13 Famous People Who Read

This post focuses on, 13 Famous People Who Read, some of the people listed below are household name others are people you may not know. One thing people can gather from this list is reading had a major impact on all these people’s lives and contributed to their success in some way. Many of these people are major influences of mine and influenced me to start this blog. Hopefully, you enjoy this list!

1. Bill Gates

I don’t think it comes as any surprise to anyone that Bill Gates is on this list. Bill Gates is publicly known for reading at least 50 books a year averaging to approximately one per week. Gates additionally has his own book list with this recommended reading for this year which can be found at http://www.gatesnotes.com. I have a number of his recommended books on my reading list that I am excited to read. He is also famous for his think weeks, where Gates goes to a secluded place for a week to read, write, and come up with new ideas. If you are looking for an inside look into Gate’s life, I would highly recommend the Netflix special Inside Bill’s Brain: Decoding Bill Gates.

2. Tony Robbins

Most people know Tony Robbins as an acclaimed writer and motivational speaker that has improved many lives. I’ve never personally read one of his books, but I have listened to the audiobook of Awaken the Giant Within. I have to say for anyone that is looking for a great speaker to inspire you, I would recommend listening or reading this book. In an interview with Tim Ferriss on The Tim Ferriss Show, Robbins talked about how he obtained the skills to motivate and help people. This should come as no surprise but he gained these skills from reading! Robbins completed a speed-reading course and read 700 books in 7 years. He studied anything that he believed would improve his life like physiology, psychology, philosophy, and many more subjects. If you are looking for a behind the scenes look at one of Robbins events check out his Netflix special, Tony Robbins: I Am Not Your Guru.

3. Stephen King

Stephen King is arguably the most successful American writer ever. King has published 63 books and written 200 short stories according to Wikipedia. Along with writing so many books and short stories he is known of being an avid reader and reads at least 80 books per year. King has been seen reading in between the innings of Red Sox games and was even seen reading in the line-up for a ride at an amassment park. If you have ever waited in some of these line ups, I can’t blame King of reading his way through it! In Stephen Kings fantastic memoir On Writing, which is comprised of two sections the first section being the story of his life where he covers his battles with addiction and his recovery from being struck by a minivan while walking in 1999. The second half of this book examines his views on writing and for any aspiring writers out there it is a must read. Even if you are solely writing for pleasure and not trying to make it a career, I would recommend this memoir! King mentions if you don’t have time to read you don’t have time to write. He also refers to reading as a way that you can develop your thoughts and imagination. At the end of On Writing, King gives a list of books that he recommends for writers, that is interesting in itself to read. I read this section through five times, looking for book recommendations.

4. Warren Buffett

Buffett maintains one very simple rule, “Go to bed smarter than you woke up.” This is also known as the Buffett formula. When Buffett first started his investing career most of his time was spent sitting in his office reading, sometimes reading up to 1,000 pages a day! On an average day Buffett spends 80% of his time reading and reads for a minimum of 5 to 6 hours. Buffett has compared knowledge to compound interest, something that builds up overtime. Charlie Munger his long-time business has the same opinions about reading. It should be no surprise that they developed Berkshire Hathaway into one of the biggest investment firms in the World.

5. Barack Obama

In Michelle Obama’s book Becoming she talks about when she first met her future husband, he was a ferocious reader who devoured books. She mentions that some nights he wouldn’t sleep because he would be up reading all night. Barack Obama has stated that reading provides him with ability to step into someone else’s shoes. This enables him to have strong sense of empathy towards other people. Obama’s book list, recommending books for the year has come to be an annual thing that many people look forward too. Obama’s list is something I look forward too every year. Even if I don’t read any of the books, he recommends it is still fun to see what the former president is reading. Follow Barack Obama on twitter to see his annual book, movie and music recommendations.

6. J.K. Rowling

I think with most writers you can likely say this reading is a significant part of their lives. Being a child from the 90’s, I felt like a famous person reading list wouldn’t be complete without a mention of J.K. Rowling. Rowling is one of my favorite writers, and I’m not just saying that because of Harry Potter, even though I love those books. I’m also a big fan of her C.B. Strike series, that is some great murder mystery literature. Saying all that let’s get back to her reading habits. On her website http://www.jkrowling.com, she wrote a post in 2019 on recommendations for others on writing. One of her recommendations to aspiring writers was to read. She said the following about reading, “This is especially for younger writers. You can’t be a good writer without being a devoted reader. Reading is the best way of analyzing what makes a good book. Notice what works and what doesn’t, what you enjoyed and why. At first, you’ll probably imitate your favorite writers, but that’s a good way to learn. After a while, you’ll find your own distinctive voice.” From this quote you can tell how much she values read and how much it has influenced her life.

7. Ryan Holiday

Ryan Holiday may not be a household name, but he is one of my main influences. He is the author of 10 books, has a very popular blog and newsletter and also has a popular YouTube channel. Primarily his content focuses stoic philosophy examining the classic teachings of Marcus Aurelius, Seneca, and Epictetus. His books bring the stoic teaching to the modern age telling stories from the last 150 years about how great people through modern history have used stoic philosophy to solve problems. Holiday is another major reader that spends a lot of time with a book in his hands, reading hundreds of books every year. His monthly email newsletter sends out his reading recommendations for the month and is something I would recommend you subscribe to. To find out more about Ryan Holiday check out his website at http://www.ryanholiday.net.

8. Tim Ferriss

Tim Ferriss is the host of the very popular podcast The Tim Ferriss Show, he is additionally an author publishing books like, The 4 Hour Work Week, Tools of Titans, and Tribe of Mentors. Ferriss for a period of time was an angle investor, investing in companies like Uber, Alibaba, and Shopify. Ferriss reads 1 to 3 books per week by speed reading. When he was at Princeton University, he taught a course in speed reading to fellow students. He talks about this in, The 4 Hour Work Week. If you are looking to learn more about Ferriss’s speed reading techniques check out his blog post here: https://tim.blog/2009/07/30/speed-reading-and-accelerated-learning/. I haven’t actually explored his speed-reading techniques but after reading his blog post I feel like I might give it a try.

9. Will Smith

Smith has this memorable quote about running and reading, “The keys to life are running and reading. When you’re running, there’s a little person that talks to you and says, ‘Oh I’m tired. My lung’s about to pop. I’m so hurt. There’s no way I can possibly continue.’ You want to quit. If you learn how to defeat that person when you’re running, you will know to not quit when things get hard in your life. For reading: there have been gazillions of people that have lived before all of us. There’s no new problem you could have–with your parents, with school, with a bully. There’s no new problem that someone hasn’t already had and written about it in a book.” You can see from this quote that reading is a massive part of Smiths life. In interviews Smith has recommended the following books; The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, Outlier: The Story of Success by Malcom Gladwell, and Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert T. Kiyosaki. There are no articles saying how many books he reads per year or week but one obvious thing about Smith is reading has been a contributing factor is his success.

10. Mark Cuban

Cuban is a billionaire investor, star of Shark Tank, and owner of the NBA franchise the Dallas Mavericks. In an Interview with CNBC Cuban stated that he devotes 4 to 5 hours everyday to reading. This is how his daily routine goes, first he starts with reading the news he subscribes to numerous magazines and newspapers. After reading the news he spends about an hour reading his email, he doesn’t do meetings or phone calls unless it is for something extremely important or “picking up a check” like Cuban stated. When this is taken care of, Cuban then spends some time educating himself on new technologies like artificial intelligence, quantum technology and nano technology. The first half of Cubans day is spent reading and educating himself.

11. Elon Musk

Musk the billionaire CEO of Tesla and SpaceX stated that as a child he would read up to 10 hours per day. He would escape into science fiction novels and by age 9 had read the complete works of the Encyclopedia Britannica. In the book Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX and the Quest for a Fantastic Future by Ashlee Vance, it is stated that Musk learned how to build rockets from reading books, pretty incredible! Musk also enrolled in a doctorate program at Stanford University but dropped out after two days. Ultimately deciding there was nothing the program could teach him that he couldn’t learn himself. With Musk’s busy schedule I’m unsure how much time he spends reading for pleasure but I’m sure he is constantly reading and learning about electric cars, rocket technology, and maybe flame throwers for his enjoyment. The guy got to have some fun!

12. Oprah Winfrey

Winfrey arguably has the most popular book club of all time. She started it in 1996 and it is still going today. In her acceptance speech for the 2004 United Nations Humanitarian Award she stated, “Books allowed me to see a world beyond the front porch of my grandmother’s shotgun house and the power to see possibilities beyond what was allowed at the time.” I don’t think anyone can argue how much books attributed to Winfrey’s success.

13. Reese Witherspoon

Witherspoon read so much that she turned her habit into a production company called Hello Sunshine. From reading she was able to find great material to star in like Little Fires Everywhere, The Morning Show, Big Little Lies, and Wild. She even has her own book club which you can find on Instagram titled Reese’s Book Club. Witherspoon is another successful person that used her love of reading to propel her career and life forward.

This list could go on forever, however I kept this list to people that are current and living so everyone could relate. All the people listed above can be described as successful, but I named this post 13 Famous People Who Read because success is such a broad term and has a different definition for everyone. Hopefully, this post gives you some perspective on reading and influences you to start your book journey!

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