Billionaires and their favourite books

The most successful people on earth are often avid readers. Knowledge is power and all that. Here are ten well-known billionaires and the books they would recommend. 


Bill Gates – Business Adventures

First recommended to Gates in the early 90s by Warren Buffet, Gates reckons John Brooks’ tome is the best business book he’s ever read.

Written over four decades ago, the book examines twelve famous Wall Street scandals and disasters from the time and gives useful insights into the fundamentals of building a business.

He also recommends Graeme Simsion’s novel “The Rosie Project for more of a “beach read”. No, we can’t imagine Gates in shorts either.

Warren Buffet – Stress Test

Another book both Gates and Buffet agree on, “Stress Test” was written by former US Secretary of the Treasury Timothy F. Geithner and charts his experiences navigating his wing of government through the worst financial meltdown since the Great Depression.

Buffet cites the book as must read in how to steer an organisation through a crisis, while the book is also compelling in detailing how Geithner balanced dealing with financial catastrophe, politics, and his family life.


Richard Branson – Wild Swans

First published in 1991, Jung Chang’s “Wild Swans captivated the Virgin founder with its account of the lives of three generations of Chinese women. Beginning with the biography of her grandmother, then that of her mother, before finally getting to her autobiography, Chang’s book spans a century and gives a sharp insight into the gradual change in Chinese culture and its rise as an economic superpower. 

Oprah Winfrey – To Kill a Mockingbird

Oprah first came across Harper Lee’s classic while in high school and gave it credit for inspiring her love of reading. “I remember reading this book and then going to class and not being able to shut up about it,” she’s said. If To Kill a Mockingbird reminds you too much of the Junior Cert, other recommendations by the chat show icon include Eckhart Tolle’s 2005 self-improvement book A New Earth.

GREAT ADVICE: How to start building your business empire from home. 

Steve Jobs – The Innovator’s Dilemma

Written by Clayton M. Christensen, the Innovator’s Dilemma had a profound impact on Jobs and his attitude towards continually reinventing Apple’s product offering. Christensen, a Harvard professor, essentially argues that to continue to be successful, an innovator must be prepared to ‘kill his babies’ and move forward with the next idea or risk being left behind. Companies are often victims of their success, staying committed to an idea or product rather than trying to keep up with technology; take the example of Blockbuster sticking with physical movie rentals while Netflix moved its video library online. It was this thinking that led to the iPhone replacing the iPod, and so on.

Jobs was also influenced by Arnold Ehret’s Mucusless Diet Healing System, leading to a diet that reportedly turned his skin orange and landed Ashton Kutcher in a hospital when he tried it; so maybe take Jobs’ book recommendations with a pinch of salt.


Mark Zuckerberg – Creativity Inc.

Where he found the time we don’t know, but Zuckerberg’s 2015 New Year Resolution was to read a new book every two weeks. As a result, he started his book club with the Facebook community, called A Year of Books. One of the many he recommends is “Creativity Inc.” by Ed Catmull, co-founder of Pixar. The book tells the story of Pixar, and Zuckerberg has praised the tome for its insight into how the company nurtures its employees’ natural creativity. 

Cheryl Sandberg – Bossypants

Not to be outdone by her boss, the Facebook COO has also made some book recommendations for you to check out, such as comedian Tiny Fey’s autobiography Bossypants. As well as examining her life and career, Fey also takes a look at gender politics in the workplace and is amusing too. 


JK Rowling – The Woman Who Walked Into Doors

Rowling says Dublin man Roddy Doyle is her favourite living author, and The Woman Who Walked into Doors, about a woman struggling with domestic violence, is one of her most loved books of his. Rowling has said of Doyle “I love all his books. I often talk about him and Jane Austen in the same breath … they can be profoundly moving without ever becoming mawkish”.


Patrick Collison – Making Silicon Valley

We round off our list with a tip from an Irishman. The Limerick-born tech entrepreneur moved to the Silicon Valley after failing to raise capital in Ireland, and California has been good to him. Stripe, the company he co-founded with his brother, is currently worth an estimated $5 billion. Christophe Lécuyer’s book examines the origins and growth of the Silicon Valley from 1930 to 1970, from its origins as a base for a few low-profile radio companies to its emergence as a leader in electronic manufacturing and design.


Main image: a katz /