Bill Gates, the co-founder of Microsoft, has listed the five books he intends to read in the northern hemisphere summer alongside the TV shows he has enjoyed and what he plays with Warren Buffett, the Chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway

By Ian Horswill


Posted on May 19, 2020

Bill Gates, the business magnate, investor, and philanthropist, has revealed what he plans to read over the coming months and the TV shows that excite him.

“Most of my conversations and meetings these days are about COVID-19 and how we can stem the tide,” Bill Gates, the co-founder and former Chairman and CEO of Microsoft, wrote in his blog Gates Notes.

“But I’m also often asked about what I am reading and watching — either because people want to learn more about pandemics, or because they are looking for a distraction. I’m always happy to talk about great books and TV shows (and to hear what other people are doing, since I’m usually in the market for recommendations).

Bill Gates wrote that he will be reading these new books over the northern hemisphere summer.

Bill Gates, Dr Edith Eger, The Choice

The Choice, by Dr Edith Eva Eger. “This book is partly a memoir and partly a guide to processing trauma. Eger was only sixteen years old when she and her family got sent to Auschwitz. After surviving unbelievable horrors, she moved to the United States and became a therapist. Her unique background gives her amazing insight, and I think many people will find comfort right now from her suggestions on how to handle difficult situations.”

Bill Gates, David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas

Cloud Atlas, by David Mitchell. “This is the kind of novel you’ll think and talk about for a long time after you finish it. The plot is a bit hard to explain, because it involves six inter-related stories that take place centuries apart (including one I particularly loved about a young American doctor on a sailing ship in the South Pacific in the mid-1800s). But if you’re in the mood for a really compelling tale about the best and worst of humanity, I think you’ll find yourself as engrossed in it as I was.”

Bill Gates, Bob Iger

The Ride of a Lifetime, by Bob Iger. “This is one of the best business books I’ve read in several years. Iger does a terrific job explaining what it’s really like to be the CEO of a large company. Whether you’re looking for business insights or just an entertaining read, I think anyone would enjoy his stories about overseeing Disney during one of the most transformative times in its history.”

Bill Gates, John M Barry, The Grat Influenza

The Great Influenza, by John M. Barry. “We’re living through an unprecedented time right now. But if you’re looking for a historical comparison, the 1918 influenza pandemic is as close as you’re going to get. Barry will teach you almost everything you need to know about one of the deadliest outbreaks in human history. Even though 1918 was a very different time from today, The Great Influenza is a good reminder that we’re still dealing with many of the same challenges.”

Bill Gates, Abhijit Banerjee, Esther Duflo, winners of the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences 2019

Good Economics for Hard Times, by Abhijit V. Banerjee and Esther Duflo. “Banerjee and Duflo won the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences last year, and they’re two of the smartest economists working today. Fortunately for us, they’re also very good at making economics accessible to the average person. Their newest book takes on inequality and political divisions by focusing on policy debates that are at the forefront in wealthy countries like the United States.”

Bill Gates also lists the following books worth reading: The Headspace Guide to Meditation and Mindfulness, by Andy Puddicombe; Moonwalking with Einstein, by Joshua Foer; The Martian, by Andy Weir; A Gentleman in Moscow, by Amor Towles and The Rosie Trilogy, by Graeme Simsion. Bill Gates also recommends comic-type books The Best We Could Do by Thi Bui; Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things that Happened, by Allie Brosh.

“Finally, I love the way that former NASA engineer Randall Munroe turns offbeat science lessons into super-engaging comics. The two books of his that I’ve read and highly recommend are What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions, and XKCD Volume 0. I also have Randall’s latest book, How To: Absurd Scientific Advice for Common Real-World Problems, on my bookshelf and hope to read it soon,” said Bill Gates.

Bill Gates also recommends TV shows and movies “you might enjoy”.

Pandemic: How to Prevent an Outbreak. “This documentary series on Netflix introduces you to four people who are working super-hard in different parts of the world to prevent epidemics. Since the series was filmed some time ago, the episodes are focused not on the coronavirus but on influenza — which was widely regarded as the most likely culprit for a big outbreak. But Pandemic still gives you a sense of the inspiring work that heroic doctors, researchers, and aid workers are doing to prevent the very thing we’re all going through right now,” said Bill Gates.

“A few of the series that Melinda and I are keeping up with include A Million Little Things, This Is Us, and Ozark.

“And I’m planning to finally watch I, Claudius — a 1970s BBC series set during the Roman empire —after reading a rave review in The Economist. I’ve read a lot about the Roman times, but this series sounds like an interesting look at the era.

“On the much more escapist front, a few weeks ago I re-watched one of my favorite movies, Spy Game, starring Robert Redford and Brad Pitt. It has lots of good surprises, so I don’t want to spoil the plot for you. Not a lot of people have heard of Spy Game, but I’ve probably seen it 12 times.”

Bill Gates also revealed he is a big fan of bridge.

“I’ve been playing bridge for years — Warren Buffett is my favorite partner. We don’t get together in person now that we’re sheltering in place, but we still play online. There are lots of great options out there, including this guide to learning the game, and the online platform that Warren and I play on, which is called Bridge Base. (I’ll keep our screen names between us.) I got worried a couple months ago when their service briefly went down, but it was back up in no time. I was surprised at how relieved I was to see it running again,” said Bill Gates, who has a net worth of US$105.6 billion, and is the co-chairman and co-founder of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.