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What Bill Gates has Been Reading and Thinks You Should Too

By Beth Clark • November 01, 2018

Book Reviews vs. Recommendations

Reviews by literary critics carry a certain amount of sway that ranges from mildly enlightening to "Holy alphabet soup balls…I gotta get my hands on that book!" But a reading recommendation by someone we either know and/or respect who's into similar genres counts double. Someone like Bill Gates, for instance. :)

Bill Gates

Modern titan, family man, and philanthropist Bill Gates is a busy guy, but he's still a prolific reader...about 50 books a year. He credits books with being the primary way he keeps up with the world and how he learned about it to begin with. His topic choices vary, but education, business, development, and poverty tend to be repeats. In his blog, Gates Notes, he highlights what he's reading and what he's read, with a synopsis of each (thus, the "notes" part). Below are a few he recommended recently.

Leonardo da Vinci by Walter Isaacson

This bestselling biography of a remarkable man follows Isaacson's previous works about Albert Einstein and Steve Jobs. "Although today he's best known as a painter, Leonardo had an absurdly wide range of interests, from human anatomy to the theater," writes Gates. "Isaacson does the best job I've seen of pulling together the different strands of Leonardo's life and explaining what made him so exceptional."

Everything Happens for a Reason and Other Lies I've Loved by Kate Bowler

In 2015 Bowler, a professor at Duke Divinity School, was diagnosed with stage IV cancer at the age of 35—and in this book set out to understand why. "The result is a heartbreaking, surprisingly funny memoir about faith and coming to grips with your own mortality," writes Gates.

Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders

Winner of the Man Booker Prize for fiction last year, this unique novel — told in 166 ghostly voices — has at its center a grieving Abraham Lincoln, coping with the death of his young son. "I got new insight into the way Lincoln must have been crushed by the weight of both grief and responsibility," writes Gates. "This is one of those fascinating, ambiguous books you'll want to discuss with a friend when you're done."

Origin Story: A Big History of Everything by David Christian

"David created my favorite course of all time, ‘Big History,'" writes Gates, who is a supporter of the Big History Project (which makes the course available to learners and educators everywhere). The book, "which tells the story of the universe from the Big Bang to today's complex societies," writes Gates, "will leave you with a greater appreciation of humanity's place in the universe."

Factfulness: Ten Reasons We're Wrong About the World—And Why Things Are Better Than You Think by Hans Rosling, with Ola Rosling and Anna Rosling Ronnlund

"I've been recommending this since it came out." Hans Rosling, a global-health lecturer who died in 2017, "gives a breakthrough way of understanding basic truths about the world — how life is getting better, and where the world needs to improve. It's one of the best books I've ever read."

Enlightenment Now by Steven Pinker

"For years, I've been saying Steven Pinker's The Better Angels of Our Nature was the best book I'd read in a decade. If I could recommend just one book for anyone to pick up, that was it. Pinker uses meticulous research to argue that we are living in the most peaceful time in human history. I'd never seen such a clear explanation of progress. I'm going to stop talking up Better Angels so much, because Pinker has managed to top himself. His new book is even better."

We'll have more titans of industry reading lists coming up, so be sure to read our blog and follow us on Pinterest to Pin all of the fantastic titles they recommend! Oh, and feel free to share our blog and comment.

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Celebrities | Nonfiction | Inspirational
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