Wondering which books you should bring to the beach this summer? Bill Gates, the Microsoft co-founder, philanthropist and unrepentant book nerd, has some suggestions for you.
Gates recommended five books he’s enjoyed on his blog on Monday, including a Booker Prize-winning novel by an American author and a popular biography of a Renaissance legend.
Topping his list was “Leonardo da Vinci” by Walter Isaacson, who also famously wrote a biography of Steve Jobs. “More than any other Leonardo book I’ve read, this one helps you see him as a complete human being and understand just how special he was,” Gates wrote. “Isaacson ... does a great job of explaining why Leonardo’s work is so revered.”
Gates also recommended “Lincoln in the Bardo,” George Saunders’ critically acclaimed novel about Abraham Lincoln mourning the death of his young son.
“ ‘Lincoln in the Bardo’ is heavy stuff for a summer book, but I’m really glad I picked it up,” Gates wrote. “It’s a quick read thanks to its play-like format, and some of the ghosts’ stories are surprisingly funny given the subject matter. If you’re an Abraham Lincoln buff like me, you won’t regret taking this one on your next vacation.”
Similarly heavy is another book Gates raved about, Kate Bowler’s memoir “Everything Happens for a Reason and Other Lies I’ve Loved,” about living with Stage 4 colon cancer.
“‘Everything Happens’ belongs on the shelf alongside other terrific books about this difficult subject, like Paul Kalanithi’s ‘When Breath Becomes Air’ and Atul Gawande’s ‘Being Mortal,’ ” Gates wrote. “Bowler’s writing is direct and unsentimental. She’s not saying her life is unfair or that she deserved better. She’s just telling you what happened.”
Gates had kind words about David Christian’s “Origin Story,” which, he wrote, “does a fantastic job distilling the latest thinking about the origins of the universe. ... ‘Origin Story’ is an up-to-date history of everything that will leave you with a greater appreciation of our place in the universe.”
Gates’ final recommendation is “Factfulness: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About the World — and Why Things Are Better Than You Think,” by the late Swedish doctor Hans Rosling.
“If you never met Hans or watched one of his many TEDtalks, ‘Factfulness’ will help you get a sense of why he was so special,” Gates wrote. “I wish I could tell Hans how much I liked it. ‘Factfulness’ is a fantastic book, and I hope a lot of people read it.”