Dive into the literary world of Bill Gates, Former CEO of Microsoft.

Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft Corporation, is one of the most influential tech entrepreneurs and philanthropists of our time. Born in 1955 in Seattle, Washington, Gates demonstrated early interest and aptitude in computer programming, which led him to drop out of Harvard University to pursue his vision of personal computing for every household. Under his leadership, Microsoft became a dominant player in the tech industry, revolutionizing software development and accessibility with products like Windows and Office. Since stepping down from Microsoft, Gates has dedicated much of his vast fortune to global health, education, and climate change initiatives through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Reading is still the main way that I both learn new things and test my understanding.❞ — Bill Gates

Gates is well-known for his dedication to reading and learning, often discussing books on his personal blog and sharing annual reading lists that span a range of topics from public health to climate change and political history. His avid reading habits are part of a broader commitment to lifelong learning and understanding complex global issues. Gates credits reading not only as a source of knowledge but also as a way to test his understanding and to challenge his assumptions. His reflective approach to reading emphasizes the importance of being informed and remaining curious about the world.

Bill Gates' Favorite Books

Last Updated: June 2024

Everything Happens for a Reason: And Other Lies I've Loved

In this poignant memoir, Bowler reflects on her battle with stage IV cancer and challenges the belief that everything in life happens for a reason, sharing her journey to find hope and meaning in the face of uncertainty.

The Box: How the Shipping Container Made the World Smaller and the World Economy Bigger

Levinson explores the revolutionary impact of the shipping container, detailing how its introduction transformed global trade and logistics, significantly boosting the global economy by streamlining processes and reducing transportation costs.

Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened

This graphic memoir, based on Brosh's popular webcomic, combines humor and poignancy to explore personal experiences, mental health, and the absurdity of life.

Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City

Through the lens of eight families in Milwaukee, Desmond provides a groundbreaking ethnographic study of poverty and economic exploitation in American cities, revealing the impact of eviction on the lives of the urban poor and its role in perpetuating systemic inequality.

These Truths: A History of the United States

Lepore offers a sweeping narrative of American history from 1492 to the present, weaving together political, technological, and cultural threads to explore the ideals and contradictions of the American experiment.

The Myth of the Strong Leader: Political Leadership in the Modern Age

Brown challenges the widespread belief that strong, decisive leaders are the most successful and beneficial, using detailed political analysis to argue that collaborative and flexible leadership often results in more sustainable and democratic governance.

Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress

Pinker argues that the ideals of the Enlightenment have led to progress in every aspect of human development and advocates for reason, science, and humanism as the foundational principles to further improve the human condition.
Also recommended by:
Jordan Peterson 

Capitalism without Capital: The Rise of the Intangible Economy

This book explores the growing impact of intangible assets like intellectual property, branding, and digital products on the economy, which are reshaping traditional economic structures and business practices.

Brave New Words: How AI Will Revolutionize Education (and Why That's a Good Thing)

Salman Khan, founder of Khan Academy, discusses the potential of artificial intelligence to transform educational systems worldwide by personalizing learning and making high-quality education more accessible and effective.

The Idealist: Jeffrey Sachs and the Quest to End Poverty

Munk provides a detailed, critical examination of economist Jeffrey Sachs's ambitious project to end global poverty through targeted investments in health, agriculture, and education in Africa, highlighting both the successes and significant challenges.

xkcd: volume 0

This collection features a selection of the early comics from the popular webcomic xkcd, known for its clever humor, clear love of science, and geeky themes.

Factfulness: Ten Reasons We're Wrong About the World--and Why Things Are Better Than You Think

Rosling encourages a more fact-based world view by challenging common misconceptions and biases about global development, revealing data that shows how much the world has improved in terms of health, wealth, and education.
Also recommended by:
Jordan Peterson 

When Breath Becomes Air

This poignant memoir follows the life of neurosurgeon Paul Kalanithi after being diagnosed with terminal lung cancer, reflecting on his quest to understand the meaning of life when facing death.

The Great Escape: Health, Wealth, and the Origins of Inequality

Nobel laureate Angus Deaton explores the historical and current disparities in health and wealth among nations, discussing how some countries have made dramatic progress, while others remain mired in poverty, and the complex factors that drive these inequalities.
Also recommended by:
Jordan Peterson 

An American Marriage

Tayari Jones tells a poignant story of a newlywed African American couple whose lives are shattered when the husband is wrongly imprisoned, exploring themes of love, loyalty, race, and injustice.
Also recommended by:
Oprah Winfrey 

Epic Measures: One Doctor. Seven Billion Patients.

Smith tells the story of Dr. Christopher Murray, who revolutionized global health data and policy by creating an unprecedented database that tracks the health outcomes and diseases of people worldwide, challenging old assumptions and shifting how resources are allocated in global health.

Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty

This book explores why some nations achieve economic success while others do not, attributing the differences to political and economic institutions that either spur growth or hinder it, rather than geography or culture.

Growth: From Microorganisms to Megacities

This book provides a comprehensive look at the concept of growth across biological, human, and technological systems, examining patterns from the smallest organisms to the development of megacities and global economic systems.

Measure What Matters: How Google, Bono, and the Gates Foundation Rock the World with OKRs

Venture capitalist John Doerr illustrates how the goal-setting system of Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) has helped large organizations like Google and non-profits such as the Gates Foundation achieve explosive growth and success.
Also recommended by:
Larry Page 

The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail-But Some Don't

Silver examines the world of prediction, investigating a variety of fields including baseball, politics, and weather forecasting to explore why some predictions succeed and many others fail, emphasizing the importance of statistical and probabilistic thinking in increasing prediction accuracy.
Also recommended by:
Jon Stewart 

How to Know a Person: The Art of Seeing Others Deeply and Being Deeply Seen

David Brooks offers insights into building deeper, more meaningful relationships through empathetic engagement and understanding, providing readers with practical advice on how to truly connect with others.

Mindset: The New Psychology of Success

Carol Dweck's book explores the concept of "mindset," the idea that the way we think about our abilities and potential is crucial for success, advocating for a "growth mindset" over a "fixed mindset."

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness

Alexander argues that the War on Drugs has created a new racial underclass in America, as systemic racial discrimination in the criminal justice system has effectively disenfranchised millions of African Americans.

Energy and Civilization: A History

Smil provides a comprehensive account of how energy transformations and consumption have shaped human history, from pre-agricultural times to the present industrial world, emphasizing the inextricable link between energy and the advancement of civilization.

Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike

This memoir provides an insider's glimpse into the founding and building of Nike, as Phil Knight recounts his journey from selling shoes out of his car trunk to running one of the most iconic and profitable global shoe brands.
Also recommended by:
Warren Buffett  Kobe Bryant 

Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis

Vance's memoir offers a probing look at the struggles of America's white working class through his personal story of growing up in a poor Appalachian family, highlighting the social, economic, and cultural pressures that affect this community.
Also recommended by:
Bill Nye  Ben Shapiro 

Cloud Atlas: A Novel

An intricate tale where six interlinked narratives spanning different time periods and genres explore how individual actions and consequences ripple through time, ultimately influencing one another in profound ways.
Also recommended by:
Natalie Portman  Keanu Reeves 

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind

Yuval Noah Harari provides a compelling overview of the history of our species from the emergence of ancient human tribes to the present day, exploring how biology and history have defined us.
Also recommended by:
Lex Fridman  Tom Hanks  Naval Ravikant 

The World Until Yesterday: What Can We Learn from Traditional Societies?

Diamond draws lessons from the lifestyles and experiences of traditional societies—covering conflict resolution, childcare, elder care, and food habits—to offer insights into how modern societies might address similar challenges.

The Power to Compete: An Economist and an Entrepreneur on Revitalizing Japan in the Global Economy

This dialogue between father and son, one an economist and the other an entrepreneur, explores the challenges facing Japan's economy and proposes innovative solutions to revive its global competitiveness.

The Gene: An Intimate History

Mukherjee provides a compelling history of genetic research from Mendel to modern gene editing, interweaving science with personal stories of his own family's struggle with genetic diseases.

The Choice: Embrace the Possible

A powerful memoir by Holocaust survivor Edith Eger, who shares her experiences in Auschwitz and her journey of survival and transformation, offering profound insights into the resilience of the human spirit and the freedom that comes with making the choice to heal.

The Vital Question: Energy, Evolution, and the Origins of Complex Life

Lane explores the pivotal role of energy in the evolution of life on Earth, proposing that the energy flow through cells is a fundamental driving force behind the complexity of life and offering new insights into the origins of life and evolution.

Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood

In this memoir, Trevor Noah recounts his childhood and adolescence during apartheid and post-apartheid South Africa, focusing on his life as the mixed-race son of a black mother and a white father, which under apartheid was punishable by law.

Believe Me: A Memoir of Love, Death, and Jazz Chickens

Izzard's memoir combines humor with reflection, detailing his multifaceted life as a comedian, actor, and marathon runner, while discussing his personal relationships, gender identity, and the pursuit of his dreams.

The Rosie Effect: A Novel

In this sequel to The Rosie Project, the socially awkward but lovable geneticist Don Tillman continues his quirky and humorous journey through married life with Rosie, facing new challenges as they prepare to welcome their first child.

I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life

Yong delves into the world of the microbiome, revealing how microbes influence health, behavior, and the complexity of life on Earth, reshaping our understanding of biology.

Why Does College Cost So Much?

This book investigates the reasons behind the soaring costs of higher education in the U.S., analyzing factors like technological change, labor intensity, and governmental support, and dispelling some common myths about the sources of rising tuition.

The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz

Larson presents a detailed chronicle of Winston Churchill's first year as Prime Minister during WWII, focusing on his leadership, the personal struggles of his family, and the resilience of the British people during the Blitz.

The Bet: Paul Ehrlich, Julian Simon, and Our Gamble over Earth s Future

This book recounts the famous wager between biologist Paul Ehrlich, who predicted resource scarcity leading to societal collapse, and economist Julian Simon, who believed human ingenuity could overcome environmental limits, framing a larger debate about environmental policy and the future of our planet.

21 Lessons for the 21st Century

In this exploration of contemporary global issues, Harari addresses the technological, political, social, and existential challenges that humanity faces in the modern age, offering insight and advice on navigating the complexities of life in the 21st century.

Stress Test: Reflections on Financial Crises

Former U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner provides an insider's account of the 2008 financial crisis, detailing the decisions and strategies implemented to stabilize the financial system and prevent economic collapse.
Also recommended by:
Warren Buffett 

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The Sympathizer

This Pulitzer Prize-winning novel follows a conflicted spy of North Vietnamese descent during and after the Vietnam War, offering a profound exploration of identity, political conflict, and the experiences of Vietnamese immigrants.

Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow

This thought-provoking book speculates on the future of mankind, discussing how ongoing technological and genetic advancements may fundamentally alter human life and even lead to the creation of a superhuman class.

Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation

Johnson examines the environments that foster innovation, using a wide array of examples from technology, biology, and urban planning to identify the common factors that contribute to creativity and breakthroughs.

Blueprint: The Evolutionary Origins of a Good Society

This book argues that despite the capacity for human brutality and selfishness, there is a stronger genetic blueprint for cooperation, compassion, and friendship, which Christakis explores through social and biological research.

Nine Pints: A Journey Through the Money, Medicine, and Mysteries of Blood

George delves into the vital, often surprising role blood plays in medicine, history, and business, exploring everything from revolutionary medical breakthroughs to the dark history of trade and exploitation.

Presidents of War: The Epic Story, from 1807 to Modern Times

Beschloss provides a comprehensive historical analysis of American presidents who have led the nation through major wars, examining their leadership qualities, challenges, and the consequences of their wartime decisions.

Making the Modern World: Materials and Dematerialization

Smil examines the material basis of modern civilization, discussing how the extraction and processing of materials have shaped industries and the environment, and explores the trends and necessities of dematerialization for sustainable future development.

String Theory: David Foster Wallace on Tennis

This collection of essays showcases Wallace's deep affinity for tennis, where he combines his personal experience and professional insight to explore the beauty and complexity of the sport with his characteristic wit and intelligence.
Also recommended by:
Ben Shapiro 

A Gentleman in Moscow

Amor Towles tells the story of Count Alexander Rostov, who is sentenced to house arrest in a luxury hotel across from the Kremlin, where he lives through decades of tumultuous Russian history.
Also recommended by:
Tom Hanks 

Origin Story: A Big History of Everything

Christian offers a sweeping narrative that explains the history of the universe from the Big Bang to the present, integrating insights from various disciplines to show how everything is interconnected.

Army of None: Autonomous Weapons and the Future of War

Scharre explores the cutting-edge world of autonomous weapons and the ethical, legal, and strategic implications of using robots in warfare, questioning the future of military tactics and the risks of machines making life-or-death decisions.

Magic of Reality: How We Know What's Really True

Dawkins blends science with storytelling to explain how the world works, using vivid examples and thoughtful arguments to address myths and misconceptions about the universe.

A Full Life: Reflections at Ninety

Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter reflects on his public and private life with a frankness and clarity, discussing his youth in rural Georgia, his presidency, and his years of humanitarian work, offering insights into the wisdom he has gained through his experiences.

The Rosie Project: A Novel

This charming and witty novel follows the socially awkward geneticist Don Tillman as he designs a scientific survey to find the perfect wife, only to have his best-laid plans upended by the spontaneous and unpredictable Rosie.

Thing Explainer: Complicated Stuff in Simple Words

Randall Munroe uses line drawings and only the thousand most common English words to explain how various scientific and mechanical processes work.
Also recommended by:
Naval Ravikant 

Business Adventures: Twelve Classic Tales from the World of Wall Street

This collection of New Yorker essays by John Brooks provides insightful and engaging narratives about pivotal events and characters in American corporate history, making complex business situations accessible and entertaining.
Also recommended by:
Warren Buffett 

Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World

Epstein argues that in a rapidly changing world, generalists who cultivate broad interests and experiences are often more successful and adaptable than specialists, due to their ability to integrate knowledge and approach problems creatively.
Also recommended by:
Kobe Bryant 

Lincoln in the Bardo: A Novel

Set during the American Civil War, Saunders' novel is an experimental narrative about Abraham Lincoln mourning the death of his young son, Willie, depicted through a chorus of voices from spirits inhabiting the graveyard where Willie is temporarily interred.

The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism

Goodwin details the close friendship and subsequent political rivalry between Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft, set against the backdrop of the progressive era and the rise of investigative journalism.

The Road to Character

This book explores how some of the world's greatest thinkers and leaders have built strong inner character through the conquest of their own vices and the struggle against adversity, urging modern readers to focus more on developing virtues rather than personal success.
Also recommended by:
Jordan Peterson 

The Heart: A Novel

De Kerangal's novel focuses on the emotional and complex process of a heart transplant, detailing the 24 hours from the tragic death of a young man to the moment his heart begins to beat in the chest of the recipient, offering a poetic exploration of life and death.

Super Freakonomics: Global Cooling, Patriotic Prostitutes, and Why Suicide Bombers Should Buy Life Insurance

A continuation of their first book, Levitt and Dubner use economic theories to explore counterintuitive hypotheses and offer unconventional analysis on various social, moral, and economic issues.

Should We Eat Meat?: Evolution and Consequences of Modern Carnivory

Smil provides a comprehensive analysis of meat consumption across the globe, examining its history, the implications of meat production on health and the environment, and the ethical considerations of eating animals.

The Moment of Lift: How Empowering Women Changes the World

Melinda Gates offers compelling insights into how empowering women can lead to transformative improvements across societies worldwide.
Also recommended by:
Warren Buffett  Barack Obama 

Eradication: Ridding the World of Diseases Forever?

Stepan examines the historical and scientific pursuit of disease eradication, discussing the medical and ethical challenges of these programs, and questioning whether eradication is always a practical or humane policy.
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