Expand Your Mind With 5 Book Recommendations From Bill Gates

Bill Gates

See What Bill Gates Wants You To Read…

It is always interesting to me to hear about what smart, successful people read and I want to share with you what American business magnate, software developer, investor, author, and philanthropist, Bill Gates recommends this holiday season! In his own words as seen in Gates Notes, Gates tells us a bit more about each and why he chose it. In addition, he has generously placed copies of these books in more than 100 Little Free Libraries around the world, literally spreading the wealth! Enjoy!

Stranger in a Strange Land

Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein

Summary: Valentine Michael Smith is a human being raised on Mars, newly returned to Earth. Among his people for the first time, he struggles to understand the social mores and prejudices of human nature that are so alien to him, while teaching them his own fundamental beliefs in grokking, watersharing, and love.

According to Bill Gates: Best introduction to grownup sci-fi: Stranger in a Strange Land, by Robert Heinlein. Paul Allen and I fell in love with Heinlein when we were just kids, and this book is still one of my favorite sci-fi novels of all time. It tells the story of a young man who returns to Earth after growing up on Mars and starts a new religion. I think the best science fiction pushes your thinking about what’s possible in the future, and Heinlein managed to predict the rise of hippie culture years before it emerged. 


Surrender by Bono

Summary: Bono–artist, activist, and the lead singer of Irish rock band U2–has written a memoir: honest and irreverent, intimate and profound, Surrender is the story of the remarkable life he’s lived, the challenges he’s faced, and the friends and family who have shaped and sustained him.

“When I started to write this book, I was hoping to draw in detail what I’d previously only sketched in songs. The people, places, and possibilities in my life. Surrender is a word freighted with meaning for me. Growing up in Ireland in the seventies with my fists up (musically speaking), it was not a natural concept. A word I only circled until I gathered my thoughts for the book. I am still grappling with this most humbling of commands. In the band, in my marriage, in my faith, in my life as an activist. Surrender is the story of one pilgrim’s lack of progress … With a fair amount of fun along the way.” –Bono

As one of the music world’s most iconic artists and the cofounder of the organizations ONE and (RED), Bono’s career has been written about extensively. But in Surrender, it’s Bono who picks up the pen, writing for the first time about his remarkable life and those he has shared it with. In his unique voice, Bono takes us from his early days growing up in Dublin, including the sudden loss of his mother when he was fourteen, to U2’s unlikely journey to become one of the world’s most influential rock bands, to his more than twenty years of activism dedicated to the fight against AIDS and extreme poverty. Writing with candor, self-reflection, and humor, Bono opens the aperture on his life–and the family, friends, and faith that have sustained, challenged, and shaped him.

Surrender‘s subtitle, 40 Songs, One Story, is a nod to the book’s forty chapters, which are each named after a U2 song. Bono has also created forty original drawings for Surrender, which appear throughout the book.

According to Bill Gates: Best memoir by a rock star: Surrender, by Bono. This book came out this month, so it’s the most recent one I’ve read on my list. If you’re a U2 fan, there is a good chance you already plan to check it out. Even if you’re not, it’s a super fun read about how a boy from the suburbs of Dublin grew up to become a world-famous rock star and philanthropist. I’m lucky enough to call Bono a friend, but a lot of the stories he tells in Surrender were new to me.

Team of Rivals

Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin

Summary: Winner of the Lincoln Prize. Acclaimed historian Doris Kearns Goodwin illuminates Lincoln’s political genius in this highly original work, as the one-term congressman and prairie lawyer rises from obscurity to prevail over three gifted rivals of national reputation to become president.

On May 18, 1860, William H. Seward, Salmon P. Chase, Edward Bates, and Abraham Lincoln waited in their hometowns for the results from the Republican National Convention in Chicago. When Lincoln emerged as the victor, his rivals were dismayed and angry.

Throughout the turbulent 1850s, each had energetically sought the presidency as the conflict over slavery was leading inexorably to secession and civil war. That Lincoln succeeded, Goodwin demonstrates, was the result of a character that had been forged by experiences that raised him above his more privileged and accomplished rivals. He won because he possessed an extraordinary ability to put himself in the place of other men, to experience what they were feeling, to understand their motives and desires.

It was this capacity that enabled Lincoln as president to bring his disgruntled opponents together, create the most unusual cabinet in history, and marshal their talents to the task of preserving the Union and winning the war.

We view the long, horrifying struggle from the vantage of the White House as Lincoln copes with incompetent generals, hostile congressmen, and his raucous cabinet. He overcomes these obstacles by winning the respect of his former competitors, and in the case of Seward, finds a loyal and crucial friend to see him through.

This brilliant multiple biography is centered on Lincoln’s mastery of men and how it shaped the most significant presidency in the nation’s history.

According to Bill Gates: Best Guide to leading a country: Team of Rivals, by Doris Kearns Goodwin. I can’t read enough about Abraham Lincoln, and this is one of the best books on the subject. It feels especially relevant now when our country is once again facing violent insurrection, difficult questions about race, and deep ideological divides. Goodwin is one of America’s best biographers, and Team of Rivals is arguably her masterpiece.

The Inner Game of Tennis

The Inner Game of Tennis by Robert Gallwey

Summary: The Inner Game of Tennis is a revolutionary program for overcoming the self-doubt, nervousness, and lapses of concentration that can keep a player from winning. Now available in a revised paperback edition, this classic bestseller can change the way the game of tennis is played.

According to Bill Gates: Best guide to getting our of your own way: The Inner Game of Tennis, by Robert Gallwey. This book from 1974 is a must-read for anyone who plays tennis, but I think even people who have never played will get something out of it. Gallwey argues that your state of mind is just as important—if not more important—than your physical fitness. He gives excellent advice about how to move on constructively from mistakes, which I’ve tried to follow both on and off the court over the years. 

Mendeleyev's Dream

Mendeleyev’s Dream by Paul Strathern

Summary: What is the world made of? The ancient Greeks speculated about earth, air, fire, and water; today we turn to the periodic table for more reliable information. The story of how we got from there to here is full of fascinating people, and in this elegant, entertaining book, Paul Strathern introduces us to ancient philosophers, medieval alchemists, and the earliest chemists-and to Dimitri Mendeleyev, the card-playing nineteenth-century Russian who claimed that the answers came to him in a dream. 

“Chemistry has been a neglected area of science writing, and Mendeleyev, the king of chemistry, is a largely forgotten genius. [This book] goes a long way toward correcting this injustice.” (Simon Singh, author of Fermat’s Last Theorem, in the Sunday Telegraph

According to Bill Gates: Best book about the periodic table: Mendeleyev’s Dream, by Paul Strathern. The history of chemistry is filled with quirky characters like Dimitri Mendeleyev, the Russian scientist who first proposed the periodic table after it allegedly came to him in a dream. Strathern’s book traces that history all the way back to its origins in ancient Greece. It’s a fascinating look at how science develops and how human curiosity has evolved over the millennia.

Book Nation by Jen

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