Don't Know What to Read this Summer? Bill Gates Has 5 Recommendations!

Article by George Norman (Cybersecurity Editor)

on 19 May 2016

Winter is coming. No, no, that’s from Game of Thrones. I meant to say summer. Summer is coming. And once it does, you’ll want to go outside and spend time in the sun, with a book in your hand perhaps. Or you’ll go on vacation, and you’ll want to read a book while you relax and unwind – at the beach or wherever.

If you’re like me, you never know what to read and you turn to friends and family for recommendations. This year, you don’t have to do that. Because this year, you can get 5 interesting recommendations from none other than Bill Gates.

"This summer, my recommended reading list has a good dose of books with science and math at their core," Bill Gates explained. "But there’s no science or math to my selection process. The following five books are simply ones that I loved, made me think in new ways, and kept me up reading long past when I should have gone to sleep."

Bill Gates' 5 Books to Read this Summer

1. Seveneves, by Neal Stephenson

The Moon blows up. Without any warning and for no apparent reason. Humanity realizes that the debris from the Moon explosion will hit Earth in two years, and when that happens, everything will be wiped out. Faced with certain extinction, humanity unites and starts working on getting as many spacecraft as possible into orbit.

“Seveneves reminded me of all the things I love about science fiction. It is a great novel to get lost in, learn from, and think about. More than anything else, it has me thinking I should get back to reading sci-fi again,” said Bill Gates.

2. How Not to be Wrong, by Jordan Ellenberg

You may not like math, but you should. In this book, Ellenberg shows that math touches everything we do and plays an important role in our daily lives, whether we realize it or not. Math, says Ellenberg, is "an atomic-powered prosthesis that you attach to your common sense, vastly multiplying its reach and strength."

"The writing is funny, smooth, and accessible—not what you might expect from a book about math," Bill Gates explained. "What Ellenberg has written is ultimately a love letter to math. If the stories he tells add up to a larger lesson, it’s that “to do mathematics is to be, at once, touched by fire and bound by reason”—and that there are ways in which we’re all doing math, all the time."

3. The Vital Question, by Nick Lane

Nick Lane, an award-winning author and biochemist, explores the deep link between energy and genes. His goal is to explain the mystery of how life evolved on Earth and in doing so, he presents the role that energy plays in all living things.

"If you’re going to read this book, do it relatively soon," says Bill Gates. "Five years from now, Nick and the other researchers in this field will have gotten a lot further. Of course, there’s no telling whether his specific arguments will turn out to be right. But even if they don’t, I suspect his focus on energy will be seen as an important contribution to our understanding of where we come from, and where are we going."

4. The Power to Compete, by Ryoichi Mikitani and Hiroshi Mikitani

Japan’s economy is stagnating. Once one of the biggest players on the international market, Japan has been eclipsed by competitors in South Korea and China. Hiroshi Mikitani and Ryoichi Mikitani examine the situation and try to find ways to cure the "Japan Disease."

"If you’re as interested in Japan as I am, I think you’ll find that The Power to Compete is a smart and thought-provoking look at the future of a fascinating country," said Bill Gates.

5. Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, by Noah Yuval Harari

Yuval Harari’s point of view is that Homo sapiens is the only animal that can cooperate flexibly in large numbers; it can do that because it has the unique ability to believe in things that exist purely in its own imagination, such as gods, money, human rights, and so on. Based on this point of view, Harari retells the history of our species from a completely fresh perspective.

“I think many readers will find the final section of the book especially stimulating," said Bill Gates. "After marching through thousands of years of history, Harari turns more philosophical as he writes about our species today and how we might live in the future. He wonders how artificial intelligence, genetic engineering, and other technologies will change our species."

Bill Gates' 5 Books to Read this Summer (as a video)

In related news...

Poopfiction, a website that finds "stuff to read in your time of need." Tell it how long you plan to spend on the toilet and it will find a short or a long story that you can read in your browser, on your smartphone or tablet.

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