Successful people’s books can provide an insight into their thoughts with their choice of literature, giving us a peek into their world.
William Henry Gates is an American business magnate, investor, author, philanthropist, and co-founder of Microsoft. Later in his career, Gates pursued several philanthropic endeavours, donating large amounts of money to various charitable organizations and scientific research programs through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
He has written several books, including:
The Road Ahead, written with Microsoft executive Nathan Myhrvold and journalist Peter Rinearson, was published in November 1995. It summarized the implications of the personal computing revolution and described a future profoundly changed by the arrival of a global information superhighway.
Business @ the Speed of Thought was published in 1999 and discusses how business and technology are integrated and shows how digital infrastructures and information networks can help to get an edge on the competition.
Here are five books that Bill Gates thinks you should read in the summer:
by Trevor Noah
Gates wrote that as a longtime fan of The Daily Show, he loved reading this memoir about how its host honed his outsider approach to comedy over a lifetime of never quite fitting in.
Born to a black South African mother and a white Swiss father in apartheid South Africa, he entered the world as a biracial child in a country where mixed-race relationships were forbidden. Much of Noah’s story of growing up in South Africa is tragic. Yet, as anyone who watches his nightly monologues knows, his moving stories will often leave you laughing.
by Maylis de Kerangal
While you’ll find this book in the fiction section at your local bookstore, what de Kerangal has done here in this exploration of grief is closer to poetry than anything else. At its most basic level, she tells the story of a heart transplant: a young man is killed in an accident, and his parents decide to donate his heart. But the plot is secondary to the strength of its words and characters. The book uses beautiful language to connect you deeply with people who may be in the story for only a few minutes. For example, de Kerangal goes on for pages about the girlfriend of the surgeon who does the transplant even though you never meet that character.
He also added that his wife recommended this book. “I’m glad Melinda recommended this book to me, and I recently passed it along to a friend who sticks mostly with nonfiction,” he said.
by J.D. Vance
“The disadvantaged world of poor white Appalachia described in this terrific, heartbreaking book is one that I know only vicariously,” Gates writes of his experience with this book.
The book’s main character Vance was raised chiefly by his loving but volatile grandparents, who stepped in after his father abandoned him and his mother showed little interest in parenting her son. Against all the odds, he survived his chaotic, impoverished childhood only to land at Yale Law School.
While the book offers insights into some of the complex cultural and family issues behind poverty, he said the real magic lies in the story itself and Vance’s bravery in telling it.
by Yuval Noah Harari
Bill Gates recommended Harari’s previous book Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind in last summer’s reading list and claims that this provocative follow-up is just as challenging, readable, and thought-provoking.
Homo Deus argues that the principles that have organized society will undergo a massive shift in the 21st century, with significant consequences for life as we know it. So far, the things that have shaped culture—what we measure ourselves by—have been religious rules about living a good life or more earthly goals like getting rid of sickness, hunger, and war.
“What would the world be like if we achieved those things? I don’t agree with everything Harari has to say, but he has written a smart look at what may be ahead for humanity,” Gates said.
by Jimmy Carter
Even though the former President has already written over two dozen books, he somehow saved some great anecdotes for this quick, condensed tour of his fascinating life, Gates writes.
“I loved reading about Carter’s improbable rise to the world’s highest office,” Gates said, adding that the book will help you understand how growing up in rural Georgia in a house without running water, electricity, or insulation shaped his time in the White House. 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.
“Some of these books helped me better understand what it’s like to grow up outside the mainstream: as a child of mixed race in apartheid South Africa, as a young man trying to escape his impoverished life in rural Appalachia, or as the son of a peanut farmer in Plains, Georgia,” Gates wrote on his blog.
I hope you’ll find that others make you think deeper about what it means to truly connect with other people and have a purpose in your life. And all of them will transport you somewhere else—whether you’re sitting on a beach towel or your couch.