Want to Enjoy a Book Over the Holidays? Bill Gates Has 5 Recommendations!

Article by George Norman (Cybersecurity Editor)

on 06 Dec 2016

Bill Gates recently unveiled his 5 favorite books of 2016. If you want to read something over the holidays, or perhaps gift someone an interesting book, Microsoft’s co-founder has several recommendations for you.

"They cover an eclectic mix of topics—from tennis to tennis shoes, genomics to great leadership," says Bill Gates himself. "They’re all very well written, and they all dropped me down a rabbit hole of unexpected insights and pleasures."

Bill Gates’ Favorite Books of 2016

1. String Theory, by David Foster Wallace

String Theory is a collection of five essays written by David Foster Wallace, who is widely regarded as “the best tennis-writer of all time."

"As much as I loved the book for its insights on the game, I loved it just as much for the writing itself," said Bill Gates. "I now understand why people talk about David Foster Wallace with the same kind of awe that tennis fans use to talk about a Roger Federer or Serena Williams. Wallace’s ability to use language is mind-blowing. He’s an artist who approaches a canvas with the exact same oil paints everyone before him has used and then applies them in breathtaking new and creative ways."

2. Shoe Dog, by Phil Knight

Phil Knight, Nike founder and board chairman, shares the inside story on how he built the hugely successful sports company. Knight started with $50, which he borrowed from his father, and put it to good use, managing to gross $8,000 in his first year.

"Readers looking for a lesson from Knight’s book may leave this book disappointed," said Bill Gates. "I don’t think Knight sets out to teach the reader anything. There are no tips or checklists. Instead, Knight accomplishes something better. He tells his story as honestly as he can. It’s an amazing tale."

3. The Gene, by Siddhartha Mukherjee

A magnificent history of the gene and a response to the defining question of the future: What becomes of being human when we learn to "read" and "write" our own genetic information?

"Technology is amoral. It is neither good nor bad. It is up to all of us—not just scientists, government officials, and people fortunate enough to lead foundations—to think hard about these new technologies and how they should and should not be used. Reading The Gene will get you the point where you can actively engage in that debate," said Bill Gates.

4. The Myth of the Strong Leader, by Archie Brown

Archie Brown challenges the myth that only a strong, single-minded leader can make a difference. He examines lots of political leaders, from Churchill and Roosevelt to Stalin and Hitler, from Willy Brandt and Mikhail Gorbachev to Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair.

" Brown does a wonderful job of showing how the same qualities that seem so appealing in strong leaders can lead, in the mildest cases, to bad decisions—and, in the most extreme cases, to death and suffering on a massive scale," said Bill Gates. "These qualities can be boiled down to a belief, on the part of the leader, that he or she—and usually he—is the only one who knows what the country needs, and the only one who can deliver it."

5. The Grid, by Gretchen Bakke

The electrical grid is definitely an engineering triumph. An engineering triump of the 20th century that is. It’s the 21st century now and America’s electrical grid has grown old and is in dire need of basic repair. The grid has to be re-imagined according to 21st century values, because it’s what stands most firmly in the way of a brighter energy future.

"Even if you have never given a moment’s thought to how electricity reaches your outlets, I think this book would convince you that the electrical grid is one of the greatest engineering wonders of the modern world. I think you would also come to see why modernizing the grid is so complex and so critical for building our clean-energy future," said Bill Gates.

TL;DR? Watch this!

In related news...

If the 5 books listed below aren’t enough, go check out Bill Gates' 5 Books to Read this Summer.

Latest News

Sony's 'Attack of the Blockbusters Sale' Slashes Prices in Half for a Ton of PS4 Games

17 Aug 2017

How Samsung's New T5 Compares to the Old T3 Portable SSD (Infographic)

17 Aug 2017

See all