Bill Gates Shares His Summer Reading List

Now we know what books are on Bill Gates‘ nightstand, thanks to his summer reading list for 2020.

Gates posted his top five books, along with a few extras (about meditation, memory, and Mars), on his site GatesNotes. He also added some movies and TV shows he’s been enjoying, as well as the tidbit that he plays online bridge with tycoon Warren Buffett.

Here are Gates’ ideas for some good beach reads (though you’ll maybe have to sit in front of a tropical screensaver instead of visiting the real deal).

1. The Choice: Embrace the Impossible by Dr. Edith Eva Eger

The New York Times called this 2017 book a “mind-blowing memoir.” The Auschwitz survivor became a therapist, and she wrote about how healing her patients helped her deal with her own trauma. “Her unique background gives her amazing insight, and I think many people will find comfort right now from her suggestions on how to handle difficult situations,” Gates wrote.

2. Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

This 2004 novel (which later became a movie starring Tom Hanks, et al.) is a set of interwoven stories set in myriad times and places. By the time David Mitchell brings them all together, you can’t “bear the journey to end,” according to A. S. Byatt. “But if you’re in the mood for a really compelling tale about the best and worst of humanity, I think you’ll find yourself as engrossed in it as I was,” Gates said.

3. The Ride of a Lifetime: Lessons Learned from 15 Years as CEO of the Walt Disney Company by Bob Iger

This 2019 book from Bob Iger was part of his swan song as he retired as CEO of Disney. Now, he’s returned as the company weathers the pandemic. Gates calls it, “one of the best business books I’ve read in several years.”

4. The Great Influenza by John M. Barry

A lot of people are reading (or rereading) this 2004 nonfiction book from historian John M. Barry. At the time, the Kirkus review called it, a “majestic, spellbinding treatment of a mass killer.” Gates agrees: “Barry will teach you almost everything you need to know about one of the deadliest outbreaks in human history.”

5. Good Economics for Hard Times: Better Answers to Our Biggest Problems by Abhijit V. Banerjee and Esther Duflo

Two Nobel-winning economists wrote this 2019 book, which looks at trade, immigration, universal basic income, and automation. Big issues, but according to Gates, “Fortunately for us, they’re also very good at making economics accessible to the average person.”

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