If the buzz around bitcoin has peaked your interest, you certainly aren't alone.
Cryptocurrencies like bitcoin, ethereum and litecoin have all raised eyebrows with big gains in recent months — including a dramatic spike in December when bitcoin briefly topped $19,000 trading on the Coinbase exchange — and big drops like an 11 percent slump in bitcoin after the South Korean government announced plans for new regulation. Thursday morning, bitcoin was near $14,000 on the Coinbase exchange.
Before you seriously consider storing wealth in a digital currency, investing expert and "Shark Tank" star Kevin O'Leary has words of caution: do some research.
"You should never invest in something you don't understand," O'Leary tells CNBC Make It.
To study up on where bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies came from, what they do and how they work, here are six books to get you started.
Nathaniel Popper, a reporter at The New York Times who covers finance and technology, chronicles the history of the earliest bitcoin supporters in his 2015 book, including the stories of key players like the Winklevoss twins, Cameron and Tyler (who reportedly became the first "bitcoin billionaires " when the cryptocurrency's value breached $10,000 in November) and bitcoin's mysterious creator Satoshi Nakamoto.
"Bitcoin may be a product of computer science, but it is a very human story. ... This highly entertaining history reminds us yet again that truth can be stranger than fiction," former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers says of the book.
Chris Burniske, partner at crypto-focused venture capital firm Placeholder Capital, and Jack Tatar, a frequent author on personal finance, published a "how-to" guide for investing in bitcoin and other digital assets. Their 2017 book discusses how to value cryptocurrencies, when to invest, and "tips to navigate inevitable bubbles and manias," according to the book's website.
"Informative and actionable, Cryptoassets is a must-read for crypto-enthusiasts and capital market investors alike," Arthur Laffer, a member of former President Ronald Reagan's Economic Policy Advisory Board, says of the book.
Bitcoin uses a technology called blockchain, which is a digital ledger. (Check out CNBC's explainer here.) Blockchain experts Don Tapscott and Alex Tapscott explore how the technology could impact global systems in their 2016 book. The father and son pair co-founded the Blockchain Research Institute, a Canadian think tank with backing from companies like Microsoft, IBM, FedEx and PepsiCo. Forbes named Don Tapscott the second most influential business thinker in 2017.
"The Tapscotts have written the book, literally, on how to survive and thrive in this next wave of technology-driven disruption. Likely to become one of the iconic books of our time," says Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen.
Wall Street Journal reporters Paul Vigna and Michael J. Casey seek to explain how a world run on digital money would differ from today's system of tangible cash, banks, checkbooks, gold and credit cards in their 2015 book.
For example, the book's opening anecdote about a woman in Afghanistan with no bank account accessing money through cryptocurrency shows the kinds of change technology can bring, Fortune notes in a review.
"Vigna and Casey's thorough, timely and colorful book is a rewarding place to learn about it all," according to a review in The New York Times.
This book tells the story of Ross Ulbricht, creator of the Silk Road, who built the dark web e-commerce site into a $1.2 billion platform for drugs, guns and anything else illegal.
One of Amazon's 100 Best Books of 2017, Apple's Best Book of 2017 and a New York Times "Editor's Choice" best-seller, bitcoin enthusiasts can read about the role cryptocurrency played. Nick Bilton is a special correspondent for Vanity Fair, a former reporter for The New York Times and a contributor to CNBC.
For readers who want to explore more theory, "The Internet of Money" is a collection of talks given by technologist Andreas Antonopoulos, explaining the big picture themes on why a shift to digital currency matters.
For real experts: Antonopoulos also wrote the No. 1 best-seller in Amazon's economics book section, "Mastering Bitcoin: Programming the Open Blockchain," which gets into the technological foundations of how blockchain and cryptocurrencies really work.
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