Bill Gates 2020 Summer Reading List
Bill Gates Summer Reading List

Bill Gates 2020 Summer Reading List

It’s here! The wait is finally over for the most anticipated book recommendation list of the year by avid reader, Bill Gates. In his most recent blog post, 5 summer books and other things to do at homeGates discusses his top five reads for the summer along with a few more books to make time for this year as you soak up some rays. Let’s get right into it and see which books are on his list.

The Choice by Dr. Edith Eva Eger

If anyone knows what it is like going through a difficult situation, Dr. Edith Eva Eger does. Eger and her family were sent to Auschwitz when she was 16. Her parents were killed, but she was able to survive and made her way to America where she became a therapist. Gates writes, “I think many people will find comfort right now from her suggestions on how to handle difficult situations.” It reads as a memior but acts as a guide to processing trauma.


Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

Cloud Atlas is a book whose plot is difficult to explain but is sure to keep you entertained. The novel is composed of six interrelated stories that span throughout history. The story begins in 1850 and somehow ends up there too. Each time period has a reoccurring character that you’ll have to figure out based on a set of clues. Through these time periods and stories, you see the best and worst in humanity. Gates says, “This is the kind of novel you’ll think and talk about for a long time after you finish it.”


What If? Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions by Randall Munroe

NASA engineer and author of the webcomic blog XKCD Randall Munroe explores more absurd questions in his second book, What If? One example of a question Munroe answers is, “From what height would you need to drop a steak for it to be cooked when it hit the ground?” The answer? “High enough that it would disintegrate before it hit the ground.” Be sure to get a paperback copy to see all the hilarious cartoons that make science fun.


The Headspace Guide to Meditation and Mindfulness by Andy Puddicombe

Are you surprised to see a book about meditation on Gates’s list of to-read books? So was he! Gates says that he was a skeptic at first, but thanks to Andy Puddicombe’s book, he now meditates at least three times a week. Read The Headspace Guide to Meditation and Mindfulness if you’re interested in learning more about meditation or think it is something you’d make apart of your routine.

Moonwalking with Einstein by Joshua Foer

We are a fan of strengthing memory and enjoyed Moonwalking with Einstein as much as Gates did. Curious to know more about the human mind and why some people have such great memories, Joshua Foer went to the world memory contest to find out more. He found a common memorization strategy amongst all these memorable minds! He writes about how visualization is key to memory and why building a memory palace is a useful mnemonic technique. And we have to agree!  


The Great Influenza by John M. Barry 

The world is facing a pandemic that it hasn’t experienced since 1918 when the Spanish flu infected roughly one-third of the world’s population. Gate’s grandmother was 27 and pregnant with his dad’s older sister. Gates said he read The Great Influenza once before, but because of COVID 19, he reread it to brush up on what society learned after overcoming such a horrible time. 

Good Economics for Hard Times by Abhijit V. Banerjee and Esther Duflo

Good Economics for Hard Times is another book Gates included on his list this year because of the pandemic. Gates has much respect for the authors and explains that people without a degree in economics or much experience with economics will understand this book. The book focuses on wealthy countries like the US, whereas their previous novel, Poor Economics, discussed fighting poverty. The topics they touch on include job loss, immigration, trade, taxing the rich, which will give more insight into what the country is facing right now. 

The Ride of a Lifetime by Bob Iger

Ever wonder what it is like to be the CEO of a large company? Bob Iger recently stepped down as the CEO of Disney after 15 years running the show. Gates praises the book as one of the best business reads he has come across in a while. “I think anyone would enjoy this book, whether they’re looking for business insights or just want a good read by a humble guy who climbed the corporate ladder to successfully run one of the biggest companies in the world,” says Gates. As a businessman himself, Gates can relate to the journey Iger has been through running a household name company.

The Martian by Andy Weir

If you haven’t read the book or seen the movie, The Martian will take you to Mars away from everything going on here on earth. The main character, Mark Watney, is one of the first people to go to Mars, and maybe the first person to die there too. Finally, Mark sets aside his fear and says, “I’m going to science the s*** out of this.” Gates says that this is what we’re doing with the coronavirus too.

The Best We Could Do by Thi Bui

Thi Bui creatively explains what her life was like growing up with parents who survived the Vietnam War. The Best We Could Do is a graphic novel that brings to life Bui’s understanding of what her parents endured during that time period. By the end, you’ll understand what it means to be a parent and a refugee.

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

Something we all can relate to right now is what it feels like to limit interactions with people and minimize the time you’re out in public. For sure anyone who reads A Gentleman in Moscow will understand what it is like when orders become even more restrictive. Count Alexander Rostov is sentenced to life under house arrest in a hotel. How horrible to live out the rest of your days in a glamorous hotel versus a prison cell, right? Gates recommends it because he thought it was fun, clever, and an upbeat story about making the best of what life’s thrown at you.


Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened by Allie Brosh

For a light and funny ready, Gates recommends Hyperbole and a Half. Award-winning blogger Allie Brosh reveals more about her childhood through comics in her third publication. “You will rip through it in three hours, tops. But you’ll wish it went on longer, because it’s funny and smart as hell. I must have read Melinda a dozen hilarious passages out loud.” Brosh touches on depression, and many other book reviewers claim that they are the most insightful meditations anyone has ever written about the disease. We dare you not to laugh.


See what else Gates has to say about his top five summer reads in the video below courtesy of Gates Notes.

When you need a break from reading, check out one of Gates TV or movie recommendations. He suggests watching: This Is Us, Pandemic: How to Prevent an Outbreak, A Million Little Things, Ozark, I Claudius, and Spy Game (his favorite movie). For another activity to keep you busy this summer, check out our How To Remember Names Effectively online course. Become the professional in your industry known for never forgetting a client’s name! In this course, you’ll learn how politicians and other professionals remember names more effectively. Click the link for more information and to sign up today.

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