5 books Bill Gates wants you to read this summer

The tech visionary’s personal list of summer reads offers a compelling mix of thought provoking works by renowned authors. By Satyaki Sarkar

Being the world’s richest man and the founder of technology behemoth Microsoft, it wouldn’t be difficult to imagine that Bill Gates is among the busiest men in the world. But the world renowned entrepreneur ensures he always finds time to indulge in his favourite hobby—reading books. He says he reads as many as 50 books a year, each of which leave their imprints on him. Here are five books Gates has cherry picked as must-reads for the summer.


Born a Crime by Trevor Noah
The book is an autographical novel by the celebrated South African comedian and television and radio host, telling the story of how he conquered all odds despite a battle with poverty, atrocities, apartheid, and violent racism. Using anecdotes from his life, Noah presents a wondrous concoction of tragedy and humour describing his journey from its tumultuous beginning to where he is today. “I loved reading this memoir about how it honed his outsider approach to comedy over a lifetime of never quite fitting in,” says Gates.


The Heart by Maylis de Kerangal
The only novel on this list, The Heart is an incredibly moving story of grief, strength, love, and healing, which is almost poem-like. It tells the story of a 19-year-old boy who meets with an unfortunate accident, after which his heart is donated to a woman. However, it isn’t just about the tragic accident but also about the interactions and stories of the minor characters that are a part of it. “At its most basic level,” says Gates, “she tells the story of a heart transplant… But the plot is secondary to the strength of its words and characters.”


Hillbilly Elegy by JD Vance
Widely revered for its depiction of the struggles and hardships of the destitute general class voters of America, Hillbilly Elegy was also influenced by Vance’s own life, which adds to the impact it makes on the reader. The memoir is a heart-breaking look at growing up in middle-class America, the loss of faith and hope, and the struggle to finally surmount all odds before making it to Yale Law School. “While the book offers insights into some of the complex cultural and family issues behind poverty, the real magic lies in the story itself and Vance’s bravery in telling it,” says Gates.


Homo Deus by Yuval Noah Harari
This popular book offers an intriguing view of how social dynamics and the principles governing society will soon undergo a a paradigm shift. It’s a look at the harsh, cruel, and unforgiving world that we live in, and Harari poses some thought provoking, philosophical and metaphysical questions. The book tries to incite the reader to think and reflect on the world himself, and try to understand what lies ahead. “I don’t agree with everything Harari has to say,” says Gates. “But he has written a smart look at what may be ahead for humanity.”


A Full Life: Reflections at Ninety by Jimmy Carter
In this book the former American president gives us a detailed and first-hand look at the hardships and struggles he faced while growing up in rural Georgia. The book explores how his experiences and hardships ended up shaping his work and influencing how he carried out his duties in the White House. “Although most of the stories come from previous decades,” says Gates, “A Full Life feels timely in an era when the public’s confidence in national political figures and institutions is low.”

Photograph: TNS Sofres 

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