While compiling books for his annual summer recommendations, Bill Gates realized that the topics on his list weren’t “things to read on the beach” at all.
At the top of this list is “How the World Really Works” by Vaclav Smil, Gates’ favorite author. The book focuses on the intricacies of industry and innovation.
“If you want a brief but in-depth training in numerical thinking about many fundamental forces that shape human life, this is the book to read,” Gates wrote in a blog post.
The co-founder of Microsoft – who owns the most private farmland in the United States and is also the author of a book on climate change – highlights Smil’s chapters on food production and energy in his review of the book.
The other books on the list deal with gender equality, political polarization, climate change, and coming of age.
“Each of the writers — three novelists, a journalist, and a scientist — was able to take a meaty subject and make it compelling without sacrificing complexity,” he wrote of this summer’s list.
Here are the other four books Gates recommends for the summer:
“Lincoln Highway” by Amor Towles
This coming-of-age novel documents three 18-year-olds and an 8-year-old on their frenetic road trip from Nebraska to California in an old Studebaker. “(Towles) seems to be saying that our personal journeys are never as linear or predictable as a highway,” Gates writes.
“Why We’re Polarized” by Ezra Klein
The New York Times columnist dissects the workings of our current political polarization, offering a story of what got us to this point and also an examination of the underlying psychology. “The groups we identify with are a key part of who we are,” Gates writes. “Most of the time, these identities aren’t inherently positive or negative, but each of them shapes the way we see the world.”
“Ministry for the Future” by Kim Stanley Robinson
This climate fiction novel imagines – in excruciating detail – various scenes of disaster caused by the climate crisis. It also explores some theoretical solutions. “Robinson has written a novel that presents the urgency of this crisis in an original way and leaves readers with hope that we can do something about it,” Gates writes.
“The Power” by Naomi Alderman
In this sci-fi world, women have the ability to discharge electric shocks with their bodies, and the writer uses this plot to explore gender power dynamics. Gates writes: “By reading stories of female characters who have suffered without recourse and who suddenly have the power to defend themselves, I gained a stronger and more visceral sense of the abuse and injustice that many women experience today. today.”