Bill Gates Has Always Sought Out New Reading Recommendations (Published 2021) (2023)

Book Review|Bill Gates Has Always Sought Out New Reading Recommendations


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Bill Gates Has Always Sought Out New Reading Recommendations (Published 2021) (1)

“I used to ask my teachers what their favorite books were and make my way through the lists they gave me,” says the Microsoft founder and philanthropist, whose new book is “How to Avoid a Climate Disaster.”

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What books are on your night stand?

“Infinite Jest.” I’m on a mission to read everything David Foster Wallace wrote, and I’m slowly working my way through everything else before I get to that one. I’ve also got a copy of “The Three-Body Problem,” by Liu Cixin, which I’ve been meaning to read for a while.

What’s the last great book you read?

I really liked President Obama’s new book. It was fascinating to read about times when he struggled with self-doubt and how he dealt with it. He’s honest about where he might have done things differently with the benefit of hindsight. It had a level of candor and self-reflection that isn’t all that common among leaders. I was surprised that he portrayed the job as less crazy than I’ve always imagined it to be.

Are there any classic novels that you only recently read for the first time?

I tend to read new history or science books, or the newer releases that friends or colleagues recommend. “The Catcher in the Rye” has been one of my favorites since middle school, though. The first time I read it in eighth grade, I thought it was just an entertaining story. Then someone explained to me that it had a deeper meaning, which I hadn’t realized about books yet. I immediately read it again just so I could try and uncover the hidden themes.

What’s your favorite book no one else has heard of?

“Business Adventures,” by John Brooks, a collection of his New Yorker articles about business from the 1960s. Even though the world has changed a lot in the past 50 years, Brooks’s insights still hold up today. Warren Buffett loaned me his copy years ago and told me it was his favorite business book. Now it’s my favorite, too.

In “How to Avoid a Climate Disaster,” you unexpectedly cite “Weather for Dummies” as one of the best books you’ve found on weather. What science and nature books would you recommend for somebody who wants to understand climate change?

“Weather for Dummies” is probably the best book written for a general audience about the subject. If you want to understand more about how weather and climate are interconnected, John Houghton’s textbook “Global Warming: The Complete Briefing” is good. There is also a Great Courses lecture series called “Earth’s Changing Climate.” Give it six hours and you will know enough to be the hit of the next party you go to, as soon as we can have those again.

Are there researchers or popular science writers you especially admire?

I’ve always been a big fan of Stephen Jay Gould, especially his writing about evolution. Elizabeth Kolbert was a guest on the podcast that Rashida Jones and I did, and I’m eager to read her follow-up to “The Sixth Extinction.” I’ll read anything Atul Gawande writes. Vaclav Smil is a mind-blowing researcher, but his work is very academic and might be an acquired taste for some people. Ed Yong’s book about the human microbiome was terrific.

What’s the most interesting thing you learned from a book recently?

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I read Michelle Alexander’s “The New Jim Crow” a few months ago, and I was shocked by the stories she tells about the extreme prison sentences judges are often forced to hand down. I knew that mandatory minimums were a big problem — especially for people of color — but it’s heartbreaking to read about specific cases. She tells one particularly sad story about a man who got 10 years in prison without parole for what was basically a small lapse in judgment. The judge broke down in tears while issuing his sentence. Her book was written a decade ago, but sadly it’s just as relevant today.

Which subjects do you wish more authors would write about?

I’m surprised more books haven’t been written about how the insights we’re gaining from big data could be used for good. I read “Everybody Lies,” by Seth Stephens-Davidowitz, last summer, which is all about what internet data — and especially search engines — reveal about human behavior. (Did you know that people who have pancreatic cancer often Google both “back pain” and “yellowing skin” before being diagnosed?) It was super interesting, but he didn’t get into what we could do with these learnings. I’d love to read a thoughtful book about how this information could make life better.

Which genres do you especially enjoy reading? And which do you avoid?

I think books are one of the best ways to learn about the world, so I love reading things that teach me something new. My reading list always includes a bunch of history and science books. Over a decade ago, I started reviewing books on my blog, but it’s only a small look at what I read every year, and it doesn’t include things like the academic textbooks or research reports that I find really useful. I gravitate more toward nonfiction, although I wouldn’t say I avoid fiction. I only read a couple novels each year. I usually end up loving them, though, so maybe I should try to read more.

What kind of reader were you as a child? Which childhood books and authors stick with you most?

I’ve always liked getting recommendations from other people, even when I was a little kid. I used to ask my teachers what their favorite books were and make my way through the lists they gave me. Our school librarian used to suggest things for me to read, too. She’d often give me books that were supposed to be for kids older than I was, which was very exciting for me. The book I probably read the most growing up was “The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress,” a great science fiction book by Robert Heinlein.

How have your reading tastes changed over time?

I used to read a lot of science fiction when I was a kid, but not so much as an adult (although I rediscovered my love for the genre through Neal Stephenson’s incredible “Seveneves” a few years ago). These days, I reach for books about a much broader range of topics than I used to. I read Andy Puddicombe’s “The Headspace Guide to Meditation and Mindfulness” a couple years ago — I don’t think my 20-year-old self would’ve ever picked that one. As my kids have grown older, they’ve introduced me to a lot of great books and authors that I wouldn’t necessarily have come across by myself, like John Green. That’s been a lot of fun. And Melinda is always helping me expand my horizons — she suggested I read Edith Eva Eger’s book “The Choice” last year, and I loved it.

What book would you recommend for America’s current political moment?

“These Truths,” by Jill Lepore. If you’re going to solve a problem, you need to understand the context behind how it came to be. Lepore has written the most honest accounting of our country’s history that I’ve ever read. The book is long, but it makes it clear how a lot of what we learned in school is simplified and ignores the less savory parts of American history.

What do you plan to read next?

I can’t wait to read Walter Isaacson’s new book, “The Code Breaker,” when it comes out in a couple weeks. It’s about Jennifer Doudna, who won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry last year for her work on the CRISPR gene-editing platform.

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What does Bill Gates say about reading? ›

"If you have a broad framework, then you have a place to put everything." And, he says, "If you read enough, there's a similarity between things that makes it easy because this thing is like this other thing." On the other hand, he says, if you have to learn something completely new, where there's no framework or ...

What are the 5 books that Bill Gates recommends? ›

Five of Gates' favorites are below:
  • Strangers in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein.
  • The Inner Game of Tennis by Timothy Gallwey.
  • Mendeleyev's Dream by Paul Strathern.
  • Surrender by Bono.
  • Team of Rivals: The political genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin.
Nov 21, 2022

Does Bill Gates really read 50 books a year? ›

An avid lifelong learner himself, Bill Gates knows a thing or two about studying. He reportedly reads roughly 50 books per year, nearly one per week, and takes steps to ensure that he actually absorbs all the material he's read.

Does Bill Gates remember everything he reads? ›

It's not always what you read, but how read it that makes the material stick with you. One person who can attest to this is avid reader, Bill Gates. To date, he reports reading roughly 50 books each year on top of running a company worth over a billion dollars.

What is Bill Gates most famous quote? ›

It's fine to celebrate success, but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure.” It's easy to get caught up in the excitement of success, but success on its own has very little to teach you. It's important to pay attention to your failures and learn from them going forward.

Who is Bill Gates reading level? ›

Product information
Reading age‎8 - 11 years, from customers
Lexile measure‎720L
Grade level3 - 7
10 more rows

What does Bill Gates read every day? ›

Bill Gates primarily reads non-fiction books dealing with society, technology, and science issues, but he also enjoys reading sci-fi.

How many books has Bill Gates read till now? ›

Many of the top successful entrepreneurs are known to be voracious readers. Microsoft founder, Bill Gates, reads about 50 books a year, and has his own methodology of how to remember what's written on those pages.

How many books do Bill Gates read? ›

Bill Gates reads 50 books per year. Mark Zuckerberg reads at least one book every two weeks. Elon Musk grew up reading two books a day, according to his brother. Mark Cuban reads more than 3 hours every day.

What happens if you read 100 books a year? ›

Reading 100 books in a year is an accomplishment. For most people, it will stretch their horizons and stretch their brain to its limit. But it won't make you smarter unless what you read actually starts to impact the way that you live. Knowledge on its own puffs up.

What happens if you read 50 books a year? ›

In addition to reading about specific things that will help you in specific ways, reading 50 books per year really broadens your horizons. Inevitably, reading will take you down a few unexpected rabbit holes and you'll emerge with new interests and knowledge.

Do CEOS really read 60 books a year? ›

In fact, the average number of books read by a CEO is 60 books per year, or five books each month. “What I know for sure is that reading opens you up,” says Oprah, “It exposes you and gives you access to anything your mind can hold. What I love most about reading—It gives you the ability to reach higher ground.”

How does Elon Musk remember everything he reads? ›

Elon uses the “Richard Feynman” technique from what I have read about his approach, mixed with “first principles.” …which is basically in simple terms: don't try to remember, but try to understand; when you understand, you will remember automatically. Sounds simple?

How does Bill Gates read so many books? ›

What is the most famous quote ever said? ›

10 most famous quotes of all time
  • "I have a dream." ...
  • "The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall." - ...
  • "The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing." - ...
  • "So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past." -
May 20, 2022

Who is the most quoted man in the world? ›

OSCAR Wilde has been named as the “most quotable figure” in the history of the English language.

What is considered the most famous quote? ›

A jury consisting of 1,500 film artists, critics, and historians selected "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn", spoken by Clark Gable as Rhett Butler in the 1939 American Civil War epic Gone with the Wind, as the most memorable American movie quotation of all time.

What is the highest reading level ever? ›

The higher the Lexile measure, the higher the student's reading level. The reader's Lexile Framework works in intervals of five with 5L being the lowest. The highest possible measure is 2000L.

What is the highest reading in the world? ›

The Holy Bible is the most read book in the world.

Who is Barack Obama book reading level? ›

Who Is Barack Obama?
Interest LevelReading LevelWord Count
Grades 4 - 8Grades 3 - 67160

How many hours do Bill Gates sleep? ›

On the other hand, we have some people, like Oprah Winfrey (8 hours), Serena Williams (7 hours), and Bill Gates (7 hours) who definitely stick to the expert's advice of getting between 7–9 hours' sleep.

How much time Bill Gates spend reading? ›

(Gates famously packs a tote bag of books when he goes on vacations.) “On vacation I get to read about 3 hours a day so I get through a lot of books,” Gates wrote on the Reddit AMA. Taking notes is one way that Gates synthesizes all the information he reads.

What are the benefits of reading one hour a day? ›

Research shows that regular reading: improves brain connectivity. increases your vocabulary and comprehension. empowers you to empathize with other people.

Who has the most books ever? ›

According to Guinness World Records, L. Ron Hubbard is the most prolific writer of all time. In addition to founding the controversial religion Scientology, the sci-fi author published 1084 works between 1934 and 2006. Of those works, more than 250 were fiction.

How many books do Elon Musk read? ›

How many books does Elon Musk read a day? Elon Musk used to read two books a day, according to his brother. He probably reads much less now since SpaceX and other projects take up most of his time.

How long would it take to read all the books in the world? ›

How Many Books Would You Have to Read Every Day to Read Every Book in the World Before You Die? The average person lives 79 years, which means in order to read every book in the world right now, not even counting the new ones that will be released, you'd have to read about 1,721,519 books a year.

Who reads 500 pages a day? ›

In response to a question about how to prepare for an investing career, Buffett told the students, "Read 500 pages like this every day," while reaching toward a stack of manuals and papers.

Who has read 1,000 books? ›

Through the 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten program, Haleema Arana got the idea to start counting the number of books Daliyah read. She was about 3 years old at the time, and had likely already read about 1,000 books with the help of her mother.

How many books do billionaires read? ›

“Those who read seven or more books per year are more than 122 percent more likely to be millionaires as opposed to those who never read or only read one to three [books].” Take the richest man in the world, Bill Gates, who reads 50 books a year, or Warren Buffett, who spends as much as 80% of his day reading.

Is it possible to read 30 books in a year? ›

Tip 1: Make Reading A Morning Routine Habit

Let's do some math.. 20 pages x 365 days = 7,300 pages per year. Considering the average book is 240 pages, you'll read 30,4 books (7,300 / 240 = 30,4). So by applying just this one tip in your life, you'll already be able to read 30+ books per year.

Is 50 pages a day too much to read? ›

Reading should be fun and enjoyable and each book you read should impact you and develop your perspective. By reading 50-pages a day you develop a consistent reading habit that will help you to not only finish more books but also develop your reading abilities.

Is it possible to read 200 books a year? ›

To read 200 books, simply spend 417 hours a year reading."

Before you object and say that there's no way you have 417 hours a year to spare, Chu points out a few uncomfortable facts: "Here's how much time a single American spends on social media and TV in a year: 608 hours on social media. 1,642 hours on TV.

Is 50 books a year too much? ›

It's easy to imagine these super readers as being speed readers. However, you can read 50 books per year even if you aren't particularly fast. It doesn't require a massive time commitment, either. By making small tweaks to your daily life, you can carve out the time to read 50 books in a year.

Is Bill Gates a fast reader? ›

It's speculated that Bill Gates reads at a speed of approximately 750 wpm, which allows him to go through 150 pages in an hour.

Is it possible to read 52 books in a year? ›

By planning out what books you want to read ahead of time, setting aside just a few minutes each day, listening to audiobooks, and even taking up speed reading, you will be able to read 52 books a year EASILY!

Which country reads the most? ›

At the top of the list for time spent reading per day is Estonia. The average 20 to 74 year old Estonian spends around 13 minutes reading every day. Also hitting figures over 10 minutes were Finland, Poland and Hungary.

Which country reads the most books per year? ›

Countries that Reads (And Buys) The Most Books
  • United States – Apparently, the U.S. reads about 275,232 per year. ...
  • China – The country reads 208,418 books on average per year, and this totals about 10% of all books bought.
  • United Kingdom – This nation reads about 188,000 every year.

Why do successful people read a lot? ›

Many successful people have time to read because they choose to. They don't have to; they are voracious readers because that's what they want to do. They love to read, and they make time for books. They may be interested in specific topics or industries, but they tend to be avid readers in almost every area.

How many pages can Bill Gates read a day? ›

How fast can Bill Gates read? It's speculated that Bill Gates reads at a speed of approximately 750 wpm, which allows him to go through 150 pages in an hour.

How many books can Bill Gates read? ›

At what age did Bill Gates start reading? ›

Right from fifth grade, he was deep into novels on science fiction as well as encyclopaedias. His parents decided to enforce a “no reading policy” during dinner. Due to his childhood habits, Bill Gates never deviated from his love for reading.

Does Bill Gates read a lot of books? ›

Bill Gates

The former Microsoft CEO has attested to reading 50 books a year, or roughly one book a week. Most of the books are non-fiction dealing with public health, disease, engineering, business, and science. Every now and then he'll breeze through a novel (and sometimes in one sitting late into the night).


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