The Microsoft co-founder and current co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has made a tradition of releasing a December list of his favorite books of the year. Here's his 2018 list.
Among his other well-known pastimes, Bill Gates loves to read. The Microsoft co-founder and current co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has made a tradition of releasing a December list of his favorite books of the year. While all nonfiction, his 2018 selections reflect a variety of topics. Here they are.
“Educated: A Memoir,” by Tara Westover. Recently named by The New York Times as one of the 10 best books of the year, Westover’s memoir describes growing up in a survivalist family and not attending a school until college. Gates writes that he was fascinated by Westover’s ability to learn on her own — she taught herself algebra, trigonometry and other subjects in order to qualify for pre-college tests — and by how her unusual childhood gave her a toughness that helped her persevere. “Tara’s process of self-discovery is beautifully captured in ‘Educated,'” wrote Gates on his blog. “It’s the kind of book that I think everyone will enjoy, no matter what genre you usually pick up.”
“Army of None: Autonomous Weapons and the Future of War,” by Paul Scharre. “Autonomous weapons aren’t exactly top of mind for most around the holidays, but this thought-provoking look at A.I. in warfare is hard to put down,” Gates wrote. Scharre, a Pentagon defense expert and former U.S. Army Ranger, “writes clearly about a huge range of topics: computer science, military strategy, history, philosophy, psychology, and ethics. He gives you the right grounding to start participating in the debate over where our country should draw the line on these powerful technologies.”
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“Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup,” by John Carreyrou. It’s not hard to guess why Gates would have been drawn to this title, in which Wall Street Journal reporter John Carreyrou examines the rise and fall of the health technology company Theranos. “A bunch of my friends recommended this one to me,” Gates wrote. “This book has everything: elaborate scams, corporate intrigue, magazine cover stories, ruined family relationships, and the demise of a company once valued at nearly $10 billion.” Ultimately describing it as a thriller with a tragic ending, Gates called it “the perfect book to read by the fire this winter.”
“21 Lessons for the 21st Century,” by Yuval Noah Harari. Professor Harari, currently a member of the history department at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, is the author of the international best-seller “Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind.” Gates, calling himself “a big fan of everything Harari has written,” notes that while Harari’s previous books dwell on the past, “21 Lessons” is all about the present. “If 2018 has left you overwhelmed by the state of the world,” Gates wrote, “’21 Lessons’ offers a helpful framework for processing the news and thinking about the challenges we face.”
“The Headspace Guide to Meditation and Mindfulness,” by Andy Puddicombe. “I’m sure 25-year-old me would scoff at this one,” Gates admitted, “but Melinda and I have gotten really into meditation lately.” The book, written by the British co-founder of the mental-health digital platform Headspace, follows Puddicombe’s personal journey from university student to Buddhist monk and offers a primer on meditating. “If you’re thinking about trying mindfulness,” Gates wrote, “this is the perfect introduction.”
Gates’ full reviews of all of these books can be found on his blog Gates Notes, gatesnotes.com.