Billionaire, Bill Gates has released his top reading picks for 2022. The list was posted on his blog, Gates Notes blog.
The list contains books that cover the impacts of climate change, the power associated with gender, and the causes of polarization and an adventure novel set in the 1950s to make things interesting.
According to the billionaire, these books are relevant to modern questions of identity, power and the state of the future. The books may seem too deep for those looking to be entertained but are actually interesting as the authors turned complex subjects into compelling stories and discussions.
In his own words, “I loved all five of these books and hope you find something here you’ll enjoy too.”
His selection of books could also be applied as self-help books to readers depending on how they process the information gotten from the recommended books. An interesting thing about his list this year is that in one of the books, the setting was in modern-day Lagos, Nigeria.
I suggest you keep reading to find out which one.
How the World Really Works by Vaclav Smil
The billionaire has stated previously that this author is his favourite author. How the world really works aims to summarize Smil’s studies of the world’s networks of agriculture, energy and production, as well as their connections to the function of society and impact on the environment.
Mr Gates recommends this book for those who wish to learn about the forces that shape human life, He also stated that “although Vaclav has strong opinions on many subjects … he avoids extremes.”
The Lincoln Highway A Novel by Amor Towles
Mr Gates describes fiction author Amor Towles, saying that he “is not a one-trick pony. Like all the best storytellers, he has range.”
The billionaire has in the past recommended another of Towles books, A Gentleman in Moscow.
In a Lincoln Highway, The character Emmett returns home to Nebraska and his eight-year-old brother Billy after 15 months of juvenile farm labour for involuntary manslaughter. Their father has died; their mother had left them years ago. The brothers plan to drive west to California to start a new life. But two of Emmett’s friends from the working farm, Duchess and Woolly, join them and force Emmett and Billy east to New York.
Mr Gates emphasizes that The Lincoln Highway has well-developed, strong and caring characters, especially Billy and the brothers’ neighbour Sally. Inspired by the book he stated, “personal journeys are never as linear or predictable as an interstate highway.”
Why We’re Polarized by Ezra Klein
The Billionaire describes the book as one that outlines the psychological aspects of group mentality that define politics today. At the forefront of polarization is political identity, Klein shows, which over the past 50 years has merged with racial, regional and ideological identities that impact the political institutions in place. A book incorporating data showing trends across state borders, within parties and throughout generations, Why We’re Polarized describes changes in the country’s political and information systems that have led many rationally-thinking individuals to become tug-of-war players.
Mr Gates also likens a person’s political views to their taste in card games: “for all I know, we could be like oil and water once we actually start talking. But we both love bridge, and that makes me more likely to connect with someone.”
The Ministry for the Future by Kim Stanley Robinson
About this book, the billionaire states that though some of the policies throughout the plot are flawed, he finds their theories intriguing. He concludes that Robinson’s novel shows “the urgency of this crisis in an original way” and “leaves readers with hope” of guiding tomorrow’s policies.
The novel starts with a heat and humidity wave in Uttar Pradesh, India that has led to the deaths of 20 million people, which Mr Gates describes “as harrowing a scene as any I’ve read in a science fiction book” depicting an event that could take place in the real world. The two main characters, aid worker Frank May and diplomat Mary Murphy, who runs the ministry, work to meet the goal of fighting climate change to save humanity for future generations.
The book is a story of science, political responsibility and ideas to save the future.
The Power by Naomi Alderman
The Billionaire states on his blog that he picked the 2016 novel at the suggestion of his daughter.
The Power poses the question of what would happen if women suddenly had the ability to administer electric shocks from their bodies at will, a very interesting concept.
The novel follows four characters three of whom are women with different experiences of gender in various social circles, institutions and locations. The author discusses the shift in control that leads to some people’s hopes for a more equal world, as well as the corruption of power, ensuing brutal revolutions and physical and sexual violence.
It is very interesting that the male main character, Tunde, is a journalism student in Lagos who tries to document the social and political changes, but he runs into tough situations and has to adjust to living with different gender dynamics.
The other three main characters who are female raise questions about how to manage their new-found abilities. Roxy inherits the throne of a London crime syndicate ahead of her three older brothers. Margot is a budding New England politician with a teenage daughter, and Allie is a girl in the southern U.S. who escapes an abusive foster home and forms a new religion.
Mr Gates says that after reading this book, he “gained a stronger and more visceral sense of the abuse and injustice many women experience today” and that the hypotheses in this book are timely in today’s conversations surrounding gender.