’s a really fun one.” This book is reportedly pretty hard to get your hands on (the hardcover will cost you about $300), but the rare text is available online here and here. (Get a physical copy here, though it is a little pricey.)

If anyone knows anything about superintelligence, it’s our man Elon. He has been no stranger to the ongoing conversation about AI and cites this book as helpful reference material for that debate. (His stance, by the way, is that AI is “potentially more deadly than nukes,” as you can see in the tweet below. (Get the book here.)

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