6 Books Bill Gates Thinks You Should Read
As students or young workers at the outset of our professional lives, we are naturally driven by intellectual curiosity. We are always seeking to learn and the most common way to find new knowledge is by reading articles and books written by great thinkers, successful leaders, marketers, or entrepreneurs. Bill Gates is probably one of the very few business men to whom can be attributed all the appellatives mentioned above, so here is a list of six books he suggests you to read.
What do the $350 million Ford Motor Company disaster known as the Edsel, the fast and incredible rise of Xerox, and the unbelievable scandals at General Electric and Texas Gulf Sulphur have in common? Each is an example of how an iconic company was defined by a particular moment of fame or notoriety. These notable and fascinating accounts are as relevant today to understanding the intricacies of corporate life as they were when the events happened.
Stories about Wall Street are infused with drama and adventure and reveal the machinations and volatile nature of the world of finance. John Brooks’s insightful reportage is so full of personality and critical detail that whether he is looking at the astounding market crash of 1962, the collapse of a well-known brokerage firm, or the bold attempt by American bankers to save the British pound, one gets the sense that history really does repeat itself.
An historian, Kearns Goodwin examines the presidencies of Theodore Roosevelt and William Taft in this book. Why would an entrepreneur not particularly interested in early-20th century U.S. presidents respond to it? The tenure of these leaders is used to explore fascinating questions, Gates explains. "I'm especially interested in the central question that Goodwin raises: How does social change happen? Can it be driven solely by an inspirational leader, or do other factors have to lay the groundwork first?"
With the recent measles outbreak in the U.S. making headlines, this pick by Gates seems particularly timely. "The eloquent essayist Eula Biss uses the tools of literary analysis, philosophy, and science to examine the speedy, inaccurate rumors about childhood vaccines that have proliferated among well-meaning American parents," Gates writes, recommending the book particularly for new parents.
Gates calls historian Smil "probably his favorite living author," whose every work is a must-read thanks to his clear vision and nuanced thinking. In this book, writes Gates, "Smil examines the materials we use to meet the demands of modern life, like cement, iron, aluminum, plastic, and paper. The book is full of staggering statistics."
Why add this one to your personal reading list? "Business journalist Joe Studwell produces compelling answers to two of the greatest questions in development economics: How did countries like Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, and China achieve sustained, high growth? And why have so few other countries managed to do so?" Gates enthuses.
Data is all the rage, but getting the most out of it requires numerical savvy and clear thinking. This oldie but goodie (published in 1954) can help you separate insightful uses of data from numbers that are all smoke and mirrors. According to Gates, the topic is "more relevant than ever. One chapter shows you how visuals can be used to exaggerate trends and give distorted comparisons. It's a timely reminder, given how often infographics show up in your Facebook and Twitter feeds these days."
(book summaries extracted from inc.com)