How to Absorb Bill Gates’ Reading List Over the Weekend

    Here's how you can consume 7 of Bill Gates' recommended books, even if you don't have the time.

    Bill Gates’ gatesnotes blog includes a section full of book reviews and recommendations. It’s an invaluable resource for thoughtful readers, full of essential ideas for tech innovators, business leaders, and other smart and driven folks. But keeping up with all the Bill Gates recommended books is practically a full-time job—and a very tall order for the busy young business and tech professionals who follow Gates’ suggestions so closely.

    That’s the appeal of book summaries: in about an hour, readers can consume a condensed version of titles like the ones on the Bill Gates book list, gaining all the key information while saving hours of valuable time. It’s information consumption at a speed that suits the information age, and it’s how a new generation of thought leaders is taking in ideas, advice, and knowledge from those who came before them. Below, we break down details and reading times for a few of Gates’ favorites so that readers can budget their time and consume seven Bill Gates recommended books in a single weekend.


     

    handmaids tale books book of joan

    The Gene: An Intimate History, by Siddhartha Mukherjee

    Siddhartha Mukherjee, the author of The Gene, is a brilliant doctor and Columbia University professor–and, Bill Gates argues, “the perfect person to guide us through the past, present, and future of genome science.” Mukherjee’s close examination of the gene includes discussion of everything from the latest scientific breakthroughs to the ethical questions raised by genetic research.

    Reading time: 20 hours

    Summary: 1 hour
    Download The Gene on AmazonBarnes & Noble, and iTunes.

    Download the summary on AmazonBarnes & Noble, iTunes, and Worth Ebookstore.

     

    bill gates reading list sapiens

    Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, by Yuval Noah Harari

    What story could be more vital than that of the entire human race? Sapiens is an ambitious volume that condenses the history of the homo sapien species into around 400 pages. Bill Gates found it to be a perfect book for spirited discussion. There’s “plenty to disagree with,” Gates says, but overall the book is a “fun, engaging look at early human history.”

     

    Reading time: 14.5 hours

    Summary: 1 hour

    Download Sapiens on AmazonBarnes & Noble, and iTunes.

    Download the summary on AmazonBarnes & Noble, iTunes, and Worth Ebookstore.

     

    bill gates reading list sixth extinction

    The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History, by Elizabeth Kolbert

    Nature has already seen five periods of mass extinction. In The Sixth Extinction, Kolbert argues that we find ourselves in the midst of a sixth: one of mankind’s own creation. “Kolbert doesn’t resort to hype,” Gates writes, “she just lays out the facts.”

     

     

    Reading time: 11 hours

    Summary: 1 hour

    Download The Sixth Extinction on AmazonBarnes & Noble, and iTunes.

    Download the summary on AmazonBarnes & Noble, iTunes, and Worth Ebookstore.

     

    bill gates reading list guns germs steel

    Guns, Germs and Steel, by Jared Diamond

    The question of why some civilizations succeed in conquering and subjugating others is complex and troubling, but also essential to human history. In Bill Gates’ view, no book has answered the question as effectively as Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs, and Steel: “I had never read anything that explained so much about human history,” Gates wrote of the book.

     

    Reading time: 16 hours

    Summary: 1 hour

    Download Guns, Germs and Steel on AmazonBarnes & Noble, and iTunes.

    Download the summary on AmazonBarnes & Noble, iTunes, and Worth Ebookstore.

     

    bill gates reading list great gatsby

    The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald

    Like many a high school teacher, Bill Gates considers F. Scott Fitzgerald’s jazz age classic The Great Gatsby to be one of the essential American novels—“the novel that I reread the most. Melinda and I love one line so much that we had it painted on a wall in our house: ‘His dream must have seemed so close that he could hardly fail to grasp it.’”

     

    Reading time: 6 hours

    Summary: 1 hour

    Download The Great Gatsby on AmazonBarnes & Noble, and iTunes.

    Download the summary on AmazonBarnes & NobleiTunes, and Worth Ebookstore.

     

    bill gates reading list shoe dog

    Shoe Dog, by Phil Knight

    Bill Gates has met Nike founder Phil Knight in person, but he says he learned more about Knight’s story from this book. Knight “opens up in a way few CEO are willing to do,” Gates says. “I don’t think Knight sets out to teach the reader anything,” Gates writes of Shoe Dog. “Instead, Knight accomplishes something better. He tells his story as honestly as he can.” The end result is a compelling history of a man and a brand.

    Reading time: 13.5 hours

    Summary: 1 hour

    Download Shoe Dog on AmazonBarnes & Noble, and iTunes.

    Download the summary on Amazon.

     

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    What If?, by Randall Munroe

    What If? is a science book, but it presents hard facts in a way that Gates calls “funny” and “entertaining.” What If? takes a series of strange hypothetical questions and answers them with real science. Another fun book from the author of the popular XKCD webcomics, this is a relatively breezy read. “What If? may not be quite as funny as XKCD,” Gates writes, “but it’s a lot more interesting.”

    Reading time: 10.5 hours

    Summary: 1 hour

    Download What If? on AmazonBarnes & Noble, and iTunes.

    Download the summary on Amazon.

    Photo: Courtesy of Gatesnotes



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