Think Different with Steve Jobs’ Reading List

It’s no exaggeration to say that Steve Jobs and Apple changed the way millions of people live, work, and communicate. According to the company’s late co-founder and CEO, Apple’s popularity was the result of the company creating products that are a blend of “technology and the liberal arts” — a marriage that Jobs claimed was greatly influenced by a lifetime of reading.

Here are some of the books that had the biggest impact on Jobs:

King Lear

The story of a monarch, betrayed by his daughters and robbed of his kingdom, who eventually descends into madness. Leave it to Shakespeare to construct a play about greed, treachery, and cruelty that is also beautiful. A work that will never not be current.

On the Road

Jack Kerouac and Neal Cassady made four cross-country trips in a quest to experience life and find its true meaning. On the Road’s tales of sex, drugs, jazz, and underground America in the 1950s has inspired generations of writers, musicians, artists, poets, and other curious souls. Essential reading.

Cosmic Consciousness

Originally published in 1901, this treatise inspired by Jobs’ professional life and his travels across the globe. Canadian psychiatrist Richard Maurice Burke argues that man can reach a higher form of consciousness — a cosmic consciousness which transcends factual understanding.

Magic and Mystery in Tibet

Zen Buddhism made quite an impression on Steve Jobs and, not surprisingly, so did this book. In it, French orientalist and practicing Buddhist Madame Alexandra David-Neel details her time the mysterious and hidden Tibet. Over a 14-year period, she was received by the Dalai Lama, studied at the great centers, meditated with yogi hermits, and witnessed forbidden corpse-magic in the forests. Talk about making an impression.

Inside the Tornado

Jobs didn’t focus exclusively on books about science or the technology industry, but he didn’t shy away from them, either — and this was one of his favorites. In this second installment of a series, Geoffrey A. Moore discusses the chasm a new product has to bridge when customers decide whether it will take off or not. Moore provides solid guidelines for overcoming this “tornado” and successfully moving products into the lucrative mainstream market. 

Feel free to listen to any of Jobs’ favorites on your iPad or iPhone.


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