Naval Ravikant is one of the most respected and successful angel investors in Silicon Valley.
He’s invested in well over 100 startups, including several “unicorns” like Twitter and Uber that went on to become huge companies. He is also the founding CEO of AngelList, a resource for entrepreneurs and angel investors to find each other and make deals.
Ravikant told Ferriss that he values no other way of learning more than reading prolifically, a habit he’s had since he was a child.
Here are some books he said have taught him the most.
Marcus, known as one of history's 'philosopher kings,' wrote the private writings that constitute 'Meditations' during the chaotic last decade of his life, from A.D. 170 to A.D. 180. It is his interpretation of Stoic philosophy, focusing on accepting things out of one's control and maintaining mastery over one's emotions.
Ravikant said 'Meditations' was 'absolutely life-changing.' 'Here's a guy who was probably the most powerful human being on Earth at the time that he lived ... and when you open this book you realise he had all the same issues and all the same mental struggles (as anyone else),' Ravikant said, adding that this caused him to realise power and success do not improve your inner life.
Gregory Hays' highly readable translation makes Marcus' lessons more accessible rather than trivializing them.
'I like to pay attention to what I call the 'rational Buddhists' because a lot of Buddhism is drowned in mysticism and Hinduism,' Ravikant said, and he finds the 20th century Indian philosopher Krishnamurti to be the best of the former camp.
'He's an uncompromising, very direct person who tells you to look at your own mind at all times,' Ravikant said.
'The Book of Life' is a collection of excerpts from Krishnamurti's speeches and books.
'Oddly enough, Bruce Lee wrote some great philosophy,' Ravikant said.
The legendary martial artist and iconic movie star developed a unique philosophy rooted in Zen teachings that he intertwined with his fighting style, Jeet Kune Do.
A main tenet of Lee's philosophy is the concept of self-actualization. 'Most people only live for their image, that is why some have a void, because they are so busy projecting themselves as this or that, dedicating their lives to actualize a concept of what they should be like rather than to actualize their ever-growing potentiality as a human being,' Lee wrote.
First published in 2014, 'Sapiens' is a critically acclaimed international best-seller by Hebrew University of Jerusalem historian Harari. He uses his book to track the evolution of Homo sapiens from hunter-gatherers into self-empowered 'gods' of the future.
'It's absolutely mind-blowing,' Ravikant told Ferriss, saying he's so enthusiastic about it that he's bought several copies recently to give away as gifts.
Ravikant finds anything by Ridley, a British journalist and politician, to be 'provocative and eye-opening.'
In 'The Rational Optimist,' Ridley argues that the main driver of human progress is specialisation and the development of markets.
Ravikant says he typically avoids so-called business books ('they're very simple ideas wrapped up in a lot of pages') but that he loves this one from Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett's longtime business partner Charlie Munger.
It's an expansive collection of Munger's speeches, lectures, and commentary, all told with his signature wit.
'Siddhartha' is the 1922 novel by the German author Herman Hesse, and it's one that Ravikant finds quite powerful.
It's the story of a young man who searches for meaning, travels through suffering, and then strives again for enlightenment.
Ravikant isn't a religious person, and so considers Darwin's classic treatise to be the equivalent to his Bible.
'I think almost everything about humans and human civilisation is explained better by evolution than anything else,' he says, and recommends that those who never read the source material on the theory of evolution to make it a priority.
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