15 Books Bill Gates Thinks You Should Read
As an avid reader, Bill Gates has his fair share of book recommendations. During the summer months, Gates reading list increases significantly. Reflecting on his childhood he says, “I’d check out so many books that the librarians wouldn’t give me new ones until I returned some.” As funny as that is, it is the one reason why so many people turn to Gates for book recommendations.
There’s still time left in the summer to be like Gates and grab a stack of books at your local library. See below for a handful of books he advises to read.
Try fitting the entire history of humans in just 400 pages. Some may find that tough, but author Noah Yuval Harari managed to. In Gates says, “I found things to disagree with—especially Harari’s claim that humans were better off before we started farming—I would recommend Sapiens to anyone who’s interested in the history and future of our species.” Sapiens is one of those books that is sure to spark a discussion at the next family barbeque.
An inspiring personal story, Wall Street Journal reporter, Amanda Bennett writes about what she and her ill husband went through when dealing with the US healthcare system. Gates writes, “It is a graphic reminder of the complexity of the problem through the lens of someone who has tragically lost a loved one.” The Cost of Hope will raise questions and truly make you think.
The energy sector is complex, and expert Daniel Yergin breaks it all down for readers in his book, The Quest. In 816 pages, Yergin goes through the history of oil and natural gas resources. He then discusses alternative fuel resources like solar energy. Gates writes in his review, “His book is a real contribution to a debate that deserves far more attention, in my view.”
The Bill and Melinda Gates are active philanthropists which makes However Long the Night a fitting read for them to suggest. Melinda Gates was the one that came across it first and wrote a lovely review on the foundation’s site. She says, “However Long the Night reinforced my own belief that the best solution to disease and poverty is already present in developing communities around the world.”
Authors Robert B. Archibald and David H. Feldman explore the ongoing debate about the high cost of college. They discuss how the economy, affordability, financial aid, and the pressure of getting a higher degree play in the rise of tuition. Gates states, “My view is that as long as there’s a scarcity of college graduates, a college degree will be quite valuable. So people will pay more to get one.”
One of the most enjoyable reads Gates can recommend is The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion. Don Tillman, a professor of genetics, decides that it is about time he found a wife. Gates jokes, “Melinda thought I would appreciate the parts where he’s a little too obsessed with optimizing his schedule. She was right.” A romantic comedy to enjoy this summer.
For business owners and professionals alike, Business Adventures is a must-read. New Yorker contributor John Brooks reviews the successes and failures of some of the biggest names on Wall Street. “Business Adventures is a neglected classic, and it’s still my favorite business book ever,” says Gates.
In Should We Eat Meat?, Vaclav Smil discusses the health and environmental impact eating meat has. Smil argues why the world, more specifically western societies, should eat less meat and the effect it would have on the planet overall. Gates adds, “A timely book, though probably the least beach-friendly one on this list.” Thanks for the fair warning!
After years of research, psychologist Carol S. Dweck Ph.D. discovered that how we think about our abilities and talents can make all the difference to life’s successes. “The value of this book extends way beyond the world of education,” Gates says. It is a read that can transform talented professionals as well as parents who want their children to grow up with a strong sense of confidence.
In physics, string theory is an explanation for the theoretical framework of particles. David Foster Wallace’s book has absolutely nothing to do with that, but instead is a collection of essay on tennis, a sport Gates enjoys. “Its title will make you look super smart if you’re reading it on a train or plane,” Gates says. The perfect way to show off while on your summer travels.
Former President Jimmy Carter is an author of over two dozen books. In A Full Life, President Carter explores regrets he has and what he would do differently. “Although most of the stories come from previous decades, A Full Life feels timely in an era when the public’s confidence in national political figures and institutions is low.” An inspiring read despite what your political beliefs may be.
Actor and comedian Eddie Izzard recounts his life growing up without a mother whom he lost at a young age, his sexual politics, and career in film. “His written voice is very similar to his stage voice, and I found myself laughing out loud several times while reading it.” An enjoyable read to bring with you as you relax by the pool.
Since the day Factfulness hit bookshelves, Gates has been recommending it. In it, the authors discuss why the most common simple questions receive incorrect responses. Hans, Ola, and Anna offer a new explanation and reveal ten instincts that attribute to the distorted perspective we have. Hans also happens to be a dear friend of Gates who passed away in 2017. Gates says, “It’s a fitting final word from a brilliant man, and one of the best books I’ve ever read.”
Who doesn’t love a book that is hard to put down? Bad Blood by John Carreyrou takes you through a series of events that lead to Theranos founder and CEO Elizabeth Holmes committing the biggest corporate fraud since Enron. “This book has everything: elaborate scams, corporate intrigue, magazine cover stories, ruined family relationships, and the demise of a company once valued at nearly $10 billion,” Gates says. Find out all the details of how the series of events played out in this riveting read.
Are you a fan of books about Russia? As someone who has read every book by Dostoyevsky, Gates sure is! A Gentleman in Moscow is the story of how in 1922, Count Alexander Rostov was placed under house arrest because he wrote a poem with revolutionary subtext. The Count’s limited circumstances leads him on an emotional journey, and he discovers what it means to have a purpose in life. Gates writes that “Towles’s novel about a count sentenced to life under house arrest in a Moscow hotel is fun, clever, and surprisingly upbeat.” He continues to say it was worth joining a book club to read it.
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