What Bill Gates recommends reading this winter

It’s that time of year again.

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates released his annual end-of-year book list earlier this week, highlighting an unusual trend from past years.

In a blog post, Gates said he moves to more fiction than usual this year because he wanted to “explore another world,” but despite that proclamation, his list of five recommendations only includes one work of fiction. However, Gates highlighted a few of his fiction reads including David Foster Wallace’s Brief Interview with Hideous Men and even hinted at possibly picking up Wallace’s legendary novel Infinite Jest next year.

“I think they’re all solid choices to help wrap up your 2019 or start 2020 on a good note,” Gates said, recommending five books this year.

Here’s what Gates recommends to end your year:

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones (Amazon)

A New York Times and Washington Post notable book from 2018, An American Marriage is a love story about a black couple in the South torn apart by forces beyond their control. Gates said Tayari Jones’ prose is so strong that it made him “empathize with both of her main characters,” even with circumstances present.

“The subject matter is heavy but thought-provoking, and I got sucked into Roy and Celestial’s tragic love story,” he writes.

These Truths: A History of the United States by Jill Lepore (Amazon)

The entire history of the United States in 800 pages, Gates said Jill Lepore’s These Truths created “the most honest and unflinching account of the American story I’ve ever read.” He said readers, even if you’re a US history buff, will learn something new from this book.


Growth: From Microorganisms to Megacities by Vaclav Smil
(Amazon)

Gates has recommended multiple works by Vaclav Smil in the past, who he considers one of his favorite authors. In Growth, Smil explores what we can learn through growth in nature and society. While Gates admitted he doesn’t necessarily agree with Smil all the time, he’s still “one of the best thinkers out there at documenting the past and seeing the big picture.”

Prepared: What Kids Need for a Fulfilled Life by Diane Tavenner (Amazon)

Moving into parenting mode, Gates called Diane Tavenner’s Prepared a “helpful guidebook” into transitioning your kids for life after high school. He said the book shows “how to make that process as smooth and fruitful as possible.”

Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams by Matthew Walker (Amazon)

Gates said this was the “most interesting and profound” book about human behavior he read this year, which explores what actually makes a good night’s sleep. Why We Sleep even impacted Gates himself.

“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,” Gates said.

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