Bill Gates's Reading List: 5 Books for a Healthier, Wiser 2020 Image

Each year, many of the world’s most influential figures share their top picks for books, music, and film. From President Barack Obama to Oprah Winfrey and Elon Musk, these recommendations can help the rest of us find the best books to inspire, entertain, and educate ourselves.

Bill Gates, the world’s second richest man and co-founder of Microsoft, also likes to share lists of his favorite books via his website, GatesNotes.

How Many Books Does Bill Gates Read a Day?

Bill Gates has claimed to read about 50 books per year, averaging around one new book every week.

Gates says that reading is his favorite hobby and way to indulge his curiosity. His father claims that when Bill was a child, he read so much that they had to institute a rule of no reading at the dinner table.

He says that taking notes in the margins helps him to really process the information, especially in non-fiction books. He also has a rule of never starting books that he can’t finish.

You can read more about the reading habits of successful people to discover the tips and secrets of Bill Gates, Elon Musk, Warren Buffett, and others.

What Books Does Bill Gates Recommend?

Below are 5 books that Bill Gates read in 2019, according to his blog, and that he recommends everyone read for a smarter and healthier 2020.

This year, Gates says he has read more fiction than in years past, which is why this list strays from his usual pattern of non-fiction only recommendations, with one of his top picks including a novel by Tayari Jones.

1. An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

Also recommended by Oprah Winfrey’s book club and President Barack Obama, An American Marriage tells the story of a newlywed black couple in the South.

Roy is a young executive, and Celestial is an up and coming artist. But just as they’re settling into life together, Roy is incarcerated for a crime they both know he didn’t commit. Though she’s fiercely independent, Celestial finds herself taking comfort in Andre, her childhood friend and best man at their wedding.

After 5 years, Roy’s conviction is overturned, and he returns to Atlanta, expecting to resume their life together.

Gates says of the book: “The subject matter is heavy but thought-provoking, and I got sucked into Roy and Celestial’s tragic love story.”

2. These Truths by Jill Lepore

These Truths is a U.S. history book that traces America’s story from 1492 and follows the intertwined histories of American politics, law, journalism, and technology, from the colonial town meeting to the nineteenth century party machine, to 21st century internet polls, and Facebook News.

Lepore’s 960-page chronicle also follows both prolific and lesser-known characters who shaped the story, from Frederick Douglass to Phyllis Schlafly, the uncredited mother of modern conservatism.

Gates observes that These Truths is an “unflinching account of the American story” and that there is something for everyone to learn from the book. 

3. Growth by Vaclav Smil

This book investigates growth in both nature and society, “from microorganisms to megacities.” Smil examines organisms whose mature sizes range from microscopic to enormous, disease-causing microbes, the cultivation of staple crops, and human growth from infancy to adulthood.

Smil explains that we can chart the growth of organisms across individual and evolutionary time, but that the progress of societies and economies, not so linear, encompasses both decline and renewal.

Vaclav Smil is one of Gates’s favorite authors, and the billionaire states on his blog that Smil “remains one of the best thinkers out there at documenting the past and seeing the big picture.”

4. Prepared by Diane Tavenner

Prepared is a parent’s guide to preparing their kids for life after school. Tavenner aims to help parents stop worrying about their child’s future and help them be ready for it instead.

In 2003, Tavenner cofounded the first Summit school, which would grow into a public school network that has won national recognition because 99% of its students get accepted into a four-year college.

Through personal stories and lessons from Summit’s team, Tavenner shares the underlying learning philosophies and unconventional wisdom that prepare children for school and life.

5. Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker

Neuroscientist and sleep expert Matthew Walker gives readers a new understanding of the vital importance of sleep and dreaming.

Walker answers common and important questions about sleep, such as how caffeine and alcohol affect sleep, what really happens during REM sleep, why our sleep patterns change throughout a lifetime, and how common sleep aids affect us in the long-term.

Gates wrote on his blog that Why We Sleep “has persuaded me to change my bedtime habits to up my chances. If your New Year’s resolution is to be healthier in 2020, his advice is a good place to start.”

Bill Gates’s Reading List 2020

If you’re wondering what to read next, it sometimes helps to get some recommendations from other brilliant minds.

By discovering the reading habits and suggestions of successful people, you’re sure to find reads that are both informative and thought-provoking.

Have you read any of the books mentioned in this post? Share your thoughts on them in the comments below!


If you enjoyed this post, then you might also like: