A reading list that will inspire you to think differently.
by Matt Lillywhite, Seattle24x7 Contributor
I’ve recently noticed that I have an increasing number of things in common with Bill Gates. Unfortunately, I’m not talking about billions of dollars in my bank account. Instead, I’m referring to a genuine love of reading that inspires me to think differently about the world.
How do I continuously find new and exciting books to read? By paying attention to recommendations from passionate readers, such as Bill Gates, and then reading them as soon as I get an opportunity.
So below are several interesting books that Bill Gates has recommended under the blog post heading 5 good books for a lousy year.
In introducing them, Bill writes: “In tough times—and there’s no doubt that 2020 qualifies as tough times—those of us who love to read turn to all kinds of different books. This year, sometimes I chose to go deeper on a difficult subject, like the injustices that underlie this year’s Black Lives Matter protests. Other times I needed a change of pace, something lighter at the end of the day. As a result, I read a wide range of books, and a lot of excellent ones. Here are five books on a variety of subjects that I’d recommend as we wrap up 2020. I hope you find something that helps you—or the book lover in your life—finish the year on a good note.”
Each of these has changed the way I see the world, and I’m confident they will do the same for you, too.
The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration In The Age Of Colorblindness
by Michelle Alexander
The events of 2020 have undoubtedly made everyone more aware of the issues faced by communities of color in the US and around the entire world.
In this book, Michelle explains the data and history behind mass incarceration and how it has negatively impacted black communities in the United States.
It’s a must-read for anyone wanting to enlighten themselves on the various issues faced by different racial groups around the country. Quoting Bill Gates:
“I finished the book more convinced than ever that we need a more just approach to sentencing and more investment in communities of color.”
The Spy and the Traitor: The Greatest Espionage Story Of The Cold War
by Ben Macintyre
This non-fiction book by Ben Macintyre primarily focuses on Oleg Gordievsky, a KGB officer who became a British double agent. It also features Aldrich Ames, the American turncoat who betrayed him.
This is probably my favorite book that I’ve read this year as it focuses on both the western and Russian perspectives of the events that unfold. As Bill Gates writes on his blog:
“It’s every bit as exciting as my favorite spy novels.“
The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz
by Erik Larson
As we’re currently going through a pandemic, this book related to me in a way that I didn’t think was even possible. Throughout the book, Larson gives you a strong sense of what it was like to live through the dark days of World War 2.
For years, families huddled together in fear against an external force that they couldn’t control. Citizens spent almost every night together, fearing for their lives in a tube (metro) station or the basement.
History doesn’t have to be boring. If you pick up the right books, learning about the past can be one of the most interesting things you’ll ever do. Quoting Bill Gates:
“Its scope is too narrow to be the only book you ever read on World War II, but it’s a great addition to the literature focused on that tragic period.”
Range: Why Generalists Triumph In A Specialized World
by David Epstein
In the book, David Epstein says that the world demands people to have specialized skill sets like never before. Yet, what we really need is to start broad and embrace diverse experiences and perspectives while we progress.
I read this book a couple of weeks ago, and it completely changed the way I think about different skillsets. So if you’re someone who might typically be considered a generalist, this book is certainly something you’ll want to read in 2021. As Bill Gates writes on his blog:
“I think his ideas even help explain some of Microsoft’s success because we hired people who had real breadth within their field and across domains. If you’re a generalist who has ever felt overshadowed by your specialist colleagues, this book is for you.”
Breath from Salt: A Deadly Genetic Disease, a New Era in Science, and the Patients and Families Who Changed Medicine
by Bijal P. Trivedi
If you need something to cheer you up during the lockdowns, this book might make you feel more optimistic.
In essence, the book documents the story of how scientific innovation has managed to improve the lives of cystic fibrosis patients around the world. It’s genuinely beautiful. Quoting Bill Gates:
“This story is especially meaningful to me because I know families who’ve benefited from the new medicines described in this book. I suspect we’ll see many more books like this in the coming years, as biomedical miracles emerge from labs at an ever-greater pace.”
Each of these books has recently been recommended by Bill Gates. And if you enjoy reading about a variety of subjects, you’ll probably enjoy every single one.
Matt Lillywhite writes for Medium among other publications. Visit his work at https://mattincanada.medium.com/