Each year Bill Gates — Seattle’s infamous billionaire who founded Microsoft — releases his must-read books for the summer. As the world’s wealthiest person, when Gates speaks, people listen. In recent years, Gates has embraced social media like Twitter, LinkedIn and blogging to share his advice to business owners and entrepreneurs. He regularly blogs about topics such as philanthropy, energy, vaccinations, world health and books on his site Gates Notes.

Each year, Gates releases a couple of book roundups. The most notable are his end-of-the-year book recommendations, and his summer reading list. In the summer, Gates tries to lighten it up just a bit and includes books that make him “think or laugh, or in some cases, do both.” Last year’s recommended reads included Hyperbole and a Half, by Allie Brosh; The Magic of Reality, by Richard Dawkins; and How to Lie With Statistics, by Darrell Huff.

Keeping up with tradition, Gates released his 2016 summer reads last week in a blog post on his site. It’s just in time for reading in your favorite summer spot – with grass between your toes, or on a picnic blanket in the sunshine, or in a lazy hammock swing on the beach.

“This summer, my recommended reading list has a good dose of books with science and math at their core,” he said in his post. “But there’s no science or math to my selection process. The following five books are simply ones that I loved, made me think in new ways, and kept me up reading long past when I should have gone to sleep.”

Below are the five books Gates recommends for you to add to your GoodReads this summer:

Seveneves, by Neal Stephenson

gates - sevenevesStephenson’s dystopian Sci-Fi novel tells the tale of humans trying to survive in space after the Earth gets catastrophically ruined in a meteor shower. The surviving members of our planet rebuild themselves in space, then 5 thousand years later decide to journey back to Earth. Stephenson combines science with philosophy and technology to create a unique book asking, “What if the world was to end?” Would you survive?

“You might lose patience with all the information you’ll get about space flight — Stephenson, who lives in Seattle, has clearly done his research — but I loved the technical details,” said Gates. “Seveneves inspired me to rekindle my sci-fi habit.”

How Not to be Wrong, by Jordan Ellenberg

gates - not wrongEllenberg’s nonfiction book looks at the power of mathematical thinking and how math touches everything we do — math is not just formulaic problems in high school math class that you think you’ll never use again in ‘real life.’

“The book’s larger point is that, as Ellenberg writes, ‘to do mathematics is to be, at once, touched by fire and bound by reason’— and that there are ways in which we’re all doing math, all the time,” said Gates.

The Vital Question, by Nick Lane

gates - vital questionThe vital question this book revolves around is: why are we here, and why are we the way we are? Lane spends nearly 400 pages addressing evolutionary history and proposing solutions to problems that have plagued scientists such as how did our cells evolve into male and female, which doesn’t exist in bacteria? Lane answers a lot of these questions by proposing energy is the reason for all that we are and all we’ve become.

“Even if the details of Nick’s work turn out to be wrong, I suspect his focus on energy will be seen as an important contribution to our understanding of where we come from,” said Gates.

The Power to Compete, by Ryoichi Mikitani and Hiroshi Mikitani

gates - competeGates traveled to Japan for Microsoft 30 years ago and has been fascinated with Japanese culture ever since. This book examines Japanese culture through a series of dialogues between Ryoichi, an economist who died in 2013, and his son Hiroshi, founder of the Internet company Rakuten. They dissect why Japan was at the top of it’s game for decades with world-leading products and has since fallen behind South Korea and China — can Japan’s economy recover?

“Although I don’t agree with everything in Hiroshi’s program, I think he has a number of good ideas,” said Gates. “The Power to Compete is a smart look at the future of a fascinating country.”

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, by Noah Yuval Harar

gates - sapeinsHarar’s book has been compared to “A Brief History of Time,” but readers suggest the book is a lot more manageable and concise in the way it tackles such a complex topic. Harar examines why out of six species that existed 100,000 years ago, homosapiens are the only ones left. How did our species survive? How did we create cities and dominate the other species? How did we become to believe in different religions, create money and commerce, and trust books and laws?
“Both Melinda and I read this one, and it has sparked lots of great conversations at our dinner table,” said Gates. “Although I found things to disagree with — especially Harari’s claim that humans were better off before we started farming — I would recommend Sapiens to anyone who’s interested in the history and future of our species.”

About the Author

jeannaJeanna Barret is an award-winning online marketer who uses the power of words and data to drive brand awareness and growth through inbound organic channels such as content, social media and SEO. She has led organic marketing for high-growth startups and fortune 500 companies, with an expertise focus on small business. She’s been named ‘Top 40 Under 40’ of brand marketers on the west coast, and ‘Best in the West’ for financial technology marketing. She is also co-founder of First Page, a boutique content strategy agency. Visit FirstPageStrategy.com to learn more about her.