Are you looking for a great book to read over the holidays? From the inside story behind sports brand Nike, to essays on tennis, you might find inspiration from the books on Bill Gates’ reading list.
While the billionaire co-founder of Microsoft says he has never felt more empowered to learn, especially with the array of online courses, podcasts and videos now available online, reading a great book is still his favourite way to learn something new.
“I’ve been reading about a book a week on average since I was a kid,” Gates writes on his personal blog.
“Even when my schedule is out of control, I carve out a lot of time for reading.”
Gates shares a list of book recommendations at the start of the North American summer each year, and this week published a list of his favourite books for 2016.
Here’s the books Gates says led him “down a rabbit hole of unexpected insights and pleasures” this year.
1. String Theory by David Foster Wallace
Gates loves tennis but gave up the sport during his days at Microsoft. He has recently started playing again and highly recommends David Foster Wallace’s collection of five essays on tennis.
But Gates says you don’t have to be a tennis fan to enjoy this collection, which he says is written by an author who “wielded a pen as skilfully as Roger Federer wields a tennis racket”.
2. Shoe Dog by Phil Knight
Nike co-founder Phil Knight’s memoir is a “refreshingly honest reminder of what the path to business success really looks like: messy, precarious and riddled with mistakes”, says Gates.
“Here Knight opens up in a way few CEOs are willing to do. I don’t think Knight sets out to teach the reader anything. Instead, he accomplishes something better. He tells his story as honestly as he can. It’s an amazing tale,” he says.
3. The Gene by Siddhartha Mukherjee
Gates’ reading lists often include science titles and this one is no different, with the avid reader recommending Siddhartha Mukherjee’s guide to genome science.
“Mukherjee wrote this book for a lay audience, because he knows that the new genome technologies are at the cusp of affecting us all in profound ways,” Gates says.
4. The Myth of the Strong Leader by Archie Brown
Gates was prompted to pick up this 2014 book by Oxford University politics scholar Archie Brown during the “fierce” US election campaign.
“Brown shows that the leaders who make the biggest contributions to history and humanity generally are not the ones we perceive to be ‘strong leaders’,” says Gates.
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“Instead, they tend to be the ones who collaborate, delegate and negotiate—and recognise that no one person can or should have all the answers.”
5. The Grid by Gretchen Bakke
Finally, Gates gives an honourable mention to Gretchen Bakke’s book about electrical grids, which he says falls into one of his favourite book categories: “Books About Mundane Stuff That Are Actually Fascinating”.
“Even if you have never given a moment’s thought to how electricity reaches your outlets, I think this book would convince you that the electrical grid is one of the greatest engineering wonders of the modern world,” he says.