Bill Gates shares his reading list to help you start 2020 on a 'good note'

Microsoft Founder Bill Gates reportedly reads 50 books a year. His winter reading list of five important books may help you make reading a regular part of your life in 2020.

17th Dec 2019
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Bill Gates, besides being the world's richest man, is a voracious reader.


The Microsoft founder reportedly reads 50 books a year, nearly one per week, and even adopts various methods to ensure that he absorbs and remembers all that he reads.


To help us kickstart the new year, Gates shared his winter reading list. He wrote,


"For this year’s holiday books list, I chose five titles that I think you’ll also enjoy reading. I think they’re all solid choices to help wrap up your 2019 or start 2020 on a good note."


Bill Gates Books

Image: GatesNotes

Gates further shared,


"Because I’m a data guy, I like to look at my reading list and see if any trends emerge. This year, I picked up a bit more fiction than usual. It wasn’t a conscious decision, but I seemed to be drawn to stories that let me explore another world."



Here are the five books that made it to his reading list.

An American Marriage (Tayari Jones)

This is the only fiction book in the list.


An American Marriage "is a deeply moving read about how one incident of injustice reshapes the lives of a black couple in the South," Gates wrote. "It is so well-written that you’ll find yourself sucked into it despite the heavy subject matter," he added.


Gates shared that it was his daughter Jenn who recommended the novel to him. An American Marriage is a moving portrayal of the effects of a wrongful conviction on a young African-American couple.


The book also won author Tayari Jones the Women's Prize for Fiction in 2019.


These Truths: A History of the United States (Jill Lepore)

This book covers the entire history of the United States in just 800 pages, which Gates described as "seemingly impossible". He wrote,


"She’s [Jill Lepore] made a deliberate choice to make diverse points of view central to the narrative, and the result is the most honest and unflinching account of the American story I’ve ever read."


As a reader, even if you're well-acquainted with American history, this book penned by Harvard historian and New Yorker staffer Jill Lepore might offer something new.



Growth: From Microorganisms to Megacities (Vaclav Smil)

The cover of this book already carries a glowing blurb from Bill Gates. It reads, "There is no author whose books I look forward to more than Vaclav Smil."


Carrying the sentiment, Gates said, "Two years ago, I wrote that I wait for new Smil books the way some people wait for the next Star Wars movie. I stand by that statement."


The book penned by Czech-Canadian professor Vaclav Smil, whom Gates called "one of he best thinkers" is a study of growth based on various metrics, from how food is produced to how big cities are built.


Sure, the language gets technical in places, but Gates urged readers to stick with it.





Prepared: What Kids Need for a Fulfilled Life (Diane Tavenner)


Diane Tavenner, one of America's foremost educators, has put together a "helpful guidebook" on how parents ought to prepare their kids for life after high school.


"As any parent knows, preparing your kids for life after high school is a long and sometimes difficult journey... She [Diane] shares what she’s learned about teaching kids not just what they need to get into college, but how to live a good life," Gates said.


This book teaches parents how to bring up children in a "smooth and fruitful" manner.


Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams (Matthew Walker)

Sleep is one of the most essential, but often ignored, elements of life. Gates believes this strongly and tries to abide by it. He shared,


"Everyone knows that a good night’s sleep is important—but what exactly counts as a good night’s sleep? And how do you make one happen? Walker [the author] has persuaded me to change my bedtime habits to up my chances."


He also added that Why We Sleep was one of the most "interesting and profound" books he'd read this year.



(Edited by Teja Lele Desai)



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