close Facebook Twitter Instagram LinkedIn
5 mins

Bill Gates’ Favorite Books: Food For Thought

Bill Gates emphasized the importance of reading and advised younger people to read a lot to make an impact in the world. As a successful person, he recommended some of his favorite books to offer insights into his personality and collection of knowledge.
by Chris Allmer | Apr 28 2023
Bill Gates favorite books

Sometime in 2022, Bill Gates tweeted that he was once asked to give advice to younger people who aim to make an impact in the world. This question made him reflect on what advice he would give his younger self, and the answer was simple: “Read a lot.” Considering the massive success he has achieved in life, this advice will surely render any ambitious person curious to find out what Bill Gates’ favorite books are.

The Microsoft co-founder, who became the world’s youngest billionaire at the age of 37, has always emphasized the importance of reading widely. From building the world’s largest software company, to making giant investments in the artificial intelligence revolution, this man who started off as just a computer-obsessed teenager, has achieved it all.

To provide insight into the collection of knowledge that has shaped his personality, we wish to highlight some of Bill Gates’ favorite books. Maybe some of the books recommended by Bill Gates will become your favorites, too.

An Exclusive and Eclectic Selection From Bill Gates’ Book List

Over the years, Bill Gates has discussed his favorite books in several interviews and blog posts on his website, the famous GatesNotes. He spends a lot of time reading both fiction and non-fiction books, and is always eager to recommend riveting reads to anyone who is interested.

1. Grand Transitions by Vaclan Smil

This book, authored by Czech-Canadian Professor, Vaclan Smil, whom Bill Gates refers to as one of his favorite thinkers, provides answers to the deceptively simple question “How does the modern world work?”

Using a brilliant storytelling technique, the author explains that for a society to reach optimal civilization, it has to undergo grand transitions in agriculture, population, economics, and energy. He also examines the relationship between these transitions and the increasing inequality and imbalance in the present world.

2. The Better Angels of Our Nature by Steven Pinker

Bill Gates drew attention to this book in a series of tweets he made in May 2017 while addressing new graduates. He said that if he could give each of them a graduation present, it would be this book, which he considered the most inspiring book he ever read.

The book explores the historical perspective of violence, and posits that we currently live in the most peaceful era of human existence. The author explains how modern civilization and education shapes the perspective of humans on handling conflicts, thereby spurring them on to eschew violence. The author substantiates his claim using historical data to show how war, homicide, genocide and domestic violence have declined over time.

3. Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin

Any list of Bill Gates’ books would be incomplete without a book that focuses on Abraham Lincoln. This intriguing book explores the political mastery of the American president, who appointed his political rivals to key positions in his government. It clarifies how he caused them to work together to save the country from its darkest moments, which were plagued by civil war and slavery.

The author uses Lincoln’s story to teach leaders how to create a sense of unity among rivals, and encourage teams to achieve set goals despite their individual differences. It is one of the best books on management and leadership that you could read.

4. The Inner Game of Tennis by Timothy Gallwey

Timothy Gallwey’s masterpiece is another one of Bill Gates’ favorite books that you shouldn’t miss out on. Using the game of tennis, the author establishes that an athlete’s mental state can sometimes be more important than their physical fitness. The book highlights practical ways of overcoming the dark clouds that engulf the athlete when mistakes, failure, self-doubt, and anxiety cloud the mind.

Bill Gate believes that this book contains timeless gems to achieve success in sports, business, arts, music, and other career paths.

5. The Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed by Jared Diamond

Published in 2004, “The Collapse” explores the mystery behind the failure of civilizations that once looked promising, but later degenerated or dwindled to extinction. The Pulitzer Prize winning author places the spotlight on Rwanda, the Anasazi of the American Southwest and the Viking Settlements of Greenland.

The author demonstrates how a wide range of factors— including political instability, resource depletion, environmental degradation, climate change, and population growth, among others— cause societal failure. Experts believe that this book provides valuable insights that are instrumental in creating sustainable government and societal policies.

6. Business Adventures: Twelve Classic Tales from the World of Wall Street by John Brooks

When exploring Bill Gates’ book recommendations, everyone is keen to find out which business titles capture his attention. This is one of those books. Mr. Gates received this book as a gift from Warren Buffett, and he says that it is the best business book he has ever read.

In this book, the author compiles twelve business and finance stories that he had previously published in The New Yorker magazine, sharing the stories behind the success, failures, victories, collapse and world domination of different business empires and Wall Street giants.

A Glimpse into the Minds of the World’s Most Influential People:

Just like Bill Gates, the most influential people on earth have an insatiable thirst for reading. By reading widely and voraciously about topics ranging from politics, business and history to science and technology, they’re continuously learning new things, expanding their knowledge base and broadening their minds. This wealth of knowledge puts them in the position of opinion leaders, helps them make better decisions and to be efficient leaders.

Due to your stressful job and hectic schedule, you might not have the time to read as ferociously as these people. But here’s the good news! Blinkist will help you acquire the same knowledge without having to read hundreds of pages. This fabulous app provides a breakdown of the most salient points in all of these Bill Gates’ favorite books, so you can grab them all in 15 minutes or less.

Why don’t you start with Bill Gates’ favorite books and then start your own reading list to pursue any information that piques your interest?

“With Blinkist you can boost your knowledge and gain new perspectives so that you can be a better professional, a better partner, or a better you.”
– The United Nations

The Blinkist App: Share the Knowledge

Acquiring knowledge is a lifelong process, but many people are missing out because they simply can’t spare the time or muster up the energy required for reading hefty tomes. Thanks to Blinkist, acquiring and sharing knowledge is now easier than ever.

Get all the knowledge you desire from over 5,500 non-fiction books in 27 categories including politics, business, psychology, history, international relations and so much more. Subscribe to Blinkist now, and dive into a wonderful world of words and ideas!  For newcomers, there is a large selection of recommendations curated by Blinkist that will set you on your path for lighthearted enlightenment.

Lifelong Learning Made Easy and Fun

Blinkist turns hundreds of pages into easily digestible morsels of knowledge, picking out the most critical points, so you can understand the gist of the book and gain new knowledge within minutes. Isn’t that exciting?


Facebook Twitter Tumblr Instagram LinkedIn Flickr Email Print