The Top Books Bill Gates Read in 2015

Microsoft Co-Founder Bill Gates reads roughly 50 books every year so when he recommends a book, it’s worth listening. On his personal blog – GatesNotes, Gates reviews books that he’s read and adds his top lists and recommendations.

Below are the best books Bill Gates read in 2015, along with some words as to what he took from each of them. Happy Reading!


1) The Road to Character, by David Brooks

Looking to some of the world’s greatest thinkers and inspiring leaders, Brooks explores how, through internal struggle and a sense of their own limitations, they have built a strong inner character.

Bill Gates Says: “I thought his portrait of World War II General George Marshall was especially enlightening. Even if the distinction between the two types of virtues is not always crystal clear, The Road to Character gave me a lot to think about. It is a thought-provoking look at what it means to live life well.”

51Uv99xOnIL._SX344_BO1,204,203,200_2) Thing Explainer: Complicated Stuff in Simple Words, by Randall Munroe

In Thing Explainer, Randall Munroe uses line drawings and only the thousand (or, rather, “ten hundred”) most common words to provide simple explanations for some of the most interesting stuff there is.

Bill Gates Says: “The book is filled with helpful explanations and drawings of everything from a dishwasher to a nuclear power plant. And Munroe’s jokes are laugh-out-loud funny. This is a wonderful guide for curious minds.”

417dOLWegoL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_3) Being Nixon: A Man Divided, by Evan Thomas

In Being Nixon, Evan Thomas peels away the layers of the complex, confounding figure who became America’s thirty-seventh president. Thomas brings new life to one of American history’s most infamous, paradoxical, and enigmatic politicians, dispensing with myths to achieve an intimate and nuanced look at the actual man.

Bill Gates Says: “Rather than just focusing on Nixon’s presidency, Thomas takes a cradle-to-the-grave approach and gives you sharp insights into the inner workings of a brilliant, flawed, and conflicted man.”

4) Sustainable Materials With Both Eyes Open, by Julian M. Allwood, Jonathan M. Cullen, et al.

(You can download it free on the authors’ site.)

Bill Gates Says: “How much can we reduce carbon emissions that come from making and using stuff? Quite a bit, according to the University of Cambridge team behind this book. They look closely at the materials that humans use most, with particular emphasis on steel and aluminum, and show how we could cut emissions by up to 50 percent without asking people to make big sacrifices.”

41vz6gw1gyL._SX347_BO1,204,203,200_5) Eradication: Ridding the World of Diseases Forever?, by Nancy Leys Stepan

How shall we improve human health? One answer is: by eradication. The Gates Foundation announced in 2007 that their goal is malaria eradication; another of their priorities is polio eradication. Eradication means the complete elimination of a disease through deliberate human intervention. It stands for an absolute in public health.

Bill Gates Says: “Stepan’s history of eradication efforts gives you a good sense of how involved the work can get, how many different kinds of approaches have been tried without success, and how much we’ve learned from our failures. She writes in a fairly academic style that may make it hard for non-experts to get to her valuable arguments, but it’s worth the effort. You come away from it with a clearer sense of how we can use the lessons of the past to guide future efforts to save lives.”

51m5-B0GaXL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_6) Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, by Carol S. Dweck

Dweck explains why it’s not just our abilities and talent that bring us success—but whether we approach them with a fixed or growth mindset. She makes clear why praising intelligence and ability doesn’t foster self-esteem and lead to accomplishment, but may actually jeopardize success.

Bill Gates Says: “Through clever research studies and engaging writing, Dweck illuminates how our beliefs about our capabilities exert tremendous influence on how we learn and which paths we take in life. The value of this book extends way beyond the world of education. It’s just as relevant for businesspeople who want to cultivate talent and for parents who want to raise their kids to thrive on challenge.”


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