Bill Gates’s 5 favorite reads for 2018

Bill Gates, pictured in Paris in April.
Bill Gates, pictured in Paris in April.(Lionel Bonaventure/AFP/Getty Images)

For those who didn’t know, the Microsoft founder is an avid reader and each year he shares some of his favorites of the year. Here is this year’s collection of books (most of them published this year) and what Gates had to say about each. His complete takes can be found on his Gates Notes blog.

“Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup,’’ John Carreyrou (Knopf)

“Theranos . . . promised to quickly give you a complete picture of your health using only a small amount of blood. Elizabeth Holmes founded it when she was just 19 years old, and both she and Theranos quickly became the darlings of Silicon Valley. . . . The problem? Their technology never worked. . . . But Holmes was so good at selling her vision that she wasn’t stopped until after real patients were using the company’s “tests” to make decisions about their health. She and her former business partner are now facing potential jail time on fraud charges, and Theranos officially shut down in August. The public didn’t know about Theranos’ deception until Carreyrou broke the story as a reporter at the Wall Street Journal.’’

“Army of None: Autonomous Weapons and the Future of War,’’ Paul Scharre (Norton)


“My first attempt to educate myself on autonomous weapons was a bust. I read a book that was dry and felt really outdated. Then a few months ago I picked up ‘Army of None: Autonomous Weapons and the Future of War’ by Paul Scharre. It’s the book I had been waiting for. I can’t recommend it highly enough. . . . ‘Army of None’ also shows that autonomy has great benefits in environments where humans can’t survive (such as flight situations with high G forces) or in which communications have broken down. It can be enormously helpful to have an unmanned drone, tank, or sub that carries out a clear, limited mission with little communication back and forth with human controllers. . . . Despite these and other advantages, Scharre does not want the military ever to turn over judgment to computers. To make his case, he offers compelling real-life cases in which human judgment was essential for preventing needless killing, such as his own experiences in Afghanistan.’’


“21 Lessons for the 21st Century,’’ Yuval Noah Harari (Spiegel & Grau)

“[M]odern life does present plenty of other reasons for concern: terrorism, climate change, the rise of A.I., encroachments on our privacy, even the apparent decline of international cooperation. In his fascinating new book . . . the historian Yuval Noah Harari creates a useful framework for confronting these fears . . . The trick for putting an end to our anxieties, he suggests, is not to stop worrying. It’s to know which things to worry about, and how much to worry about them. As he writes in his introduction: ‘What are today’s greatest challenges and most important changes? What should we pay attention to? What should we teach our kids?’ ’’

“Educated,’’ Tara Westover (Random House)

Tara was raised in a Mormon survivalist home in rural Idaho. Her dad had very non-mainstream views about the government. He believed doomsday was coming, and that the family should interact with the health and education systems as little as possible. As a result, she didn’t step foot in a classroom until she was 17. . . . Eventually, she earned her doctorate in intellectual history from Cambridge University. . . . Tara’s process of self-discovery is beautifully captured in ‘Educated.’ It’s the kind of book that I think everyone will enjoy, no matter what genre you usually pick up.’’


“The Headspace Guide to Meditation and Mindfulness: How Mindfulness Can Change Your Life in Ten Minutes a Day,’’ Andy Puddicombe (St. Martin’s Griffin)

“I [once] thought of meditation as a woo-woo thing tied somehow to reincarnation . . . but I now meditate two or three times a week . . . I now see that meditation is simply exercise for the mind, similar to the way we exercise our muscles when we play sports. . . . Andy Puddicombe, the 46-year-old cofounder and voice of the popular Headspace app, was the person who turned me from skeptic to believer. . . . I’m not sure how much meditation would have helped me concentrate in my early Microsoft days, because I was monomaniacally focused without it. But now that I’m married, have three children, and have a broader set of professional and personal interests, it’s a great tool for improving my focus.’’