There's a common bond that the world's most successful entrepreneurs and billionaires share -- and you can find it in your local library.
Think this is just a coincidence? Over the past 30 years, Steve Siebold has interviewed 1,200 of the richest people in the world. The one common thread, Siebold noticed, is that they bypassed tabloids and magazines for knowledge-enhancing books.
"Walk into a wealthy person's home," Siebold wrote in his book, How Rich People Think, "and one of the first things you'll see is an extensive library of books they've used to educate themselves on how to become more successful."
I'd like to introduce you to four well-known billionaires -- and one you may have never heard of -- who credit their success to constantly reading.
While it's been well-publicized that Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett spends as much as 80 percent of his day reading, his right-hand man is also a bookworm. Charlie Munger, the vice chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, has a net worth of $1.4 billion.
Munger jokes that he reads so much, his children think he's "a book with a couple of legs sticking out."
Many years ago, Munger explained to Kiplinger's Steven Goldberg how he and Buffett place an emphasis on reading and continually learning:
"Warren and I do more reading and thinking and less doing than most people in business. We do that because we like that kind of a life. But we've turned that quirk into a positive outcome for ourselves. We both insist on a lot of time being available almost every day to just sit and think. That is very uncommon in American business. We read and think."
Recommendation: Fiasco: The Inside Story of a Wall Street Trader by Frank Partnoy
Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, seems to operate on a different wavelength. It's no shocker that he's one of the most productive readers in the world -- and always has been.
Growing up in South Africa, Musk was usually the smallest and youngest person in his class. He spent his team reading books obsessively, not just for pleasure, but also for knowledge. Musk described himself, in a Bloomberg interview, as a "bookwormy" kid. Growing up, he would read as many as two books per day.
When asked how he learned how to build rockets, Musk gives a simple answer: "I read books."
Recommendations: Jim Cantrell, an aerospace consultant who became part of the founding team of SpaceX, said that Musk borrowed (but never returned) these four books while teaching himself about rocket science:
Rocket Propulsion Elements by George P. Sutton, Oscar Biblarz
Fundamentals of Astrodynamics by Roger R. Bate, Donald D. Mueller, Jerry E. White
International Reference Guide to Space Launch Systems by S. Isakowitz, J. Hopkins, J. Hopkins Jr
Elements of Propulsion: Gas Turbines and Rockets by J. Mattingly, H. von Ohain
As her infamous book club shows, the former talk show host and magnanimous giver loves to read. Oprah credits reading for helping her move from a childhood of poverty into a life of wealth. Reading inspired her to look beyond her meager beginnings and start thinking about how the world could be changed.
"Books were my path to personal freedom," Winfrey once said. "I learned to read at age 3 and soon discovered there was a whole world to conquer that went beyond our farm in Mississippi."
Oprah passes on her love for reading through her book club. In its initial 15-year run, Oprah's Book Club highlighted 70 of Oprah's favorite reads.
Recommendation: Discover the Power Within You by Eric Butterworth
Every year, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg comes up with a New Year's Resolution. Unlike most Americans, he actually sticks to it. One year, Zuckerberg took it upon himself to learn Mandarin. Last year, his goal was to read two books per month.
Zuckerberg completed the challenge, learning quite a bit from his diverse reading adventures.
"Reading has given me more perspective on a number of topics -- from science to religion, from poverty to prosperity, from health to energy to social justice, from political philosophy to foreign policy, and from history to futuristic fiction. This challenge has been intellectually fulfilling, and I come away with a greater sense of hope and optimism that our society can make greater progress in all of these areas."
If someone as busy as Zuckerberg can find the time to read two books per week, you should be able to do this, as well.
Recommendation: The Beginning of Infinity by David Deutsch
While Zuckerberg reading 24 books last year was impressive, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates more than doubles that. Gates, the world's richest man, reads about 50 books per year -- roughly one per week.
Gates still sees reading as his primary avenue to learning and understanding. He doesn't use a tablet, either, preferring the feel of an actual printed book.
Gates loves reading so much, he even posts book reviews on his blog, Gates Notes.
A New York Times columnist asked Gates the role that reading plays in his life. His response?
"It is one of the chief ways that I learn, and has been since I was a kid. These days, I also get to visit interesting places, meet with scientists and watch a lot of lectures online. But reading is still the main way that I both learn new things and test my understanding."
Recommendation: Business Adventures by John Brooks -- the first book Buffett ever recommended to Gates