The Ultimate List of Books About Blockchain Technology, DeFi and Crypto: Recommended by the MakerDAO Community

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crypto books

So you’ve heard about blockchain, decentralized finance (DeFi) & crypto and want to know more? We got you! Here is the ultimate list of books about blockchain technology, DeFi & crypto. This list has been curated by MakerDAO’s Community Team. We hope this list will be helpful for those of you who are new to blockchain and crypto. For those of you who are already experts, we hope these books will give you a new perspective on how it all works!

Crypto 101 for Dummies

Just as the internet promised far-reaching, transformational implications in its early days, blockchain technology is now poised to bring even more life-altering advantages and changes over current IT. Blockchain technology has revolutionized the financial sector through digital assets like Bitcoin and the fast-growing DeFi sector, but it’s sure to inspire far more.

Blockchain and DeFi have gained mainstream attention in the past year, spurring people to learn all they can about the diverse disciplines they embody (e.g., mathematics, computer science, economics, etc.) and their implications. Our goal: to generate interest in crypto, the history and significance of the blockchain, as well as the DeFi movement it spawned by asking people to share their favorite books.

Here’s how they responded.

MakerDAO Community Book Recommendations

1. Broad Band: The Untold Story of the Women Who Made the Internet

Claire Evans (Penguin Putnam Inc, 2018)

Recommendation from Lenka Hudáková (@LenklaH), former Global Events Manager for the Maker Foundation and a member of the MakerDAO SES Core Unit.

The book Broad Band is an educational and empowering read that explores the history of technology, computers, and the web, and the many influential women behind the creation of the internet. As the author recounts anecdotes, she shows us the evolution of the industry and how women played a part in it. In the blockchain space, we need the same welcoming attitude – one that celebrates our industry’s kickass women for their accomplishments and encourages curiosity.

2. Understanding the Role of Debt in the Financial System

A Working Paper by Bengt Holmstrom from the Bank for International Settlements (BIS), 2015)

Recommended by Chao Pan (@TheChaology), China Community Lead at the Maker Foundation

This insightful paper explains the difference between money markets and stock markets in Understanding the Role of Debt in the Financial System. Though the paper does not discuss DeFi, its conclusions offer useful parallels to the world of stablecoins and Ethereum tokens. A perspective on the importance of over-collateralized debt contracts and the role of opacity in the money market can help us understand the implications of fiat-backed stablecoins and decentralized stablecoins.

3. Cryptonomicon

Neal Stephenson (Avon, 1999)

Recommended by Guy Brandon, Content Writer at the Maker Foundation

Crystalnomicon is an absorbing, detailed novel for anyone with an interest in the cryptocurrency space. The action takes place at two different times —World War II and the late 1990s —Neal Stephenson describes why he believes cryptographically-secured private money, in this fictional case represented by gold-backed currency, is necessary. It is brilliantly prescient considering that it was written in 1999, long before the Bitcoin white paper was published. In a fairly low-key way, Stephenson weaves basic cryptography and computer security principles throughout the book.

Cryptonomicon, a speculative/historical novel about the creation of a gold-backed cryptocurrency, is considered by some one of the best books on crypto.

Cryptonomicon explores the creation of a cryptographically-secured form of gold-backed money.  (Image: www.nealstephenson.com)

4. The Infinite Machine

Camila Russo (Harper Business, 2020)

Recommended by Simon Kelada-Polupanov, Dev Ops Engineer at the Maker Foundation

Those interested in the early days of Ethereum and the individuals who contributed to creating the DeFi superhighway should read The Infinite Machine. As a young man, Vitalik Buterin, the Russian-Canadian visionary and co-founder of the project, starts the book. The Bitcoin white paper introduced blockchain technology as an untapped potential, and Buterin published his own white paper in 2013 on a decentralized computer that would run complex applications without relying on any trusted parties. 

As a Bloomberg journalist, Russo is able to explain her understanding of the Ethereum ecosystem in a way that even those without any blockchain experience will be able to understand. The Infinite Machine is more of a bestseller than a textbook, as it could easily have become.

5. The Bitcoin Standard: The Decentralized Alternative to Central Banking

Saifedean Ammous (Wiley, 2018)

Recommended by Christopher Mooney (@godsflaw), MakerDAO Protocol Engineering Core Unit 

From the very first forms of money, including seashells and cattle, to today’s nascent era of cryptocurrency, Saifedean Ammous presents a thoughtful and accessible history of money in The Bitcoin Standard. His (sometimes controversial) explanations cover everything from individual prosperity to international peace, as well as how centralized fiat money undermines innovation, culture, freedom, and so much more.

Despite its short length, The Bitcoin Standard is worth reading just for its lesson in sound-money history, which explains why gold was once the best and now Bitcoin is the best and soundest form of money. As a result of its scarcity, today’s Bitcoin enthusiasts pitch the coin as a store of value like gold, but Ammous argues that Bitcoin is an even better alternative to gold since it does not have a centralized financial system. By shifting trust from institutions to cryptographic primitives, he asserts that Bitcoin offers full financial freedom through trustless and digitally provable self-custody. 

Ammous offers a refreshing perspective and articulates a clear value proposition for cryptocurrencies, specifically Bitcoin, by cutting through the hype about centralized monetary systems and pointing out the trade-offs that we often face when we use centralized monetary systems.

6. Blockchain and the Law: The Rule of Code

Primavera De Filippi and Aaron Wright (Harvard University Press, 2019)

Recommended by Petru Catana, Integrations Engineer at the Maker Foundation

This book discusses how lines of code can encapsulate rules in a way that is similar to the way institutions enforce law.This paper offers a balanced assessment of the pros and cons of using smart contracts to create law, discussing both the feasibility and the limitations of smart contracts. My understanding of how difficult this might be in practice has been greatly enhanced by reading the book, since humans are imperfect and live in a world of nuance and subjectivity. 

7. Digital Gold: Bitcoin and the Inside Story of the Misfits and Millionaires Trying to Reinvent Money

Nathaniel Popper (Harper Collins, 2015)

Recommended by Jennifer Senhaji (@jensenhaji), MakerDAO Growth Core Unit

This book shares the stories of those who have played a significant role in the movement to decentralize and use Bitcoin. An in-depth analysis of the 2008 Global Financial Crisis provides a historical perspective on how these individuals came to embrace the concept of a currency maintained by code. The book explores the events and social dynamics of that time— 

The public’s growing resentment towards the U.S. government and Wall Street, the tension between Silicon Valley and the global financial industry, and how people from different backgrounds and professions have become united in their mission to improve the world.

The book, Digital Gold, provides the backstory to the original Bitcoin white paper distribution in late 2008 to a narrow cryptography mailing list, which is a great read for anyone entering the space.

Digital Gold, a popular book about crypto, is for anyone interested in learning about Bitcoin’s early history.

Digital Gold follows the rise of Bitcoin from the perspectives of some of the most prominent individuals involved in the early crypto movement. (Image: www.HarperCollins.com)

Get Started in DeFiIf you’d like to learn more about the history, significance, and potential of blockchain technology and DeFi, the book recommendations above provide a great starting point. Increasing your knowledge further by reading the Maker blog and educational content in the MakerDAO Community Portal and participating in the Maker Forum is a good idea.

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