Microsoft founder, Bill Gates is a bookworm and is known to give away the names of the good books he had read. At the end of every year, Bill Gates publishes a list of his favorite books in his personal blog. The list for 2015 proves that he has been no less of a voracious reader this year.
In 2015, Gates has read books on “How things work” – that might include the reasons for some physical processes or how humans developed values. Gates is more attracted to nonfiction books. His list of favorite books for 2015 includes,
- Thing Explainer: Complicated Stuff in Simple Words, by Randall Munroe
Randall Munroe, the developer of XKCD webcomic explains the hard processes and concepts with the 1000 most used English words. Gates, inspired by Munroe writes about his own struggle with a jargon,
“Terminology is an occupational hazard of philanthropy. I’ve found this is especially true if you work in an area like health. It is not unusual to be discussing the latest disease research and hear someone throw around words like serum and in vitro (and more complicated ones). Over the years I’ve gotten comfortable with all the terms, but at first I had to keep reminding myself: Serum just means blood without the red and white cells. In vitro just means ‘in the glass’—as in test tubes. I still go through that process today with different subjects.”
Gates likes Evan Thomas’s balanced and subtle approach to the often defamed Richard Nixon. He writes,
“I was a little surprised to learn what a bad manager Nixon was. Although it doesn’t compare to his other failings, Nixon’s management style offers some good reminders of how not to run a team. He avoided conflict at all costs. His staff frequently left meetings with diametrically opposed views on what he had just asked them to do. Or he would be crystal-clear about what he wanted, while actually expecting his staff to ignore his demands.”
This book will make us rethink about the use of common products like steel and aluminium which are the main reasons for global emission. It has instigated Gates to think about fighting the climate change by changing the way we consume those products. He says,
“The authors argue that when a product—say, a building or car—is discarded, the materials in it are often still usable. (Reusing is much better than recycling, because recycling something takes less than half as much energy as it took to make the thing in the first place.) If you throw out your old refrigerator, the steel is probably still in good condition. So is the steel in old buildings, as long as there hasn’t been a fire or earthquake.”
Gates Foundation is the world’s largest private organization to improve world health. Hence, it is of no big shock that Gates reads the book of Nancy Leys Stepan on Fred Soper who tried to eradicate yellow fever, typhus and malaria. Gates writes,
“Soper’s biggest mistake—and on this I agree with Stepan—was believing that scientists had already learned everything there was to learn about mosquitoes and malaria. Because of that he spent a lot of time and money—and made life harder for a lot of people—trying to eradicate a disease that actually was not understood well enough. Scientists didn’t have enough of the right data. Soper didn’t have a deep enough understanding of human behavior and international politics.”
This book “Mindset” explains the concepts of growth versus fixed mindsets. Gates writes,
“My only criticism of the book is that Dweck slightly oversimplifies for her general audience. Contrary to the impression that Dweck creates here (but probably not in her academic papers), most of us are not purely fixed-mindset people or growth-mindset people. We’re both. When I was reading the book, I realized that I have approached some things with a growth mindset (like bridge) while other things in a fixed mindset (like basketball).
The greatest virtue of the book is that you can’t help but ask yourself things like, ‘Which areas have I always looked at through a fixed-mindset lens?’ and ‘In what ways am I sending the wrong message to my children about mindset and effort?’”
Bill Gates is attracted to the question “At what points do my talents and deep gladness meet the world’s deep need?” in the book. He says,
“I like that question a lot. It’s the kind of question we can ask any day, not just on those milestone birthdays. It can remind us to pay attention to our neighbors around the world.”