The Microsoft founder’s 2018 book roundup covers everything from meditation to autonomous weapons.
December 4, 2018 3 min read
It’s been almost nine years since Bill Gates launched his personal blog, Gates Notes, with his musings on topics like health, energy, education and — perhaps most popular — books. The Microsoft founder regularly releases a winter roundup of five books he loved reading over the past year, and his 2018 list — released Monday — spans everything from a how-to guide on meditation to an in-depth exploration of autonomous weapons.
Whether you’re in need of a volume to read on the flight home, to use as an escape when extended family members bring up politics or to break your social media scrolling addiction, Gates recommended his top five titles to read and gift this year.
Educated by Tara Westover
“Tara never went to school or visited a doctor until she left home at 17. 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. Melinda and I loved this memoir of a young woman whose thirst for learning was so strong that she ended up getting a Ph.D. from Cambridge University.”
“Autonomous weapons aren’t exactly top of mind for most around the holidays, but this thought-provoking look at AI in warfare is hard to put down. It’s an immensely complicated topic, but Scharre offers clear explanations and presents both the pros and cons of machine-driven warfare. His fluency with the subject should come as no surprise: He’s a veteran who helped draft the U.S. government’s policy on autonomous weapons.”
“A bunch of my friends recommended this one to me. Carreyrou gives you the definitive insider’s look at the rise and fall of Theranos. The story is even crazier than I expected, and I found myself unable to put it down once I started. This book has everything: elaborate scams, corporate intrigue, magazine cover stories, ruined family relationships, and the demise of a company once valued at nearly $10 billion.”
“I’m a big fan of everything Harari has written, and his latest is no exception. While Sapiens and Homo Deus covered the past and future respectively, this one is all about the present. If 2018 has left you overwhelmed by the state of the world, 21 Lessons offers a helpful framework for processing the news and thinking about the challenges we face.”
“I’m sure 25-year-old me would scoff at this one, but Melinda and I have gotten really into meditation lately. The book starts with Puddicombe’s personal journey from a university student to a Buddhist monk and then becomes an entertaining explainer on how to meditate. If you’re thinking about trying mindfulness, this is the perfect introduction.”