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Five Amazing Books Recommended by Bill Gates

I saw somewhere on social media a post that read: "If only this billionaire were POTUS, imagine how much brighter the world would seem right now..."

This billionaire, of course, is Bill Gates, and the reference was to his end-of-the-year reading list that includes five books he particularly likes. Gates' reading lists are always incisive, sharp and varied; he is concerned about society, the environment, foreign policy, and the world as a whole. When he says "reading is my favorite way to indulge my curiosity," there's no doubt he's sincere. Here he is, talking about these books—which you can buy below on Bookwitty:



Evicted, Poverty and Profit in the American City

Arleen spends nearly all her money on rent but is kicked out with her kids in Milwaukee's coldest winter for years. Doreen's home is so filthy her family call it 'the rat hole'. Lamar, a wheelchair-bound ex-soldier, tries to work his way out of debt for his boys. Scott, a nurse turned addict, lives in a gutted-out trailer. This is their world. And this is the twenty-first century: where fewer and fewer people can afford a simple roof over their head. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for non-fiction 2017. 

Believe Me

When Eddie Izzard was six, he and his brother Mark lost their mother. That day, he lost his childhood too. Despite or perhaps because of this, he has always felt he needed to take on things that some people would consider impossible. In Believe Me, Eddie takes us on a journey which begins in Yemen (before the revolution), then takes us to Northern Ireland (before The Troubles), England and Wales, then across the seas to Europe and America. In a story jam-packed with incident he tells of teddy bear shows on boarding school beds, renouncing accountancy for sword-fighting on the streets of London and making those first tentative steps towards becoming an Action Transvestite, touring France in French and playing the Hollywood Bowl. Above all, this is a tale about someone who has always done everything his own way (which often didn't work at first) and, sometimes almost by accident but always with grit and determination, achieving what he set out to do. 

The Best We Could Do: An Illustrated Memoir

The Best We Could Do explores the anguish of immigration and the lasting effects that displacement has on a child. Thi Bui documents her family's daring escape after the fall of South Vietnam in the 1970s and the diffiulties they faced building new lives for themselves in America. At the heart of Bui's story is a universal struggle: adjusting to life as a first-time mother. With haunting, poetic writing and breathtaking art, The Best We Could Do examines the strength of family, the importance of identity, and the meaning of home, providing inspiration to all who search for a better future while longing for a simpler past.

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The Sympathizer

It is April 1975, and Saigon is in chaos. At his villa, a general of the South Vietnamese army is drinking whiskey and, with the help of his trusted captain, drawing up a list of those who will be given passage aboard the last flights out of the country. The general and his compatriots start a new life in Los Angeles, unaware that one among their number, the captain, is secretly observing and reporting on the group to a higher-up in the Viet Cong. The Sympathizer is the story of this captain: a man brought up by an absent French father and a poor Vietnamese mother, a man who went to university in America, but returned to Vietnam to fight for the Communist cause. A gripping spy novel, an astute exploration of extreme politics, and a moving love story, The Sympathizer explores a life between two worlds and examines the legacy of the Vietnam War in literature, film, and the wars we fight today. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2016.

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Energy and Civilization

A comprehensive account of how energy has shaped society throughout history, from pre-agricultural foraging societies through today's fossil fuel--driven civilization. Energy is the only universal currency; it is necessary for getting anything done. The conversion of energy on Earth ranges from terra-forming forces of plate tectonics to cumulative erosive effects of raindrops. Life on Earth depends on the photosynthetic conversion of solar energy into plant biomass. Humans have come to rely on many more energy flows -- ranging from fossil fuels to photovoltaic generation of electricity -- for their civilized existence. In this monumental history, Vaclav Smil provides a comprehensive account of how energy has shaped society, from pre-agricultural foraging societies through today's fossil fuel--driven civilization. Humans are the only species that can systematically harness energies outside their bodies, using the power of their intellect and an enormous variety of artifacts -- from the simplest tools to internal combustion engines and nuclear reactors. The epochal transition to fossil fuels affected everything: agriculture, industry, transportation, weapons, communication, economics, urbanization, quality of life, politics, and the environment. Smil describes humanity's energy eras in panoramic and interdisciplinary fashion, offering readers a magisterial overview. This book is an extensively updated and expanded version of Smil's Energy in World History (1994). Smil has incorporated an enormous amount of new material, reflecting the dramatic developments in energy studies over the last two decades and his own research over that time.

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Jacqueline is a journalist primarily, but not only, interested in fiction and non-fiction with equal passion.