Bill Gates: Summer Reading

Add the billionaire philanthropist and co-founder of Microsoft to those with summer reading recommendations.

Bill Gates posts five picks to his blog, gatesnotes, saying that “The books on this year’s summer reading list pushed me out of my own experiences, and I learned some things that shed new light on how our experiences shape us and where humanity might be headed.”

He offers an animated tour of each pick, detailing its pleasures:

As happened with his summer reading list from last year, several of the books are rising on Amazon as a result of his attention. Just a few weeks ago Gates took to Twitter to push Steven Pinker’s 2010 book, The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined, and it soared to the top of the Amazon sales charts.

The five picks:

Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah (PRH/Spiegel & Grau; Brilliance Audio; OverDrive Sample). Gates says “I loved reading this memoir about how its host honed his outsider approach to comedy over a lifetime of never quite fitting in.” It has jumped from #275 to #67 on Amazon.

The Heart by Maylis de Kerangal (Macmillan/FSG; OverDrive Sample). Gates admits he primarily reads nonfiction, but was very glad his wife gave him this novel about a heart transplant and all the lives it connects. He says “what de Kerangal has done here in this exploration of grief is closer to poetry than anything else.”

J.D. Vance, author of Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis (Harper; HarperAudio; OverDrive Sample). Used as THE book to explain the 2016 election, Gates writes it also explains the impact of a chaotic childhood and says “the real magic lies in the story itself and Vance’s bravery in telling it.” Already doing just fine, the Gates mention moved it from #18 to #10 on Amazon’s rankings.

Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow by Yuval Noah Harari (HC/Harper; HarperAudio; OverDrive Sample). Calling it “provocative … challenging, readable, and thought-provoking,” Gates says he does not agree with everything Harari says but thinks it is “a smart look at what may be ahead for humanity.” Another rising title on Amazon, it moved from #354 to #125.

A Full Life: Reflections at Ninety by Jimmy Carter (S&S; S&S Audio; OverDrive Sample). Gates writes that this presidential memoir “feels timely in an era when the public’s confidence in national political figures and institutions is low.”

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