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.