A key secret to the success of Bill Gates, whose net worth is currently valued at $92.5 billion, is that he’s always learning new things.
“I like my job because it involves learning. I like the fact that if people really try they can figure out how to invent things that actually have an impact. I don’t like to waste time where I’m not hearing new things or being creative,” he once said.
In a follow-up note, Gates said that the books help grapple with some pretty big questions: “What makes a genius tick? Why do bad things happen to good people? Where does humanity come from, and where are we headed?” In spite of the heavy subject matter, Gates added that “all these books were fun to read, and most of them are pretty short.”
So read on, and happy summer! And for more books to add to your reading list, check out 40 Books Every Man Over 40 Should Have on His Bookshelf.
Lincoln in the Bardo, by George Saunders
This 2017 bestseller was the first full length novel by acclaimed short story writer George Saunders, and it focuses on Abraham Lincoln dealing with the loss of his son, William “Willie” Wallace Lincoln.
“I thought I knew everything I needed to know about Abraham Lincoln, but this novel made me rethink parts of his life. It blends historical facts from the Civil War with fantastical elements—it’s basically a long conversation among 166 ghosts, including Lincoln’s deceased son. I got new insight into the way Lincoln must have been crushed by the weight of both grief and responsibility. This is one of those fascinating, ambiguous books you’ll want to discuss with a friend when you’re done.”
Everything Happens for a Reason and Other Lies I’ve Loved, by Kate Bowler
Bowler’s 2018 memoir about getting diagnosed with terminal cancer at the age of 35 provides reflections on faith, friendship, love, death, and why bad things happen.
“When Bowler, a professor at Duke Divinity School, is diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer, she sets out to understand why it happened. Is it a test of her character? The result is a heartbreaking, surprisingly funny memoir about faith and coming to grips with your own mortality.”
For more on amazing reads, check out the 40 Books Every Woman Over 40 Should Have on Her Bookshelf.
Origin Story: A Big History of Everything, by David Christian
The book tackles the enormous subject of how humans came to be. “David created my favorite course of all time, Big History. It tells the story of the universe from the big bang to today’s complex societies, weaving together insights and evidence from various disciplines into a single narrative. If you haven’t taken Big History yet, Origin Story is a great introduction. If you have, it’s a great refresher. Either way, the book will leave you with a greater appreciation of humanity’s place in the universe.”
Factfulness, by Hans Rosling, with Ola Rosling and Anna Rosling Ronnlund
This recently-released book by Professor of International Health and global TED phenomenon Hans Rosling and his colleagues reveals the ten instincts that distort our perception of the world.
“I’ve been recommending this book since the day it came out. Hans, the brilliant global-health lecturer who died last year, gives you a breakthrough way of understanding basic truths about the world—how life is getting better, and where the world still needs to improve. And he weaves in unforgettable anecdotes from his life. It’s a fitting final word from a brilliant man, and one of the best books I’ve ever read.”
Leonardo Da Vinci, by Walter Isaacson
This 2017 bestselling biography provides a fascinating portrait of the life and mind of a creative genius.
“I think Leonardo was one of the most fascinating people ever. Although today he’s best known as a painter, Leonardo had an absurdly wide range of interests, from human anatomy to the theater. Isaacson does the best job I’ve seen of pulling together the different strands of Leonardo’s life and explaining what made him so exceptional. A worthy follow-up to Isaacson’s great biographies of Albert Einstein and Steve Jobs.”
At 600 pages, this might be a book that you want to intensely peruse. For tips on how to do that, check out The Expert’s Guide to Speed Reading a Book .
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