Bitcoin Books #
The following is an incomplete list of Bitcoin books worth reading. Some of the books listed below were discussed at the Bitcoiner Book Club organized by John Vallis.
Jump to the table of contents to get an overview of the various sections.
General Bitcoin Books #
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.
More books are coming out every year, relating Bitcoin to different fields and examining it from different angles.
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 and Cypherpunk History #
Bitcoin’s origin story is as mysterious as it is fascinating. Invented by a pseudonymous creator and growing organically as dark market money in its early days, Bitcoin’s history is rich with eccentric characters and entrepreneurs. The following books highlight some of these characters while shining some light on Bitcoin’s early days. I highly recommend The Book Satoshi, which collects all known writings of Bitcoin’s creator and American Kingpin, which is a gripping retelling of Bitcoin’s early days and its application on The Silk Road marketplace. The Blocksize Wars is required reading as well, at least for anyone who wants to understand Bitcoin’s civil war and the nature of the politics involved in this global consensus system.
Bitcoin Programming #
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 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. Unfortunately, Taleb fails to appreciate the beauty of Bitcoin and currently suffers from Bitcoin Derangement Syndrome.
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.