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The Bill Gates Summer Reading List

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Most people probably wouldn’t consider Bill Gates a value investor.

After all, Microsoft was basically the poster child for the tech boom of the 1990s – a boom that Warren Buffett famously did not participate in – and the company continues to be considered a “growth” stock today.

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But I’d have to disagree.

Bill Gates might not be picking stocks, but he still thinks and acts a lot like a value investor. At the very least, he has more than a few things in common with Warren Buffett. Here are a few examples:

  • Bill Gates and Warren Buffett are very close friends, and the two often play bridge (and sometimes ping pong) together.
  • Gates sits on the Board of Berkshire Hathaway and Berkshire is the largest holding in the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation portfolio.
  • The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s portfolio is managed by a guy called Michael Larson. Larson is a buy-and-hold value investor, with a strategy similar to Buffett’s. Since Larson started working for Gates in 1994, the billionaire’s net worth has increased from $5 billion to $80 billion.
  • And, just like Warren Buffett (who reads 500 pages a day now and used to read 1,000 pages a day when he first started his career) and Charlie Munger (whose secret is to “go to bed smarter than when you woke up“), Bill Gates is a voracious reader and reads over 50 books a year.

So, if you’re looking for some good books to read this summer and want to expand your knowledge, here are 5 books that Bill Gates is recommending:

How Not to Be Wrong: The Power of Mathematical Thinking

by Jordan Ellenberg

Gates: Ellenberg, a mathematician and writer, explains how math plays into our daily lives without our even knowing it. Each chapter starts with a subject that seems fairly straightforward—electoral politics, say, or the Massachusetts lottery—and then uses it as a jumping-off point to talk about the math involved.

The Power to Compete: An Economist and an Entrepreneur on Revitalizing Japan in the Global Economy

by Hiroshi Mikitani and Ryoichi Mikitani

Gates: Why were Japan’s companies—the juggernauts of the ’80s—eclipsed by competitors in South Korea and China? Can they come back? Those questions are at the heart of this series of dialogues between Ryoichi, an economist who died in 2013, and his son Hiroshi, founder of the Internet company Rakuten.

The Vital Question: Energy, Evolution, and the Origins of Complex Life

by Nick Lane

Gates: Nick Lane is trying to right a scientific wrong by getting people to fully appreciate the role that energy plays in all living things. He argues that we can only understand how life began, and how living things got so complex, by understanding how energy works.

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind

by Yuval Noah Harari

Gates: Harari takes on a daunting challenge: to tell the entire history of the human race in just 400 pages. He also writes about our species today and how artificial intelligence, genetic engineering, and other technologies will change us in the future. Although I found things to disagree with—especially the claim that humans were better off before we started farming—’d recommend Sapiens to anyone who’s interested in the history and future of our species.

Seveneves: A Novel

by Neal Stephenson

Gates: I hadn’t read any science fiction for a decade when a friend recommended this novel. I’m glad she did. The plot gets going in the first sentence, when the moon blows up. People figure out that in two years a cataclysmic meteor shower will wipe out all life on Earth, so the world unites on a plan to keep humanity going by launching as many spacecraft as possible into orbit. Seveneves inspired me to rekindle my sci-fi habit.

Have you read any of these books? If so, I’d love to hear what you think in the comments section!

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