It's time to get your holiday reading list finalized—you don't want to be caught bookless on the upcoming long afternoons spent traveling or sitting by a fire.
Bill Gates offers several suggestions in a recent post on his personal blog. Here are the five "amazing" books he names as "some of the best" he read this year.
The Best We Could Do, by Thi Bui: After having a child, the daughter of Vietnamese refugees seeks to learn more about her parents' experiences as children in the middle of the Vietnam War. The stories she discovers prompt her to reflect on what it means to be a parent and how she can free her son from the "weight of the past," she writes.
Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City, by Matthew Desmond: This in-depth look at one city's housing crisis "gave me a better sense of what it is like to be poor in this country than anything else I have read," Gates writes. Desmond illustrates how different issues related to poverty intersect, each challenge making the next one harder to resolve.
Believe Me: A Memoir of Love, Death, and Jazz Chickens, by Eddie Izzard: In this memoir, Izzard shares how he overcame challenges in childhood—and a complete lack of natural talent—to become an internationally recognized comedian. Gates characterizes Izzard as a perfect example of the "growth mindset" in action. "Being lousy at something doesn't stop him from doing it. In fact, it often has the opposite effect," Gates writes.
The Sympathizer, by Viet Thanh Nguyen: Many popular books and movies about the Vietnam War take the American perspective, Gates notes. But this "gripping story" follows a double agent who, true to the title, sympathizes with people on both sides of the conflict, Gates writes.
Energy and Civilization: A History, by Vaclav Smil: According to Gates, this "masterpiece" from "one of [his] favorite authors" tells the story of how energy—having it, needing it, exploiting it, converting it—drove much of human history. Smil illustrates that economic growth relies on feeding our voracious appetite for energy, Gates writes, underscoring the importance of sustainable energy sources for the future (Gates, Gates Notes, 12/4 ; Gates, Gates Notes, 12/4 ; Gates, Gates Notes, 12/4 ; Gates, Gates Notes, 12/4 ; Gates, Gates Notes, 12/4 ).
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