Bill Gates has made a tradition of sharing his favourite reads through his blog gatesnotes.com. Every year he comes up with his top reads which he thinks everyone must read.
The theme of Gates’ 2018 summer book list is that they all “wrestle with big questions,” the self-made billionaire and Microsoft co-founder write, “What makes a genius tick? Why do bad things happen to good people? Where does humanity come from, and where are we headed?”
He also added that the content of these books is heavy, but all these books were fun to read and most of them are pretty short.
Let’s get into the top 5 summer edition picks by Bill Gates.
1. Origin Story: A Big History of Everything, by David Christian.
In the blog speaking about the book Gates said, David created my favourite course of all time, Big History. It tells the story of the universe from the big bang to today’s complex societies, weaving together insights and evidence from various disciplines into a single narrative. If you haven’t taken Big History yet, Origin Story is a great introduction. If you have, it’s a great refresher. Either way, the book will leave you with a greater appreciation of humanity’s place in the universe.
2. “Everything Happens for a Reason and Other Lies I’ve Loved” by Kate Bowler
Kate Bowler shows in her wonderful new memoir, Everything Happens for a Reason and Other Lies I’ve Loved, some “why” questions can’t be answered satisfactorily with facts. Bowler was 35 years old, married to her high-school sweetheart, and raising their young son when she was diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer. When she got sick, she didn’t want to know what was making her body’s cells mutate and multiply out of control. She had deeper questions: Why me? Is this a test of my character?
The book is about her search for answers that align with her deeply held religious beliefs. A professor at Duke Divinity School in North Carolina, she grew up in a family of Mennonites and wrote a history of the prosperity gospel, the idea popular among some Christians that God rewards the faithful with health and wealth.
3. “Leonardo da Vinci” by Walter Isaacson
Gates said he think’s Leonardo was one of the most fascinating people ever. Although today he’s best known as a painter, Leonardo had an absurdly wide range of interests, from human anatomy to the theatre. Isaacson does the best job he has seen of pulling together the different strands of Leonardo’s life and explaining what made him so exceptional. A worthy follow-up to Isaacson’s great biographies of Albert Einstein and Steve Jobs.
4. “Lincoln in the Bardo” by George Saunders
In the review, he said he thought he knew everything that he needed to know about Abraham Lincoln, but this novel made him rethink parts of his life. It blends historical facts from the Civil War with fantastical elements—it’s basically a long conversation among 166 ghosts, including Lincoln’s deceased son. I got new insight into the way Lincoln must have been crushed by the weight of both grief and responsibility. This is one of those fascinating, ambiguous books you’ll want to discuss with a friend when you’re done.
5. “Factfulness” by Hans Rosling
In the blog, Bill Gates mentioned that he had been recommending this book since the day it came out. Hans, the brilliant global-health lecturer who died last year, gives you a breakthrough way of understanding basic truths about the world—how life is getting better, and where the world still needs to improve. And he weaves in unforgettable anecdotes from his life. It’s a fitting final word from a brilliant man, and one of the best books he has ever read.