When Bill Gates isn’t convincing the world’s billionaires to give their fortunes away, he’s known to curl up with a good book or ten. For the past several years the philanthropist and Microsoft co-founder has published a year-end list of favorite books on his personal blog, and this year he’s been no less voracious as a reader.
In 2015, Gates found his reading selection oriented toward “how things work”—whether it’s an explanation of how physical processes unfold, or how humans developed our values. Drawing on nonfiction reads published from 2006 to 2015, Gates presents his picks and reviews from this year:
Thing Explainer: Complicated Stuff in Simple Words by Randall Munroe
Being Nixon: A Man Divided by Evan Thomas
Gates praises Evan Thomas’s balanced and nuanced approach to the oft vilified Richard Nixon. In addition, he writes:
Sustainable Materials With Both Eyes Open by Julian M. Allwood and Jonathan M. Cullen, et al.
The academic book on rethinking our use of commodities like steel and aluminium, which account for nearly 30% of global emissions, was eye-opening for Gates. How we consume is not the only important question in fighting climate change:
Eradication: Ridding the World of Diseases Forever? by Nancy Leys Stepan
Epidemiology and vaccines are a big focus of the Gates Foundation, so it’s not surprising that Gates should read historian of medicine Nancy Leys Stepan’s book on Fred Soper, who tried to eradicate yellow fever, typhus, and malaria throughout his career. He writes:
Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck
The Road to Character by David Brooks
Reflecting on his 60th birthday, Gates writes admiringly of this quote in Brooks’s book, by the novelist Frederick Buechner: “At what points do my talents and deep gladness meet the world’s deep need?” Says Gates:
Bill Gates is co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation