back to top

6 Books Bill Gates Thinks You Should Read This Summer

You're going to need a bigger beach bag.

Posted on
Yuri Gripas / Reuters

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates released his summer reading list today. Contrary to his 2014 list, Gates decided to include books more appropriate for "beach reading."

Gates' picks last year included book like the Pulitzer Prize winning The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History by Elizabeth Kolbert and Reinventing American Health Care: How the Affordable Care Act Will Improve Our Terribly Complex, Blatantly Unjust, Outrageously Expensive, Grossly Inefficient, Error Prone System by Ezekiel J. Emanuel.

On his blog GateNotes, he noted, "This year I tried to pick a few more things that are on the lighter side. Each of these books made me think or laugh or, in some cases, do both."

1. Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh

"The adventures she recounts are mostly inside her head, where we hear and see the kind of inner thoughts most of us are too timid to let out in public. You will rip through it in three hours, tops. But you’ll wish it went on longer, because it’s funny and smart as hell."
Touchstone Books

"The adventures she recounts are mostly inside her head, where we hear and see the kind of inner thoughts most of us are too timid to let out in public. You will rip through it in three hours, tops. But you’ll wish it went on longer, because it’s funny and smart as hell."

2. The Magic of Reality by Richard Dawkins

"This book is as accessible as the TV series Cosmos is for younger audiences—and as relevant for older audiences. It’s an engaging, well-illustrated science textbook offering compelling answers to big questions, like 'how did the universe form?' and 'what causes earthquakes?' It’s also a plea for readers of all ages to approach mysteries with rigor and curiosity."
Free Press

"This book is as accessible as the TV series Cosmos is for younger audiences—and as relevant for older audiences. It’s an engaging, well-illustrated science textbook offering compelling answers to big questions, like 'how did the universe form?' and 'what causes earthquakes?' It’s also a plea for readers of all ages to approach mysteries with rigor and curiosity."

3. What If? by Randall Munroe

"People write Munroe with questions that range over all fields of science: physics, chemistry, biology...Munroe’s explanations are funny, but the science underpinning his answers is very accurate. It’s an entertaining read, and you’ll also learn a bit about things like ballistics, DNA, the oceans, the atmosphere, and lightning along the way."
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

"People write Munroe with questions that range over all fields of science: physics, chemistry, biology...Munroe’s explanations are funny, but the science underpinning his answers is very accurate. It’s an entertaining read, and you’ll also learn a bit about things like ballistics, DNA, the oceans, the atmosphere, and lightning along the way."

4. On Immunity by Eula Biss

"Biss, an essayist and university lecturer, examines what lies behind people’s fears of vaccinating their children. Like many of us, she concludes that vaccines are safe, effective, and almost miraculous tools for protecting children against needless suffering. But she is not out to demonize anyone who holds opposing views."
Graywolf Press

"Biss, an essayist and university lecturer, examines what lies behind people’s fears of vaccinating their children. Like many of us, she concludes that vaccines are safe, effective, and almost miraculous tools for protecting children against needless suffering. But she is not out to demonize anyone who holds opposing views."

5. How to Lie With Statistics by Darrell Huff

"It was first published in 1954, but aside from a few anachronistic examples (it has been a long time since bread cost 5 cents a loaf in the United States), it doesn’t feel dated. One chapter shows you how visuals can be used to exaggerate trends and give distorted comparisons—a timely reminder, given how often infographics show up in your Facebook and Twitter feeds these days."
W. W. Norton & Company

"It was first published in 1954, but aside from a few anachronistic examples (it has been a long time since bread cost 5 cents a loaf in the United States), it doesn’t feel dated. One chapter shows you how visuals can be used to exaggerate trends and give distorted comparisons—a timely reminder, given how often infographics show up in your Facebook and Twitter feeds these days."

6. Should We Eat Meat? by Vaclav Smil

"Vaclav Smil takes his usual clear-eyed view of the whole landscape, from meat’s role in human evolution to hard questions about animal cruelty...A timely book, though probably the least beach-friendly one on this list."
Wiley-Blackwell

"Vaclav Smil takes his usual clear-eyed view of the whole landscape, from meat’s role in human evolution to hard questions about animal cruelty...A timely book, though probably the least beach-friendly one on this list."

Thanks for the recommendations, Bill!

Focus Features / wifflegif.com