Bill Gates's 5 Favorite Books of 2016

The Microsoft co-founder's latest recommended reading choices.

learn more about Nina Zipkin

By Nina Zipkin • Dec 6, 2016

Ida Mae Astute | Getty Images

In between getting a Presidential Medal of Freedom and developing an odor-blocking perfume, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates put out his list of his favorite books of 2016, just in time for the holiday season.

Related: Obama Pokes Fun at Bill Gates as He Awards Him Presidential Medal of Freedom

The list isn't dominated by any one genre, ranging from an expansive work of scientific research to a short selection of essays. Check out the video below to see Gates explain why he's a fan of these particular titles.


The Grid by Gretchen Bakke
What it's about:
Bakke, a cultural anthropologist who teaches at McGill University, lays out the history of the United States electrical grid and explores how the nation's energy infrastructure needs to change.
Gates's recommendation: "[The grid] got built up piece by piece. She talks about how it's becoming critical, not only for reliability, but the deal with these intermittent energy sources that are in very different locations than the actual uses of the power. The grid's going to have to be dramatically better in the future."

The Myth of the Strong Leader by Archie Brown
What it's about:
Historian and Oxford political science professor Archie Brown explores whether the most aggressive, outwardly strong leaders are the ones that are best for the job.
Gates's recommendation: "I think he's right that there's a big danger, both in the corporate world and government [of] this individual that embodies all things, and he's just doing it largely himself. Leaders who don't listen can get more and more isolated."

Related: 5 Life Lessons From Bill Gates, One of the Most Influential Philanthropists on Earth

Shoe Dog by Phil Knight
What it's about:
The Nike co-founder looks back at the rise of the business.
Gates's recommendation: "It's amazingly honest, the company almost didn't succeed. It points out the unusual characteristics of the key people who helped the company succeed. I think tons of people would find it an interesting story about how business really works."

The Gene by Siddhartha Mukherjee
What it's about:
Mukherjee, who was awarded a Pulitzer Prize in 2010 for his biography of cancer, The Emperor of All Maladies, wrote a comprehensive history of the gene as we know it.
Gates's recommendation: "He really tells you what the gene is. There's three big domains that genetic technology helps in. One is plants, the other is livestock and the third is humans. Some countries may be very liberal, letting parents edit genes related to beauty or intelligence. It'll get people up to the point where they can participate in that debate which will be fairly intense over the next 10, 20 years."

String Theory by David Foster Wallace
What it's about:
A posthumously published collection of the famed author's essays about the world of tennis.
Gates' recommendation: "I loved [Wallace] talking about his tennis career, and being slammed into the fence, and being a little bit modest about how he grinded it out. If you're going to read one tennis book, it's probably the best."

Nina Zipkin

Entrepreneur Staff

Staff Writer. Covers leadership, media, technology and culture.

Nina Zipkin is a staff writer at Entrepreneur.com. She frequently covers leadership, media, tech, startups, culture and workplace trends.

Related Topics

Editor's Pick

Have More Responsibilities at Work, But No Pay Bump? Use This Script to Get the Raise You Deserve.
Black and Asian Founders Face Opposition at All Levels — Here's Why That Has to Change
Business News

Frontier Airlines Just Announced Its All-You-Can-Fly Summer Pass for $399. What's the Catch?

As travel begins to pick up, the airline hopes unlimited travel will jumpstart its business.

Thought Leaders

5 Small Daily Habits Self-Made Millionaires Use to Grow Their Wealth

We've all seen what self-made millionaires look like on TV, but it's a lot more subtle than that. Brian Tracy researched what small daily habits these successful entrepreneurs adopted on their journey from rags to riches.

Business News

Mark Cuban's Grocery Store Hack Will Help You Score Cheaper Produce

The billionaire talked about his early days in Dallas when he was strapped for cash.

Growing a Business

The Success of Your PR Campaign Depends on These 3 Essential Elements

A successful PR campaign requires these three critical ingredients to ensure you're on the right path to success.