Bill Gates’ book lists are an influential force in publishing, capable of giving a title a sales bump. On Tuesday (Dec. 4), the Microsoft founder shared his favorite books of 2018, which he says is “pretty eclectic” and has “something for everyone.”
True to form, Gates’ 2018 favorites are all nonfiction, and touch on subjects as varied as autonomous weapons and mindfulness (he rarely picks up fiction). Here are the five books, linked to his comments on each. (Still want more? Here are all 185 books Gates has recommended over the years.)
Educated, by Tara Westover
“I never thought I’d relate to a story about growing up in a Mormon survivalist household, but she’s such a good writer that she got me to reflect on my own life while reading about her extreme childhood,” Gates writes. He was so taken with the memoir that he sat down with the author for an interview, which is available on his website.
Army of None, by Paul Scharre
This book by a former Army Ranger and defense expert is one that Gates says he’s “been waiting for.” Scharre explores the advantages and drawbacks of autonomous warfare, and is able to clearly explain this complicated topic, Gates says.
Bad Blood, by John Carreyrou
The billionaire and philanthropist says he rarely reads page-turners, but considers Carreyou’s account of the rise and fall of biotech startup Theranos one of them. “I think it’s the perfect book to read by the fire this winter,” he writes, noting that several friends recommended the book to him.
21 Lessons for the 21st Century, by Yuval Noah Harari
Gates sees this book as teeing up “crucial global conversation about how to take on the problems of the 21st century,” like climate change or terrorism. He “doesn’t agree” with everything Harari writes, but is such a fan of the historian’s work that 21 Lessons is the third book of his to be included in Gates’ lists.
The Headspace Guide to Meditation and Mindfulness, by Andy Puddicombe
Gates remained unconvinced about the power of meditation until he met Puddicombe, founder of the app Headspace. Gates and his wife Melinda enjoyed Puddicombe’s work so much they had him come in and teach their family about meditation. “I’m not sure how much meditation would have helped me concentrate in my early Microsoft days, because I was monomaniacally focused without it,” he writes. “But now that I’m married, have three children, and have a broader set of professional and personal interests, it’s a great tool for improving my focus.”