On October 31, 2008, a paper authored by a person named Satoshi Nakamoto was posted to a little-known cryptography mailing list. The essay, titled Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System, detailed methods of using open-source code to generate what was described as “a system for electronic transactions without relying on trust.”
Although the paper generated little attention, the bitcoin network came into existence on January 3, 2009, when the first bitcoin block, also known as the genesis block, was minted on the blockchain.
Now over 13 years later, Bitcoin has become a household name and revolutionized the world of finance through its decentralized technology, which keeps tokens out of the control of banks and governments.
Millionaires, and even billionaires, have been created over the last ten years through the dramatic surge of cryptocurrency’s valuation, and as of this writing, the market capitalization of all cryptocurrencies is estimated to exceed 2 trillion dollars.
While learning about the varied aspects of cryptocurrency can seem overwhelming, there have been several books written over the years that have distilled complex topics into easy-to-read books. Whether you’re interested in bitcoin mining, wallets, trading, blockchains, or the metaverse, the following books are ideal for those who want to dive into one of the fastest-growing technological trends in history.
The History of Bitcoin
One of the best ways to understand any topic is to learn about how it got started. While the following books vary in complexity, each of them covers key stories in Bitcoin’s meteoric rise, including how it was invented, the people who created it, and the figures who pioneered the adoption of the technology.
Bitcoin Billionaires: A True Story of Genius, Betrayal, and Redemption by Ben Mezrich
While many people have heard of the Winklevoss Twins from the movie The Social Network, a film that chronicles Mark Zuckerberg and the founding of Facebook, the brothers are less known for their role in the public’s adoption of Bitcoin.
After a court battle with Zuckerberg over the rights to Facebook, the brothers found themselves licking their wounds in Ibiza with little direction for their next business venture. It was here that they met an eccentric character who told them about a brand-new idea -cryptocurrency.
Not only is Bitcoin Billionaires a fun read and an excellent introduction to the basics of cryptocurrency, but it takes the reader inside the mind of the first investors to make a massive bet on the future of Bitcoin.
Today, Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss are worth around $1.4 billion and have started notable crypto funds such as Gemini exchange and Winklevoss Capital Management.
Digital Gold: Bitcoin and the Inside Story of the Misfits and Millionaires Trying to Reinvent Money by Nathaniel Popper
A reporter for the New York Times, Nathaniel Popper’s Digital Gold is a comprehensive account of the key players in Bitcoin’s creation and rise. Although the book does contain chapters on the Winklevoss Twins, it also tells the story of other colorful characters who have built Bitcoin, including computer scientist Hal Finney, drug Kingpin Ross Ulbricht, and Bitcoin’s mysterious creator Satoshi Nakamoto.
This book won’t weigh you down with a technical analysis of the blockchain or other cryptocurrency concepts. Instead, it focuses on the history of Bitcoin and how the cryptocurrency came into existence.
Popper focuses exclusively on the names and personal stories of the pioneers operating at the outset of the crypto phenomenon, as well as the evolution of Bitcoin under their guidance. Certain segments of the book also take on a philosophical tone as Popper details the thinking of the Bitcoin mavericks and their preference toward decentralized power.
Additionally, the author touches on the details of who got rich quickly and who serves to make the most from pumping up Bitcoin. The book is balanced, with Bitcoin’s darker side also shown.
Digital Gold was shortlisted for the 2015 Financial Times and Mckinsey Business Book of the Year and has received praise from notable writers including Walter Isaacson and Larry Summers.
The Book of Satoshi: The Collected Writings of Bitcoin Creator Satoshi Nakamoto by Phil Champagne
Although there are several unanswered questions surrounding the creation of Bitcoin, no mystery has captivated the public more than the identity of Satoshi Nakamoto, the elusive inventor of Bitcoin whose original white paper set in motion one of the most remarkable technological trends of the 21st century.
While many have speculated as to Satoshi’s true identity, no one knows for sure whether the inventor’s name represents an individual or a group. And except for a brief two-year period constituting his “public life” before he disappeared from the Internet, Nakamoto has never commented on the technology that he created.
As Satoshi’s true identity will probably never be known, his original writings, collected and professionally published by Phil Champagne in The Book of Satoshi, are all the world will ever hear from him regarding Bitcoin’s theoretical underpinnings and why he invented the technology.
Champagne’s book includes many of Satoshi’s important writings, including his emails and computer forum posts, the white paper which started it all, the original concept of Bitcoin, an explanation of how Bitcoin works, the consensus Proof-of-Work concept, the problem of transaction fees, the Byzantine General problem in computer science, the issue of central banking, and money supply issues that Bitcoin can help address.
Overall, 72 unique topics are introduced in The Book of Satoshi, which has been described as an “easy-to-read” work that takes the reader inside the mind of one of the true geniuses of our time.
American Kingpin: The Epic Hunt for the Criminal Mastermind Behind the Silk Road by Nick Bilton
Although many have hailed Bitcoin as a revolutionary asset class that has the potential to offer mankind true financial freedom, many of the cryptocurrency’s earliest adopters used the token for many shadowy, illegal activities.
No story illustrates Bitcoin’s darker side than that of Ross Ulbricht, a 26-year-old Penn State graduate who founded the Dark Web marketplace called “Silk Road” in February 2011. Using Bitcoin as the site’s digital currency, Ulbricht went on to build a billion-dollar online drug empire that was eventually seized by the FBI in October 2013.
Before the government shut it down, Silk Road became the premier marketplace for illegal transactions. Users traded items as diverse as drugs, hacking software, forged passports, counterfeit cash, and poisons – all free of the government’s jurisdiction.
With little evidence to go on, the government began an epic two-year manhunt to search for the site creator who only referred to himself as the “Dread Pirate Roberts.”
A New York Times bestseller, Bilton’s book is a must-read for anyone who wants to understand the negative aspects of Bitcoin and how it can be used for both good and evil.
Despite its wide-ranging appeal both in the U.S. and globally, there exist some people who remain convinced that Bitcoin is nothing more than a fad that will never truly disrupt current financial markets. The following two works focus on the Why of Bitcoin and are ideal for the reluctant skeptic who is hesitant to accept the adoption of crypto assets.
The Internet of Money: A Collection of Talks by Andreas M. Antonopoulos
While not exactly a normal book with an introduction and conclusion, The Internet of Money is nevertheless an excellent resource for examining the significance of Bitcoin through a series of essays written by a leader in the space.
A professor at the University of Nicosia, Author Andreas M. Antonopoulos regularly speaks for tech conventions, podcasts, and radio shows.
His book is directly transcribed from his talks on the past and future of economics, trade, and the philosophy of technology. And while some of the subjects may seem dull in an essay format, Antonopolous maintains an engaging, conversational tone throughout the work – leading reviewers to describe it as a”fun college lecture rather than a dry textbook.”
The Internet of Money ultimately explores Bitcoin’s philosophical, social, and historical implications, as well as how it will change the way humans interact and solve social, political, and economic problems through decentralized technology.
Keep in mind there are three separate volumes in the series, with each focusing on different aspects of the technological revolution.
The Truth Machine: The Blockchain and the Future of Everything by Michael J. Casey and Paul Vigna
One of the top cryptocurrency books on the blockchain, the technology underpinning all digital currencies, The Truth Machine takes the reader through the basics of this new technology and its potential to disrupt nearly every industry, including finance, tech, legal, and shipping.
Part of Casey’s thesis rests on the fact that the privacy, efficiency, and digital security of modern institutions have failed, with the outdated nature of big banks and the ever-present threat of fraud or hacking leading many citizens to lose trust in the “legacy systems” designed to make their lives easier.
According to Casey and Vigna, the breakdown of society’s current systems has paved the way for the blockchain and its ability to restore control over our data, assets, and identities, as well as shift the balance of power from centers of power back to the individual.
Overall, this primer on the blockchain is honest about the technology’s future potential, while acknowledging the enormous social changes that will accompany the mass adoption of this phenomenon.
Bitcoin: For Beginners
While the seemingly complex world of cryptocurrency often dissuades many investors from learning about the technology, there are many crypto books written by experts that break down complicated topics into easy-to-understand material. The following cryptocurrency books are ideal for inexperienced investors who are just entering the world of virtual currency, bitcoin, and blockchain technology.
Cryptoassets: The Innovative Investor’s Guide to Bitcoin and Beyond by Chris Burniske and Jack Tatar
Written by two industry insiders, Cryptoassets: The Innovative Investor’s Guide provides an excellent foundation for those looking for an introduction to cryptocurrency investing. The book not only reviews the key principles of digital currency but also relates the information in a clear, accessible format that makes it easy for beginners to understand.
Overall, Cryptoassets provides information on investigating and evaluating crypto assets, managing a crypto portfolio, navigating trading bubbles, and predicting how blockchain technology may disrupt current portfolios.
The book is divided into three sections: WHAT, WHY, and HOW.
In the first section of WHAT, the authors provide the backdrop for the story, bringing the reader back to the economic crash of 2008 and the devastating effect it had on the financial world. From the ruins of a smoldering economy, the launch of Ethereum is introduced, including the smart contracts that made the technology possible.
In the WHY section, Burniske and Tatar jump from the origins of digital currency to the motives behind investing in Bitcoin and other crypto-assets. This section also includes commentary on the failure of Wall Street and hedge funds to provide transparency to markets and the role of digital assets in bringing stability to the situation.
In the final section of HOW the authors focus on the evaluation of various emerging assets and review all the tools, an investor needs to identify scams and the occasional get-rich-quick scheme.
Blockchain Books For Beginners
Blockchain Basics: A Non-Technical Introduction in 25 Steps by Daniel Drescher
One of the best cryptocurrency books on the market for those who want to understand the blockchain, Daniel Drescher’s work is a step-by-step guide that covers everything from hashing to the consensus to incentives to cryptography.
Reviewers have repeatedly praised Blockchain Basics for its simple language, which is often explained through pictures, analogies, and metaphors. Amazingly, no mathematical formulas, program code, or computer science jargon are used in the book, and readers are not required to have any experience in mathematics or programming.
Overall, the book touches on the following topics: what the blockchain is, why it’s needed, its major components and their purpose, the limitations of the blockchain, and what has been done to overcome them.
It’s worth noting that while Blockchain Basics spends a great amount of detail on the components of the blockchain, it’s light on the actual applications of blockchain technology. As Blockchain Basics spends only a single chapter analyzing applications, readers searching for real-world connections should look elsewhere.
Blockchain Bubble or Revolution: The Future of Bitcoin, Blockchains, and Cryptocurrencies by Neel Mehta, Aditya Agashe, and Parth Detroja
While cryptocurrency is many things to many people, no one denies that it’s a polarizing subject. Currently, it seems that investors of all types are split as to whether Bitcoin will survive long enough to become a successful decentralized digital currency.
The truth is, however, that today nearly all cryptocurrency books are written by crypto enthusiasts, leading to some biases and conflicts of interest within most books and online publications on the subject.
What makes Blockchain Bubble or Revolution unique is that the authors take a neutral view on the various topics discussed in the book, writing about the strengths and weaknesses of digital currencies as they seriously consider whether the current cryptocurrency market is a bubble waiting to pop.
Authors Mehta, Agashe, and Detroja have all worked in major companies such as Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and IBM, and their analysis often touches on potential ways that Silicon Valley might incorporate the blockchain into their current business models.
Structure and Content
Blockchain Bubble or Revolution begins with the origins of Bitcoin and moves from there to a discussion of how the token differs from Ethereum and how a blockchain works. Key definitions for commonly used terms are included along the way to help the reader transition from topic to topic.
In addition to speaking about Ethereum and its valuation framework, the authors touch on some of the major altcoins, including tokens like Monero and Bitcoin Cash. Other topics the authors write about include discussions on crypto regulations and how they may impact the cryptocurrency market going forward.
Overall, Bubble or Revolution takes an honest look at how Bitcoin and blockchain work without requiring the reader to have deep, technical knowledge, while at the same time articulating a slightly bearish thesis for the asset’s future.
Blockchain Revolution: How the Technology Behind Bitcoin Is Changing Money, Business, and the World by Don Tapscott and Alex Tapscott
Another one of the top cryptocurrency books for investors seeking to understand the technology that makes Bitcoin possible, Blockchain Revolution explains the theory behind the blockchain without going into overly technical analysis.
The book is more concerned with the practical applications of the blockchain and how it can change the financial world, rather than with any complex analysis of how the blockchain works. Overall, the book lays out several ways in which the blockchain can change the future of monetary systems, transactions, and businesses, as well as enable more secure transactions through a distributed, decentralized ledger.
Blockchain Revolution consists of the following three sections: “Revolution,” “Transformations,” and “Promise and Peril.”
The first part discusses the protocol behind blockchain and its seven design principles, which include network integrity, distribution-powered system, value as an incentive, security, privacy, ownership rights, and inclusion.
The book then moves to the financial services industry, where the application of blockchain technology could theoretically protect personal identity details of businesses and contracts, as well as expand the development of the Internet of Things.
Digging into Blockchain Revolution gives the reader a sense that modern institutions and companies have not even scratched the surface of the many intriguing possibilities the blockchain could offer to our world.
Advanced Bitcoin Books
For those who have powered through some of the earlier books on the list and find themselves hungry for more, it might be time to take the next leap in understanding the cryptocurrency world. While nevertheless deeply engrossing, the following cryptocurrency books tackle more complex themes such as peer-to-peer architecture, transaction lifecycles, and the underlying economic theory behind Bitcoin.
The Bitcoin Standard: The Decentralized Alternative to Central Banking by Saifedean Ammous
Written by one of the foremost experts in the crypto world on monetary theory, The Bitcoin Standard takes the reader on a journey through economic history and builds up to the invention of Bitcoin. Along the way, he discusses what market forces give Bitcoin its value and how its price is calculated, as well as how it could displace central authority.
Ammous thesis centers on the idea that the current economic model is plagued by centralization, which has led to economic meltdowns, hyperinflation, and currency devaluation in the past. According to Ammous, Bitcoin can solve this “problem of money” because, unlike later cryptocurrencies, Bitcoin has a limited supply that allows for peer-to-peer transfers and a stable currency.
The Bitcoin Standard also covers themes such as sound money, gold standards, trade and barter, and other aspects of the cryptocurrency market.
Structure and Content
The Bitcoin Standard begins with a history of money and follows this path to the financial crisis of 2008. As central banks manipulated markets and printed imaginary bills, it became inevitable that an alternative currency would arise to bring back stability and the idea of “choice” into the markets.
Once he has established the need for Bitcoin and the failure of the financial system, Ammous jumps into a more technical explanation of how Bitcoin works, as well as it’s potential to replace fiat money. Key to the author’s point is the idea of “trustless systems,” which involves Bitcoin’s ability to minimize the amount of trust required from any single actor in the system. This is accomplished by distributing trust among a wide variety of persons via an economic game that incentivizes actors to cooperate with the rules defined by the protocol.
The amazing part of trustless systems is that they ultimately spread power across a wide variety of people, making it impossible for one group to undermine the economic cycle through interest rates or any other artificial means. The book ends with a nice summation of Bitcoin’s potential, why it could become the new global gold standard, and why it can be used by governments to serve as a nation’s reserve asset.
Mastering Bitcoin: Programming the Open Blockchain by Andreas M. Antonopoulos
An expert work by the same author as The Internet of Money, Mastering Bitcoin’s succinct and clear explanations of some of Bitcoin’s core concepts have led many to describe it as one of the top cryptocurrency books ever written.
While part of the book provides a broad introduction to Bitcoin, which is ideal for early investors, Antonopolous’ work slowly builds on the existing principles discussed. By the second half of Mastering Bitcoin, more complex technical explanations are introduced that are tailored toward experienced professionals, such as software developers and engineers. The author rounds off most of the ideas presented with user stories, analogies, examples, and code snippets that make it easier to digest the key concepts.
Some of the themes that Antonopoulos devotes considerable attention to include the blockchain, the history of Bitcoin, the technical foundation of Bitcoin, various payment channels, cryptographic currencies, peer-to-peer architecture, transaction lifecycles, and alternative chains.
Structure and Content
Mastering Bitcoin begins like most other crypto books, with an introduction to the core concepts of cryptocurrency in non-technical terms. From here, Antonopolous takes a more detailed look at how the blockchain operates and reviews how it enables transactions to take place. The first part of the book has been described by some as an “educational tool” for Bitcoin-based development.
The second half of Mastering Bitcoin transitions to a more practical understanding of how Bitcoin’s network works, tying in key concepts such as the peer-to-peer nature of a decentralized blockchain, as well the public/private key system that enables Bitcoin to be used globally.
In summary, Antonopolous’ works are considered by many to be must-read books that offer an authoritative view on the development of cryptocurrency. While Mastering Bitcoin can be slightly technical, readers of all levels can find relevant content.
While Bitcoin’s limited supply and head start over every other cryptocurrency has led many to label it as “digital gold,” less attention has been paid to Ethereum, a cryptocurrency that many have stated could surpass Bitcoin in value. Ethereum has certain advantages over Bitcoin in several key areas, such as the token’s ability to run smart contracts.
This special type of coded contract has the power to execute itself automatically when certain conditions are met. These contracts also drive non-fungible tokens, which many believe are more attractive to new investors just getting into the crypto space.
Ethereum is also known as a DeFi platform, which means that other currencies and applications can be built on its network. According to State of the DApps, a directory of decentralized applications, about 80% of the available apps are currently on the Ethereum network.
The following cryptocurrency books are must-reads for anyone interested in investing in Ethereum and who wants to learn the origin story of the token that is reinventing digital art and commerce.
Out of the Ether: The Amazing Story of Ethereum and the $55 Million Heist that Almost Destroyed It All by Matthew Leasing
Of all the various origin stories for the hundreds of different cryptocurrencies on the market, none may be more exciting than that of Ethereum. After creating one of the most revolutionary products of the twenty-first century, Ethereum’s development team was hit by a $55 million hack that almost destroyed the new token.
Leasing’s story covers the aftermath of the hack and how Vitalik Buterin’s world-famous team of developers was able to use teamwork and inventiveness to plug the exploit code that led to the theft. Leasing also covers the aftermath of the heist as well, explaining the extreme lengths the victims of the theft and the creators of Ethereum went to to try and limit the damage.
Although Ethereum currently has the second-largest crypto universe after Bitcoin and a market cap of over $303 billion, its amazing story almost ended in its infancy. For those who want to learn more about the history of Ethereum and the key figures in its invention, there is no better work than Out of the Ether.
Overall, the book covers the creation of Ethereum, an explanation of the nature of the blockchain, and the activities of the hacker and investors involved.
Mastering Ethereum: Building Smart Contracts and DApps by Andreas M. Antonopoulos and Gavin Wood
Another gem from Andreas M. Antonopoulos, Mastering Ethereum is the complete cryptocurrency guide to the worldwide, decentralized computing paradigm of Ethereum. In the book, Antonopolous and Wood focus specifically on decentralized applications (DApps) which allow users to run smart contracts on the Ethereum blockchain.
These DApps, a central feature of the Ethereum ecosystem, have no central points of failure or control, integrate with a payment network, and operate on an open blockchain. It’s for all of these reasons that major tech companies such as Microsoft and IBM are suddenly interested in this unique technology.
Overall, Mastering Ethereum guides how to run an Ethereum client, create and transmit basic transactions, program smart contracts, learn public-key cryptography and hashes, understand how a cryptocurrency wallet can hold digital keys that control funds, interact with Ethereum clients programmatically, create tokens that represent assets and shares, and build decentralized applications using peer-to-peer components.
While the aforementioned tools may seem overly complex, it’s important to remember that Antonopolous’ prose and easy-to-follow language enables the reader to follow his ideas closely. Nevertheless, Mastering Ethereum should be reserved for those with an above-average level of crypto experience.
Often portrayed in movies and films as a grim, alternate reality where humans are forced to fight for survival, the metaverse is a network of 3D, virtual worlds meant to foster social connection. Simply put, the metaverse will allow users to enter a digital world where they can shop, buy, sell, play, and replicate their own physical experiences by creating an avatar.
As Mark Zuckerberg stated in his recent Founder’s Letter, “The defining quality of the metaverse will be a feeling of presence — like you are right there with another person or in another place.” The imminency of the metaverse and the advent of some of the key technological concepts underpinning the concept have led to a surge of investment opportunities in cutting-edge technology.
Metaverse Investing Beginners Guide To Crypto Art, NFTs, & Digital Assets in the Metaverse: The Future of Cryptocurrency, Digital Art, (Non-Fungible Token) and Blockchain Gaming by The Meta-Verse
A wild ride through the future of digital interactions, the Metaverse Investing Beginners Guide is known as one of the top cryptocurrency books simply for its subject matter alone.
Facebook, which recently changed its name to Meta Platforms as part of its rebranding to focus on its Metaverse product, has already spent billions of dollars on building a foundation for the Metaverse. Other major analysts have predicted that the Metaverse could eventually become a trillion-dollar industry.
The Metaverse Investing Beginner’s Guide does not require any background technical knowledge of the space and reviews some of the many questions the public has about the metaverse, such as its connection to virtual reality and future projections.
Overall the book covers virtual reality, augmented reality, investing in NFTs, avoiding risks in the metaverse, the future of the metaverse, and the top metaverse investments that will rise in the coming years.
This is a fascinating book that’s worth the read if only to get an introduction to the concept that everyone is talking about.