Bill Gates Picks His Favorite (and Highly Giftable) Books of 2018

Posted by Cybil on December 3, 2018


Tech pioneer, founder of Microsoft, co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and author Bill Gates is a serious reader known for his excellent book recommendations. With the year coming to a close, Gates shares some of his favorite reading from 2018 and promises that they also make great holiday gifts.

To see all of Bill Gates’ book recommendations throughout the year, follow him here.

If you're like me, you love giving—or getting!—books during the holidays. A great read is the perfect gift: thoughtful and easy to wrap (with no batteries or assembly required). Plus, I think everyone could use a few more books in their lives. I usually don't consider whether something would make a good present when I’m putting together my end-of-year book list—but this year's selections are highly giftable.

My list is pretty eclectic this year. From a how-to guide about meditation to a deep dive on autonomous weapons to a thriller about the fall of a once-promising company, there's something for everyone. If you're looking for a foolproof gift for your friends and family, you can’t go wrong with one of these.

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Tara never went to school or visited a doctor until she left home at 17. I never thought I'd relate to a story about growing up in a Mormon survivalist household, but she’s such a good writer that she got me to reflect on my own life while reading about her extreme childhood. Melinda and I loved this memoir of a young woman whose thirst for learning was so strong that she ended up getting a Ph.D. from Cambridge University.



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Autonomous weapons aren’t exactly top of mind for most around the holidays, but this thought-provoking look at A.I. in warfare is hard to put down. It's an immensely complicated topic, but Scharre offers clear explanations and presents both the pros and cons of machine-driven warfare. His fluency with the subject should come as no surprise: He's a veteran who helped draft the U.S. government's policy on autonomous weapons.



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A bunch of my friends recommended this one to me. Carreyrou gives you the definitive insider's look at the rise and fall of Theranos. The story is even crazier than I expected, and I found myself unable to put it down once I started. This book has everything: elaborate scams, corporate intrigue, magazine cover stories, ruined family relationships, and the demise of a company once valued at nearly $10 billion.


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I’m a big fan of everything Harari has written, and his latest is no exception. While Sapiens and Homo Deus covered the past and future, respectively, this one is all about the present. If 2018 has left you overwhelmed by the state of the world, 21 Lessons offers a helpful framework for processing the news and thinking about the challenges we face.



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I’m sure 25-year-old me would scoff at this one, but Melinda and I have gotten really into meditation lately. The book starts with Puddicombe's personal journey from a university student to a Buddhist monk and then becomes an entertaining explainer on how to meditate. If you're thinking about trying mindfulness, this is the perfect introduction.





Which of these books will you be adding to your Want to Read shelf? Tell us in the comments! And if you'd like even more of Gates' book recommendations, you can find them here.



Comments Showing 1-50 of 51 (51 new)


message 1: by Nancy (new)

Nancy I found Educated to be a tired, boring recitation of terrible harms done to the members of this family and couldn't wait to get to the end of the dreary lives the author chronicled. Nothing in it lifted the spirit, gave hope for the future of the children in the family, except for the one who seems to have escaped, Tyler. The author is still tightly bound to their dysfunction.


message 2: by Maureen (new)

Maureen Nancy wrote: "I found Educated to be a tired, boring recitation of terrible harms done to the members of this family and couldn't wait to get to the end of the dreary lives the author chronicled. Nothing in it l..."

The author is a big,fat fraud! I HATED Educated - cannot wait until the best of 2018 lists are done so I don't have to see it every-stinking-where.


message 3: by David (new)

David Dude needs to kick back and read a novel once in a while =P


message 4: by Mimi, Goodreads employee (new)

Mimi David wrote: "Dude needs to kick back and read a novel once in a while =P" I agree it's fun to see him read a novel now and then, like when he read TURTLES ALL THE WAY DOWN earlier this year.


message 5: by Nancy (new)

Nancy Maureen wrote: "Nancy wrote: "I found Educated to be a tired, boring recitation of terrible harms done to the members of this family and couldn't wait to get to the end of the dreary lives the author chronicled. N..."
:-)


message 6: by Richie (last edited Dec 03, 2018 04:35PM) (new)

Richie I read some pages of his book "Business @ the Speed of Thought: Succeeding in the Digital Economy" and it was so boring! I couldn't finish it!


message 7: by cardulelia (new)

cardulelia carduelis This is a really nice idea, love seeing what's on people's reading lists. I vote that you get each member of the Obama family to make a list :)


message 8: by Nazrul (new)

Nazrul Buang Mimi wrote: "David wrote: "Dude needs to kick back and read a novel once in a while =P" I agree it's fun to see him read a novel now and then, like when he read TURTLES ALL THE WAY DOWN earlier this year."

Since fiction is a 'once in a blue moon' inclusion in his list, and given he curates lists a lot, I reckon it must be a worthy read :)


message 9: by Amanda (new)

Amanda I enjoyed Educated, not because it was on any bestseller list but because it was a fascinating read about a life I'd never had a glimpse into. I thought the author had to overcome great odds to not only survive the dysfunction of her childhood but to thrive.


message 10: by Lisa (new)

Lisa Thanks for the info Nancy. I wondered if this would be worth my time. I don't need this kind of book in my life.


message 11: by Nancy (new)

Nancy It’s really dreary and sad


message 12: by Jasmine (new)

Jasmine Maureen wrote: "The author is a big,fat fraud! I HATED Educated - cannot wait until the best of 2018 lists are done so I don't have to see it every-stinking-where. "

Maureen, I'm not familiar with the book or author. I take it there has been some controversy? How is the author a fraud?


message 13: by Colette (new)

Colette Guerin David wrote: "Dude needs to kick back and read a novel once in a while =P"

I agree!


message 14: by Ann (new)

Ann Dryden I found Educated to be a wonderful book. Sad, Yes.....but if you lived in that world it would be sad. My mother escaped a household that was very close to the author's life. We should not call someone a fraud if you have not walked in their shoes. By the way.... If you don't like a book, don't read it!


message 15: by Nadia (new)

Nadia Educated is a brilliant Memoir written by a courageous and determined Woman who has and will continue to rise above and beyond her distorted upbringing!


message 16: by Jasmine (new)

Jasmine Ann wrote: "I found Educated to be a wonderful book. Sad, Yes.....but if you lived in that world it would be sad. My mother escaped a household that was very close to the author's life. We should not call some..."

Wow, she must have stories!


message 17: by Patricia (new)

Patricia Bill's list is spot-on with Tara's memoir. Her story is an inspiration for young people so they learn to have faith in themselves and believe that giving up is not an option.


message 18: by Patricia (new)

Patricia There's a link above to more of Gates' suggestions, including some fiction. Fiction dominates my own reading log, with at least one non-fiction every month. This month it is EDUCATED. Last month was BEST OF ENEMIES, by RUSSO AND DEZENHALL. (Think CIA, FBI, and KGB during the Cold War era.)
BTW, I wonder if Melinda Gates shares her book list? I have great respect and admiration for both of them and welcome their suggestions.


message 19: by Aviad (new)

Aviad Eilam Nancy wrote: "I found Educated to be a tired, boring recitation of terrible harms done to the members of this family and couldn't wait to get to the end of the dreary lives the author chronicled. Nothing in it l..."
The author left her family and went on to get a PhD from Cambridge. Did you finish reading the book?


message 20: by Ann (new)

Ann I would love someone would post more new releases for 2019. Educated sounds very interesting to me.


message 21: by Ronda (new)

Ronda Mcguire Absolutely loved Educated!! I knew the book was going to rock from the get go. I would rate Educated a star above The Glass Castle, which I also loved. I recommend Educated to everyone! ♡


message 22: by Susan (new)

Susan Johnson Definitely Bad Blood and Army of None, Educated was already on my TBR.


message 23: by Cristina (new)

Cristina Pombo In 2017 I challenged my self to read 36 books in 2018. My friends challenged me to read more in Spanish. Happy to report I accomplished both. Here is the list, my favorites in no particular order: #25 #2 #22 , #10 #17 #27 #4. #34 and #42
Following Chimamanda advice, I lost my self in literature to find a better world.

1. Radical Candor. Kim Scott
2. Rendición. Ray Loriga.
3. The briefcase. Hiromi Kawakami
4. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck. Mark Moran
5. Eva. Arturo Perez-Reverte
6. 4,3,2,1. Paul Auster
7. Swipe to Unlock: The Non-Coder’s Guide to Technology and the Business Strategy Behind It. Neel Mehta, Aditya Agashe, and Parth Detroja
8. Haunts of Black Masseur. The Swimmer as a Hero. Charles Sprawson
9. Pachinko. Min Jin Lee
10. Patria. Fernando Aramburu
11. Privacy. What everyone needs to know. Leslie P Francis & John G Francis
12. Berta Isla. Javier Marias
13. The Three-Body Problem. Cixin Liu
14. Trick. Domenico Starnone
15. White Tears. Hari Kunzru
16. Lincoln in the Bardo. George Saunders
17. The Red-Haired Woman. Orhan Pamuk
18. La Isla de Arturo. Elsa Morante
19. The great degeneration : how institutions decay and economies die. Niall Ferguson.
20. The Bride of Paraty. Marcelo Antinori
21. Viajes con un mapa en blanco. Juan Gabriel Velazquez
22. Home Fire. Kamila Shamsie
23. Half of a Yellow Sun. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
24. A Lucky Man. Joel Brinkley
25. La máquina de hacer españoles. Valter Hugo Mãe
26. Variety of Men. C.P. Snow
27. The Girl Who Smiled Beads. Clemantine Wamariya
28. Regulatory Hacking : a playbook for startups. Evan Burfield, J. D. Harrison.
29. The 100 year live: living and working in an age of longevity. Lynda Gratton and Andrew Scott
30. Little Fires Everywhere. Celeste Ng
31. Los Divinos. Laura Restrepo
32. The Makioka Sisters. Junichiro Tanizaki
33. Longitude: the true story of a lone genius who solved the greatest scientific problem of his time. Dava Sobel.
34. In Praise of Shadows. Junichiro Tanizaki
35. Piano Player. Kurt Vonnegut
36. Tranny: confessions of punk’s rock most infamous anarchist sellout. Laura Jane Grace
37. The Secret Female Hormone. Kathy Maupen M.D
38. 21 lessons for the 21st. Century. Yuval Noah Harari
39. El hombre que amaba a los perros. Leonardo Padura
40. The World as It Is: A memoir of the Obama White House. Ben Rhodes
41. The bright hour : a memoir of living and Dying. Nina Riggs
42. Reality is not what it seems: the journey to quantum gravity. Carlo Rovelli
43. Becoming. Michele Obama
44. Less. Andrew Sear Greer


message 24: by Marie (UK) (new)

Marie (UK) Cristina wrote: "In 2017 I challenged my self to read 36 books in 2018. My friends challenged me to read more in Spanish. Happy to report I accomplished both. Here is the list, my favorites in no particular order: ..."
Your post has reminded me that
my goal for next year is NOT to read books called " the girl who....." this title has been done to the death


message 25: by Linda (new)

Linda Emery I feel sick that i let my self into his AND Melinda's mindset


message 26: by Russty (new)

Russty cardulelia wrote: "This is a really nice idea, love seeing what's on people's reading lists. I vote that you get each member of the Obama family to make a list :)"

Please, NO!!!


message 27: by Leslie andress (new)

Leslie andress Double please NO!!!


message 28: by Louise (new)

Louise Very interesting David !!! Yes, perked my interest 9/10. Would like you to read my life book thats still in my head. I find it so interesting !!! Take care, Love Louise and Happy New Year !!!🎉💚💓💚💓


message 29: by Valerie S. Bryan (new)

Valerie S. Bryan How about some balance? He might try reading the most read book in histiry: the Bible. If that's too deep, read some C.S. Lewis and Francis Schaeffer.


message 30: by Valerie S. Bryan (new)

Valerie S. Bryan History, not histiry.


Jerome G McCallson Bill, without being too intrusive, read Alton's Hill By Jerry McCallson. SMILES rule!


message 32: by Pat (new)

Pat Mcgilberry Educated was a good read. I like books that are real and this was her life.


message 33: by Russty (new)

Russty Leslie andress wrote: "Double please NO!!!"

I LOVE the way you think... As my granddaughter and I like to say "great minds think alike"!!!


message 34: by Kathy Sticksel (new)

Kathy Sticksel Educated was a reminder to me that no matter how you were raised, even if it is not in the extreme brutality of the authors life, it has a powerful grip on who you become. The process of changing that is long and difficult. It was inspiring to read her journey.


message 35: by Judith (new)

Judith Cristina wrote: "In 2017 I challenged my self to read 36 books in 2018. My friends challenged me to read more in Spanish. Happy to report I accomplished both. Here is the list, my favorites in no particular order: ..."
Now, here's a list that makes me excited. Sorry, Bill. I did read and like Educated but I hardly ever read non-fiction. I need all the escapism I can get.


message 36: by veronica Adams (new)

veronica  Adams Would love to read educated, had blood and 21 lessons.


Torin Teschendorf I'm Torin Athena Teschendorf Papa thanks to you I'm Daughter graduated from U.C.L.A. with your scholarship thank you Bill Gates lot's of love!


message 38: by Sharon W. Self (new)

Sharon W. Self I found Educated to be difficult to read but mesmerizing. The fact that any child could survive such a childhood and emerge sane and whole after it indicates incrediblecstrength and resilience. And the child is Tara, not Tyler.


message 39: by Ralph (new)

Ralph Maughan I loved Educated. We live about 40 miles from Oxford Peak where the author grew up. Survuvalisrss have long found Idaho attractive and the Mormons are the dominant religious group in the SE part of the state.
I have no idea why one reviewer calls her a phoney. Another review says the book is boring. This latter comment tells us nothing except maybe that its author has a short attention span and doesn't read very much.


message 41: by Mike (new)

Mike MacDonald No wonder we're such a hate-filled group of people. Nobody reads fiction. They take some author's version of the truth, put their stick in the ground next to it, and proclaim, "I will not move from my stick!"


message 42: by maureen (new)

maureen Mimi wrote: "David wrote: "Dude needs to kick back and read a novel once in a while =P" I agree it's fun to see him read a novel now and then, like when he read TURTLES ALL THE WAY DOWN earlier this year."
I never wrote this review or have ever read this book! Whats going on?


message 43: by maureen (new)

maureen Ralph wrote: "I loved Educated. We live about 40 miles from Oxford Peak where the author grew up. Survuvalisrss have long found Idaho attractive and the Mormons are the dominant religious group in the SE part of..."
I have never read this book! Someone is using my name! I had an old account just now checked it! Been years!


message 44: by John (new)

John McKenzie Cristina wrote: "In 2017 I challenged my self to read 36 books in 2018. My friends challenged me to read more in Spanish. Happy to report I accomplished both. Here is the list, my favorites in no particular order: ..."
I'm curious about the outcome in your selection #43, 'Becoming'. Not to give away the ending, but did he (Michael) complete his transgendering or is he still 'becoming' Michelle?


message 45: by Julian (new)

Julian Coleman


Zilda Aneitha Hinds All of them


message 47: by Donna (new)

Donna Hobbs Nancy wrote: "I found Educated to be a tired, boring recitation of terrible harms done to the members of this family and couldn't wait to get to the end of the dreary lives the author chronicled. Nothing in it l..."


message 48: by Donna (new)

Donna Hobbs I thought the last group of books he recommended were about as bad as it could get. Thanks forr reminding me how often I am wrong.


message 49: by Dany (new)

Dany maureen wrote: "I never wrote this review or have ever read this book! Whats going on?"

Hi Maureen, we'd be happy to take a look on this for you, can you send us an email to support (at) goodreads (dot) com with more information?


message 50: by Carol (new)

Carol Wu wtf is wrong with all these negative comments about Educated. I loved it and felt for the author deeply, although it's evident that she's hiding some things and struggling with their aftermath still. Bad Blood is another amazing read.


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