Read Like a Billionaire

Be mistaken for nouveau riche on your bus ride!

Gates Notes

Do you want to read the books that billionaires read? Then choose nonfiction books with deep and disturbing titles, or anything written by your dad. At least, that’s what Bill Gates has done. A few weeks ago, the Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist posted a recommended reading list on his Gates Notes web site.

The list includes fifty-three volumes that provide a glimpse into the mindset of one of the world’s richest people. The books appear in five categories: Education, Energy, Development, Health, and a selection of Bill’s personal favorites. There are books in each set that still smell like the tweed jacket of the college professors that likely wrote them: Global Catastrophes and Trends: The Next Fifty Years, Tropical Infectious Diseases: Principles, Pathogens, & Practice, and The Feynman Lectures on Physics, although I’ve read and enjoyed a portion of this last selection. Other books are more mainstream, including Levitt and Dubner’s SuperFreakonomics, The World is Flat by Thomas L. Friedman, and Physics for Dummies.

One of the selections included in the Personal section is Showing Up for Life, penned by Bill Gates, Sr. The famous son wrote the preface for that book, but reading your own preface must be like rereading your own emails. The Catcher in the Rye, one of the books in The Well-Read Man Project, appears as one of only two fictional works on the list.

Of course, this isn’t Bill Gates’ “real” library of books. The computer magnate maintains an adequate personal library in his home (or so I’ve heard) that includes several valuable original manuscripts. The most famous of these documents is the Codex Leicester, a set of scientific writings by Leonardo da Vinci. The next time you are invited to the Gates’ Medina, Washington home, you should really ask to see his manuscript collection. Baring that, you will gain a successful businessman and philanthropist’s view of the world by reading entries from the Gates Notes site.


  1. Who doesn’t like Catcher in the Rye? It’s so good that the author himself had trouble writing anything else worthy of it. I lived and went to school in Seattle, and am glad someone like Gates is taking care of our intellectual treasures.


  2. Hello Tim,
    According to Kevin Trudeau, true billionaires read biographies, especially autobios of successful millionaires and billionaires. When you have the time (!), listen to Your Wish is Your Command, but then you may have already. I just started, and it’s about time! Seems like we are on parallel paths although I’ve always been a “late bloomer”, never an overachiever. More like I might be retarded! 🙂 It’s always a moral imperative that throws up the road blocking questions. Hopefully we will always agree with most of the same answers.
    Keep on,


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