Bill Gates has been known to share his favorite books in interviews and speeches, piquing the curiosity of those eager to know what’s on the “Bill Gates reading list.” His book recommendations span various genres and subjects, showcasing his multifaceted intellect and curiosity.
Bill Gates is just a couple of months older than me. He was born on October 28, 1955, in Seattle, Washington, has become a household name in the digital age. As the co-founder of Microsoft Corporation, he transformed personal computing and remains a prominent figure in the technology industry. His philanthropic work through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has also established him as one of the world’s most recognized and influential individuals.
Opinions about Gates are quite diverse. Some admire his contributions to technology, education, and global health, while others view him with skepticism due to concerns about his influence and intentions. Regardless of one’s perspective, there’s no denying that Gates is a passionate reader with a wide array of interests.
Bill Gates reading list
To help you delve into the mind of this iconic figure, we’ve compiled a list of book recommendations by Bill Gates, summarizing the titles he has praised or mentioned. This collection offers a glimpse into the literary influences that have shaped his thoughts and decision-making processes. By exploring these works, readers can gain a deeper understanding of the principles and values that guide Gates’ actions and beliefs, revealing the man behind his public image.
Bill Gates frequently shares his thoughts on books he has read through his personal website, offering readers an opportunity to discover his favorite book reviews and recommendations. Many of the books on the Bill Gates reading list have been personally reviewed by Gates, providing valuable insights into his thought process and perspectives on various subjects. The selection of titles mentioned earlier includes the ones I have read myself or have added to my own reading list.
1. Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari
Harari, who is an Israeli historian, takes on a daunting challenge: to tell the entire history of us, the human race, in a mere 400 pages (Gatenotes).
Harari’s unique perspective highlights the importance of stories and myths in uniting people. Unlike other animals that form groups based on close social ties, Homo sapiens can bring millions of strangers together through shared beliefs. Abstract concepts like freedom, human rights, gods, laws, and capitalism exist in our imagination, but they powerfully bind us and enable cooperation on complex tasks.
The book prompted me to ponder philosophical questions concerning the past and the future of humanity.
2. How to Avoid a Climate Disaster by Bill Gates
This book emphasizes the importance of global collaboration and investment in clean energy research and development to mitigate the impacts of climate change. By offering a clear and accessible roadmap, Gates aims to inspire individuals, businesses, and governments to work together and take bold steps toward a more sustainable future.
I found it an extremely engaging book on an important topic. The book is quite scientific in nature, yet it is articulated in a way that makes it understandable to everyone.
3. The Better Angels of Our Nature by Steven Pinker
One of the books from Bill Gates reading list is reviewed in the New York Times. The Mind Meld of Bill Gates and Steven Pinker – The New York Times (nytimes.com)
Pinker, a renowned psychologist and cognitive scientist, presents a wealth of data and evidence to argue that modern society is less violent than ever before. The book explores the factors and forces that have contributed to this reduction, including the development of nation-states, the rise of democracy, advancements in technology, and the growing influence of empathy and reason.
Pinker challenges popular misconceptions about violence in the contemporary world and provides a nuanced understanding of how human behavior has evolved over time. By analyzing historical trends and the underlying psychological mechanisms that drive violence, “The Better Angels of Our Nature” offers an optimistic perspective on human progress and the potential for further improvement in the future.
4. Stranger in a strange land by Robert A. Heinlein
When Gates wrote about this book, I was kind of surprised. It was written in 1961 and, like Bill Gates, I’m sure I read it when I was a teenager. However, I forgot all about it and can’t remember if I read any other books by Heinlein.
Recently, I read the famous book “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” (recommended by Elon Musk), and I fell in love with the science fiction genre. However, I will have to reread “Stranger in a Strange Land” to refresh my memory. This is what I read about it on the internet:
The story follows a human named Valentine Michael Smith who was born and raised on Mars by a team of astronauts, and who returns to Earth as an adult. He possesses extraordinary abilities due to his Martian upbringing and becomes a cultural icon as well as a threat to established power structures on Earth.
The book explores themes of individualism, free love, and the search for meaning in life. It is considered a classic of the science fiction genre and has been influential in shaping the genre’s conventions.
I have reread the book by now. To really appreciate it, you have to let it soak in. At first, it’s about the cultural and linguistic differences between a man from Mars and the earthlings. He tries to adapt and do things the way he thinks they should be done. Eventually, the book unfolds as a reflection of the sixties with gurus, flower power, and free love.
For 1961, it was a daring book. Absurdist and in some ways even sexist. Still, it’s fun that I’ve re-read it, but it is not very high on my recommendation list.
5. A thousand brains by jeff hawkins
One of the books recommended by Bill Gates that is particularly current is ‘A Thousand Brains’ by Jeff Hawkins, which explores the latest breakthroughs in artificial intelligence and their potential impact on society.
Hawkins is a computer scientist, inventor, and entrepreneur who has previously written about neuroscience and artificial intelligence. In this book, he presents his theory of how the brain works, which is based on his research and observations.
According to Hawkins, the brain is not a computer that processes information, but rather a prediction machine that constantly generates and updates models of the world. He argues that this theory has profound implications for understanding human intelligence, consciousness, and creativity.
It discusses the potential impact of this theory on fields such as neuroscience, psychology, and AI research, and offers a compelling and thought-provoking perspective on the potential of the brain to shape our future.
If you choose to read this book, remember that the author’s vision on AI is his personal view. You might love it or hate it, depending on your own background and knowledge of the subject matter. It is important to keep an open mind and approach the book with a critical yet curious attitude to fully appreciate its insights.
Other recommended books
I have discovered several other books on my reading list that are recommended books by Bill Gates. I am listing them here because I plan to return to this article and update it as soon as I read one of them.
6. The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander
7. Factfulness by Hans Rosling (source)
8. A Promised Land by Barack Obama
Although I used to admire Barack Obama, I haven’t read his book yet. Therefore, it’s high on my reading list, and I appreciate knowing that it’s a book recommended by Bill Gates.
9. The sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert
10. These Truths by Jill Lepore (review by Bill Gates)