If you’re out of book ideas headed into another month of staying at home, or finally ready to crack one open, Bill Gates has some suggestions. The billionaire released his annual summer book list on Monday.
Whether you want to learn more about pandemics amid the coronavirus outbreak or are simply looking for a distraction, Gates has you covered.
Here are five books he recommends reading right now.
“The Choice” by Edith Eva Eger
This New York Times bestseller was recommended to Gates by his wife Melinda. It’s a memoir by Edith Eger, who was sent to the death camp at Auschwitz when she was 16. Today, the Auschwitz survivor is a professional therapist.
Eger reminds readers that there is no “hierarchy of suffering,” as she calls it in the book.
“If you’re struggling with something, that struggle is real — even if you think your experience feels trivial compared to the experience of someone who survived Auschwitz or someone whose child is suffering from a terrible disease,” writes Gates. “I think this is an especially important thing to keep in mind right now while everyone has different experiences with the Covid-19 outbreak.”
“Cloud Atlas” by David Mitchell
This 2004 prize-winning novel is “a touching and very clever story about moral choices,” says Gates. “It explores how self-centered and bad people can be, but also how supportive and good people can be.”
The structure of the book is unique: Mitchell weaves together six interrelated stories set in different times and places, which can get confusing at times. That’s why Gates recommends reading it at the same time as a friend or family member: “It’s the kind of book you’ll want to discuss with someone else. I’m sure that I didn’t catch everything going on — reading it is a bit like putting together a puzzle.”
“The Ride of a Lifetime” by Robert Iger
Gates calls this 2019 memoir by former Disney CEO Bob Iger “one of the best business books I’ve read in several years.”
Iger, who took over the company in 2005 and retired in 2020, “does a terrific job explaining what it’s really like to be the CEO of a large company,” says Gates. “Whether you’re looking for business insights or just an entertaining read, I think anyone would enjoy his stories about overseeing Disney during one of the most transformative times in its history.”
“The Great Influenza” by John M. Barry
If you want to learn more about pandemics, this book by historian John M. Barry tells the story of the 1918 Flu, one of the deadliest outbreaks in history.
“We’re living through an unprecedented time right now. But if you’re looking for a historical comparison, the 1918 influenza pandemic is as close as you’re going to get,” says Gates.
“Good Economics for Hard Times” by Abhijit V. Banerjee and Esther Duflo
Nobel Prize winners and husband-wife duo Abhijit V. Banerjee and Esther Duflo are “two of the smartest economists working today,” according to Gates. He was a big fan of their first book, “Poor Economics,” and equally impressed by the second.
“Their newest book takes on inequality and political divisions by focusing on policy debates that are at the forefront in wealthy countries like the United States,” he writes. And, “Just like the couple’s first book, their new one is easily accessible for readers who don’t have a degree in economics.”
Other books worth reading
In addition to his top five recommendations, Gates provides a few other favorites:
- “The Headspace Guide to Meditation and Mindfulness” by Andy Puddicombe
- “Moonwalking with Einstein” by Joshua Foer
- “The Martian” by Andy Weir
- “A Gentleman in Moscow” by Amor Towles
- The Rosie Trilogy by Graeme Simsion (“The Rosie Project,” “The Rosie Effect” and “The Rosie Result”)
- “The Best We Could Do” by Thi Bui
- “Hyperbole and a Half” by Allie Brosh
- “What If?” by Randall Munroe
- “xkcd: volume 0” by Randall Munroe
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