These Were Steve Jobs’ Favorite Books and Bands

These Were Steve Jobs’ Favorite Books and Bands

Steve Jobs once famously said that people don’t read anymore, but he did, and amongst the revelations of Walter Isaacson’s upcoming biography of Apple’s co-founder are his favorite books and bands.

You probably won’t be surprised by the bands — hey, Steve loved the Beatles, go figure! — but would you ever have guessed that his favorite books include both Moby Dick *and* Mucusless Diet Healing Systems?

The books and authors important to Jobs include Clayton Christensen’s “The Innovator’s Dilemma,” which apparently “deeply influenced” Jobs, Shakespeare’s King Lear, Herman Melville’s Moby Dick, Dylan Thomas’ Poetry, and the following self-help books: Shunryu Suzuki’s Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind, Chogyam Trungpa’s Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism and Paramahansa Yogananda’s Autobiography of a Yogi (the only book on Jobs’ iPad 2), as well as Be Here Now by Baba Ram Dass, which sparked Steve Jobs to try LSD for the first time.

He also enjoyed dieting books, including Diet for a Small Planet by Frances Moore Lappe and Arnold Ehret’s Mucusless Diet Healing System

As for music, Huffington Post reports:

Jobs called Bob Dylan “one of my heroes” and had over a dozen Dylan albums on his iPod, along with songs from seven different Beatles albums, six Rolling Stones albums and four albums by Jobs’ onetime lover Joan Baez.

Jobs likened The Beatles’ creative process to Apple’s own. While listening to a bootleg CD from one of the band’s recording sessions, Jobs remarked, “They did a bundle of work between each of these recordings. They kept sending it back to make it closer to perfect … The way we build stuff at Apple is often this way.”

He also framed his motivations and the principles that drove him forward in terms of Dylan and The Beatles.

“They kept evolving, moving, refining their art,” Jobs said of the artists. “That’s what I’ve always tried to do — keep moving. Otherwise, as Dylan says, if you’re not busy being born, you’re busy dying.”

Personally, the impression I get is that Steve Jobs was widely read in various Eastern and alternative medicine texts, but didn’t explore much outside of it. His favorite books and authors doesn’t seem to have expanded much since his time at Reed, and his interest in music appears to have stagnated after the early 70s. Even so, Steve Jobs did more for the future of books and music with the iPod and iPad, iTunes and iBooks than

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  • prof_peabody

    The Beatles and Dylan are the mid-to-late 60′s not the 70′s.  

  • Andy Murdock

    I’m going to stop reading this site if they continue to post Steve Jobs book bits. I preordered the book on iBooks and would like to read it myself.

  • Voloder2

    “Even so, Steve Jobs did more for the future of books and music with the iPod and iPad, iTunes and iBooks than”
    Than what?

  • Anon

    You know, I was just thinking by the time all these tidbits had been posted we’d have practically the whole book.

  • Hans Uy Maristela

    “Even so, Steve Jobs did more for the future of books and music with the iPod and iPad, iTunes and iBooks; thanks for these and for a few more gifts you left behind, Steve.”

  • PhilRead

    I’m not sure that Job’s taste in music “stagnated” since the early 70′s. More like music has stagnated since the early 70′s.

  • Jonathon Wilson

    Yeah its getting pretty annoying, I’d rather read it all for myself.

  • Hipster doofus

    I think internet arguments are childish and boorish but I cannot for one minute let that statement stand. Music today is just as good as it was back then. It’s constantly evolving and if you can’t name any artists that are good that have emerged in the last 5 years, then you clearly don’t know too much about todays music. I’m not talking about the shit you hear on the radio. I’m talking about the people who sit in their houses and sweat live and breathe the music they make. However, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot of shit floating around today.

    I’m usually a docile lurker on the internet but I would just like people to make more informed statements on music. 

    /rant.

  • silverlight2008

    that steve loves the beatles is really not an surptise. he grown up with the beatles. i´m now 37 and a “post-beatles-fan”. but not john lennon or sir paul mccartney alone ??? thats a little bit wondering for me… (ähhhmmm… my english isn´t so good…)

  • vikassaraswat

    you really think so….
    But it is not true, are you comparing 80s and 90s music with music of today which full of drugs, dirty teeth, sagging, half naked women, they have nothing but a dirty voice, abuse, and showing how cheap they can be.

    mind it. 80s and 90s music was a treasure and will stay that way.

    I still love to drive my car with window down and listening to “summer of 69″

    have you ever listen to Bob Dylan’s “Every Grain of Sand”

    listen by closing your eyes.

    it will teach you how to listen music. or may be now if you like Hip Hop.

    sorry but this is what I think.

  • Bernardo Siqueira

    What about Coldplay? :O

  • Allison

    Um do you all live under a rock? Dylan and the Rolling Stones are still recording artists, still touring, still making new music. 

  • Reivax

    Fully agreeing with Hipster. :: It’s great for someone to like the music that resonated with them when they were in their formative prime (for lack of a better term) — rock on! — but please don’t presume that what’s come after is junk… just ’cause it wasn’t on your college mix tape. That makes you sound like one of those brain-clamped wash-ups who complains about ‘kids these days’. …Please. There is AMAZING music being made now, but the sonic ecosystem is different than it was 30± years ago. It might take more scratching beneath the (predictable pop) surface to find it, but there’s a ton of really good stuff there. And best of all, the great old stuff and the great new stuff do not exist in opposition to each other, except to the close-minded.

  • Reivax

    Comparing Bob Dylan to the low-grade pop hip-hop doesn’t constitute an accurate response to what Hipster Doofus wrote. Consider a higher and more comprehensive vantage for your comparisons. In the process you might discover some new music that you can enjoy alongside your classic favorites. :› To be sure, every decade produces its own musical brilliance and sewage. No decade has a monopoly on just one end of that spectrum, for sure.

  • dude

    …that wouldbe1965-1969. Are you saying the Beatles and Dylan’s musical ccareer lasted years? The Beatles released their first album in 1963 and their last official one in 1970. BobDylan has recorded right up to 2009. Get your facts straight before making your typical smartass remarks.

  • koopapoopas

    It would be nice to have the quotes in the context of the book for sure.

  • Hal Summers

    You must be kidding.  Dylan has written some of his best music in the past 15 years.  Actually, I prefer the later Dylan works to the earlier ones.  They have far more character, wisdom and depth than his earlier stuff.  It is also far more varied.

    And music hardly stagnated in the 70′s.  There is more interesting music in more genres than ever before.  There is also more pap but once you weed through that there is an incredible amount of great music available today.  My tastes tend to steer toward those I’ve enjoyed for years like Dylan, Springsteen, U2, Radiohead and Elvis Costello to name a few but I also enjoy listening to several newer bands and the new words of many others as well.  

  • iMuslim

    This is wicked! I am actually reading Christensen Raynor’s THE INNOVATOR’S SOLUTION right now, and I could see a lot of similarities between what Apple is doing and what the authors are saying in the book. I bet Steve has read this book as well. This is really awesome though, I will probably have to get the Innovator’s Dilemma now. 

  • Nutz320

    Music is still good if you know where to look!

  • Sean g

    As a christian I’m saddened to hear of his belief system. I know he is not in heaven now.

    Before you guys caca your pants… Steve cant believe in heaven or hell as christians, esp since he would consider reincarnation a truth. If you are mad at me for saying that, in your heart you know where he went.

    (p.s. As I am about to be the most unpopuar guy in here for stating obvious facts between his religion and mine, can no one day today speak the truth if its ugly?)

  • D2391

    and you believe some lady got pregnant without having sex and gave birth to a magical baby….. baby jesus

  • Rmi466

    You don’t KNOW shit and you never will until you DIE! I can never understand why Christians have such an arrogance to profess that they know the ABSOLUTE TRUTH, and through this arrogance they believe they have the right to judge the rest of the world. Hypocrites! Why don’t you go back to the bible and read what Jesus said about judging others and what he taught about humility. You have FAITH, not knowledge. Jesus doesn’t give us the power to see the future or to make judgments about who gets to go to heaven and who doesn’t. That’s God’s job so let’s leave that up to Him please.

  • Hmmm again…

    I have also been delighted by some of the more obscure Dylan stuff that’s come to light, where his ‘assertive songwriting’ makes his love songs very powerful.
    I really like Red River shore and the Girl on the Greenbriar shore

    Papa J
     

  • WaltFrench

    Let me recommend that you transform your sadness into a learning opportunity: ask how his beliefs could have supported such a charismatic, thoughtful and forward-looking person. And likewise, what parts of your belief system are helpful and which are anchors that leave its adherents tied to millennia-old dogma, superstitions and lousy science.

    Maybe our world is actually more connected to his belief system than yours.

  • crunkykd

    Playlist please.

  • Gnostic

    Sean there are only points to be considered
    1) One day we will all be dead
    2) Life should be lived fully and ethically while we are not dead
    Everything else is either heard from someone or hallucination being confused for deep experience
    Regards
    PS Worry about life here, winning on message boards doesn’t earn merit on top

  • Luke Langford

    Innovator’s Solution summarizes the Innovator’s Dilemma well in the first couple of chapters.   Unless you really want more examples of the Innovator’s Dilemma, you probably have the concept down… 

  • Michael A. Robson

    You believe that if we say cuss words we’ll live in the fireplace when we die, and that gobbledegook about a talking snake? And you’re really shocked that Steve Jobs wasn’t a man of ‘faith’?

    Sorry, did I just make a caca? Grow up.

  • Eileen

    I don’t see why you felt compelled to inject this here, other than for attention seeking.  You have no more idea what Steve’s spiritual disposition was than I do.  We do know from press leaks of the book he phoned an old friend when first diagnosed and asked, “Do you still believe in God?”  I think that says something.  Unlike someone with your hubris, I leave the fate of departed souls to the Almighty’s wisdom and perfect knowledge. 

  • Nutz320

    Try Lowkey for starters.

  • Smchris

    I’ve pretty much only listened to trance and vocal trance from di.fm for about the last decade and I’m Job’s age.  Can’t fault the Beatles but, really, after trance 4 or 5 guys drummin’ and strummin’ don’t really do much for me, so I don’t find his music tastes in line with his reading.  Put me in the category of Grumpy Old Man who thinks Classic Rock and the youngin’s whiney folky and/or countryish rock are lame.

  • Myname?

    As a muslim I’m saddened to hear of your belief system. I know you won’t get to heaven now or ever. You can’t believe in heaven or hell as muslims, esp since you consider jesus to be the son of God. If you are mad at me for saying that, in your heart you know where you’ll go.  

  • Callum Kerr

    Steve was Buddhist, he’ll be wherever they go. Most people don’t give a sh*t about religion anyway, so keep your religion-motivated comments to yourself, please.

  • Salam

    The only true religion is of course islam, they will get all virgins, while non-believers will end up having fun in some other places. So barain-less, so sad. Just look at the islamic republic of Iran, almost 30 years of islamic power, such an amazing prosperity, people there are so glad, happy, lucky….

  • Salam

    The author considers Shunryu Suzuki’s Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind a self-help book. I am sure he never red that book and probably will never do, although it is funny, first time I hear this book (and other ones in the list) described this way.

  • redpill99

    Okay dude, whatever you say. 

About the author

John BrownleeJohn Brownlee is a Contributing Editor. He has also written for Wired, Playboy, Boing Boing, Popular Mechanics, VentureBeat, and Gizmodo. He lives in Boston with his wife and two parakeets. You can follow him here on Twitter.

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