23 books Mark Zuckerberg thinks everyone should read

Mark Zuckerberg recommends the following 23 books for you to broaden your thinking horizon. The list is an interesting one because few of these books are also recommended (All time favorite) by Bill Gates as well.

Before you read one, there is one book highly recommended and that is if you want to think like a CEO, you need to read like one.

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  1. The End of Power by Moisés Naím: This pick, written by a former director of the World Bank, is a “historical investigation of the shift of power from authoritative governments, militaries, and major corporations to individuals. This is clearly seen in what’s now become a Silicon Valley cliché, the disruptive startup,” notes a Business Insider round-up of some of these book club choices.
  2. The Better Angels of Our Nature by Steven Pinker: Zuckerberg “thinks that Pinker’s study of how violence has decreased over time despite being magnified by a 24-hour news cycle and social media is something that can offer a life-changing perspective,” reports BI.
  3. Gang Leader for a Day by Sudhir Venkatesh: The learnings of a Columbia University sociology professor who embedded himself with a Chicago gang. “The more we all have a voice to share our perspectives, the more empathy we have for each other and the more we respect each other’s rights,” Zuckerberg said of the choice.
  4. On Immunity by Eula Biss: Zuckerberg isn’t the only billionaire suggesting you read this book. Bill Gates also recommended it, calling this exploration of myths and rumors around vaccination “beautifully written” and “a great gift for any new parent.”
  5. Creativity, Inc. by Ed Catmull: This one “tells the story of Pixar and its merge with Disney Studios through the experiences of Ed Catmull, Pixar’s co-founder and current president,” according to a helpful summary of some of these books pulled together by Blinkist’s page19 blog.
  6. The Structure of Scientific Revolutions by Thomas Kuhn: An oldie but goodie. This 1962 study of how science progresses introduced the term “paradigm shift” and has since become one of the most cited academic books of all time.
  7. Rational Ritual by Michael Chwe: “The book is about the concept of ‘common knowledge’ and how people process the world not only based on what we personally know, but what we know other people know and our shared knowledge as well,” Zuckerberg explained. 
  8. Dealing With China by Hank Paulson: Zuckerberg’s wife’s family is Chinese and he’s learning Mandarin, so this exploration of the country’s rise and its impact on the world from the former Treasury secretary seems not only fascinating, but also right in his wheelhouse.
  9. Orwell’s Revenge by Peter W. Huber: An unofficial sequel to 1984, this novel imagines a world where technology helps liberate rather than enslave people.
  10. The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander. “If you are young and black and live in Washington, D.C., statistically there’s a three-in-four chance you’ll end up in prison at some point in your life,” notes page 19. This book by civil rights advocate Alexander explains how the war on drugs has led to that shocking statistic.
  11. The Muqaddimah by Ibn Khaldun: Why did Zuckerberg read a 14th-century history by an Islamic scholar? “While much of what was believed then is now disproven after 700 more years of progress, it’s still very interesting to see what was understood at this time,” he noted.
  12. Sapiens by Yuval Harari: Hebrew University of Jerusalem historian Harari tracks human evolution from our hunter-gatherer beginnings to modern times.
  13. The Player of Games by Iain Banks: The second in a series of sci-fi novels, this is also “one of Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk’s favorite books due to its entertaining way of exploring plausible advancements in technology,” notes BI.
  14. Energy: A Beginner’s Guide by Vaclav Smil: Bill Gates also loves Smil, calling him “probably my favorite living author.” This one by the historian covers the massive topic of, you guessed it, energy.
  15. Genome by Matt Ridley: “This book aims to tell a history of humanity from the perspective of genetics rather than sociology. This should complement the other broad histories I’ve read this year,” wrote Zuckerberg of this pick.
  16. The Varieties of Religious Experience by William James: “I’m on vacation this week with Cilla and this seemed like some light vacation reading!” joked Zuckerberg about his choice of this tome from the 19th-century philosopher.
  17. Portfolios of the Poor by Daryl Collins, Jonathan Morduch, and Stuart Rutherford: An empathy workout for a billionaire, this book looks at the financial arrangements of the nearly three billion people who survive on less than $2 a day.
  18. Why Nations Fail by Daron Acemolu and James A. Robinson: “After 15 years of research, the authors conclude that the main reason why some nations are home to millions of severely impoverished citizens while others provide a much higher quality of life is politics,” says BI, summing up this choice.
  19. The Rational Optimist by Matt Ridley: Ridley earned a second slot on Zuckerberg’s to-read list with this book, which cheerfully argues that humans are on an ever-upward trajectory toward greater prosperity.
  20. The Three-Body Problem by Lio Cixin: Zuckerberg’s choice of this Chinese sci-fi novel proves that even busy CEOs make time to enjoy some genre fiction now and again.
  21. The Idea Factory by Jon Gertner: “I’m very interested in what causes innovation–what kinds of people, questions and environments. This book explores that question by looking at Bell Labs, which was one of the most innovative labs in history,” Zuckerberg explained.
  22. World Order by Henry Kissinger: Kissinger may be loathed by some, but no one would argue the former secretary of state doesn’t know a few things about how different nations and groups wield political power. In today’s troubled world, that could be some seriously useful insight.
  23. The Beginning of Infinity by David Deutsch: Zuckerberg decided to go out with a bang with his final choice. “It’s about everything: art, science, philosophy, history, politics, evil, death, the future, infinity, bugs, thumbs, what have you,” wrote David Albert in his review for The New York Times.

Which of these books are you most interested in reading?

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