Our neighbor in Medina is an avid reader, and he doesn't flinch from a challenging book.

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The season is awash in best books lists, and here’s one more – Bill Gates’ favorite books of 2016. Our neighbor in Medina is an avid reader, and he doesn’t flinch from a challenging book. Here’s his list:

Gift Guide 2016

A scene from Christmas past, downtown Seattle 2014.  (Ken Lambert / The Seattle Times)
A scene from Christmas past, downtown Seattle 2014. (Ken Lambert / The Seattle Times)

“String Theory” by David Foster Wallace. I wouldn’t have paired Gates with cult writer and tragic genius Wallace (Wallace, who suffered from depression, committed suicide in 2008). But Gates enjoyed this collection of five of Wallace’s best essays on tennis, a sport Gates said he gave up in his Microsoft days but “am once again pursuing with passion…here, as in his other brilliant works, Wallace found mind-blowing ways of bending language like a metal spoon.”

“Shoe Dog” by Phil Knight. Gates liked this memoir of the co-founder of Nike because of its honesty about  the true path of business success: “messy, precarious, and riddled with mistakes.”

“The Gene” by Siddhartha Mukherjee. Gates called out Mukherjeee, the author of the groundbreaking “The Emperor of All Maladies,” for his status as a “quadruple threat:” oncologist, teacher, researcher and author. Mukherjee “guides us through the past, present and future of genome science, with special emphasis on huge ethical questions that the latest and greatest genome technologies provoke,” Gates said (here’s the Seattle Times review. ).

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“The Myth of the Strong Leader” by Archie Brown. After the November election, Gates picked up this book by an Oxford University scholar of political leadership, which makes the case that leaders who make the greatest contributions to history “are generally not the ones we perceive to be ‘strong leaders.’ Instead, they tend to be the ones who collaborate, delegate and negotiate – and recognize that no one person can or should have the answers.”

Gates gave an honorable mention to “The Grid” by Gretchen Bakke, an investigation into our aging electrical grid and why modernizing it is so important.

Here’s the full text of Gates’ thoughts on the list. For more reading, here is the Seattle Times’ best books of 2016 list.