Here are the books Bill Gates thinks you should be reading this summer.
It seems like everyone (ahem) has a summer reading list for you this week—even Bill Gates. As you probably know, Gates loves to read—and he also loves to write about books on his blog, GatesNotes, where today he published a list of his recommendations for the season. But don’t expect any beach reads.
“As I was putting together my list of suggested reading for the summer, I realized that the topics they cover sound pretty heavy for vacation reading,” he writes. “There are books here about gender equality, political polarization, climate change, and the hard truth that life never goes the way young people think it will. . . But none of the five books below feel heavy (even though, at nearly 600 pages, The Lincoln Highway is literally weighty). Each of the writers—three novelists, a journalist, and a scientist—was able to take a meaty subject and make it compelling without sacrificing any complexity.” Here’s the full list, along with Gates’ comments about his picks:
Naomi Alderman, The Power
“I’m glad that I followed my older daughter’s recommendation and read this novel. It cleverly uses a single idea—what if all the women in the world suddenly gained the power to produce deadly electric shocks from their bodies?—to explore gender roles and gender equality. Reading The Power, I gained a stronger and more visceral sense of the abuse and injustice many women experience today. And I expanded my appreciation for the people who work on these issues in the U.S. and around the world.”
Ezra Klein, Why We’re Polarized
“I’m generally optimistic about the future, but one thing that dampens my outlook a bit is the increasing polarization in America, especially when it comes to politics. In this insightful book, Klein argues persuasively that the cause of this split is identity—the human instinct to let our group identities guide our decision making. The book is fundamentally about American politics, but it’s also a fascinating look at human psychology.”
Amor Towles, The Lincoln Highway
“I put Towles’s A Gentleman in Moscow on my summer books list back in 2019, and I liked this follow-up novel almost as much. Set in 1954, it’s about two brothers who are trying to drive from Nebraska to California to find their mother; their trip is thrown way off-course by a volatile teenager from the older brother’s past. Towles takes inspiration from famous hero’s journeys and seems to be saying that our personal journeys are never as linear or predictable as we might hope.”
Kim Stanley Robinson, The Ministry for the Future
“When I was promoting my book on climate change last year, a number of people told me I should read this novel, because it dramatized many of the issues I had written about. I’m glad I picked it up, because it’s terrific. It’s so complex that it’s hard to summarize, but Robinson presents a stimulating and engaging story, spanning decades and continents, packed with fascinating ideas and people.”
Vaclav Smil, How the World Really Works
“Another masterpiece from one of my favorite authors. Unlike most of Vaclav’s books, which read like textbooks and go super-deep on one topic, this one is written for a general audience and gives an overview of the main areas of his expertise. If you want a brief but thorough education in numeric thinking about many of the fundamental forces that shape human life, this is the book to read. It’s a tour de force.”