Do you have a goal of reading more books?

Reading more seems to be one of those aspirations that most of us have but few of us ever follow through on.

And yet, consuming new knowledge is a key habit for success.

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Photo Credit: Chesnot / Contributor/Getty Images

As a child, Tesla CEO Elon Musk was said to read for more than 10 hours a day. And, apparently, he read the entire Encyclopedia Britannica by age nine. Yes, the entire thing.

Tech billionaire and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban read for more than three hours a day, particularly in the beginning of his career. Here’s what he told Business Insider about using reading to gain a competitive edge: “Anyone could buy the same books and magazines. The same information was available to anyone who wanted it. Turns out most people didn’t want it.”

Microsoft founder Bill Gates  said he typically reads one book a week, amounting to about 50 books every single year.

This year, Gates offered his “summer reading list”, which includes five truly incredible books that he believes everyone should take the time to read.

I read a lot of obscure books and it is nice to open a book.

– Bill Gates

5 Books Bill Gates says you need to read this Summer

Gates shared a list of summer reading recommendations on his blog. According to him, the five must-reads below wrestle with the big questions:

“What makes a genius tick? Why do bad things happen to good people? Where does humanity come from, and where are we headed?”

However, don’t worry, because he was quick to note that “Despite the heavy subject matter, all these books were fun to read, and most of them are pretty short.”

Here they are:

1. Leonardo da Vinci by Walter Isaacsonleonardo-da-vinci-walter-isaacson

Ever since I read The Da Vinci Code back in high school, I (along with millions of other people around the world) became fascinated with this multi-talented renaissance figure. Plus, Walter Isaacson writes incredible biographies, so this was bound to be a great book.

Gates explains, “Although today he’s best known as a painter, Leonardo had an absurdly wide range of interests, from human anatomy to the theater. Isaacson does the best job I’ve seen of pulling together the different strands of Leonardo’s life and explaining what made him so exceptional.”

Check out Leonardo da Vinci here. 

2. Everything Happens for a Reason: And Other Lies I’ve Loved by Kate Bowlereverything-for-happens-reason-book

With easily one of the most clever book titles I’ve ever seen, Everything Happens for a Reason is a deep-reaching memoir on Bowler’s life after she’s diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer.

“When Bowler, a professor at Duke Divinity School, is diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer, she sets out to understand why it happened. Is it a test of her character? The result is a heartbreaking, surprisingly funny memoir about faith and coming to grips with your own mortality,” says Gates.

Check out Everything Happens for a Reason: And Other Lies I’ve Loved here. 

3. Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunderslincoln-in-the-bardo

This one was met with mixed reviews on its debut. Some love legendary short story writer George Sanders’ first venture into novel writing, and some hate it.

In an interesting twist, the plot mixes fact with fiction by following Abraham Lincoln after his son Willie Lincoln dies. The story weaves in after-death themes of purgatory and ghosts and explores Lincoln’s grief after losing his young son.

In describing what he took from the book, Gates said, “I got new insight into the way Lincoln must have been crushed by the weight of both grief and responsibility. This is one of those fascinating, ambiguous books you’ll want to discuss with a friend when you’re done.”

Check out Lincoln in the Bardo here. 

4. Origin Story: A Big History of Everything by David Christianorigin-story-david-christian

Origin Story: A Big History of Everything seeks to answer the fundamental questions of “Who are we?” and “Where do we come from?”.

Gates says the book will leave you with “a greater appreciation of humanity’s place in the universe.”

If you love learning about the latest scientific discoveries on the universe or frequently contemplate our existence, this is a great fit.

Check out Origin Story: A Big History of Everything here. 

5. Factfulness by Hans Rosling (with Ola Rosling and Anna Rosling Ronnlund)factfulness-by-hans-rosling

Factfulness might be my personal favorite from this list because of how important the message is. Every day, we turn on the world news or check our favorite site and see nothing but negativity, suffering, and tragedy.

And, while these tragedies are occurring and there is much negativity, it turns out that it’s completely and utterly false to presume that the world is in a downward spiral. In fact, things are getting better– quickly.

“Hans, the brilliant global-health lecturer who died last year, gives you a breakthrough way of understanding basic truths about the world—how life is getting better, and where the world still needs to improve,” says Gates.

Gates continues by calling it one of the best books he’s ever read. Need I say more?

Check out Factfulness here. 


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