Books | May 21, 2019 12:00 pm

Bill Gates Drops His Summer Reading List

Don't expect to find crime dramas or fantasy adventures on this list

Bill Gates
Bill Gates' summer reading list is out. (Courtesy The Gates Notes, LLC)

Bill Gates’ annual summer reading list dropped this week but don’t expect crime dramas or fantasy adventures from a philanthropic billionaire who spends most of his time trying to fix the world’s heaviest problems, like famine, infectious disease and global health care.

Gates’ idea of a good beach read is reflective of what he cares about most and none of them are, “what most people think of as a light read,” he admits on his blog, Gates Notes. His roundup is, instead, a collection of books that offer a new perspective on some of the issues closest to his heart, ones that are relevant to our society, Fast Company reported.

Every book, save one, Gates says, “deals with the idea of disruption, but I don’t mean ‘disruption’ in the way tech people usually mean it.” Four of the books are focused on war and economic systems while the fifth — the only written by a woman — is about the blood that runs through our veins.

The first book on the list is Upheaval: Turning Points for Nations in Crisis by Jared Diamond, an examination of how individuals navigate through crises and juxtaposes that against how nations — including Chile, Finland and Germany — deal with big-picture issues, like civil war and foreign threats, on a larger scale. Then there’s Nine Pints: A Journey Through the Money, Medicine, and Mysteries of Blood by Rose George. George’s book was likely inspired by her own blood condition called premenstrual dysphoric disorder, which causes extreme pain and mental distress before her period each month and inspired her to look into the business of blood and how it’s valued in cultures across the world.

Gates also recommends A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles, a novel he felt was “a fun, clever, and surprisingly upbeat look at Russian history through the eyes of one man.” He also took a look at Presidents of War by Michael Beschloss, which dives into the critical decisions made by each of the presidents who were in power during the nine conflicts America has been involved in from the War of 1812 to the Vietnam War.

Finally, Gates enjoyed The Future of Capitalism: Facing the New Anxieties by Paul Collier. Collier’s book looks at the economic system that governs most of the world — capitalism — and how it has come under heavy scrutiny in recent years for being a “virtuous cycle for a lucky few and a vicious one for others.”

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