6 Books Bill Gates Wants You to Read
“Reading is still the main way that I both learn new things and test my understanding.”Bill Gates
It’s no secret that American business magnate, software developer and philanthropist Bill Gates is a bibliophile. He owes his vast consciousness and sensitivity towards varying conditions around the globe to reading books. During the pandemic, Gates took recourse to books to understand the peculiar situation as it unfolded around us. His ideas on the same have already been influential to thinkers and policy-makers across the globe.
With his progressive wisdom and thought-provoking ideas, Gates has never failed to inspire. Therefore, who better than the genius himself to recommend a few perspective-altering books? Below, we have curated a list of books that Gates has recommended frequently as his personal favourites, along with what he has to say about them.
- The Better Angels of our Nature by Steven Pinker
In this book, cognitive neuroscientist Steven Pinker challenges the classic assumption, put forth by thinkers like Thomas Hobbes, that humans are innately selfish and individualistic. According to this school of thought, our primal instincts are so strong that we are simply wired to cheat, steal, and kill in order to survive. In contrast to this, Pinker places his faith in the inherent goodness of humankind. He argues that we have a massive capacity for empathy and cooperation, and these jewels of the human condition, more often than not, manage to override our more selfish instincts. Gates has said that this is his “favourite book of the last decade”. He added that “it is a long but profound look at the reduction in violence and discrimination over time”
- What If? by Randall Munroe
We often find ourselves asking questions that we are too afraid to find the answers to. Questions such as-If the sun went dark what would happen to Earth? What if everyone had only one potential soulmate? What are the chances they would actually ever meet? As humans, we are wired to ponder over the large and significant aspects defining our existence. In What If, Munroe provides well-researched answers to an array of the most far-out hypothetical ‘what if’ scenarios. Upon reading it, Gates has claimed to have achieved a keener understanding of the role and purpose of humankind. He described his experience of reading the book as “transformational”.
- Moonwalking with Einstein by Joshua Foer
Remembering names and numbers is something many of us struggle with, but it’s easily fixable. US memory champion Joshua Foer explains that having a fantastic memory is a trained skill. For tips from the top, and to better understand how memory works, this book recommended Gates will transform your ideas about how your brain processes and stores information. Gates has said that he never believed that he could improve upon his cognitive functioning to such a great extent as these techniques recommended in the book by Foer did.
- Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell
This is a book especially close to Gates’ heart. He recommends it to anyone who is in pursuit of success, as it expresses the realities of the world by undermining common misconceptions. According to author Malcolm Gladwell, the ‘self-made man’ is a total myth. Instead, Gladwell argues that success is dependent on an amalgamation of factors including upbringing, chance, and even month of birth! Read Outliers to understand how by recognizing the causes of uneven playing fields, we can create more opportunities for people to succeed. Gates has expressed how he believes that this book will open up everyone’s eyes to inequities that exist and how to combat them to create a more egalitarian society.
- Homo Deus by Yuval Noah Harari
Yuval Noah Harari threads together the influences of religion, politics, and anthropological development into a unique theory that shows us why we’ve got to where we have and pushes us to question where it is that we want humanity to be going. In the 2Ist century, humankind has come a long way from surviving as primitive communities. Find out how our species evolved to become the most dominant one in nature and how technology will continue to play an enormous role in our future development. As a pioneer in the field of software design and development, Gates believes that this book aptly elucidates the impact of technological progress on cultural and civilisational progress.
- I Contain Multitudes by Ed Yong
Gates is renowned for his talks on global health. Previously, he has spoken about microbes as threats we need to wipe off the map. However, he believes that Yong’s book helped change his mind about microbes. While it’s certainly true that some microbes, like the ones that cause malaria and tuberculosis, are responsible for tremendous suffering and death around the world, not all of them should be seen as threats. Instead, they should be paid attention to, studied closely and cherished in order to understand their role in our ecosystem. In light of the ongoing pandemic, Gates believes that this book will create much-needed awareness and will lead to great new opportunities for enhancing our health. Undoubtedly, Gates is one the most influential leaders of the 21st century. Readers across the globe are perpetually intrigued by the books which shape the thoughts of this great persona. If you’re an admirer as well, go ahead and give these books a read. We’re confident that they will inspire many readers like you to become thought leaders for generations to come.