Bill Gates Thinks You Should Read And You Should Listen To Him

March 23, 2018

Bill Gates reads 50 books a year. Why? He’s worth an estimated $90 billion, chairs the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation — the world’s largest private charitable foundation — and has three kids.

In an annual blog post, Gates explained that reading has always been one of the chief ways that he learns. He goes on, “Although I’m lucky that I get to meet with a lot of interesting people and visit fascinating places through my work, I still think books are the best way to explore new topics that interest you.” It’s amazing to see that one of the greatest technologists in history uses reading to add to his understanding of the world.

In the post, Gates compiles a list of the best books he read in 2017 (notice the blog theme: “turtles and jazz chickens”). He covers a broad spectrum of literature, from nonfiction like Black Flags: The Rise of ISIS by John Warrick, a history lesson on how ISIS managed to seize power in Iraq, to the Pulitzer-winning The Sympathizer, the debut novel by Viet Thang Nguyen, a gripping story about a double agent caught between two worlds during the Vietnam War.

Slowing down like Gates and taking the time to pick up a book is cathartic — hell, it’s been known to reduce stress in some cases. But as technology continues to progress at a rapid rate and our access to digital storytelling is simpler and more affordable, a new talented crop of content creators are taking advantage. By repurposing preexisting media, like film and radio, these DIY creators are reaching a much wider audience and with more commercial appeal than traditional print media.

Here are a few that I learned from this year (with a book thrown in, too, because why not):

How I Built This: An NPR podcast hosted by journalist Guy Raz that dives into the stories behind some of the world’s best-known companies. Raz interviews innovators, entrepreneurs and idealists about what makes them tick. Looking for a place to start? Check out the Warby Parker episode.

Icarus: The Academy Award-winning documentary is not what it seems. Director Bryan Fogel chronicles his time exploring the options of doping to win an amateur cycling race and how he stumbled across the largest international doping scandal in history. An examination of the relationship between filmmaker and subject, this controversial documentary is a must-see.

The Undoing Project: A Friendship That Changed Our Minds: A compelling collaboration between two Israeli psychologists who wrote a series of studies undoing our assumptions about the decision-making process. Their work created the field of behavioral economics, big-data studies, advanced evidence-based medicine and a new approach to government regulation.