Bill Gates is a guy who reads quite a lot of books and although he has met a long of inspirational people in his time, he credits books as the best way exploring new topics and learning new things, both personally and professionally. There seems to be a common theme with successful people, they read a lot. Gates reads at least 50 books a year, Zuckerberg (the guy from Facebook!) reads 30 and Warren Buffet is said to spend up to 80% of his day reading.

Each year, Gates shares a list to everyone attending the TED conference (full list can be found at Here for just ten we handpicked from the list.

"Read 500 pages each day. That's how knowledge works. It builds up, like compound interest. All of you can do it, but I guarantee not many of you will do it."


1. ‘Business Adventures’ by John Brooks

Gates says that ‘Business Adventures’ was recommended to him by Warren Buffet in 1991 – and it’s been recommended by the Young Entrepreneur Council. After reading Buffett’s copy, Gates has said that this is “the best business book I’ve ever read.” While a lot has changed since it’s initial release, “the fundamentals have not.”

For example, Brooks examines why Ford’s Edsel was such a historic flop and how companies, such as Apple and Microsoft, “drew on Xerox’s work on graphical user interfaces.”

2.  ‘Tap Dancing to Work’ by Carol Loomis

This is a collection of conversations between Warren Buffett and his friend and Fortune writer Carol Loomis.

When reviewing the book, Gates said “I think anyone who reads it cover to cover will come away with two reactions: First, how Warren’s been incredibly consistent in applying his vision and investment principles over the duration of his career; and, secondly, that his analysis and understanding of business and markets remains unparalleled.”

3. ‘How to Lie With Statistics’ by Darrell Huff

Originally published in 1954, Gates picked-up ‘How to Lie With Statistics’ after reading an article in The Wall Street Journal. After reading the book, Gates says;

“One chapter shows you how visuals can be used to exaggerate trends and give distorted comparisons. It’s a timely reminder, given how often infographics show up in your Facebook and Twitter feeds these days. A great introduction to the use of statistics, and a great refresher for anyone who’s already well versed in it.”

4‘Outliers’ by Malcolm Gladwell

Most of us are fans of Malcolm Gladwell’s work. So, it wouldn’t come as a shock that Bill Gates is as well. He describes ‘Outliers’ as “an interesting look at how some people become high-achievers.”

5. ‘Stuff Matters’ by Mark Miodownik

Like most of us, you probably don’t think about everyday items like steel razors, glass cups, or paper notepads. But, as author Mark Miodownik points out, these are all pretty fascinating objects.

Gates elaborates about steel for example, saying that it, “is pretty magical.” He adds, “Its greatest virtue is that it doesn’t crack or break under tension, unlike iron, from which it is forged.” After finishing this “fun, accessible read” you’ll never look at the possibilities that these everyday objects possess.

6. ‘The Bully Pulpit’ by Doris Kearns Goodwin

Gates, like so many other people, including yours truly, are fascinated by Theodore Roosevelt. That explains why he enjoyed Doris Kearns Goodwin’s ‘The Bully Pulpit.’ In it, Goodwin asks, “How does social change happen? Can it be driven by a single inspirational leader, or do other factors have to lay the groundwork first?” Goodwin answers those questions by examining how Roosevelt’s interviews were assisted by journalists.

7. ‘The Rosie Project: A Novel’ by Graeme Simsion

Gates says that his wife Melinda was so enthralled by this book that she kept reading passages to him, which lead to him picking the book up himself. Gates says that, “Anyone who occasionally gets overly logical will identify with the hero, a genetics professor with Asperger’s Syndrome who goes looking for a wife.”

He also describes the book as “a funny and profound book about being comfortable with who you are and what you’re good at.”

8. ‘Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything’ by Joshua Foer

If you’re a forgetful individual, how can you expect to be successful? Which is why Gates recommends that you improve your memory by reading this “absolutely phenomenal” book. Gates explains;

“Like most people, I’m fascinated by how the mind works, and memory is a big element of that. Part of the beauty of this book is that it makes clear how memory and understanding are not two different things. Building up the ability to reason and the ability to retain information go hand in hand.”

9. ‘The Box’ by Marc Levinson

Shipping containers may not sound all that exciting. But, Marc Levinson’s, ‘The Box’ explains how shipping containers have transformed the world the world that we live in. Gates says, “The story of this transition is fascinating and reason enough to read the book. But in subtle ways ‘The Box’ also challenges commonly held views about business and the role of innovation.”

10. ‘Eradication: Ridding the World of Diseases Forever?’ by Nancy Leys Stepan

Gates has written and talked a lot about how he wants to rid the world of infectious diseases. Because of the vision he sees for this goal, you can understand why he would recommend this book. Written by Columbia University historian Nancy Leys Stepan, it traces the efforts of “Fred Soper, who led efforts to eradicate yellow fever, typhus, and malaria, first at the Rockefeller Foundation and then, from 1947 to 1959, as director of the Pan-American Health Organization.”

Besides being an interesting read, Gates suggests that there is a possibility of ‘Eradication,’ because Soper “got a lot done, but he did it by being extremely demanding, both in his eradication methods and in his dealings with people, and that made him both very effective in some ways and very difficult to deal with in others.” This book also examines why we’ve failed to eradicate even more diseases.