Get thee to the bookstore: Bill Gates has released his annual summer reading list.
Gates says that this year, he chose books that pushed him outside of his bubble and helped him better understand people with life experiences "outside the mainstream." These are his five picks for 2017:
A Full Life, Jimmy Carter: Gates marvels that, although President Carter has written dozens of books, he still found a few new stories for this brief memoir. In the book, Carter talks about growing up in rural Georgia without running water or electricity—and how that background influenced his presidency.
Homo Deus, Yuval Noah Harari: The predecessor to this book, Sapiens, appeared on Gates' reading list last year. In this follow-up, Harari predicts how human society will change during the 21st century. Harari's predictions are both "grim" and "provocative," Gates writes, but they do make an important point: the benefits of innovations don't automatically trickle down to everyone.
The Heart, Maylis de Kerangal: This is technically a novel, but "it's closer to poetry than anything else," Gates writes. The plot is straightforward: A young man dies in an accident and his parents decide to donate his heart. But what makes the book, according to Gates, is the meditation on grief, careful word choice, and the author's success at making characters you meet for a few pages feel like real people with full lives.
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Born a Crime, Trevor Noah: In this memoir, Noah discusses his experience as a biracial child growing up in apartheid South Africa and how that experience ultimately shaped his approach to comedy. Gates writes that one of the things that stood out most to him is how Noah was able to use language—he speaks eight of them—and jokes to connect with people who always saw him as an outsider.
Hillbilly Elegy, J.D. Vance: The author recounts his experiences at the Yale University Law School after a childhood spent in poor white communities in Appalachia. Vance is honest about his cognitive dissonance and how his background shaped the rest of his life. This memoir has attracted some attention for its portrayal of rural poverty, but Gates writes that he was most struck by Vance himself, his story and his "bravery in telling it."
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(Gates, TIME, 5/22 ; Gates, TIME, 5/22 ; Gates, TIME, 5/22 )
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