17th Dec 2019
Bill Gates, via his website Gates Notes, has revealed his five favourite books of 2019 — and his choices are as interesting as he is
Philanthropist and co-founder of Microsoft Bill Gates has shown his thoughtful side on his blog, as she rounded off the year with a post about his favourite five books he’s read this year.
Gates Notes, Bill Gate’s blog website, shared Gate’s “5 books to enjoy this winter” last week, and his choices are an interesting mix. From fiction to medicine, to the more spiritual side of things, here’s what he was loving in 2019.
An American Marriage, by Tayari Jones
An American Marriage is the only work of fiction featured on Gates’ list, but it’s a great novel to start with. Jones’ work tells the story of Roy and Celestial, a black couple in the American south, whose lives and marriage are transformed by Roy’s arrest and prison time for a crime he did not commit. Gates wrote: “The subject matter is heavy but thought-provoking, and I got sucked into Roy and Celestial’s tragic love story.” He also praised Jones’ strong writing.
These Truths: A History of the United States, by Jill Lepore
A heavy historical anthology is just what we want to nestle into at this time of year, and it seems that Gates has the same idea. These Truths, written by Harvard historian Jill Lepore, deals with the mammoth subject of American history, exploring its values, its major events, and its gravest mistakes in less than 1,000 pages. Gates wrote: “She’s (Lepore) made a deliberate choice to make diverse points of view central to the narrative, and the result is the most honest and unflinching account of the American story I’ve ever read.”
Growth, by Vaclav Smil
We would have expected a science read on the list somewhere, and Growth by Vaclav Smil is particularly in-depth. The book looks at the process of growth in everything from tiny organisms to large-scale cities, and gains the reader an understanding of how civilisation has progressed. Gates wrote: “As always, I don’t agree with everything Smil says, but he remains one of the best thinkers out there at documenting the past and seeing the big picture.”
Prepared: What our Kids Need to be Ready for Life, by Diane Tavenner
A book about educating the next generation sounds right up Gates’ alley. Prepared is penned by educator Diane Tavenner, who co-founded the first Summit Public School in 2003. Summit Schools are a type of charter school that aims to equip students with skills to succeed beyond college, and in this book, Tavenner outlines the philosophies behind these schools. Gates wrote: “Along the way, she shares what she’s learned about teaching kids not just what they need to get into college, but how to live a good life.”
Why We Sleep: The New Science of Sleep and Dreams, by Matthew Walker
Another sciencey one, but very timely during this end-of-year slump. Why We Sleep does what it says on the tin: it delves into the science behind sleep, and how it relates to our mental and physical health every day. What really is a good nights’ sleep, and why are they so essential? Gates wrote: “Walker has persuaded me to change my bedtime habits to up my chances. If your New Year’s resolution is to be healthier in 2020, his advice is a good place to start.”
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