20 Inspirational Books Ray Dalio Recommends Reading

Ray Dalio Book Recommendations

ray dalio books

Self-made billionaire Ray Dalio and books simply go hand in hand, whether we’re discussing his favorite business classics, spiritually enlightening texts, or biographies.

“While I spend most of my time studying the realities that affect me most directly – those that drive economies, the markets, and the people I deal with – I also spend time in nature and can’t help reflecting on how it works by observing, reading, and speaking with some of the greatest specialists on the subject,” he says. “I’ve found it both interesting and valuable to observe which laws we humans have in common with the rest of nature and which differentiate us.”

Reading has clearly played a profound role in shaping Ray Dalio 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 Ray Dalio has read himself and would certainly recommend to others as well.

This guide was created with the help of interviews, articles, and his book, Principles.

Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

Based on more than forty interviews with Steve Jobs conducted over two years – as well as interviews with more than 100 family members, friends, adversaries, competitors, and colleagues – Walter Isaacson has written a riveting story of the roller-coaster life and searingly intense personality of a creative entrepreneur whose passion for perfection and ferocious drive revolutionized six industries: personal computers, animated movies, music, phones, tablet computing, and digital publishing.

Source: “I noticed a number of similarities between [Steve Jobs and I], especially when [the author] quoted Jobs’s own words,” Dalio wrote in Principles. “But to be clear, I didn’t think that Bridgewater or I held a candle to Apple and Jobs.”

The Meaning of Human Existence by Edward O. Wilson

In The Meaning of Human Existence, his most philosophical work to date, Pulitzer Prize-winning biologist Edward O. Wilson grapples with existential questions, examining what makes human beings supremely different from all other species. Searching for meaning in what Nietzsche once called “the rainbow colors” around the outer edges of knowledge and imagination, Wilson takes his readers on a journey, in the process bridging science and philosophy to create a twenty-first-century treatise on human existence – from our earliest inception to a provocative look at what the future of mankind portends.

Source: Dalio says this book “surmises that between one million and two million years ago, […] the brain evolved in ways supporting cooperation so man could hunt and do other activities.”

Tribe of Mentors by Tim Ferriss

While grieving the deaths of several of his close friends and being provided a stark reminder that time is our scarcest, non-renewable resource, Tim Ferriss began asking himself some serious questions about his life. While seeking answers, he reached out to the most impressive world-class performers in the world, ranging from wunderkinds in their 20s to icons in their 70s and 80s. No stone was left unturned.

This book contains their answers – practical and tactical advice from mentors who have found solutions. Whether you want to 10x your results, get unstuck, or reinvent yourself, someone else has traveled a similar path and taken notes.

Tribe of Mentors includes many of the people Ferriss grew up viewing as idols or demi-gods. Less than 10% have been on his podcast (The Tim Ferriss Show, more than 200 million downloads), making this a brand-new playbook of playbooks.

Source: “I love Tim’s book because it’s essentially a collection of great principles from people who have accomplished great things,” Dalio tweeted.

Strength in Stillness by Bob Roth

Medical experts agree that the epidemic of stress is damaging our physical and emotional health at younger and younger ages. While there is no one single cure, the Transcendental Meditation technique is a simple practice that dramatically changes how we respond to stress and life’s challenges. With scientifically proven benefits – reduced stress and anxiety, and improved focus, sleep, resilience, creativity, and memory, to name a few – this five-thousand-year-old technique has a clear and direct impact on our very modern problems.

Free of gimmicks, mystical verbiage, and obscure theory, this gem among books Ray Dalio recommends offers a clear explanation for how Transcendental Meditation can calm the mind, body, and spirit.

Source: Dalio writes that this read “masterfully distills the essence of [Transcendental Meditation] so that anyone can understand how it works – and why they should learn it.”

The Role of the Individual in History by Georgii Valentinovich Plekhanov

The Role of the Individual in History was first published in 1898, and occupies a very prominent place among those of Plekhanov’s works in which he substantiates and defends Marxism and advocates the Marxian theory of social development.

Georgi Valentinovich Plekhanov (1856-1918) was one of the leaders of Russian populism and after his emigration to Western Europe in 1880 became the foremost Russian Marxist abroad. He founded in 1883, together with Pavel Axelrod, the ‘Group for the Liberation of Labor’, the first Russian social democratic party, and in 1900 together with Lenin the ‘Iskra’, the first Russian Marxist newspaper, but a few years later broke with Lenin and sided with the Mensheviks.

Source: Dalio points out that this book “shows how the same things [have] happened over and over again throughout history.”

What it Takes by Stephen A. Schwarzman

People know who Stephen Schwarzman is – at least they think they do. He’s the man who took $400,000 and co-founded Blackstone, the investment firm that manages over $500 billion (as of January 2019). He’s the CEO whose views are sought by heads of state. He’s the billionaire philanthropist who founded Schwarzman Scholars, this century’s version of the Rhodes Scholarship, in China. But behind these achievements is a man who has spent his life learning and reflecting on what it takes to achieve excellence, make an impact, and live a life of consequence.

Schwarzman’s story is an empowering, entertaining, and informative guide for anyone striving for greater personal impact. From deal making to investing, leadership to entrepreneurship, philanthropy to diplomacy, Schwarzman has lessons for how to think about ambition and scale, risk and opportunities, and how to achieve success through the relentless pursuit of excellence.

Source: One of the few books Ray Dalio has written an editorial review on, he remarked, “The real story of what it takes from a man who could turn dreams into realities.”

No Rules Rules by Reed Hastings

Having launched in 1998 as an online DVD rental service, Netflix has had to reinvent itself over and over again. This type of unprecedented flexibility would have been impossible without the counterintuitive and radical management principles that co-founder Reed Hastings established from the very beginning. Hastings rejected the conventional wisdom under which other companies operate and defied tradition to instead build a culture focused on freedom and responsibility, one that has allowed Netflix to adapt and innovate as the needs of its members and the world have simultaneously transformed.

Source: “Reed, his people, and his culture are all of star quality. I recommend his book,” Dalio tweeted.

The Lessons of History by Will Durant

With their accessible compendium of philosophy and social progress, the Durants take us on a journey through history, exploring the possibilities and limitations of humanity over time. Juxtaposing the great lives, ideas, and accomplishments with cycles of war and conquest, the Durants reveal the towering themes of history and give meaning to our own.

Source: “This is the Durants. They were maybe the greatest historians of all time,” Dalio contends.

The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

In The Power of Habitaward-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: During a speaking event, Dalio calls it fantastic, adding, “I got [this book] and I gave it to everyone in my company.”

Trailblazer by Marc Benioff

Benioff gives readers a rare behind-the-scenes look at the inner workings of one of the world’s most admired companies. He reveals how Salesforce’s core values – trust, customer success, innovation, and equality – and commitment to giving back have become the company’s greatest competitive advantage and the most powerful engine of its success.

Because no matter what business you’re in, Benioff says, values are the bedrock of a resilient company culture that inspires all employees, at every level, to do the best work of their lives. Along the way, he shares insights and best practices for anyone who wants to cultivate a company culture positioned to thrive in the face of the inevitable disruption ahead.

Source: One of the few books Ray Dalio has written an editorial review on, he remarked, “the gold standard on how to use business as a platform for change at this urgent time.”

Benjamin Franklin: An American Life by Walter Isaacson

Benjamin Franklin is the founding father who winks at us, the one who seems made of flesh rather than marble. In a sweeping narrative that follows Franklin’s life from Boston to Philadelphia to London and Paris and back, Walter Isaacson chronicles the adventures of the runaway apprentice who became, over the course of his eighty-four-year life, America’s best writer, inventor, media baron, scientist, diplomat, and business strategist, as well as one of its most practical and ingenious political leaders.

He explores the wit behind Poor Richard’s Almanac and the wisdom behind the Declaration of Independence, the new nation’s alliance with France, the treaty that ended the Revolution, and the compromises that created a near-perfect Constitution.

Source: “I read [this book and “Einstein”] and probed [Walter Isaacson] about them to try to glean what characteristics they had in common,” Dalio reveals.

The Hero with a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell

In these pages, Campbell outlines the Hero’s Journey, a universal motif of adventure and transformation that runs through virtually all of the world’s mythic traditions. He also explores the Cosmogonic Cycle, the mythic pattern of world creation and destruction.

Source: Dalio calls this book a little bit dense, adding “but it’s so rich, it’s a good one.”

Think Like a Monk by Jay Shetty

Shetty grew up in a family where you could become one of three things – a doctor, a lawyer, or a failure. His family was convinced he had chosen option three: instead of attending his college graduation ceremony, he headed to India to become a monk, to meditate every day for four to eight hours, and devote his life to helping others. After three years, one of his teachers told him that he would have more impact on the world if he left the monk’s path to share his experience and wisdom with others.

Heavily in debt, and with no recognizable skills on his resume, he moved back home to north London with his parents.

Shetty reconnected with old school friends – many working for some of the world’s largest corporations – who were experiencing tremendous stress, pressure, and unhappiness, and they invited Shetty to coach them on well-being, purpose, and mindfulness. Since then, Shetty has become one of the world’s most popular influencers.

Source: One of the few books Ray Dalio has written an editorial review on, he remarked, “combining ancient wisdom with the practicalities of today, Think Like a Monk provides essential guidance for traveling a balanced path to success.”

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: Ray Dalio mentioned this book on The Tim Ferriss Show podcast.

The Undoing Project by Michael Lewis

Forty years ago, Israeli psychologists Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky wrote a series of breathtakingly original papers that invented the field of behavioral economics. One of the greatest partnerships in the history of science, Kahneman and Tversky’s extraordinary friendship incited a revolution in Big Data studies, advanced evidence-based medicine, led to a new approach to government regulation, and made much of Michael Lewis’s own work possible.

In The Undoing Project, Lewis shows how their Nobel Prize-winning theory of the mind altered our perception of reality.

Source: Ray Dalio mentioned this book on The Tim Ferriss Show podcast.

Originals by Adam Grant

Using surprising studies and stories spanning business, politics, sports, and entertainment, Grant explores how to recognize a good idea, speak up without getting silenced, build a coalition of allies, choose the right time to act, and manage fear and doubt; how parents and teachers can nurture originality in children; and how leaders can build cultures that welcome dissent.

Learn from an entrepreneur who pitches his start-ups by highlighting the reasons not to invest, a woman at Apple who challenged Steve Jobs from three levels below, an analyst who overturned the rule of secrecy at the CIA, a billionaire financial wizard who fires employees for failing to criticize him, and a TV executive who didn’t even work in comedy but saved Seinfeld from the cutting-room floor. The payoff is a set of groundbreaking insights about rejecting conformity and improving the status quo.

Source: This is one of those special books Ray Dalio recommends in Principles.

Changing Minds by Howard Gardner

Think about the last time you tried to change someone’s mind about something important: a voter’s political beliefs; a customer’s favorite brand; a spouse’s decorating taste. Chances are you weren’t successful in shifting that person’s beliefs in any way. In his book, Changing Minds, Harvard psychologist Howard Gardner explains what happens during the course of changing a mind – and offers ways to influence that process.

Source: This is one of those special books Ray Dalio recommends in Principles.

The Gift of Adversity by Norman E. Rosenthal

Whether the adversity one experiences is the result of poor decision-making, a desire to test one’s mettle, or plain bad luck, Rosenthal believes life’s most important lessons – from the value of family to the importance of occasionally cutting corners – can be best learned from it.

Running counter to society’s current prevailing message that “excellence” must always be aspired to, and failure or mistakes of any sort are to be avoided at all costs, Rosenthal shows that engaging with our own failures and defeats is one of the only ways we are able to live authentic and meaningful lives, and that each different type of adversity carries its own challenges and has the potential to yield its own form of wisdom.

Source: This is one of those special books Ray Dalio recommends in Principles.

Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

Engaging the reader in a lively conversation about how we think, Kahneman reveals where we can and cannot trust our intuitions and how we can tap into the benefits of slow thinking. He offers practical and enlightening insights into how choices are made in both our business and our personal lives, and how we can use different techniques to guard against the mental glitches that often get us into trouble.

Source: This is one of those special books Ray Dalio recommends in Principles.

Incognito by David Eagleman

In this sparkling and provocative book, renowned neuroscientist David Eagleman navigates the depths of the subconscious brain to illuminate its surprising mysteries. Why can your foot move halfway to the brake pedal before you become consciously aware of danger ahead? Why are people whose names begin with J more like to marry other people whose names begin with J? And why is it so difficult to keep a secret?

Taking in brain damage, plane spotting, dating, drugs, beauty, infidelity, synesthesia, criminal law, artificial intelligence, and visual illusions, Incognito is a thrilling subsurface exploration of the mind and all its contradictions.

Source: Dalio says this is a “wonderful” book.


If you enjoyed this guide to books Ray Dalio recommends, be sure to check out our list of 20 Inspirational Books Warren Buffett Recommends Reading!