Chris Castiglione Co-founder of Adjunct Prof at Columbia University Business School.

5 Essential Books for Learning Bitcoin and Blockchain

2 min read

How do you learn about Bitcoin and Blockchain?

First, it’s important to know there are five audiences Bitcoin appeals to: the bitcoin user (someone who sends and receives bitcoin), miner (aka. the bookkeeper of the network), developer, investor and business owner.

I’ve read about a dozen books on Bitcoin, and I’m happy to share the top five that I think appeal to all bitcoin users, the beginners as well as the more intermediate.

You could read all five of these without feeling they are overly redundant, therefore I’ve put them in order of a curriculum that I’d suggest:

1. The Internet of Money

The Internet of Money is your best introduction to Bitcoin. At a slim 150 pages, the book is a collection of transcripts and highlights from eleven lectures that Andreas Antonopoulos gave on Bitcoin between 2013 and 2016.

“Saying Bitcoin is like digital money is like saying the Internet is just a fancy telephone.”

The Internet of Money is a must-read whether you’re a bitcoin beginner, or already a seasoned pro. I came into this book knowing quite a bit about Bitcoin (I head read Antonopoulos’s other book Mastering Bitcoin), but still took away a lot! Antonopoulos explores Bitcoin as both a currency, and a technology, and then reframes the social impact through the lens of history, politics, and social change. One of my favorite chapters is his lecture on how Bitcoin will give 4 billion people in the world, without regular access to stable banks, immediate access to a global banking system. It’s hopeful, inspiring, and a book I come back to again, and again.

2. The Age of Cryptography

The Age of Cryptocurrency explores the who, what, where, why and when of Bitcoin:

  • What is Bitcoin?
  • When did it start?
  • Where did Bitcoin come from?
  • Who are the major players in the Bitcoin community?
  • Why is Bitcoin important?

This book is a fabulous intro to Bitcoin, but parts of it may seem redundant if you’re very familiar with the lore of Satoshi Nakamoto, the fall of Mt. Gox, and the controversy of Bitinstant. I’d suggest you check out the documentary The Rise and Rise of Bitcoin, and if you enjoy this kind of linear history of the Bitcoin, then you’ll love this book because it starts at the beginning, and walks you year by year through to the present of where we are today with Bitcoin.

3. Cryptoassets

Cryptoassets is a bitcoin book for investors. The authors (Chris Burniske & Jack Tatar)  define a cryptoasset taxonomy, made up of cryptocurrencies, cryptocommodities, and cryptotokens. The book covers portfolio management of cryptoassets, historical context, tips for how to make sense of ICOs (Initial Coin Offerings), and predictions on the future of digital currencies.

4. Mastering Bitcoin

Mastering Bitcoin is not for Bitcoin beginnersThe book starts with a brief overview of Bitcoin and blockchain, and then goes pretty deep into the code, and underlying features of the blockchain technology. Overall I feel like Mastering Bitcoin covers everything you would want to know about the technical aspects Bitcoin. And while I didn’t understand every single mathematical equation, between the code there are very readable takeaways, as well as a comprehensive glossary of terms for understanding the technology behind Bitcoin.

Topics covered: bitcoin mining, public and private keys, bitcoin addresses, paper wallets, transaction outputs and inputs, the bitcoin network, merkle trees, proof-of-work, blockchain forks, and mining pools.

5. The Starfish and the Spider

While this isn’t a book specifically about bitcoin, it’s a book about how decentralized systems work. The title is based on the idea that: If you cut off a spider’s head, it dies; if you cut off a starfish’s leg it grows an entirely new starfish. The Starfish and the Spider looks at a variety of use cases for decentralized systems such as Napster, P2P networks, Wikipedia, and even gives examples from history looking at the Aztecs, and the Soviets. This is a philosophical book on decentralization, and while it doesn’t mention bitcoin explicitly , it lays the groundwork for understanding the philosophies behind why bitcoin is so powerful.

Ready to learn more about bitcoin and blockchain?

You can join over 60,000 students at One Month where we offer a 30-day Learn Bitcoin and Ethereum course. The course covers blockchain and the top 5 most popular cryptocurrencies. It’s for absolute beginners, and we offer live human support for when you have questions.

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Chris Castiglione Co-founder of Adjunct Prof at Columbia University Business School.