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10 Books Recently Recommended By Bill Gates

10 Books Recently Recommended By Bill Gates
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Bill gates has been called a genius and an innovator in more ways than I can count. But he wasn’t born as the superhuman he is now. And it’s not exactly an easy task becoming the world’s richest man. He had to work hard just like every other successful person, constantly learning and applying what he learned.

We all want to become successful. So why not look to whom many would call the world’s most successful person to see what resources are needed to reach our dreams? Through his personal book reviews, we see that Gates has an eclectic yet polished taste in literature, with preferences ranging from business and capitalism to poverty and healthcare.

Here are 10 books Bill Gates has recently and personally recommended, which means you should probably order them right now.

How to Lie with Statistics

    1. How to Lie with Statistics, by Darrell Huff

    What It’s About

    Statistics can be a beautiful instrument of learning for businesses and humanitarians alike, when used properly. Even though statistics inherently has checks and balances to keep representations as accurate as possible, people purposefully rephrase or misrepresent stats everyday. Huff explains how much statistics actually affect our daily lives, and how they are often used to fool, rather than inform, the reader.

    Just under 3,000 Goodreads users gave How to Lie with Statistics a rating of 3.85 out of 5.

    Why Gates Recommends It

    I picked this one up after seeing it on a Wall Street Journal list of good books for investors. It was first published in 1954, but it doesn’t feel dated (aside from a few anachronistic examples—it has been a long time since bread cost 5 cents a loaf in the United States)… It’s a timely reminder, given how often infographics show up in your Facebook and Twitter feeds these days. A great introduction to the use of statistics, and a great refresher for anyone who’s already well versed in it.

    The Rosie Effect: A Novel

      2. The Rosie Effect: A Novel, by Graeme Simsion

      What It’s About

      This sequel to The Rosie Project is about Don and Rosie, the main characters of the novel, and their story as newlyweds in the grand city of New York. Rosie announces that she’s pregnant, so Don works hard to become the master of all things obstetric. Even though he gets the knowledge side down, he bombs the emotional aspect of his wife’s pregnancy and his own fatherhood. Throughout the process he nearly loses Rosie!

      25,000 Goodreads reviewers gave this novel a 3.54 out of 5.

      Why Gates Recommends It

      If somebody asked me, “what do you think your decades of working in technology have prepared you for?” my first answer definitely wouldn’t be, “writing a best-selling novel that beautifully explores the human condition.” But Australian author Graeme Simsion has taken his extensive experience in the data modeling industry and used it to do just that.

      I was happy to learn that one of my favorite things about both books is also one of Graeme’s favorite things. Usually, when we meet people who are different from us, in whatever way, we tend to treat them as inferior, even though we say that’s not what we’re doing. We may not even consciously realize we’re doing it. But through Don Tillman, the hero of both books, Graeme casts the issue in a different light.

      Different doesn’t mean less than.

      XKCD Volume 0

        3. XKCD: Volume 0, by Randall Munroe

        What It’s About

        This is the first book to come from the popular (and rather humorous) webcomic XKCD. Though incredibly witty, and somewhat geeky, it is essentially a large collection of fan favorites.

        With a huge popularity among geeks and nerds, 4,400 of the Goodreads community gave it a 4.36 out of 5.

        Why Gates Recommends It

        This is one of two Randall Munroe books I’ve read, and it is (by design) the funnier of the pair. It’s a collection of posts from his blog XKCD, which is made up of cartoons he draws making fun of things—mostly scientists and computers, but lots of other things too. There’s one about scientists holding a press conference to reveal their discovery that life is arsenic-based. They research press conferences and find out that sometimes it’s good to serve food that’s related to the subject of the conference. The last panel is all the reporters dead on the floor because they ate arsenic. It’s that kind of humor, which not everybody loves, but I do.

        Hyperbole and a Half

          4. Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened, by Allie Brosh

          What It’s About

          This illustrated edition of life events and stories by Brosh brings us many humorous and insightful musings from, well, her personal life events and stories. It is a great additive to Brosh’s blog that keeps readers laughing to the point of tears from cover to cover.

          82,000 Goodreads users gave it a 4.13 out of 5.

          Why Gates Recommends It

          According to Bill, it’s “funny and smart as hell.”

          [It’s] an honest-to-goodness summer read. You will rip through it in three hours, tops. But you’ll wish it went on longer, because it’s funny and smart as hell. I must have interrupted Melinda a dozen times to read to her passages that made me laugh out loud.

          But her best stuff is the deep stuff, especially the chapters about her battles with severe depression. There is a lot of self-revelation here but no self-pity. She brings the same wit to this subject as she does to her stories about her dogs—even if it makes the reader more likely to tear up than crack up.

          Hyperbole and a Half gave me a new appreciation for what a depressed person is feeling and not feeling, and what’s helpful and not helpful.

          What If: Serious scientific answers to absurd hypothetical questions

            5. What If? Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions, by Randall Munroe

            What It’s About

            Former NASA employee and creator of webcomic XKCD, Munroe tackles a series of impossible questions, like “What would happen if your cells stopped dividing?” or “How bad is it really to be in a pool during a thunderstorm?” or “How high would you need to drop a steak from to make sure it was cooked by the time it reached the ground?” What If? is full of entertaining nonsense (or rather, complete sense), sure to inform and captivate the reader for hours.

            24,000 Goodreads users gave it a 4.14 out of 5.

            Why Gates Recommends It

            The reason Munroe’s approach is a great way to learn about science is that he takes ideas that everybody understands in a general way and then explores what happens when you take those ideas to their limits.

            So if you’re dying to know how fast you can drive over a speed bump and still live, or how many Legos it would take to build a bridge from London to New York, or whether we could make the moon change colors by pointing every single laser pointer on Earth at it—you’re in luck. Not only do you have a place to go for the answers, but you’ll also learn about a lot of other things like ballistics, DNA, the oceans, the atmosphere, and lightning. And when to duck if the glass is half full.

            The Magic of Reality

              6. The Magic of Reality: How We Know What’s Really True, by Richard Dawkins

              What It’s About

              Dawkins takes the reader through, well, a magical journey of reality. So many things happen in the world that seem unreal or supernatural. Here readers learn the science behind these mysteriously captivating phenomena.

              Over 10,000 Goodreads users gave The Magic of Reality a 4.05 out of 5.

              Why Gates Recommends It

              Richard Dawkins… has a gift for making science enjoyable. I’ve read many of his books over the years, including The Selfish Gene and The Blind Watchmaker. His 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 writers/explainers of all time.

              It’s an engaging, well-illustrated science textbook offering compelling answers to big questions, from how the universe formed to what causes earthquakes. It’s also a plea for readers of all ages to approach mysteries with rigor and curiosity, rather than buying into the supernatural myths at the core of most faith traditions.

              Stress Test: Financial Crisis

                7. Stress Test: Reflections on Financial Crisis, by Timothy F. Geithner

                What It’s About

                It’s a New York Times, Washington Post, and Los Angeles Times bestseller. What more do you need to know? Geithner was President Obama’s Secretary of the Treasury, and president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York before that. As such, he gives a fascinating and enlightening account of the worst American financial crisis since the Great Depression.

                Readers learn how a group of policy-makers avoided a second great depression, but lost the support of the general public in the process. Readers also get to learn about Geithner’s life from a vantage point other than his appearance in the public eye.

                1,100 Goodreads users gave Stress Test a 3.95 out 5.

                Why Gates Recommends It

                I’ve now read four or five of these first drafts of the history of the Great Recession, and I believe Stress Test represents the biggest contribution of the bunch.

                While some chapters dive into details that only a true policy wonk could love, I found the entire book very clear and easy to read.

                Ultimately, 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.

                Reinventing American Health Care

                  8. Reinventing American Health Care: How the Affordable Care Act will Improve our Terribly Complex, Blatantly Unjust, Outrageously Expensive, Grossly Inefficient, Error Prone System, by Ezekiel Emanuel

                  What It’s About

                  If you’re entering med school, this is the book for you. The title says it all! In this insider’s analysis, Emanuel takes us through a history of government regulated healthcare, and explains how the Affordable Care Act was the off-kilter medical move America needed.

                  The Goodreads community – a solid 150 of them – gave it a 4.03 out 5.

                  Why Gates Recommends It

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                  Emanuel is good about making it clear when he’s educating you about the history of health care and when he’s advocating for his ideas. He calls out a few things he disagreed with in Obamacare, like the creation of a separate health-insurance exchange for small businesses. And unlike a lot of experts, he’s willing to make predictions about how health care will change in the coming years… The facts and history that Emanuel lays out would be useful to anyone involved in the debate over health care, no matter what their point of view is.

                  Business Adventures

                    9. Business Adventures: Twelve Classic Tales from the World of Wall Street, by John Brooks

                    What It’s About

                    As a longtime contributor to the New Yorker, Brooks helps us understand the nuances of corporate life in America during the ’50s and ’60s. Though aged, it still holds as an insightfully intriguing set of tales, through which much may be gleaned.

                    1,800 of the ever-faithful Goodreads community gave it a 3.80 out of 5.

                    Why Gates Recommends It

                    Today, more than two decades after Warren [Buffett] lent it to me—and more than four decades after it was first published—Business Adventures remains the best business book I’ve ever read. John Brooks is still my favorite business writer. (And Warren, if you’re reading this, I still have your copy.)

                    Brooks’s work is a great reminder that the rules for running a strong business and creating value haven’t changed. For one thing, there’s an essential human factor in every business endeavor. It doesn’t matter if you have a perfect product, production plan, and marketing pitch; you’ll still need the right people to lead and implement those plans.

                    Business Adventures is as much about the strengths and weaknesses of leaders in challenging circumstances as it is about the particulars of one business or another. In that sense, it is still relevant not despite its age but because of it. John Brooks’s work is really about human nature, which is why it has stood the test of time.

                    The Bully Pulpit

                      10. The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism, by Doris Kearns Goodwin

                      What It’s About

                      A historical piece on the Progressive Era (a mix of the Industrial Age and progressive social reform), Goodwin focuses on the relationship of political rivals Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft.

                      6,300 of our loyal comrades at Goodreads gave The Bully Pulpit a 4.12 out of 5.

                      Why Gates Recommends It

                      There’s [so much] fascinating material competing for space, from Roosevelt’s relationship with the press and his friendship with William Howard Taft (who was brilliant in his own right) to his efforts to fight corruption and reform the political system.

                      I’m especially interested in the central question that Goodwin raises: How does social change happen? Can it be driven by a single inspirational leader, or do other factors have to lay the groundwork first?

                      Featured photo credit: Gisela Giardino via flickr.com

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                      Last Updated on July 21, 2021

                      The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

                      The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
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                      No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

                      Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

                      Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

                      A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

                      Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

                      In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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                      From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

                      A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

                      For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

                      This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

                      The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

                      That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

                      Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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                      The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

                      Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

                      But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

                      The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

                      The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

                      A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

                      For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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                      But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

                      If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

                      For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

                      These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

                      For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

                      How to Make a Reminder Works for You

                      Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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                      Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

                      Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

                      My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

                      Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

                      I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

                      More on Building Habits

                      Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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                      Reference

                      [1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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