Below is a list of our staff’s book recommendations for anyone trying to understand what bitcoin and the crypto revolution is all about. We’ve sorted the books into beginner, intermediate, and advanced levels. We’ve included some books in the mix that aren’t exactly about bitcoin, crypto, or blockchain and might not even mention them, but they’ll at least address some fundamental aspects of these concepts.
QA About Bitcoin
Our very own David Coen wrote a very concise guide to Bitcoin. For anyone looking to get started with some easy and some hard concepts, David’s is a great place to start.
Bitcoin for the Befuddled
Written by two early bitcoiners, this book utilizes great visualizations and examples that help break down complex topics. But don’t underestimate this book, it goes pretty deep into Bitcoin and all of its facets.
The Internet of Money
A collection of lectures by Andreas Antonnopolous, one of the world’s greatest speakers, writers, and contributor to the Bitcoin project. This will give you a broad overview of the who, what, when,where, why and how of what’s going on.
Bitcoin and Black America
Isaiah Jackson gives a great intro to Bitcoin, why he thinks it’s important, and shows how it can empower people in a community he cares deeply about. We interviewed Isaiah the other day on our YouTube channel.
Debt: The First 5000 Years
Famous anthropologist David Graebar gives a thorough account of the history of debt, money, finance, and social organization. David isn’t a bitcoiner but he does give background and context to our social institutions like debt and money.
The Ascent of Money/The Square and the Tower
Niall Fergusson is a renowned financial historian who also gives his account of the history and “ascent” of money in society. And in the “The Square and the Tower” Ferguson tells the story of the historic tension between centralized power hierarchies and decentralized social networks.
When Money Dies
Adam Ferguson uses Weimar Germany as a case study for what happens when a society’s symbol for value and tool for exchange “dies”. Adam is persuasive in showing the importance of money to a society and how a collapse of government backed money leads to catastrophic outcomes.
The Starfish and the Spider
Brafman and Beckstrom break down the power and effectiveness of decentralized, leaderless structures and organizations.
Information Theory of Money/Life After Google
Techno-Futurist George Gilder applies the implications of Claude Shannon’s Information Theory to money and explores how blockchains will form the new substrate of a crypto future in Life After Google.
Denationalization of Money
Austrian Economist Fredreich Hayek proposes separating money from the grips of the state with a private solution. Hayek speculated about this in the 1940s.
Flaneur, Nassim Nicholas Taleb popularizes his concept of anti-fragility, or the ability to gain from disorder, failure, and stress. Bitcoin, Ethereum, and others have demonstrated antifragility.
The Book of Satoshi
A compilation of the first emails and discussion boards between Satoshi, Hal Finney, and the earliest adopters.
The Bitcoin Standard
A classic in the Bitcoin cannon, Saifedeen Amous gives a thorough account of monetary history and makes a strong case for Bitcoin to be the future monetary standard for a new world.
The Age of Cryptocurrency & The Truth Machine
Both of these books were written by the same two veteran financial journalists doing what they do best: narrativizing complex developments. They do a great job of explaining and contextualizing what’s happening and then explaining why it might be important to your life and probably everyone else’s.
Chris Burninske does a great job of categorizing, describing, and evaluating the different types of crypto-assets in the digital marketplace early in their histories. This is an early framework to help investors and intrepid onlookers make reasonably informed valuations.
Proof of work is at the crux at what makes Bitcoin works, which ties Bitcoin to the realities of energy technology, energy markets, and energy geo-politics. Daniel Yergin paints the picture of what the landscape for energy looks like around the world and into the future.
The Code Book
A history of codemaking and code breaking will give you a sense of the history of cryptography, a crucial puzzle piece in the creation of crypto-assets.
Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency Technologies
An undergraduate level textbook written by Computer Science professors who plainly describe the technologies that make crypto assets work.
Authors: Arvind Narayanan, Joseph Bonneau (, Edward Felten, Andrew Miller, Steven Goldfeder
The Ethics of Money Production
A penetrating study of the literal making of money, Jorg Guido Hulsmann explains the ethical implications of different modes of money production and advocates for market based money solutions.
Known to many as a bible of sorts, Mastering Bitcoin is a definitive guide to mastering bitcoin from none other than Andreas Antonopolous. This is a tour de force that explains what’s important at every scale: the big picture, the gist of how bitcoin works, and the small details that allow someone to get started on their journey mastering bitcoin.
A few years later, Andreas Antonopolous in collaboration with Gavin Wood, published the definitive guide to understanding Ethereum. For anyone trying to grok the complexity of Ethereum and start developing smart contracts and decentralized applications, this would be a great place to start.
For the privacy conscious this would be a great book to get into. The monero project is one of the pioneers of anonymous transactions and the appropriately pseudonymous author, “Ser Hack”, does a great job of explaining how Monero achieves high assurances of privacy under the hood.
Blockchain: Blueprint for A New Economy
An extremely speculative book about all the potential applications of blockchains. Published in early 2014, this book was way ahead of the crowd in terms of its vision of what blockchains might be able to accomplish. Some of those speculations about future applications outside of money are rapidly developing and it looks like this is just the beginning. Swan’s book flies far away from the concreteness and practicality of Antonopolous’ works, but it goes even further than his powerful imagination into the entirely speculative.
The interesting and extremely daunting aspect of these networks is their immense complexity. Even if you read all of the books listed in this post, there would still be an infinite amount to learn. And we wouldn’t want it any other way. Everyday is day one, in crypto-land.