Steve Jobs’ recommends7 min read

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Pioneer and visioner. Founder of Apple Inc., designer and inventor. His book recommendations are on business and buddism.

“Atlas Shrugged” byAyn Rand

– Steve Wozniak

*Steve Jobs took time in his last little bit of life to go see the “Atlas Shrugged” movie, Pt 1, in his local theater

Also recommended by Mark Cuban, Evan Williams

Individualists, unite! Ayn Rand’s novel, about the triumph of the individual over the tyranny of the collective, has sparked heated conversations and thoughtful dialogue for decades. Some of the celebrities mentioned on Mother Jones praised the book for its achievements and compelling characters (such as Rob Lowe and Billie Jean King). There’s even an Atlas Society of Individualists who celebrate the power of one, as brought to life in Rand’s novel about Dagny Taggart’s railroad efforts, Hank Rearden’s struggles with the steel industry, and the mystery of John Galt.

 “Moby Dick” by Herman Melville

“Jobs told me that “Moby-Dick” was among his favorite books and he reread it a lot when he was a teen”

– from “Steve Jobs” by Walter Isaacson

Melville is a talented (if long-winded) author whose masterpiece remains the story about an elusive whale, and its mad pursuer, Captain Ahab. The narrator is not the only character with an exotic Biblical name (Ishmael), and there are as many themes to be had as fish in the sea. Moby Dick is a strangely destructive whale, who seems to take delight in capsizing and destroying the life of whaling vessels. Captain Ahab’s thirst for avenging his lost leg and ship prove to be his undoing. He makes a strange figure, teetering about his own ship on a leg made from a whale’s jawbone, and seeking the prophetic mutterings of a harpoon crew member for clues on Moby Dick’s location. Reading between the lines of whale oil and prophecy lies a fascinating tale of the nature of good and evil – and madness.

“1984” by George Orwell

Steve Jobs called this book “one of his favorite” and recommended it to the hires. The book also inspired one the greatest TV ad (made by Jobs)

Once a blistering commentary on the future, now Orwell’s famous novel is historical – and never more timely. Winston and Julia are a young couple who meet under oppressive circumstances – he’s an editor at the Ministry of Truth and she operates machines. Their habits of running away together, and thinking against the Party in the far-off land of Oceania, are noticed by the Thought Police. Throughout, there’s the uneasy sense that no one knows what is true and false, and history has no meaning except what the leaders give to it. This is one of the best books to read on the nature of totalitarian regimes, not because it’s fiction, but because it has a ring of truth.

The Innovator’sDilemma” by Clayton M. Christensen

– from “Steve Jobs” by Walter Isaacson

Also recommended by Mark Cuban, Malcolm Gladwell, Evan Williams, Andrew Grove, Guy Kawasaki

Out of Harvard Business School Press has come a ‘must’ on the business book list – Christensen’s explanation of why technology changes can derail established companies. He points out the strengths of the companies who use best management practices (listening, aggressive investment in customer demands) but get side-swiped by the paradigm shifts that inevitably happen when disruptive technologies emerge. The cheaper and simpler technology of disk drives, for example, became increasingly more convenient to customers, who then demanded enough to establish that technology in the marketplace – above its competitors.

Be here now” by RamDass

– from “Steve Jobs” by Walter Isaacson

This illustrated guide to Yoga was made popular in the 1970’s, and truly lives up to its name. From psychedelic experimentation, to the path of inner discipline, Ram Dass explains why living in the present moment is an all-powerful spiritual concept. Readers who enjoyed Eckhart Tolle’s “Power of Now” may also want to increase their mindfulness with the reading list addition of “Be Here Now”. Readers of Business Insider will be interested to note that Ram Dass’ work made it onto the favorites list of Steve Jobs, who thought it a profound work.

Zen Mind, Beginner’sMind” by Shunryu Suzuki

– from “Steve Jobs” by Walter Isaacson

Also recommended by Kevin Rose

Horse aficionados may be surprised that the Zen mind begins with types of horses (excellent, good, poor, and bad) and how they respond to the requests of the rider. The paradoxes of growth and appreciation, struggle and enlightenment, situation versus being, are scattered throughout this 1970’s classic. The virtues of remaining alert and observant are linked with parables and examples, such as carefully watching the rising of bread. Not surprisingly, Steve Jobs added Suzuki’s work to his favorites list, along with Be Here Now.

“The Autobiography of Yogi” by Paramahansa Yogananda

– from “Steve Jobs” by Walter Isaacson

This autobiography has made it onto the reading lists of Steve Jobs (who read it annually), Zen Columbus, and blogger Ashram Girl. According to Elvis Presley’s former spiritual advisor, Larry Geller, it apparently even made an impact on the consciousness of the King of Swing. The author shows an appreciation for the Western mind’s demand for verifiable detail, while offering insights from a long line of Hindu yogis practicing mindfulness for many centuries. One of the most impactful chapters centers around a story of the author and his brother having a competition on the subject of God’s providence – a long trip would have to be made without provision for food and without dependence on begging. Yogananda later began the Self Realization Fellowship in the United States.

Diet for a SmallPlanet” by Frances Moore Lappe

– from “Steve Jobs” by Walter Isaacson

The winner of the Green Prize for Sustainable Literature (per the Santa Monica Library), Lappe, made her mark with this book in the 1970’s, and has since written over 15 more. Though the author may not have begun the global conversation on sustainable living and dietary responsibility by vegetarian cooking, she certainly has fueled the fire. Recipes including tofu, whole grains, and legumes are woven around personal stories and insights on politics and population growth. Per the Ottowa Citizen, the author did propagate a current misconception about the incompleteness of protein, so it may be important for accuracy to add a later edition to the book list.

Inside the Tornado”by Geoffrey A. Moore

– from HarperCollinsCanada

“Inside the Tornado” is great follow-up to a favorite book of business readers (“Crossing the Chasm”). Using real-life examples of high-tech highs and lows such as Oracle and WordStar, Moore shows how to tame the tornado of global e-commerce. Busy executives may be especially interested in Moore’s description of the operational cycle of a company once it has achieved industry recognition. Positioning and strategic advantage, along with implementation, are explained in a simple parable style that disguises a deep understanding of tectonic market shifts. This book can move your company from creative chaos, to growth and order, if added to your reading list.

“Cutting Through SpiritualMaterialism” by Chogyam Trungpa

– from “Steve Jobs” by Walter Isaacson

Chogyam Trungpa’s groundbreaking work on the dangers of spiritual materialism was presented originally in Colorado, as a series of short talks in the 1970’s. Years later, the material was striking enough for Steve Jobs to add it to his extensive reading list, along with Daniel Kottke. Calling the process of the spiritual walk a “subtle process”, Trungpa outlines Buddhist philosophy and explains how spiritual growth is related to suffering, confusion, and the discovery of enlightenment beyond the tyranny of the ego. Readers looking to expand their book lists may also want to see Trungpa’s other works, such as “The Myth of Freedom” and “The Sacred Path of the Warrior”.

“Only the ParanoidSurvive” by Andrew S. Grove

-Steve Jobs

Also recommended by Jamie Dimon

According to the Wall Street Journal, this book is one of coach Jim Harbaugh’s favorite manuals for his football team, the San Francisco 49ers. As CEO, Grove steered Intel toward its status as top creator of computer chips that control our digital world, qualifying him to speak about the necessity of adaptation to instant corporate change. The milestones of change contain an instructive pattern, and Grove uses some of Intel’s challenges (such as the Pentium processor flaw) to show what worked in keeping slightly ahead of Internet expansion: debate, anticipation of change, and seeking answers beyond the job title. Andy Grove currently holds an advisory position at Intel, and helps teach a business seminar at Stanford’s School of Business.

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