Naval Ravikant Book Recommendations
For many reasons, AngelList co-founder Naval Ravikant and books simply go hand in hand, whether we’re talking his favorite lesson-filled business classics, spiritually enlightening texts, or physics-related titles.
“Getting rich is about knowing what to do, who to do it with, and when to do it. It is much more about understanding than purely hard work. Yes, hard work matters, and you can’t skimp on it. But it has to be directed in the right way,” he says. “If you don’t know yet what you should work on, the most important thing is to figure it out. You should not grind at a lot of hard work until you figure out what you should be working on.”
Reading has clearly played a profound role in shaping Naval Ravikant as a person, and furthermore, this favorite educational activity of his must have had something to do with the spirited – and rewarding for that matter – approach he takes to life.
Therefore, in order to get to the bottom of what inspired a most capable individual to the heights of financial prosperity, we’ve compiled this list of 20 inspirational books Naval Ravikant has read himself and would certainly recommend to others as well.
The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
In The Power of Habit, award-winning business reporter Charles Duhigg takes us to the thrilling edge of scientific discoveries that explain why habits exist and how they can be changed. Distilling vast amounts of information into engrossing narratives that take us from the boardrooms of Procter & Gamble to the sidelines of the NFL to the front lines of the civil rights movement, Duhigg presents a whole new understanding of human nature and its potential.
At its core, The Power of Habit contains an exhilarating argument: The key to exercising regularly, losing weight, being more productive, and achieving success is understanding how habits work. By harnessing this new science, we can transform our businesses, our communities, and our lives.
Source: “That one was interesting, not because of its content necessarily, but because it’s good for me to always keep on top of mind how powerful my habits are,” Ravikant says.
Reality is Not What it Seems by Carlo Rovelli
Rovelli takes us on a wondrous journey from Democritus to Albert Einstein, from Michael Faraday to gravitational waves, and from classical physics to his own work in quantum gravity. As he shows us how the idea of reality has evolved over time, Rovelli offers deeper explanations of the theories he introduced so concisely in Seven Brief Lessons on Physics.
This book culminates in a lucid overview of quantum gravity, the field of research that explores the quantum nature of space and time, seeking to unify quantum mechanics and general relativity. Rovelli invites us to imagine a marvelous world where space breaks up into tiny grains, time disappears at the smallest scales, and black holes are waiting to explode – a vast universe still largely undiscovered.
Source: Named among the best books Naval Ravikant read over the course of a year, he said it has “physics, poetry, philosophy and history packaged in a very accessible form.”
The Third Wave by Steve Case
Steve Case – a pioneer who made the Internet part of everyday life – was on the leading edge of a revolution in 1985 when he co-founded AOL, the first Internet company to go public and the most successful business of the 1990s. Back then Case was an entrepreneur in an industry that hadn’t really been invented yet, but he had a sense how dramatically the Internet would transform business and society.
In The Third Wave, he uses his insights garnered from nearly four decades of working as an innovator, investor, and businessman to argue the importance of entrepreneurship and to chart a path for future innovators.
Source: “Steve Case is doing the behind the scenes work to support entrepreneurship in America,” Ravikant Tweeted.
Total Freedom by Jiddu Krishnamurti
Total Freedom includes selections from Krishnamurti’s early works, his ‘Commentaries on Living,’ and his discourses on life, the self, meditation, sex and love. These writings reveal Krishnamurti’s core teachings in their full eloquence and power: the nature of personal freedom; the mysteries of life and death; and the ‘pathless land,’ the personal search for truth and peace.
Warning readers away from blind obedience to creeds or teachers – including himself – Krishnamurti celebrated the individual quest for truth, and thus became on of the most influential guides for independent-minded seekers of the twentieth century – and beyond.
Source: “The kind of freedom he talks about, the freedom from attachment, the freedom to not react, the freedom from the ups and downs of life, is not what we normally think of when we think of freedom,” Ravikant examines.
Poor Charlie’s Almanack by Charlie Munger
Poor Charlie’s Almanack contains the wit and wisdom of Charlie Munger: his talks, lectures and public commentary. And, it has been written and compiled with both Charlie Munger and Warren Buffett’s encouragement and cooperation.
So pull up your favorite reading chair and enjoy the unique humor, wit, and insight that Charlie Munger brings to the world of business, investing, and life itself. His unique worldview, what he calls a ‘multidisciplinary’ approach, is a self-developed model for clear and simple thinking while being far from simplistic itself.
Throughout the book, using his encyclopedic knowledge, Munger cites references from classical orators to eighteenth and nineteenth-century European literati to pop culture.
Source: When asked to share his favorite books, Naval Ravikant noted Poor Charlie’s Almanack as one of them.
Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson
Only once in a great while does a writer come along who defies comparison – a writer so original he redefines the way we look at the world. Neal Stephenson is such a writer and Snow Crash is such a novel, weaving virtual reality, Sumerian myth, and just about everything in between with a cool, hip cybersensibility to bring us the gigathriller of the information age.
In reality, Hiro Protagonist delivers pizza for Uncle Enzo’s CosoNostra Pizza Inc., but in the Metaverse he’s a warrior prince. Plunging headlong into the enigma of a new computer virus that’s striking down hackers everywhere, he races along the neon-lit streets on a search-and-destroy mission for the shadowy virtual villain threatening to bring about infocalypse.
Source: Ravikant recommended this title to somebody who asked for books to read while quarantining.
Antifragile by Nassim Nicholas Talib
Just as human bones get stronger when subjected to stress and tension, and rumors or riots intensify when someone tries to repress them, many things in life benefit from stress, disorder, volatility, and turmoil. What Taleb has identified and calls “antifragile” is that category of things that not only gain from chaos but need it in order to survive and flourish.
In Antifragile, Taleb stands uncertainty on its head, making it desirable, even necessary, and proposes that things be built in an antifragile manner. The antifragile is beyond the resilient or robust. The resilient resists shocks and stays the same; the antifragile gets better and better while also being immune to prediction errors and protected from adverse events.
Source: “Good books are worth re-reading. Great books are worth re-buying,” Ravikant says.
The Rational Optimist by Matt Ridley
Matt Ridley makes the case for an economics of hope, arguing that the benefits of commerce, technology, innovation, and change – what Ridley calls cultural evolution – will inevitably increase human prosperity.
For two hundred years the pessimists have dominated public discourse, insisting that things will soon be getting much worse. But in fact, life is getting better – and at an accelerating rate. Food availability, income, and life span are up; disease, child mortality, and violence are down all across the globe. Africa is following Asia out of poverty; the Internet, mobile phone, and container shipping are enriching people’s lives as never before.
An astute, refreshing, and revelatory work that covers the entire sweep of human history – from the Stone Age to the Internet – The Rational Optimist will change your way of thinking about the world for the better.
Source: Ravikant tweeted in 2010, “Matt Ridley’s The Rational Optimist is the most brilliant and enlightening book I’ve read in years. He has written 4 of my top 20.”
The Sovereign Individual by James Dale Davidson
The Sovereign Individual details strategies necessary for adapting financially to the next phase of Western civilization.
Davidson and Rees-Mogg explore the greatest economic and political transition in centuries – the shift from an industrial to an information-based society. This transition, which they have termed “the fourth stage of human society,” will liberate individuals as never before, irrevocably altering the power of government. This outstanding book will replace false hopes and fictions with new understanding and clarified values.
Source: One of the best books Naval Ravikant has read since Sapiens, “far less mainstream, though,” he adds.
Think on These Things by Jiddu Krishnamurti
Krishnamurti examines with characteristic objectivity and insight the expressions of what we are pleased to call our culture, our education, religion, politics and tradition; and he throws much light on such basic emotions as ambition, greed and envy, the desire for security and the lust for power – all of which he shows to be deteriorating factors in human society.
Source: “Decades ago, it didn’t make sense. Years ago, it changed my life, but I felt late,” Ravikant writes.
Influence by Robert Cialdini
Robert Cialdini – New York Times bestselling author of Pre-Suasion and the seminal expert in the fields of influence and persuasion – explains the psychology of why people say yes and how to apply these insights ethically in business and everyday settings. Using memorable stories and relatable examples, Cialdini makes this crucially important subject surprisingly easy.
You’ll learn Cialdini’s Universal Principles of Influence, including new research and new uses so you can become an even more skilled persuader – and just as importantly, you’ll learn how to defend yourself against unethical influence attempts. You may think you know these principles, but without understanding their intricacies, you may be ceding their power to someone else.
Understanding and applying the principles ethically is cost-free and deceptively easy. Backed by Dr. Cialdini’s 35 years of evidence-based, peer-reviewed scientific research – including a three-year field study on what leads people to change – Influence is a comprehensive guide to using these principles to move others in your direction.
Source: “Influence was fundamental and had a lot to teach,” Ravikant determines.
Principles by Ray Dalio
In 1975, Ray Dalio founded an investment firm, Bridgewater Associates, out of his two-bedroom apartment in New York City. Forty years later, Bridgewater has made more money for its clients than any other hedge fund in history and grown into the fifth most important private company in the United States, according to Fortune magazine. Dalio himself has been named to Time magazine’s list of the 100 most influential people in the world.
Along the way, Dalio discovered a set of unique principles that have led to Bridgewater’s exceptionally effective culture, which he describes as “an idea meritocracy that strives to achieve meaningful work and meaningful relationships through radical transparency.” It is these principles, and not anything special about Dalio – who grew up an ordinary kid in a middle-class Long Island neighborhood – that he believes are the reason behind his success.
Source: “As with most non-fiction, the meat was in the beginning,” Ravikant notes.
Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman! by Richard P. Feynman
Richard Feynman, winner of the Nobel Prize in physics, thrived on outrageous adventures. Here he recounts in his inimitable voice his experience trading ideas on atomic physics with Einstein and Bohr and ideas on gambling with Nick the Greek; cracking the uncrackable safes guarding the most deeply held nuclear secrets; accompanying a ballet on his bongo drums; painting a naked female toreador. In short, here is Feynman’s life in all its eccentric, combustible mixture of high intelligence, unlimited curiosity, and raging chutzpah.
Source: “Physicist, bongo player, painter, adventurer, and most importantly, free thinker. You’re never going to get ahead in life if you listen to everyone else,” Ravikant shares.
Genome by Matt Ridley
Arguably the most significant scientific discovery of the new century, the mapping of the twenty-three pairs of chromosomes that make up the human genome raises almost as many questions as it answers. Questions that will profoundly impact the way we think about disease, about longevity, and about free will. Questions that will affect the rest of your life.
Genome offers extraordinary insight into the ramifications of this incredible breakthrough. By picking one newly discovered gene from each pair of chromosomes and telling its story, Matt Ridley recounts the history of our species and its ancestors from the dawn of life to the brink of future medicine.
From Huntington’s disease to cancer, from the applications of gene therapy to the horrors of eugenics, Ridley probes the scientific, philosophical, and moral issues arising as a result of the mapping of the genome. It will help you understand what this scientific milestone means for you, for your children, and for humankind.
Source: “Everything by Matt Ridley is worth reading,” Ravikant declares.
Good Calories, Bad Calories by Gary Taubes
For decades we have been taught that fat is bad for us, carbohydrates better, and that the key to a healthy weight is eating less and exercising more. Yet despite this advice, we have seen unprecedented epidemics of obesity and diabetes. Taubes argues that the problem lies in refined carbohydrates, like white flour, easily digested starches, and sugars, and that the key to good health is the kind of calories we take in, not the number.
Source: A gem among books Naval Ravikant recommends, he puts this one in his top three favorites.
Economics in One Lesson by Henry Hazlitt
Concise and instructive, this insightful journey through economics among books Naval Ravikant recommends is also deceptively prescient and far-reaching in its efforts to dissemble economic fallacies that are so prevalent they have almost become a new orthodoxy.
Hazlitt’s focus on non-governmental solutions, strong – and strongly reasoned – anti-deficit position, and general emphasis on free markets, economic liberty of individuals, and the dangers of government intervention make Economics in One Lesson every bit as relevant and valuable today as it has been since being published in 1946.
Source: Ravikant considers this a great book and “required reading.”
Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari
From a renowned historian comes a groundbreaking narrative of humanity’s creation and evolution – a #1 international bestseller – that explores the ways in which biology and history have defined us and enhanced our understanding of what it means to be “human.”
From examining the role evolving humans have played in the global ecosystem to charting the rise of empires, Sapiens integrates history and science to reconsider accepted narratives, connect past developments with contemporary concerns, and examine specific events within the context of larger ideas.
Dr. Harari also compels us to look ahead, because over the last few decades humans have begun to bend laws of natural selection that have governed life for the past four billion years. We are acquiring the ability to design not only the world around us, but also ourselves. Where is this leading us, and what do we want to become?
Source: “An orthogonal and clinical examination of the human animal, from the beginning to now,” explains Ravikant. “Humans are story-telling alpha predators that killed the competition and domesticated the survivors. This is our story, and it’s not all pretty.”
Wind, Sand, and Stars by Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Recipient of the Grand Prix of the Académie Française, Wind, Sand, and Stars captures the grandeur, danger, and isolation of flight. Its exciting account of air adventure, combined with lyrical prose and the spirit of a philosopher, makes it one of the most popular works ever written about flying.
Source: A gem among books Naval Ravikant recommends, he considers this one of his all-time favorites.
Stories of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang
Stories of Your Life and Others delivers dual delights of the very, very strange and the heartbreakingly familiar, often presenting characters who must confront sudden change – the inevitable rise of automatons or the appearance of aliens – with some sense of normalcy.
With sharp intelligence and humor, Chiang examines what it means to be alive in a world marked by uncertainty, but also by beauty and wonder. An award-winning collection from one of today’s most lauded writers, this is a contemporary classic.
Source: “Drop everything and read [Understand],” Ravikant says.
The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle
Much more than simple principles and platitudes, the book takes readers on an inspiring spiritual journey to find their true and deepest self and reach the ultimate in personal growth and spirituality: the discovery of truth and light.
In the first chapter, Tolle introduces readers to enlightenment and its natural enemy, the mind. He awakens readers to their role as a creator of pain and shows them how to have a pain-free identity by living fully in the present. The journey is thrilling, and along the way, the author shows how to connect to the indestructible essence of our Being, “the eternal, ever-present One Life beyond the myriad forms of life that are subject to birth and death.”
Source: “The Power of Now is the OG,” Ravikant says.
If you enjoyed this guide to books Naval Ravikant recommends, be sure to check out our list of 20 Inspirational Books Jeff Bezos Recommends Reading!