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In 1975, Bill Gates co-founded the biggest PC software company in the world, Microsoft, a company and story the majority of America knows well. The entrepreneur has gone on to become one of America’s greatest philanthropists — and readers. He has authored several books, and keeps the blog, where five of the below appear on his summer reading list. Says Gates, “If you’re going to get marooned on a desert island, I guess you can’t exactly choose when it happens to you. But if I’m shipwrecked this summer, I hope I’ll have these five terrific books I read recently as well as five all-time favorites with me.”

Below are Bill Gates’s Top Ten books, available to purchase as a set or individually.



Neal Stephenson
This novel about how the human race responds to the end of life on Earth rekindled my love for sci-fi. Some readers will lose patience with all the technical details about orbits and space flight, but for me, it’s an engrossing and thought-provoking story.
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How Not to be Wrong: The Power of Mathematical Thinking

Jordan Ellenberg
A mathematician explains how math plays into our daily lives without our even knowing it. The writing is funny, smooth, and accessible — not what you might expect from a book on this subject. Ellenberg’s larger point is that there are ways in which we’re all doing math, all the time.
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Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind

Yuval Noah Harari
This look at the entire history of the human race sparked lots of great conversations at our family’s dinner table. Harari also writes about our species today and how artificial intelligence, genetic engineering, and other technologies will change us in the future.
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The Power to Compete

Ryoichi Mikitani and Hiroshi Mikitani
Why was Japan, the juggernaut of the 1980s, eclipsed by South Korea and China? And can its economy come back? A smart look at the future of a fascinating country.
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The Vital Question

Nick Lane
I wish more people knew about this British biologist’s work. He is trying to get people to fully appreciate the role energy plays in the evolution of life on Earth (and, maybe, other places). Even if he turns out to be wrong about certain details, I suspect his ideas will be seen as an important contribution to our understanding of where we come from, and where are we going.
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Business Adventures: Twelve Classic Tales from the World of Wall Street

John Brooks
Warren Buffett gave me this fantastic collection of articles that Brooks wrote for The New Yorker. Although Brooks was writing in the 1960s, his insights are timeless and a reminder that the rules for running a great company don’t change. I read it more than two decades ago, and it’s still my pick for the best business book ever.
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Parenting With Love and Logic

Foster Cline and Jim Fay
As the parents of three children, Melinda and I have spent a lot of time reading and discussing this book. It has been an invaluable guide for both of us, especially when it comes to de-escalating those inevitable conflicts between parents and kids.
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Sustainable Energy - Without the Hot Air

David JC MacKay
A fantastic guide to thinking more numerically about clean energy, and the most accessible explanation of this subject that I’ve seen. I still refer to it myself, which is a bittersweet experience now—David died in April, at the age of 48.
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The Better Angels of Our Nature

Steven Pinker
Proof that the world is becoming more peaceful. It’s not just a question for historians, but a profound statement about human nature and the possibility for a better future. This book may have shaped my outlook more than any other.
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The Great Gatsby

F.Scott Fitzgerald
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.”
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