top of page
  • Writer's pictureNovel Nest

25 Best Nonfiction Books of All Time According to Naval Ravikant 

Naval Ravikant, a serial entrepreneur, angel investor, and thought leader, has shared his thoughts on various topics through podcasts, interviews, and social media.

Among his many insights, he's offered a glimpse into his personal reading list.

These 25 books have shaped his understanding of the world, from the complexities of human history to the intricacies of quantum physics.

Let's dive into the list and explore the wisdom contained within these pages.

“Don’t take yourself so seriously. You’re just a monkey with a plan.”― Naval Ravikant

Affiliate Disclaimer: This post features Amazon affiliate links, which means I may earn a small commission if you make a purchase through these links.

Yuval Noah Harari's "Sapiens" is an exhilarating exploration of human history. Harari takes readers on a captivating journey from the emergence of Homo sapiens to the present day, uncovering the pivotal moments that have defined our species. With a blend of anthropology, history, and philosophy, Harari paints a vivid portrait of humanity's evolution, inviting us to ponder our place in the grand tapestry of life.

“You could never convince a monkey to give you a banana by promising him limitless bananas after death in monkey heaven.”― Yuval Noah Harari, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind

In "The Rational Optimist," Matt Ridley presents a compelling argument for optimism in an ever-changing world. He eloquently demonstrates how trade, innovation, and collaboration have propelled humanity's progress. Ridley's exploration of the interplay between ideas and prosperity offers a refreshing perspective that encourages us to embrace hope for the future.

“Random violence makes the news precisely because it is so rare, routine kindness does not make the news precisely because it is so commonplace. ”― Matt Ridley, The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves

Matt Ridley's "Genome" is a captivating journey through the 23 pairs of human chromosomes that make up our genetic code. With a storyteller's finesse, Ridley unveils the secrets hidden within our DNA, unraveling the mysteries of our genetic heritage. This book provides a profound look at the code of life itself and its implications for understanding human existence.

“A true scientist is bored by knowledge; it is the assault on ignorance that motivates him - the mysteries that previous discoveries have revealed.”― Matt Ridley, Genome: the Autobiography of a Species in 23 Chapters

Matt Ridley's "The Red Queen" delves deep into the evolution of human behavior and sexuality. Drawing on the concept of sexual selection, Ridley explores how genes and reproduction are intimately linked, shaping our complex behaviors and relationships. This book offers a fascinating glimpse into the forces driving human nature.

“Life is a Sisyphean race, run ever faster toward a finish line that is merely the start of the next race”― Matt Ridley, The Red Queen: Sex and the Evolution of Human Nature

Matt Ridley continues his exploration of human behavior by investigating the origins of cooperation and morality. In "The Origins of Virtue," Ridley examines how our social instincts are deeply rooted in our genetic makeup. He explores the evolutionary basis for cooperation, shedding light on why humans are driven to form societies and ethical bonds.

“Society works not because we have consciously invented it, but because it is an ancient product of our evolved predispositions. It is literally in our nature.”― Matt Ridley, The Origins of Virtue: Human Instincts and the Evolution of Cooperation

In "The Evolution of Everything," Matt Ridley challenges conventional thinking by arguing that top-down control is not the only driver of progress. He contends that innovations and change often emerge spontaneously from the bottom up, shaping our world in unexpected ways. Ridley's thought-provoking insights invite us to question established narratives about how progress occurs.

“I want to do for every aspect of the human world a little bit of what Charles Darwin did for biology, and get you to see past the illusion of design, to see the emergent, unplanned, inexorable and beautiful process of change that lies underneath.”― Matt Ridley, The Evolution of Everything: How New Ideas Emerge

Nassim Taleb's "Skin in the Game" is a thought-provoking exploration of decision-making and risk. Taleb argues that true understanding and wisdom come from having "skin in the game"—a personal stake and accountability in the outcomes of our choices. This book challenges readers to reevaluate their approach to decision-making in various aspects of life.

“The curse of modernity is that we are increasingly populated by a class of people who are better at explaining than understanding, or better at explaining than doing.”― Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Skin in the Game: Hidden Asymmetries in Daily Life

In this collection of philosophical aphorisms, Nassim Taleb offers readers a rich tapestry of insights on a wide range of topics. From risk and randomness to success and failure, Taleb's aphorisms provide a glimpse into his unique perspective on life and decision-making.

“Love without sacrifice is like theft”― Nassim Nicholas Taleb, The Bed of Procrustes: Philosophical and Practical Aphorisms

Richard Feynman, one of the most brilliant physicists of the 20th century, simplifies complex physics concepts in "Six Easy Pieces." Through his engaging teaching style, Feynman makes fundamental principles of physics accessible to a broad audience, making this book a must-read for science enthusiasts.

“To our eyes, our crude eyes, nothing is changing, but if we could see it a billion times magnified, we would see that from its own point of view it is always changing: molecules are leaving the surface, molecules are coming back.”― Richard Feynman, Six Easy Pieces: Essentials of Physics Explained by Its Most Brilliant Teacher

Building on the success of "Six Easy Pieces," Richard Feynman explores the profound world of Einstein's theory of relativity, symmetry, and the nature of space. This book offers a deeper dive into the fascinating realm of theoretical physics.

“All of our ideas in physics require a certain amount of common sense in their application; they are not purely mathematical or abstract ideas.”― Richard Feynman, Six Not-So-Easy Pieces: Einstein's Relativity, Symmetry, and Space-Time

Randall Munroe, the creator of the popular webcomic XKCD, takes the complex and makes it understandable in "The Thing Explainer." Using only the thousand most common words in the English language, Munroe explains intricate ideas, from nuclear reactors to space exploration, with clarity and wit.

“By choosing the right words, you can take an idea that's happening in your head and try to make an idea like it happen in someone else's. That's what's happening right now.”― Randall Munroe, Thing Explainer: Complicated Stuff in Simple Words

Lewis Carroll Epstein's "Thinking Physics" is a valuable resource for anyone seeking to grasp the fundamentals of the physical world. Through practical examples and clear explanations, Epstein demystifies physics and makes it relatable to everyday life.

“Science … has the job, first of all, of enabling the inquiring mind to feel at home in a mysterious universe.” ― Lewis Carroll Epstein

Will and Ariel Durant distill centuries of human history into a concise exploration of the recurring patterns and lessons that have shaped civilizations. "The Lessons of History" offers profound insights into the rise and fall of empires, the nature of power, and the enduring forces that shape human societies.

“you can’t fool all the people all the time,” but you can fool enough of them to rule a large country.”― Will Durant, The Lessons of History

"The Sovereign Individual" offers a thought-provoking perspective on the transition to the information age. The authors explore how technology and decentralization are reshaping society and individual power. This book encourages readers to consider the implications of this transformation on their own lives and freedoms.

“For the first time, those who can educate and motivate themselves will be almost entirely free to invent their own work and realize the full benefits of their own productivity.”― James Dale Davidson and Lord William Rees-Mogg, The Sovereign Individual

"Poor Charlie's Almanack" is a compendium of the wit and wisdom of Charlie Munger, Warren Buffett's longtime business partner. Munger shares valuable insights on investing, decision-making, and life principles. This book serves as a guide to achieving success and financial wisdom.

“In my whole life, I have known no wise people (over a broad subject matter area) who didn't read all the time -- none, zero. You'd be amazed at how much Warren reads--and at how much I read. My children laugh at me. They think I'm a book with a couple of legs sticking out.”― Charles T. Munger, Poor Charlie's Almanack: The Wit and Wisdom of Charles T. Munger

Carlo Rovelli takes readers on a mind-bending journey into the world of quantum physics and the quest to uncover the nature of quantum gravity. "Reality Is Not What It Seems" offers a tantalizing glimpse into the cutting-edge scientific theories that challenge our understanding of reality.

“We are all in the depths of a cave, chained by our ignorance, by our prejudices, and our weak senses reveal to us only shadows. If we try to see further, we are confused; we are unaccustomed. But we try. This is science. Scientific”― Carlo Rovelli, Reality Is Not What It Seems: The Journey to Quantum Gravity

In "Seven Brief Lessons in Physics," Carlo Rovelli distills the complexities of modern physics into seven concise and accessible lessons. Rovelli's clear and engaging explanations make profound concepts, such as relativity and quantum mechanics, understandable to readers of all backgrounds.

“We are made of the same stardust of which all things are made, and when we are immersed in suffering or when we are experiencing intense joy we are being nothing other than what we can’t help but be: a part of our world.”― Carlo Rovelli, Seven Brief Lessons on Physics

David Deutsch's "The Beginning of Infinity" explores the power of explanations in shaping human knowledge and progress. He argues that the quest for understanding is limitless and that explanations have the potential to transform our world. This book challenges readers to embrace curiosity and seek answers to the most profound questions.

“Some people become depressed at the scale of the universe, because it makes them feel insignificant. Other people are relieved to feel insignificant, which is even worse. But, in any case, those are mistakes. Feeling insignificant because the universe is large has exactly the same logic as feeling inadequate for not being a cow. Or a herd of cows. The universe is not there to overwhelm us; it is our home, and our resource. The bigger the better.”― David Deutsch, The Beginning of Infinity: Explanations That Transform the World

"The Compleat Strategyst" is a classic text on the theory of games and strategy. J.D. Williams introduces readers to the principles that underpin decision-making in competitive situations. This book offers valuable insights into the art of strategic thinking.

Robert Axelrod's "The Evolution of Cooperation" explores the fascinating dynamics of cooperation in human society. Drawing on game theory, Axelrod reveals the strategies that drive cooperation and shed light on the fundamental principles governing human interaction.

“When the players will never meet again, the strategy of defection is the only stable strategy.”― Robert Axelrod, The Evolution of Cooperation

Tim Harford takes readers on a journey behind the scenes of economic concepts and policies in "The Undercover Economist." By demystifying the forces at play in everyday economic situations, Harford empowers readers to understand and navigate the world of economics more effectively.

“Hours are long. Wages are pitiful. But sweatshops are the symptom, not the cause, of shocking global poverty. Workers go there voluntarily, which means—hard as it is to believe—that whatever their alternatives are, they are worse.”― Tim Harford, The Undercover Economist

In "God's Debris," Scott Adams presents a philosophical thought experiment that challenges conventional thinking and beliefs. This book invites readers to contemplate profound questions about the nature of the universe, consciousness, and existence.

“The best you can hope for in a relationship is to findsomeone whose flaws are the sort you don’t mind. It isfutile to look for someone who has no flaws, or someonewho is capable of significant change; that sort of personexists only in our imaginations.”― Scott Adams, God's Debris: A Thought Experiment

Robert Cialdini explores the art of persuasion in "Pre-Suasion." He introduces readers to the concept of "pre-suasion," the practice of shaping people's perceptions and decisions before making a request. Cialdini offers practical insights into the psychology of influence and persuasion.

“people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”― Robert B. Cialdini, Pre-Suasion: A Revolutionary Way to Influence and Persuade

Will Durant provides an engaging exploration of the lives and philosophies of history's most influential thinkers in "The Story of Philosophy." This book offers readers insight into the development of human thought and the enduring relevance of philosophical ideas.

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”― Will Durant, The Story of Philosophy: The Lives and Opinions of the World's Greatest Philosophers

In "Tools of Titans," Timothy Ferriss compiles insights and advice from world-class performers across various fields. This book serves as a treasure trove of actionable knowledge, offering readers a glimpse into the habits, routines, and strategies of high achievers. Whether you seek personal growth or professional success, "Tools of Titans" provides inspiration and practical guidance.

“If you let your learning lead to knowledge, you become a fool. If you let your learning lead to action, you become wealthy.”― Timothy Ferriss, Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers


If you enjoyed these book recommendations, check out more similar list on my on my blog —

These 25 books, carefully chosen by Naval Ravikant, offer a diverse range of perspectives and knowledge.

Whether you're interested in history, science, philosophy, or personal development, there's something on this list for everyone.


bottom of page