Bill Gates wants to introduce you to the concept of “disruption” this summer.
For his annual summer reading list, Gates has chosen five works that deal with upheaval—from “the Soviet Union right after the Bolshevik revolution, the United States during times of war, or a global reevaluation of our economic system,” writes Gates for his Gates Notes blog.
Here are his five picks for 2019:
Upheaval, by Jared Diamond. An avid reader of Diamond’s works, Gates recommends his latest book about how nations navigate moments of crisis. Diamond examines case studies of nations that successfully emerged from moments of conflict, including “existential challenges like civil war, foreign threats, or general malaise,” writes Gates. He adds that, while “[i]t sounds a bit depressing… I finished the book even more optimistic about our ability to solve problems than I started.”
Nine Pints, by Rose George. “If you get grossed out by blood, this one probably isn’t for you,” writes Gates, adding that the book’s title refers to the volume of blood in the average human adult. Inspired by George’s own struggle with premenstrual dysphoric disorder, Nine Pints takes readers around the world and through history—from an HIV clinic in South Africa to Nazi Germany during World War II—to learn about all things blood. “Many aspects of the book were uplifting, especially the parts that reminded me of the life-saving innovations that emerge from a better understanding of blood and its component parts,” writes Gates.
A Gentleman in Moscow, by Amor Towles. Towles’ novel follows 30 years in the life of Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov, who is sentenced to life under house arrest in Moscow’s Metropol Hotel in 1922. Count Rostov’s sentencing coincides with the aftermath of the Bolshevik revolution, and he becomes a careful observer of the changes taking afoot in the Metropol and in Moscow more broadly. “You don”t have to be a Russophile to enjoy the book,” writes Gates, “but if you are, it’s essential reading.”
Presidents of War, by Michael Beschloss. Beschloss explores how U.S. presidents handled the nine major conflicts the United States entered between 1800 and the 1970s—from the War of 1812 to the Vietnam War. “The richest insights for me came from the fact that the book’s broad scope lets you draw important cross-cutting lessons about presidential leadership,” writes Gates.
The Future of Capitalism, by Paul Collier. The Oxford economist’s latest book wrestles with the potential consequences of the current capitalist system and the “understandable sense that the system is in crisis,” writes Gates. Gates adds that while he doesn’t agree with all of Collier’s proposed solutions to the “crisis,” the book is a “thought-provoking look at a topic that’s top of mind for a lot of people right now.”