Bill Gates’ Vacation List: 3 of the Best Books He Read in 2023 — Plus 2 More “Just for Fun” Recommendations —

Bill Gates is celebrating the holiday season again with a list of some of his favorite books he’s read over the past year. And this time he left a few extra presents at the bottom of the stocking.

Gates is a prodigious reader, reading about 50 books each year and regularly publishing seasonal lists of recommendations of his favorites. His latest holiday list also includes a series of online business talks that he calls “amazing” and a holiday-themed Spotify playlist “just for fun.”

“I love Christmas music and have put together a list of some favorites – classics and modern tunes from the US and around the world,” Gates wrote in a blog post on Monday.

The Microsoft co-founder’s recommendations begin with three nonfiction books that he says “immediately came to mind” when he began writing the list. Here they are, along with his vacation mix and the online courses from an instructor Gates calls “one of my favorite professors of all time.”

“The Song of the Cell” by Siddhartha Mukherjee

Mukherjee, a Pulitzer Prize-winning author and Columbia University oncologist, writes here about what Gates calls “the building blocks of life” – the cells that make up all living organisms.

In some ways, The Song of the Cell is a medical story that covers the discovery of cells in the 16th century and the evolution of people’s understanding of them over time. Published last year, the book is also a preview of the future medical breakthroughs that could be enabled by cell manipulation.

“The book will help you better understand your own body, especially what it means when you get sick,” Gates wrote.

“[Mukherjee] “It first explains how life evolved from single-celled organisms, and then shows how every disease of humans or every consequence of aging results from something wrong with the body’s cells,” Gates wrote.

Not the End of the World by Hannah Ritchie

How about a little climate optimism to get in the holiday spirit? “Anyone who wants to have an informed conversation about climate change should read this book,” Gates wrote.

“Not the End of the World,” scheduled for release in January, is an upcoming look at how the world can actually win the fight against climate change from Oxford University data scientist Hannah Ritchie.

The author “used to believe, like many environmental activists, that she was ‘living through humanity’s most tragic time,’” Gates wrote. But by sticking to the data, Ritchie realized that as bad as things are, people are actually making progress in the fight against climate change.

“In ‘Not the End of the World,’ she uses data to tell a counterintuitive story that contradicts doomsday scenarios on climate and other environmental issues without glossing over the challenges,” Gates wrote.

“Invention and Innovation” by Vaclav Smil

Smil, professor emeritus of environmental science at the University of Manitoba, is one of Gates’ favorite authors. Gates said he has read every single one of Smil’s 44 books and that “no one is better than Smil at explaining the past.”

In “Invention and Innovation,” published in February, Smil examines examples of human innovation throughout history. He writes about inventions that were unconvincing or even proved disastrous. He also explains what happens to innovations that have long been promised to people but have not yet been implemented – such as energy production through nuclear fusion.

Gates noted that Smil was less optimistic than he was about the current era of innovation, with the author identifying “unmistakable signs of technological stagnation and slowing progress.” Still, Gates recommended the book to anyone who wanted to understand “how human ingenuity has brought us to this point in time.”

Online economics lectures by Timothy Taylor

Gates has long been a fan of Taylor, a Stanford-educated economist who serves as editor-in-chief of the Journal of Economic Perspectives at Macalester College. Now he recommends three series of Taylor’s online lectures, available to stream via the subscription service Wondrium.

“You can’t go wrong with Taylor’s lectures,” Gates wrote. The lectures, which comprise a total of 96 videos of around 30 minutes each, cover various topics from the broad spectrum of economics.

As Gates described: “’The New Global Economy’ teaches you about the basic economic history of different regions and how markets work. ‘Economics’ is best suited for people who want to understand the principles of economics in depth. ‘Unexpected Economics’ probably has the widest audience because Taylor applies these principles to things in everyday life, including gift-giving, transportation, natural disasters, sports, and more.

Gates’ holiday Spotify playlist

Gates’ 54-song playlist is available on his Spotify profile “just for fun,” he wrote.

The list includes a wide range of tunes to help Gates “get into the Christmas spirit” – from traditional classics like “Joy to the World” or Nat King Cole’s “The Christmas Song” to more modern interpretations like “Last Christmas” from Wham or Sia “12 Nights.”

“Whether you’re listening in an ugly sweater while wrapping presents or sitting around the table with family and friends, I hope these songs bring as much joy to your holidays as they do to mine,” Gates wrote.


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