Google's Sergey Brin Recommends These 3 Books

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Sergey Brin’s underdog story is one for the books. 

Born in Moscow, Brin came to the United States at six years old and soon found his passion in computer science and math. He graduated from the University of Maryland at 19 and moved onto graduate school at Stanford University. Brin met Larry Page one fateful day at Stanford orientation, and the two became fueled by a joint belief in a groundbreaking web search engine. In Brin’s dorm room, the duo created early iterations of what would one day become Google. 

Needless to say, Brin’s prestige as a visionary and tech whiz has established him as one of the world’s smartest people (and richest, ranking 13th). Not surprisingly, he’s also very well-read, with interests that expand beyond tech. Here are three must-read books on his recommendation list. 

1. “‘Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!’: Adventures of a Curious Character” by Richard P. Feynman

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Richard P. Feynman’s semi-autobiographical book just scratches the surface of his genius. The Nobel Prize-winning theoretical physicist was renowned for his work on quantum computing and nanotechnology. He famously worked on the atomic bomb for the Manhattan Project and investigated the Challenger explosion. His contributions to the science world are epic, but his diverse interests make him an especially fascinating subject. It’s no wonder he’s an inspiration to thought leaders and entrepreneurs like Brin (fellow tech giant Bill Gates wrote the introduction for the book). 

Like Google’s co-founder, Feynman was drawn to math at a young age, but his studies also extended into philosophy, biology, languages, music and art. He played the bongos in theatrical productions and successfully sold paintings, as well. Feynman’s mastery of both the left and right side of the brain fascinated Brin.   

"I remember he had an excerpt where he was explaining how he really wanted to be a Leonardo [da Vinci], an artist and a scientist. I found that pretty inspiring. I think that leads to having a fulfilling life," Brin told the Academy of Achievement.

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2. 'Snow Crash' by Neal Stephenson

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Sci-fi fans will appreciate Brin’s next pick. This novel from Neal Stephenson tells a story of Hiro Protagonist (a blunt, yet memorable name for a hero), a hacker who delivers pizza. When a computer virus called Snow Crash starts attacking computers and humans, Hiro steps up to save both the online and real world. 

According to Time Magazine, “Stephenson is that rare—no, unique—thing, both a virtuosic literary stylist and a consummate observer of a brave new world where information flows freely between humans and computers, to the point where the two are no longer easily distinguishable.” 

Are you hooked? The book certainly impressed Brin, and he marvels at the way the book has remained relevant and seemingly predicted the future of his industry.  

“That was really ten years ahead of its time,” Brin said. “It kind of anticipated what’s going to happen, and I find that really interesting.” 

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3. ‘How to Read a Book: The Classic Guide to Intelligent Reading’ by Mortimer J. Adler and Charles Van Doren


Of course, in order to get the most of the above books, it may be helpful to start with this book recommendation from Brin. How to Read a Book may sound like a children’s textbook and not worthy of your reading list, but hear us out: This book is about more than just the ability to read off a page. 

The original has been updated to effectively teach modern-day readers “how to pigeonhole a book, X-ray it, extract the author's message, criticize” and help the reader explore “different reading techniques for reading practical books, imaginative literature, plays, poetry, history, science and mathematics, philosophy and social science.” 

In addition to Brin, it’s also been recommended by MailChimp CEO Ben Chestnut and Jim Rohn, famed businessman, motivational speaker and author. Great minds think alike. 

Related: 4 Books That Tim Cook Swears By

Related: 4 Books Warren Buffett Recommends You Read

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