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Every Book Recommendation Bill Gates Has Ever Published

12 minute read

Bill Gates is a very busy man, but as his admirers know, he makes time to read. The Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist regularly reviews books on his website and formulates lists of his favorite books of the year, or the best ones on a given subject. Here is every book he’s ever recommended on his website, from highly academic texts to The Hunger Games.

Note: In the assorted reviews category, we left off books that had been included in other lists — but when the same book appeared on multiple reading lists, we allowed the repetition.

My Favorite Books of 2016

String Theory by David Foster Wallace

Shoe Dog by Phil Knight

The Gene by Siddhartha Mukherjee

The Myth of the Strong Leader by Archie Brown

The Grid by Gretchen Bakke

5 Books to Read This Summer, 2016

Seveneves by Neal Stephenson

How Not to be Wrong by Jordan Ellenberg

The Vital Question by Nick Lane

The Power to Compete by Ryoichi Mikitani and Hiroshi Mikitani

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Noah Yuval Harari

The Best Books I Read in 2015

The Road to Character by David Brooks

Thing Explainer: Complicated Stuff in Simple Words by Randall Munroe

Being Nixon: A Man Divided by Evan Thomas

Sustainable Materials With Both Eyes Open by Julian M. Allwood, Jonathan M. Cullen, et al.

Eradication: Ridding the World of Diseases Forever? by Nancy Leys Stepan

Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol S. Dweck

The Vital Question by Nick Lane

Beach Reading (and More), 2015

Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh

The Magic of Reality by Richard Dawkins

What If? by Randall Munroe

XKCD by Randall Munroe

On Immunity by Eula Biss

How to Lie With Statistics by Darrell Huff

Should We Eat Meat? by Vaclav Smil

6 Books I Recommended for TED 2015

Business Adventures by John Brooks

The Bully Pulpit by Doris Kearns Goodwin

On Immunity by Eula Biss

Making the Modern World by Vaclav Smil

How Asia Works by Joe Studwell

How to Lie with Statistics by Darrell Huff

The Best Books I Read in 2014

Business Adventures by John Brooks

Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty

How Asia Works by Joe Studwell

The Rosie Effect by Graeme Simsion

Making the Modern World: Materials and Dematerialization by Vaclav Smil

Good Disease Books, 2014

The Fever: How Malaria Has Ruled Humankind for 500,000 Years by Sonia Shah

House on Fire: The Fight to Eradicate Smallpox by William H. Foege

Smallpox: The Death of a Disease by D.A. Henderson

Infections and Inequalities: The Modern Plagues by Paul Farmer

6 Books I’d Recommend, 2014

Business Adventures by John Brooks

Stress Test by Timothy F. Geithner

The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism by Doris Kearns Goodwin

(Bonus: Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin)

The Rosie Project: A Novel by Graeme Simsion

The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History by Elizabeth Kolbert

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

10 Books Melinda and I Recommended to the TED Crowd, 2014

The Better Angels of Our Nature by Steven Pinker

Getting Better by Charles Kenny

Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo

The Man Who Fed the World by Leon Hesser

Energy Myths and Realities by Vaclav Smil

The Last Hunger Season by Roger Thurow

However Long the Night by Aimee Molloy

In the Company of the Poor by Paul Farmer and Gustavo Gutierrez

Change by Design by Tim Brown

Mighty Be Our Powers by Leymah Gbowee

The Best Books I Read in 2013

The Box by Marc Levinson

The Most Powerful Idea in the World by William Rosen

Harvesting the Biosphere by Vaclav Smil

The World Until Yesterday by Jared Diamond

Poor Numbers by Morten Jerven

Why Does College Cost So Much? by Robert B. Archibald and David H. Feldman

The Bet by Paul Sabin


The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart

My Summer Reading List, 2013

The World Until Yesterday: What Can We Learn from Traditional Societies? by Jared Diamond

(Bonus: Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies by Jared Diamond)

The Box: How the Shipping Container Made the World Smaller and the World Economy Bigger by Marc Levinson

However Long the Night: Molly Melching’s Journey to Help Millions of African Women and Girls by Aimee Molloy

How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character by Paul Tough

Japan’s Dietary Transition and Its Impacts (Food, Health, and the Environment) by Vaclav Smil and Kazuhiko Kobayashi

Made in the USA: The Rise and Retreat of American Manufacturing by Vaclav Smil

Whistling Vivaldi: How Stereotypes Affect Us and What We Can Do (Issues of Our Time) by Claude Steele

Patriot and Assassin by Robert Cook

Great Books on Science and Innovation, 2013

Smallpox: The Death of a Disease by D. A. Henderson

The Man Who Fed the World: Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Norman Borlaug and His Battle to End World Hunger by Leon Hesser (Book Review)

House on Fire: The Fight to Eradicate Smallpox by William H. Foege

Where Good Ideas Come From by Steven Johnson (Book Review)

For the Love of Physics by Walter Lewin (Book Review)

Feynman Lectures on Physics, Vol. 1: Mainly Mechanics, Radiation, and Heat by Richard P. Feynman, Robert B. Leighton and Matthew Sands

Feynman Lectures on Physics, Vol 2: Mainly Electromagnetism and Matter by Richard P. Feynman, Robert B. Leighton and Matthew Sands

Feynman Lectures on Physics, Vol 3: Quantum Mechanics by Richard P. Feynman, Robert B. Leighton and Matthew Sands

Harvesting the Biosphere by Vaclav Smil

Energy Myths and Realities by Vaclav Smil (Book Review)

The New Science of Strong Materials by J.E. Gordon (Book Review)

The Hair of the Dog and other Scientific Surprises by Karl Sabbagh

13 Things That Don’t Make Sense by Michael Brooks

A Year-End Reading List, 2013

The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail—but Some Don’t by Nate Silver

The Price of Inequality: How Today’s Divided Society Endangers Our Future by Joseph E. Stiglitz

Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty by Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson

The Most Powerful Idea in the World: A Story of Steam, Industry and Invention by William Rosen

Tap Dancing to Work: Warren Buffett on Practically Everything, 1966-2013 by Carol J. Loomis

My Top Reads of 2012

The Better Angels of our Nature: Why Violence has Declined by Steven Pinker

Deng Xiaoping by Ezra Vogel

The Quest by Daniel Yergin

Moonwalking with Einstein by Joshua Foer

Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo

One Billion Hungry: Can We Feed the World? by Gordon Conway

A World-Class Education by Vivien Stewart

Academically Adrift by Richard Arum & Joshipa Roksa

This Time is Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly by Carmen Reinhart & Kenneth Rogoff

The City That Became Safe: New York’s Lessons for Urban Crime and Its Control by Franklin Zimring

Books I Read this Summer, 2012

A Nation of Wusses: How America’s Leaders Lost the Guts to Make Us Great by Ed Rendel

The Art of Being Unreasonable: Lessons in Unconventional Thinking by Eli Broad

Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything by Joshua Foer

Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses by Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa

Awakening Joy: 10 Steps That Will Put You on the Road to Real Happiness by James Baraz and Shoshana Alexander

More Great Summer Reading, 2012

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson

The Art of War by Sun Tzu

Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

Think & Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill

The Grand Design by Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow

Life of Pi by Yann Martel

A New Kind of Science by Stephen Wolfram

A Rogue’s Guide to Acquisition by Ranak Jones, Jayesh Mehta, Anish Sikri

The Alchemist by Paul Coelho

Great Summer Reading, 2012

The Better Angels of our Nature Steven Pinker

The Quest by Daniel Yergin

Deng Xiaoping and the Transformation of China by Ezra Vogel

The Cost of Hope by Amanda Bennett

Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo

Limits to Growth: The 30-Year Update by Donella Meadows

Abundance: The Future is Better Than You Think by Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler

Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

The Man Who Stayed Behind by Amanda Bennett

Assorted book reviews:

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

The Rise and Fall of American Growth by Robert J. Gordon

Epic Measures: One Doctor. Seven Billion Patients by Jeremy Smith

Stuff Matters: Exploring the Marvelous Materials That Shape Our Man-Made World by Mark Miodownik

The Idealist: Jeffrey Sachs and the Quest to End Poverty by Nina Munk

The Great Escape: Health, Wealth and the Origins of Inequality by Angus Deaton

The Path Between the Seas: The Creation of the Panama Canal by David McCullough

Value-Added Measures in Education: What Every Educator Needs to Know by Douglas N. Harris

Interventions: A Life in War and Peace by Kofi Annan

Reinventing Fire: Bold Business Solutions for the New Energy Era by Amory Lovins

Science Business: The Promise, the Reality, and the Future of Biotech by Gary P. Pisano

The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right by Atul Gawande

Unlocking Energy Innovation: How America Can Build a Low-Cost, Low-Carbon Energy System by Richard K. Lester and David M. Hart

The Cat’s Table by Michael Ondaatje

Titan II: A History of a Cold War Missile Program by David Stumpf

Why Don’t Students Like School?: A Cognitive Scientist Answers Questions About How the Mind Works and What It Means for the Classroom by Daniel T. Willingham

That Used to Be Us: How America Fell Behind in the World It Invented and How We Can Come Back by Thomas L. Friedman and Michael Mandelbaum

Change.edu: Rebooting for the New Talent Economy by Andrew S. Rosen

The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer by Siddhartha Mukherjee

World on the Edge: How to Prevent Environmental and Economic Collapse by Lester R. Brown

Global Health: An Introductory Textbook by Ann Lindstrand et al

Unlocking the Gates: How and Why Leading Universities Are Opening Up Access to Their Courses by Taylor Walsh

How to Spend $50 Billion to Make the World a Better Place ed. Bjørn Lomborg

Global Warming: The Complete Briefing by John Houghton

Frank Stewart’s Bridge Club by Frank Stewart

Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way to Fight Global Poverty by Abhijit V. Banerjee and Esther Duflo

Prime Movers of Globalization: The History and Impact of Diesel Engines and Gas Turbines by Vaclav Smil

Modernist Cuisine by Nathan Myhrvold

A Champion’s Mind: Lessons From a Life in Tennis by Pete Sampras

Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell

Class Warfare: Inside the Fight to Fix America’s Schools by Steven Brill

Health Care Will Not Reform Itself: A User’s Guide to Refocusing and Reforming American Health Care by George C. Halvorson

Beyond Smoke and Mirrors: Mexican Immigration in an Era of Economic Integration by Douglas S. Massey, Jorge Durand and Nolan L. Malone

Dirt and Disease: Polio Before FDR by Naomi Rogers

The Grid: A Journey Through the Heart of Our Electrified World by Phillip F. Schewe

Beyond the Crash: Overcoming the First Crisis of Globalization by Gordon Brown

The Foundation: A Great American Secret; How Private Wealth is Changing the World by Joel L. Fleishman

Who’s Teaching Your Children?: Why the Teacher Crisis Is Worse Than You Think and What Can Be Done About It by Vivian Troen and Katherine C. Boles

The Making of a Tropical Disease: A Short History of Malaria by Randall M. Packard

Priorities in Health by Dean T. Jamison et al

Poor Charlie’s Almanack: The Wit and Wisdom of Charles T. Munger ed. Peter D. Kaufman

Too Big to Fail: The Inside Story of How Wall Street and Washington Fought to Save the Financial System — and Themselves by Andrew Ross Sorkin

The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century by Thomas L. Friedman

Showing Up for Life: Thoughts on the Gifts of a Lifetime by Bill Gates Sr.

Open: An Autobiography by Andre Agassi

Give Smart: Philanthropy that Gets Results by Thomas J. Tierney and Joel L. Fleishman

Einstein: His Life and Universe by Walter Isaacson

Creating the Twentieth Century: Technical Innovations of 1867-1914 and Their Lasting Impact by Vaclav Smil

Broken Genius: The Rise and Fall of William Shockley, Creator of the Electronic Age by Joel N. Shurkin

A Separate Peace by John Knowles

Vaccine: The Controversial Story of Medicine’s Greatest Lifesaver by Arthur Allen

Tropical Infectious Diseases: Principles, Pathogens and Practice by Richard L. Guerrant, David H. Walker and Peter F. Weller

Smallpox: The Death of a Disease – The Inside Story of Eradicating a Worldwide Killer by D.A. Henderson

Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, a Man Who Would Cure the World by Tracy Kidder

The Earth’s Biosphere: Evolution, Dynamics, and Change by Vaclav Smil

Hot, Flat, and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution – and How It Can Renew America by Thomas L. Friedman

Energy at the Crossroads: Global Perspectives and Uncertainties by Vaclav Smil

Energies: An Illustrated Guide to the Biosphere and Civilization by Vaclav Smil

Big History: From the Big Bang to the Present by Cynthia Stokes Brown

The End of Poverty: Economic Possibilities for Our Time by Jeffrey Sachs

Global Catastrophes and Trends: The Next Fifty Years by Vaclav Smil

Enriching the Earth: Fritz Haber, Carl Bosch, and the Transformation of World Food Production by Vaclav Smil

Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed: Revised Edition by Jared Diamond

Polio: An American Story by David M. Oshinsky

Stretching the School Dollar: How Schools and Districts Can Save Money While Serving Students Best, ed. Frederick M. Hess and Eric Osberg

Educational Economics: Where Do School Funds Go? by Marguerite Roza

Jim Grant: UNICEF Visionary, ed. Richard Jolly

The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves by Matt Ridley

Why America Is Not a New Rome by Vaclav Smil

Energy Transitions: History, Requirements, Prospects by Vaclav Smil

Liberating Learning: Technology, Politics, and the Future of American Education by Terry M. Moe and John E. Chubb

Life Is What You Make It: Find Your Own Path to Fulfillment by Peter Buffet

Tomorrow’s Table: Organic Farming, Genetics, and the Future of Food by Pamela C. Ronald and Raoul W. Adamchak

In FED We Trust: Ben Bernanke’s War on the Great Panic by David Wessel

SuperFreakonomics: Global Cooling, Patriotic Prostitutes, and Why Suicide Bombers Should Buy Life Insurance by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner

Work Hard. Be Nice.: How Two Inspired Teachers Created the Most Promising Schools in America by Jay Mathews

Sustainable Energy – Without the Hot Air by David JC Mackay

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