Wisdom//

Bill Gates Reveals His 6 Favorite Books He Read in the Past Year

He reads about 50 books a year, but only a few make his list of favorites.

 Aurelien Meunier / Contributor/ Getty Images 

By Leanna Garfield 

Bill Gates reads about 50 books a year, but only a few make his annual list of favorites.

For several years, the Microsoft founder has chosen five titles he enjoyed over the past year and published reviews of them on his Gates Notes blog.

Here are his recommendations.

“Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress” by Steven Pinker

In the past, Gates has raved about Pinker’s 2011 book “The Better Angels of Our Nature,” but he now writes that “Enlightenment Now” is even better.

The book, released in 2018, tracks 15 different measures of human progress, including quality of life, knowledge, and safety.

“The result is a holistic picture of how and why the world is getting better,” Gates writes.

He also notes a few of his favorite stats from “Enlightenment Now.” They include: time spent doing laundry fell from 11.5 hours a week in 1920 to an hour and a half in 2014; the global average IQ score is rising by about 3 IQ points every decade; and people are much less likely to die on the job compared to a century ago.

“The Best We Could Do” by Thi Bui (2017)

This illustrated memoir follows the daughter of Vietnamese refugees who came to the US after the fall of Saigon in 1975.

She learns a heartbreaking truth about the sacrifices her parents made for her and her siblings, as well as the turmoil created by French and American occupation in Vietnam.

“I thought she did a great job capturing how daunting it feels to be responsible for your family,” Gates wrote. “At the same time, her family’s experience is different from most (and certainly mine). It’s clear that a lot of the dysfunction surrounding her childhood is a direct result of what happened in Vietnam.”

“Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City” by Matthew Desmond (2016)

Desmond, a sociologist at Princeton University, spent 18 months living in two neighborhoods in Milwaukee, Wisconsin — one mostly white, the other mostly black — with high rates of poverty and documented the lives of residents, including landlords and renters.

It was easy to empathize with the subjects, Gates said, because Desmond helps you understand why they make their choices. He won a MacArthur Foundation “genius” grant and a Pulitzer for “Evicted.”

“When you’re paying so much to keep a roof over your head, there’s no room for bad luck,” Gates wrote. “A single bad incident can send you reeling.”

“Believe Me: A Memoir of Love, Death, and Jazz Chickens” by Eddie Izzard (2017)

In this memoir, Izzard writes about how he worked through his childhood struggles, learned new skills, and became a world-renowned comedian, actor, writer, runner, and activist.

Gates said he connected with Izzard even though it would appear they have nothing in common — but that might be the point the author is trying to communicate.

“I’ve recently discovered that I have a lot in common with a funny, dyslexic, transgender actor, comedian, escape artist, unicyclist, ultra-marathoner, and pilot from Great Britain. Except all of the above,” Gates wrote. “We’re all cut from the same cloth. In his words, ‘We are all totally different, but we are all exactly the same.'”

“The Sympathizer” by Viet Thanh Nguyen (2015)

Nguyen’s Pulitzer-winning historical fiction novel is about a Vietnamese double agent who spies on a refugee community in Los Angeles on behalf of the North Vietnamese government.

“Nguyen doesn’t shy away from how traumatic the Vietnam War was for everyone involved. Nor does he pass judgment about where his narrator’s loyalties should lie,” Gates wrote. “Most war stories are clear about which side you should root for — ‘The Sympathizer’ doesn’t let the reader off the hook so easily.”

“Energy and Civilization: A History” by Vaclav Smil (2017)

Gates’ last pick explores how energy — from donkey-powered mills to renewable power sources — has shaped societies throughout history.

Gates has read nearly all of Smil’s 37 books, and his latest one makes the case that energy consumption and economic growth are undeniably linked.

“Yes, our history has a lot to do with kings and queens and games of thrones,” Gates wrote. “Smil shows that it has even more to do with energy innovation.”

Originally published at www.businessinsider.com

More from Business Insider: 

Bill Gates’ investment group spent $80 million to build a ‘smart city’ in the desert — and urban planners are divided

A Harvard researcher invented these $139,000 stackable homes that can be built in under three weeks

The US cities with the worst commutes to work

The Thrive Global Community welcomes voices from many spheres. We publish pieces written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Learn more or join us as a community member!
Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

Sign up for the Thrive Global newsletter

Will be used in accordance with our privacy policy.

Thrive Global
People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- MARCUS AURELIUS

We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.