> Zed Book Club / The Bill Gates Summer Reading List Includes a Sci-Fi Novel On Gender Inequality Suggested by His Daughter
Bill Gates, seen here in 2018, released his annual summer reading list — featuring five books — this week. Photo: AP Photo/Ted S. Warren/Canadian Press
The Bill Gates Summer Reading List Includes a Sci-Fi Novel On Gender Inequality Suggested by His Daughter
Bill Gates' summer reading list includes fiction and non-fiction titles that cover gender equality, political polarization and climate change. / BY Andrew Wright / June 8th, 2022
Bill Gates is back with his annual summer reading list and, while his selections cover some pretty weighty subjects, the billionaire software developer promises none of them feel that way.
His five picks, which were shared on his blog this week, cover gender equality, political polarization, climate change, and, in Gates’ words “the hard truth that life never goes the way young people think it will.”
“It does not exactly sound like the stuff of beach reads,” he admits in the post. “But none of the five books below feel heavy (even though, at nearly 600 pages, The Lincoln Highway is literally weighty). Each of the writers — three novelists, a journalist, and a scientist — was able to take a meaty subject and make it compelling without sacrificing any complexity.”
The Power by Naomi Alderman, for instance — a pick recommended to him by his daughter Jennifer — explores themes of gender roles and gender equality in a world where women suddenly gain the power to produce deadly electric shocks from their body.
“Reading The Power, I gained a stronger and more visceral sense of the abuse and injustice many women experience today,” Gates writes. “And I expanded my appreciation for the people who work on these issues in the U.S. and around the world.”
Also in the sci-fi category, he chooses Kim Stanley Robinson’s The Ministry for the Future, which uses fictional eyewitness accounts to illustrate how climate change will affect us all.
Gates says the book was recommended to him on several occasions last year while he was promoting his own book, How to Avoid a Climate Disaster, “because it dramatized many of the issues I had written about.”
Meanwhile, he includes Amor Towles’ The Lincoln Highway, which follows the adventure of a young man after he serves a one-year sentence on a work farm for involuntary manslaughter. With the story, Gates posits Towles “seems to be saying that our personal journeys are never as linear or predictable as we might hope.”
In non-fiction, he selects Why We’re Polarized, in which American journalist Ezra Klein unearths the structural and psychological roots of political polarization in the U.S.
“Klein argues persuasively that the cause of this split is identity — the human instinct to let our group identities guide our decision making,” Gates writes. “The book is fundamentally about American politics, but it’s also a fascinating look at human psychology.”
And for the scientifically inclined, he includes How the World Really Works by Vaclav Smil, one of his favourite authors.
“If you want a brief but thorough education in numeric thinking about many of the fundamental forces that shape human life, this is the book to read,” he says.
“It’s a tour de force.”