Five books Bill Gates wants you to read this summer

Gates says his picks 'are simply ones that I loved, made me think in new ways, and kept me up reading'

Bill Gates has released his 2016 list of recommended summertime reads, Jena McGregor reports for the Washington Post

The Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist's picks are, unsurprisingly, heavy on math and science, and ask readers to think deeply. But Gates' background in STEM wasn't the ultimate deciding factor in his selections.  

"This summer, my recommended reading list has a good dose of books with science and math at their core," Gates wrote in a post on his "GatesNotes" blog. "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."

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Here are Gates' five picks, along with a sample from each review:

  • How Not to be Wrong: The Power of Mathematical Thinking by Jordan Ellenberg: "The book’s larger point is that, as Ellenberg writes, '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."
  • Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari: "Harari takes on a daunting challenge: to tell the entire history of the human race in just 400 pages ... Although I found things to disagree with ... I would recommend Sapiens to anyone who's interested in the history and future of our species."
  • Seveneves by Neal Stephenson: "You might lose patience with all the information you'll get about space flight ... but I loved the technical details. Seveneves inspired me to rekindle my sci-fi habit."
  • The Power to Compete: An Economist and an Entrepreneur on Revitalizing Japan in the Global Economy by Ryoichi Mikitani and Hiroshi Mikitani: "Japan is intensely interesting to anyone who follows global economics ... 'The Power to Compete' is a smart look at the future of a fascinating country."
  • The Vital Question: Energy, Evolution, and the Origins of Complex Life by Nick Lane: "Even if the details of Nick's work turn out to be wrong, I suspect his focus on energy will be seen as an important contribution to our understanding of where we come from" (McGregor, "On Leadership," Washington Post, 5/17). 

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