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.