Bill Gates often publishes book reviews on his personal blog, The Gates Notes, but the Microsoft co-founder turned multibillionaire philanthropist has outdone himself this time. His latest review is of Harvesting the Biosphere: What We Have Taken From Nature, a book by scientist and professor Vaclav Smil — and despite the subject's relative obscurity, Gates has lavished his review with an elaborate, interactive layout filled with infographics, video interviews, and flashy scrolling effects.
"There is no author whose books I look forward to more than Vaclav Smil."
Why invest so much time, effort, and resources into such an esoteric topic? "There is no author whose books I look forward to more than Vaclav Smil," writes Gates. "He jokes that no one reads his books (he's written more than 30 of them). It's true that each book only sells a few thousand copies. But I'm trying to read everything he writes."
As for Harvesting the Biosphere itself, Gates is effusive with praise. Although he notes that "the book is a bit dry and I had to look up a number of terms that were unfamiliar to me," he ultimately calls it "clear and as numeric a picture as is possible of how humans have altered the biosphere." It's not clear whether Gates will take a similar approach to his book reviews in future, but this is one well worth checking out.