Depending upon what your barometer for success is you can rank Bill Gates somewhere between ‘very successful’ to ‘most successful human being in the history of mankind’. Bill Gates’ path to becoming the wealthiest man in the world (and subsequently launching the Gates Foundation charity) has brought him face to face with most, it not all, of the billionaires in the world.
He knows what it takes to become ridiculously successful, and I figured today would be as good a time as any to share some books from his reading lists with you bros, books Bill Gates recommends that you SHOULD READ in order to be successful in life. If you’re wondering why I’ve chosen to share a few books from Bill Gates‘ recommended reading list let’s just run through a checklist real quick of his career:
Balanced family life? √
CEO/Chairman of one of the world’s most well known companies, Microsoft? √
Wealth beyond imagination? √
Has made a considerable difference in the world? √
Provides jobs for people all across the globe? √
So let’s check out some books from Bill Gates’ recommended reading list, shall we? By the way, all fo the reviews below were written by Bill Gates himself and pulled from his personal website (link at the bottom to all of his reviews) where he periodically reviews books that he finds to be astounding.
Warren Buffett recommended this book to me back in 1991, and it’s still the best business book I’ve ever read. Even though Brooks wrote more than four decades ago, he offers sharp insights into timeless fundamentals of business, like the challenge of building a large organization, hiring people with the right skills, and listening to customers’ feedback. He is also a masterful storyteller, peppering his articles with compelling portraits of everyone from General Electric executives to the founder of Piggly Wiggly groceries. His article on the fate of the Ford Motor Company’s Edsel is a classic. Business Adventures is out of print in hardcover and paperback, but you can now buy it in e-book form. And you can download chapter 5, “Xerox Xerox Xerox Xerox,” free. I wish all business writing were half as good.
The central irony of Stress Test is that a guy who was accused of being a lousy communicator as U.S. Treasury Secretary has penned a book that is such a good read. Geithner paints a compelling human portrait of what it was like to be fighting a global financial meltdown while at the same time fighting critics inside and outside the Administration as well as his own severe guilt over his near-total absence from his family. The politics of fighting financial crises will always be ugly. But it helps if the public knows a little more about the subject—what’s at stake, what the options are, what has worked in similar situations—so that the loud talkers resonate a bit less and the knowledgeable ones a bit more. If Stress Test continues to attract lay readers, it could make at least a modest difference the next time around.
The book’s premise is that the Anglophone world—England, Scotland, Wales and America—was the epicenter of the Industrial Revolution because it “democratized the nature of invention.” Rosen makes a compelling argument that the steam engine is the quintessential example of that democratization at work.
I won’t spoil it by telling all the reasons why, but suffice it to say one of the most important was the advent of patent protection. Patents were a holdover of monopolies granted by kings over businesses such as sugar and tobacco, later evolving into the policy that people should be able to control their own inventions. That, of course, encouraged invention. Many of the early patents covered various aspects of steam power.
A 700-page treatise on economics translated from French is not exactly a light summer read—even for someone with an admittedly high geek quotient. But this past July, I felt compelled to read Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century after reading several reviews and hearing about it from friends.
I’m glad I did. I encourage you to read it too, or at least a good summary, like this one from The Economist. Piketty was nice enough to talk with me about his work on a Skype call last month. As I told him, I agree with his most important conclusions, and I hope his work will draw more smart people into the study of wealth and income inequality—because the more we understand about the causes and cures, the better.
Tap Dancing to Work is a comprehensive look into Warren’s thinking about business and investing. The stories in the book are arranged roughly chronologically. I think anyone who reads it cover to cover will come away with two reactions: First, how Warren’s been incredibly consistent in applying his vision and investment principles over the duration of his career; and, secondly, that his analysis and understanding of business and markets remains unparalleled. I wrote in 1996 that I’d never met anyone who thought about business in such a clear way. That is certainly still the case.
Dawkins, an evolutionary biologist at Oxford, has a gift for making science enjoyable. This book is as accessible as the TV series Cosmos is for younger audiences—and as relevant for older audiences. It’s an engaging, well-illustrated science textbook offering compelling answers to big questions, like “how did the universe form?” and “what causes earthquakes?” It’s also a plea for readers of all ages to approach mysteries with rigor and curiosity. Dawkins’s antagonistic (and, to me, overzealous) view of religion has earned him a lot of angry critics, but I consider him to be one of the great scientific writer/explainers of all time.
I picked up this short, easy-to-read book after seeing it on a Wall Street Journal list of good books for investors. I enjoyed it so much that it was one of a handful of books I recommended to everyone at TED this year. It was first published in 1954, but aside from a few anachronistic examples (it has been a long time since bread cost 5 cents a loaf in the United States), it doesn’t feel dated. One chapter shows you how visuals can be used to exaggerate trends and give distorted comparisons—a timely reminder, given how often infographics show up in your Facebook and Twitter feeds these days. A useful introduction to the use of statistics, and a helpful refresher for anyone who is already well versed in it.
And for those of you bros looking to really, really expand your reading list I suggest you check out Bill Gates’ website, GatesNotes.com, which is where all of those reviews above were pulled from!