Bill Gates Recommends Five Books for Summer 2017

Sum­mer just offi­cial­ly got under­way. So that means it’s time for Bill Gates, once again, to serve up a new Sum­mer Read­ing List. This list will help you “think deep­er about what it means to tru­ly con­nect with oth­er peo­ple and to have pur­pose in your life.” Or “what it’s like to grow up out­side the main­stream: as a child of mixed race in apartheid South Africa, as a young man try­ing to escape his impov­er­ished life in rur­al Appalachia, or as the son of a peanut farmer in Plains, Geor­gia.”

So, with no fur­ther ado, here’s Bill Gates’ five rec­om­mend­ed reads for the sum­mer. In what fol­lows, this is all Bill speak­ing:

Born a Crime, by Trevor Noah. As a long­time fan of The Dai­ly Show, I loved read­ing this mem­oir about how its host honed his out­sider approach to com­e­dy over a life­time of nev­er quite fit­ting in. Born to a black South African moth­er and a white Swiss father in apartheid South Africa, he entered the world as a bira­cial child in a coun­try where mixed race rela­tion­ships were for­bid­den. Much of Noah’s sto­ry of grow­ing up in South Africa is trag­ic. Yet, as any­one who watch­es his night­ly mono­logues knows, his mov­ing sto­ries will often leave you laugh­ing.

The Heart, by Maylis de Keran­gal. While you’ll find this book in the fic­tion sec­tion at your local book­store, what de Keran­gal has done here in this explo­ration of grief is clos­er to poet­ry than any­thing else. At its most basic lev­el, she tells the sto­ry of a heart trans­plant: a young man is killed in an acci­dent, and his par­ents decide to donate his heart. But the plot is sec­ondary to the strength of its words and char­ac­ters. The book uses beau­ti­ful lan­guage to con­nect you deeply with peo­ple who may be in the sto­ry for only a few min­utes.…

Hill­bil­ly Ele­gy, by J.D. Vance. The dis­ad­van­taged world of poor white Appalachia described in this ter­rif­ic, heart­break­ing book is one that I know only vic­ar­i­ous­ly. Vance was raised large­ly by his lov­ing but volatile grand­par­ents, who stepped in after his father aban­doned him and his moth­er showed lit­tle inter­est in par­ent­ing her son. Against all odds, he sur­vived his chaot­ic, impov­er­ished child­hood only to land at Yale Law School. While the book offers insights into some of the com­plex cul­tur­al and fam­i­ly issues behind pover­ty, the real mag­ic lies in the sto­ry itself and Vance’s brav­ery in telling it.

Homo Deus, by Yuval Noah Harari. I rec­om­mend­ed Harari’s pre­vi­ous book Sapi­ens in last summer’s read­ing list, and this provoca­tive fol­low-up is just as chal­leng­ing, read­able, and thought-pro­vok­ing. Homo Deus argues that the prin­ci­ples that have orga­nized soci­ety will under­go a huge shift in the 21st cen­tu­ry, with major con­se­quences for life as we know it. So far, the things that have shaped society—what we mea­sure our­selves by—have been either reli­gious rules about how to live a good life, or more earth­ly goals like get­ting rid of sick­ness, hunger, and war. What would the world be like if we actu­al­ly achieved those things? I don’t agree with every­thing Harari has to say, but he has writ­ten a smart look at what may be ahead for human­i­ty.

A Full Life, by Jim­my Carter. Even though the for­mer Pres­i­dent has already writ­ten more than two dozen books, he some­how man­aged to save some great anec­dotes for this quick, con­densed tour of his fas­ci­nat­ing life. I loved read­ing about Carter’s improb­a­ble rise to the world’s high­est office. The book will help you under­stand how grow­ing up in rur­al Geor­gia in a house with­out run­ning water, elec­tric­i­ty, or insu­la­tion shaped—for bet­ter and for worse—his time in the White House. Although most of the sto­ries come from pre­vi­ous decades, A Full Life feels time­ly in an era when the public’s con­fi­dence in nation­al polit­i­cal fig­ures and insti­tu­tions is low.

via Gates Notes

Relat­ed Con­tent:

29 Lists of Rec­om­mend­ed Books Cre­at­ed by Well-Known Authors, Artists & Thinkers: Jorge Luis Borges, Pat­ti Smith, Neil DeGrasse Tyson, David Bowie & More

100 Nov­els All Kids Should Read Before Leav­ing High School

Bill Gates Lists His Favorite Books of 2016

5 Books Bill Gates Wants You to Read This Sum­mer

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