I encourage everyone to start at the beginning, and read – or at least skim – the 8 pages which gave birth to Bitcoin:
- Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System by Satoshi Nakamoto
To get a grasp on Bitcoin you will have to read a book or two. If you only want to read one book, you can’t do wrong with Saifedean’s The Bitcoin Standard. Bitcoin is money, so understanding The Ethics of Money Production is paramount to understanding what Bitcoin is about. If you need a crash-course in economics I recommend reading Economics in One Lesson by Henry Hazlitt. All three books are also available as audiobooks.
If you prefer a shorter introduction, I recommend you read and listen to the following:
- The Bullish Case for Bitcoin by Vijay Boyapati (audio version)
- The Stories We Tell About Money by Andreas Antonopoulos
Thanks to Bitcoin, my list of books to read gets longer and longer, way quicker than I could ever read them. The books listed below are books I can personally recommend. If a particular book is not listed here, it is probably because I didn’t get around to read it yet. Although there is some overlap, the books are roughly grouped by topics as follows:
- Bitcoin (non-technical)
- Bitcoin (technical)
- The Big Picture
- Software and Programming
- Computation and Complexity Theory
- Nassim Taleb (Incerto Series)
I hope to update this list continually as my reading progresses.
Some of the books listed below were discussed at the Bitcoiner Book Club organized by John Vallis.
Bitcoin (non-technical) #
Books about Bitcoin which can be read by anyone, no special background knowledge or education required. As mentioned above, I consider The Bitcoin Standard required reading for anyone interested in Bitcoin.
Even though Bitcoin Money is a children’s book, it drives home the value proposition of Bitcoin in a succinct way, making it valuable for readers of all ages.
The Internet of Money books are a collection of talks by Andreas Antonopoulos, most of which are available for free on YouTube. The Book Of Satoshi is a collection of Satoshi Nakamoto’s writings, which are available for free at the Satoshi Nakamoto Institute.
Bitcoin (technical) #
If you would like to dig deeper or get your hands dirty with programming, these books are for you. Technical knowledge and skills in computer science, programming, and/or mathematics are beneficial.
Mastering Bitcoin is available for free on GitHub. Programming Bitcoin includes plenty of programming exercises, which are available for free on GitHub as well. Grokking Bitcoin is available for free on GitHub as well.
Bitcoin is capable of being the new base layer of our economy, which is why understanding economics is essential in understanding Bitcoin. Bitcoin’s monetary policy is aligned with the Austrian School of economic thought, which is why reading the works of Austrian’s such as Hayek, Hazlitt, Hoppe, Menger, Mises, Rothbard (and others) is recommended by those who take Bitcoin’s value proposition seriously.
Human Action, Mises’ magnum opus, is freely available as both an ebook and an audiobook.
In stark contrast to our current economic system, Bitcoin does not offer the possibility of inflating the monetary base. Understanding money - and especially sound money - is paramount to understanding the value proposition and ultimate impact of Bitcoin.
All of the above are available for free at the Mises Institute.
Banking is a mystery to most, and central banking doubly so. Bitcoin isn’t necessarily an enemy of the former, but, if successful, it will abolish and replace the latter.
The Big Picture #
Bitcoin is an empowering, freedom-enabling technology. It allows individuals to become self-sovereign in matters of money and finance, just like other information technologies enable self-sovereignty in matters of information and communication. What this implies, and how the world might change because of it, is the scope of The Sovereign Individual.
We are currently living through the fourth great shift, moving from an industrial to an information-based society. There is no better book to understand this shift than the one by Davidson and Rees-Mogg.
Software and Programming #
Bitcoin is free, libre open-source software. It is free as in freedom, free as in free speech. What this means, why free software exists, and what the implications of free (vs proprietary) software are, is important to understand the unstoppability of Bitcoin. I would argue that the ethos of GNU and UNIX programming are important cornerstones for Bitcoin as well.
Computation and Complexity Theory #
While Bitcoin is in the business of verification and not computation, knowing the limits of what computers can do and what future computers might be able to do can be beneficial to better understand some parts of Bitcoin. I highly recommend Gödel, Escher, Bach because it is a deeply fascinating and beautiful book.
Quantum Computing Since Democritus is quite dense, but it is also quite entertaining at times. The lecture notes which this book is based upon are freely available online. Note that the first couple of chapters stay in the non-quantum world of computing and might help to understand why breaking Bitcoin’s security is so hard. A New Kind of Science is certainly not for everyone, but it beautifully shows how simple rules can lead to complex systems.
Nassim Taleb #
Highly improbable events, such as the invention of Bitcoin, are almost impossible to predict. However, Nassim Nicholas Taleb wrote multiple books on concepts that help to foster a solid understanding of Bitcoin. In short, the invention of Bitcoin is a Black Swan event resulting in an antifragile organism. Miners are “fooled by randomness” to keep it alive, and participation requires skin in the game.
Decentralized networks like Bitcoin, and the internet before it, change the way people interact and work with each other. People who work on or create content for Bitcoin are located all over the world, thus regular approaches to work might not produce the best results. I found the following books to hit a certain nerve, speaking as someone who has stepped outside of the regular way of working on things. If you think about working on Bitcoin or other open-source projects, these books are for you.
Many amazing articles have been written about Bitcoin. I am aware that trying to link to all of them is futile, but I want to make an effort and at least highlight some of them. I highly recommend the literature listed at the Nakamoto Institute, the selection of articles read by Guy Swann, and the writings collected by Adam Taché.
One of the best articles to read if you are new to Bitcoin is The Bullish Case for Bitcoin, which outlines why there are very good reasons to be optimistic about Bitcoin’s future.
- The Bullish Case for Bitcoin by Vijay Boyapati
The Difficulty of Understanding Bitcoin #
Bitcoin isn’t exactly easy to understand. Some of the reasons for this phenomenon are explored in the following articles:
- Nobody Understands Bitcoin (And That’s OK) by Jameson Lopp
- Why It’s Hard to “Get” Bitcoin by Dhruv Bansal
- Why Blockchain is Hard by Jimmy Song
I explore the multi-disciplinary nature of Bitcoin at 21Lessons.com.
Bitcoin’s Uniqueness #
Why Bitcoin, and not something else? Because Bitcoin matters, Bitcoin is unique, Bitcoin is fair, and Bitcoin is way better than you think.
- 🎧 Bitcoin is Worse is Better by Gwern
- There is no Bitcoin 2.0 by Pete Dushenski
- Why Bitcoin is Different by Jimmy Song
- 🎧 On Schelling points, network effects and Lindy by Willem Van Den Bergh
- 🎧 Bitcoin’s distribution was fair by Dan Held
- Why Bitcoin Matters by Aleksandar Svetski
- 🎧 Bitcoin Has No Intrinsic Value — and That’s Great by Conner Brown
- It’s the settlement assurances, stupid by Nic Carter
- 🎧 Bitcoin, Not Blockchain by Parker Lewis
- 🎧 Bitcoin Is Not Backed By Nothing by Parker Lewis
- 🎧 The Number Zero and Bitcoin by Robert Breedlove
If you aren’t ready yet to read books on money, these articles are a great entry point to start learning about the purpose and history of money.
- 🎧 Shelling Out - The Origins of Money by Nick Szabo
- Money, blockchains, and social scalability by Nick Szabo
- 🎧 Gradually, Then Suddenly by Parker Lewis
- 🎧 Bitcoin Obsoletes All Other Money by Parker Lewis
- Bitcoin is Common Sense by Parker Lewis
- 🎧 Masters and Slaves of Money by Robert Breedlove
In my opinion, proof-of-work is one of the most misunderstood parts of the Bitcoin puzzle. It solves multiple problems, making it one of the most integral parts of the system. The following articles explore proof-of-work in more detail:
- Nothing is Cheaper than Proof of Work by Paul Sztorc
- Bitcoin Doesn’t Waste Electricity by Beautyon
- Blockchain Proof-of-Work Is a Decentralized Clock by Gregory Trubetskoy
- 🎧 The Anatomy of Proof-of-Work by Hugo Nguyen
- Work is Timeless, Stake is Not by Hugo Nguyen
- 🎧 Bitcoin Does Not Waste Energy by Parker Lewis
- 🎧 Bitcoin Astronomy by Dhruv Bansal
- 🎧 The Last Word on Bitcoin’s Energy Consumption by Nic Carter
I wrote about how I changed my view on proof of work in Bitcoin’s Energy Consumption: A shift in perspective and in Lesson 17.
Bitcoin’s Identity #
What is Bitcoin? This question is surprisingly difficult to answer. It is a network (Bitcoin), money (bitcoin), software (various implementations), an idea (the white paper), an immutable record of ownership (Bitcoin’s ledger, aka the “block chain”), a movement, a monetary revolution, and more.
- Bitcoin is. And that is enough. by Beautyon
- That’s not Bitcoin, that’s BCash by StopAndDecrypt
- That’s not Bitcoin, this is Bitcoin by StopAndDecrypt
- The Many Faces of Bitcoin by Murad Mahmudov and Adam Taché
- Bitcoin - Past and Future by Murad Mahmudov and Adam Taché
- What is it like to be a Bitcoin? by Nic Carter
- 🎧 Bitcoin Can’t Be Copied by Parker Lewis
- 🎧 Bitcoin Is Not Too Volatile by Parker Lewis
- 🎧 Bitcoin Is Not Too Slow by Parker Lewis
- 🎧 Bitcoin Is Not a Pyramid Scheme by Parker Lewis
- 🎧 Bitcoin at 12 by Nic Carter
I explore Bitcoin’s identity in Lesson 4.
A Social Revolution #
Bitcoin is not only a technological, financial, and monetary phenomenon, it is also a global revolution. Bitcoin captures the hearts and minds of people all over the world, changing society in the process. Today, tens of thousands of “closet bitcoiners” exist worldwide, and Bitcoin has developed a zealous cult following.
- Catallaxy - the origins of Bitcoin, innovation and spontaneous order by Francis Pouliot
- Cryptosovereignty by Erik Cason
- The Theological Conquest of Money by Erik Cason
- 🎧 A most peaceful revolution by Nic Carter
- The Oath of Machines, Liturgy of Code, and Promise of Bitcoin by Erik Cason
- 🎧 Bitcoin Is a Rally Cry by Parker Lewis
- 🎧 The Political Theology of Bitcoin by Erik Cason
Who Controls Bitcoin? #
One of the first responses of people learning about Bitcoin is “Yeah yeah I get it… but who controls it?” The question of control is not an easy one to answer, because you have to understand the whole system on a pretty deep level to answer it. The following articles might help.
- 🎧 Why America Can’t Regulate Bitcoin by Beautyon
- 🎧 Bitcoin Miners Beware - Invalid Blocks Need Not Apply by StopAndDecrypt
- 🎧 Bitcoin Governance by Pierre Rochard
- 🎧 Unpacking Bitcoin’s Social Contract by Hasu
- 🎧 Bitcoin Cannot Be Banned by Parker Lewis
Bitcoin as a Living Organism #
Ralph Merkle famously called Bitcoin “the first example of a new form of life.”. Others developed this idea further, which is - in my opinion - one of the most useful analogies to understand Bitcoin.
- Foreword to The Bitcoin Standard by Nassim Nicholas Taleb
- 🎧 Bitcoin is a Decentralized Organism by Brandon Quittem
- 🎧 Bitcoin is a Social Creature by Brandon Quittem
I explore the idea of Bitcoin as a living organism in Proof of Life.
Bitcoin is cypherpunk technology. Made by a cypherpunk, based on cypherpunk ideas. I consider exposure to the ideas and ideals of cypherpunk culture essential.
- 🎧 The Crypto Anarchist Manifesto by Timothy C. May
- 🎧 A Cypherpunk’s Manifesto by Eric Hughes
- The Cyphernomicon by Timothy C. May
Without digital cash, a cashless society is a surveillance society. While privacy in Bitcoin is not a given, there are various ways to transact privately. The following resources discuss these possibilities, why the right to transact privately is essential, and why it has to be protected.
- Digital Cash & Privacy by Hal Finney
- The Case for Privacy by David D. Friedman
- Protect Your Privacy by Bitcoin.org
- How Lightning Layers Privacy on Top of Bitcoin by Aaron van Wirdum
- Dandelions, and a Bright Future for Bitcoin Privacy by Guy Swann
- 🎧 The Case for Electronic Cash by Jerry Brito
- We Must Protect our Ability to Transact Privately Online by Jerry Brito
- Bitcoin Wiki’s Privacy Aritcle by Chris Belcher
- Why Bitcoin Matters for Freedom by Alex Gladstein
- How Private is Bitcoin? by Eric Wall
- FAQ for Wasabi Wallet by 6102bitcoin
- FAQ for Hodl Privacy by 6102bitcoin
- Bitcoin and Privacy by Edward Snowden
- FAQ for Samourai Wallet’s Whirlpool by 6102bitcoin
The following are what I consider excellent articles that didn’t fit into one of my arbitrarily chosen categories above.
- 🎧 The God Protocols by Nick Szabo
- 🎧 Trusted Third Parties Are Security Holes by Nick Szabo
- Stage n - Bitcoin exists by Mircea Popescu
- 🎧 Everyone’s a Scammer by Michael Goldstein
- The Bitcoin Halving and Monetary Competition by Saifedean Ammous
- Guess My Bitcoin Private Key by Michael Kerbleski
- An Open Letter to Banks about Bitcoin and Cryptocurrencies by Peter McCormack
- Enders Game by Parker Lewis
- 🎧 Bitcoin Fixes This by Parker Lewis
- 🎧 Bitcoin Is Not For Criminals by Parker Lewis
- 🎧 Our Most Brilliant Idea by Robert Breedlove
One of the best ways to educate yourself on Bitcoin is by listening to the smartest people in the space. Luckily, we are living in the golden age of podcasts, and many great conversations are “open source” so to speak. Disclosure: I was a guest on some of these podcasts. Links to those specific episodes can be found here.
I consider the following podcasts the best in the space:
- Tales From The Crypt [ 😆 💬 📰 | | ]
by Marty Bent with RHR co-host Matt Odell
- Stephan Livera Podcast [ ⚙️ 💹 💬 | | ]
by Stephan Livera
- Bitcoin Rapid-Fire [ 💬 | | ]
by John Vallis
- Bitcoin Audible [ 💹 ⚙️ 📖 | | ]
by Guy Swann
- Citizen Bitcoin [ 💬 | | ]
by Brady Swenson
Selected Podcast Episodes #
You can find all selected podcast episodes here.
Further Resources #
The more rabbit holes, the better! Don’t rely on this resource page alone, there are plenty of other excellent curations.
Wikis and Guides #
There are many great articles written by contributors of the Bitcoin Wiki. If you want to know more about a specific topic, the Bitcoin Wiki is a great resource. The Libbitcoin Wiki has an amazing list of fallacies and some great explanations of Bitcoin’s properties and principles.
There are many great guides that will help you on your bitcoin journey and beyond. How to set up nodes, how to take care of your privacy, how to avoid KYC, and many more. If you ever want to start hacking on Bitcoin you might want to check out the Bitcoin Developer Guide.
- No KYC only by Bitcoin Q+A
- Bitcoin Privacy Guide by Bitcoin Q+A
- Bitcoin Node Guide by Bitcoin Q+A
- Bitcoin Developer Guide by bitcoin.org
- Multisig Guide by Michael Flaxman
Learning Sites #
The following sites are dedicated to teach you about Bitcoin in a comprehensive, step-by-step fashion.
Other Curations #
There are plenty of other curations in the Bitcoin space, created by various bitcoiners. If you are looking for more beginner-friendly or more varied lists the following links will be useful:
- Bitcoin Literature by the Satoshi Nakamoto Institute
- Bitcoin-Only Learning Resources by 6102
- Bitcoin Information & Resources by Jameson Lopp
- Curated Bitcoin Articles by Guy Swann
- Bitcoin Survivor’s Book List by Guy Swann
- Featured Episodes of the Cryptoconomy Podcast by Infominer
- Bitcoin Archive by Max Hillebrand
- Bitcoin Rabbit Hole by Adam Taché
- Bitcoin Learning Master List by Nick Ward
- Awesome What is Bitcoin List by CypherPoet
- Mises Library by The Mises Institute
- Unenumerated by Nick Szabo
- WTF Happened In 1971? by Ben Prentice and Collin
- WORDS - A monthly Bitcoin journal by Joe Rodgers
- Best of Bitcoin Magazine by Bitcoin Magazine
About these Resources #
The resources listed above are but a small selection which was particularly influential in my thinking. A sincere thank you to all the people who shared their thoughts and insights, past and present. I have learned so much, and for that, I will be eternally grateful.
Table of Contents #
- Further Resources
- About these Resources