When Bill Gates gives a book recommendation, people listen. A word from him on Twitter in favor of Steven Pinker’s “The Better Angels of our Nature” sent the book rocketing to No. 2 on Amazon.
Gates has released his full summer reading list for this year.
“The books on this year’s summer reading list pushed me out of my own experiences, and I learned some things that shed new light on how our experiences shape us and where humanity might be headed,” he said.
This year’s list is not as focused on science and mathematics as last year. Picking up one of the books below may not teach you the minutiae of spaceflight, but it may let you walk a mile in someone new’s shoes.
1. “Born a Crime” by Trevor Noah
“Daily Show” host Trevor Noah has a remarkable life story. With a white Swiss father and black South African mother in a country where mixed-race relationships were illegal, Noah was literally born a crime. “Much of Noah’s story of growing up in South Africa is tragic,” Gates said. “Yet, as anyone who watches his nightly monologues knows, his moving stories will often leave you laughing.”
2. “The Heart” by Maylis de Kerangal
“What de Kerangal has done here in this exploration of grief is closer to poetry than anything else,” Gates said. He said he loved its “beautiful language” that connects the reader the characters and their emotions.
3. “Hillbilly Elegy” by J.D. Vance
Sales of this book spiked in the months after Donald Trump’s election as many Americans tried to understand the president’s voters. The author recounts his childhood in poor white Appalachia and journey 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,” Gates said.
4. “Homo Deus” by Yuval Noah Harari
“I don’t agree with everything Harari has to say, but he has written a smart look at what may be ahead for humanity,” Gates said. This smart look, the author’s next book after the widely read “Sapiens,” argues organized society must change dramatically in the 21st century. What will happen to our societies when we stamp out sickness and war?
5. “A Full Life” by Jimmy Carter
Georgia’s own Jimmy Carter earned a spot on Bill Gates’ list with a memoir the Microsoft founder called “fascinating.” The book recounts how a Georgia boy who grew up in a house without running water, electricity or insulation could rise all the way to the White House.