Bill Gates shares his reading list every summer, trying to encourage people to read more. His list of this yearconsists of five books and we look at them for a moment, you can see if there is anything for you. As usual, Gates is thinking about the (major) problems we have as humanity on earth, but also the struggles we experience as people. A nice mix, if you are not too afraid to light something this summer.
1. Leonardo da Vinci – Walter Isaacson
If the writer of this book is known to you, it will be fixed because you have read his Steve Jobs biography. This time Isaacson is going to work with one of the most inventive people ever to have lived. Da Vinci was not only a writer, thinker, artist, philosopher, inventor, and composer, he was above all curious and Gates greatly appeals to that. As he says: wisdom is one of the few things that you can not buy and from whom to learn better than the most curious person on earth?
2. Origin Story: A Big History of Everything – David Christian
Historian David Christian does history in this book that Stephen Hawking did for theoretical physics. He focuses on the really important moments in our history as he did in hislegendary TED talkand also in book form it is not to be sneezed by Gates. And those who do not know the past are doomed to repeat them, were not they?
3. Everything Happens for a Reason and Other Lies I’ve Loved – Kate Bowler
This book is about a professor at a prestigious college in the US getting a stage four cancer diagnosis and how she is struggling with that. Gates finds it interesting how some ‘why’ questions can not be answered with facts, at least not in a satisfactory way. Bowler grew up in a believing family who felt that deep faith usually led to the real reward, which, according to Gates, makes her perspective all the more interesting. Sometimes cause and effect have nothing to do with each other, and that can be a hard lesson.
4. Lincoln in the Bardo, George Saunders
If you think ‘I’ll skip this’, wait: it’s not a historical book about Lincoln, but a fantasy in which the former president is confronted with the ghost during the US civil war of his son and there is forced to face what he asks of other families whose sons he asks to enter the battlefield. Should this war be waged? And which outcome of the war justifies the number of victims? Interesting costs, says Gates, even if you have no fascination with Lincoln.
Measure What Matters – John Doerr
If you are still looking for management tips, John Doerr is your man. He has a system that works with OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) and although Gates himself already says that his foundation is also in the book and that he can not be completely objective, he would be very charmed by the system. This is only suitable if you are looking for a system to make a company better, not to think about the bigger problems on ‘nature.
Bonus: Factfulness – Hans Rosling
Although he is not mentioned in this list, Gates has long been a fan of this book. He says that it is a push for people who want to make a difference. The book revolves around the ten instincts that keep us from seeing the world as it really is, he says about it. There is fear, the distorted image that can give figures and what is called the ‘gap instinct’: it always falls between two extremes. The book provides practical solutions to combat this bias and thus to be able to really look at the facts.