The number of books you can read on Bitcoin is still very small. You can almost count all them with fingers in one hand. However, that is only true if what you are looking for are those with Bitcoin, in specific terms, as their central subject.
Otherwise, if your interest is in all the technologies that make the cryptocurrency, then you have more than you can read in a very long time. There are hundreds if not thousands of books that talk about such topics as cryptography and computer networks.
It is important to note that while Bitcoin has only been around since 2008, when Satoshi Nakamoto published his white paper; Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System, most of the technological ingredients that are in the digital currencies have been in existence for many years before.
For instance, cryptography has been part of human civilization going back thousands of years. Julius Caesar used it to communicate securely with his generals and foot soldiers.
Closer to our times, cryptography was at the center of both the first and second world wars. In particular, the success and failure of the Enigma, the Germany cipher machine, have been portrayed charting the course and ultimately shaping the outcome of the Second World War.
You can, therefore, imagine how many books have been written about cryptography both for the public consumption as well as for professional training.
On its part, Proof of Work as a concept came into being almost two decades before Nakamoto published his white paper. It was fronted as the solution to email spam and denial of services attacks in the 1990s.
Thus, it also has wide coverage in published materials, including books.
However, the basic reading list, whoever is interested in studying bitcoin, should start with is the one Nakamoto provides at the bottom of his whitepaper as reference.
The majority of the sources in the reference list are, however, not books, but a number is. One of them is D. Bayer, S. Haber, W.S. Stornetta, “Improving the efficiency and reliability of digital time-stamping,” In Sequences II: Methods in Communication, Security and Computer Science, pages 329-334, 1993.
The other is W. Feller, “An introduction to probability theory and its applications,” 1957.
Shifting gears to post 2008, the following are five of the more Bitcoin specific books you should strive to read:
This book is authored by Andreas M. Antonopoulos and was published by O’Reilly Media, Inc. in December 2014. Mr. Antonopoulos is an information security expert and an investor in tech startups, who got attracted to Bitcoin in late 2011.
Some of the other ways he has involved himself with the digital currency includes hosting a podcast under the name Let’s Talk Bitcoin and speaking in events that promote the technology around the world. He is a teaching fellow for master in science Digital Currencies at the University of Nicosia.
In Mastering Bitcoin, he introduces readers to both the basics and in-depth workings of Bitcoin.
This is a book written by two Wall Street journalists Paul Vigna and Michael J. Casey. It was published by St. Martin’s Press in early 2015. Within its pages, it seeks to explain the opportunities that can be found in the virtual currency as well as the pitfalls that could be on its path.
It, in particular, tries to answer the question as to whether Bitcoin will significantly disrupt the traditional financial system. It also looks at the possibility of the technology being what billions of worlds “unbanked” have been waiting for.
This is a book by the New York Times technology and business reporter Nathaniel Popper. It focuses its attention on the major players in the Bitcoin ecosystem.
It looks in details at those who have made millions of dollar worth wealth from the cryptocurrency. The list includes the likes of Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss, Satoshi Nakamoto and even the Silk Road villain, Ross Ulbricht.
The book also provides insights into the lost opportunities and the haggling that has been going on behind the corporate scene regarding the viability of ventures based on the blockchain technology.
Blockchain is authored by Melanie Swan, who is the founder of the Institute for Blockchain Studies. In this book, she explains to the reader why the technology on which bitcoin is built is more critical than the currency.
After reading this book, you will understand that the blockchain is much more significant than Bitcoin as a disruptive technology. The author makes it clear to you that the blockchain technology is a public ledger that applies to everything from asset record management to voting.
Everyone agrees that Satoshi Nakamoto is the founder of Bitcoin. What is not clear though is who he/she or they really were. No one ever met this person in the physical world. Nevertheless, Nakamoto did have an online presence and indeed did interact with various individuals.
During the early days of Bitcoin, the person behind the name published posts and engaged in chats. These writings remain the only contact the Bitcoin community has with the inventor of the cryptocurrency.
The book of Nakamoto is essentially a collection of these writings, chats, and posts.
The above are five of the initial bitcoin books to be published. It is only true that as the technology gets more adoption and thus generates thirst of information, more books are bound to come out of the publishers. So, be on the lookout!