Bill Gates prioritizes disease eradication over the proliferation of internet access and uses his vast wealth for the purposes of malaria research. It's perhaps not a surprise, then, that his favorite books of 2013 are all pragmatic works of non-fiction that question how the modern world was built, and how to make it better. Gates has produced a list of the seven best titles he read this year — many of which were first published before 2013 — on his official site, choosing the works for their "amazing stories of human ingenuity."
Gates has previously published reviews of each of the seven books selected, using this end of year list to consolidate and consider his favorites. His picks appear to echo his logical world-view, valuing fairness, balance, and understanding. The World Until Yesterday, written by Jared Diamond about hunter-gatherer lifestyles, "doesn't romanticize tribal life," instead displaying the author's desire to "find the best practices and share them. Paul Sabin's The Bet discusses a $1,000 wager between professors about whether human quality of life would become better or worse over time, but does it "without ridiculing either proponent."
Bill Gates' favorite books of 2013 champion fairness, balance, and understanding
Among the selections is Vaclav Smil's Harvesting the Biosphere. Gates published an incredible interactive review of Smil's book back in July, saying at the time that "without moralizing, [Smil] makes a convincing case that humans could soon consume an unsustainable share of life on Earth." Looking back on Harvesting the Biosphere five months later, Gates calls it "a critical story if you care about the impact we're having on the planet."
But Gates makes it clear that his focus on factual reading material doesn't preclude fiction from his bedside table. The Catcher in the Rye, the ex-Microsoft CEO says, is one of his favorite books. As for this year, Gates says The Box, written by Marc Levinson about the impact of shipping containers on the global economy, has "a very readable narrative."