One of the books Bill Gates would love to read in 2021 is
I used to be obsessed with science fiction when I was a kid. Paul Allen and I would talk for hours about Isaac Asimov's original Foundation trilogy.
I read all of Edgar Rice Burroughs' and Robert Heinlein's books. (One of my favorites was The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress.) There was something thrilling about these stories that pushed the boundaries of what was possible for me.
As I grew older, I began to read a lot more nonfiction. I was still interested in books that investigated the implications of innovation, but it seemed more important to learn about our real world along the way.
However, I've recently found myself drawn back to the kinds of books I would've enjoyed as a child.
Five books Bill Gates loved reading in 2021:
This year's holiday reading list includes two fantastic science fiction stories. One is set nearly 12 light-years from our sun, while the other is set right here in the United States—but both made me think about how people can use technology to respond to challenges.
I've also included two nonfiction books about cutting-edge science and a novel that made me reconsider one of history's most famous figures.
This year, I read a lot of great books, including John Doerr's latest on climate change, but these were some of my favorites.
What are the top 5 books to read in 2021?
Here are the five books Bill Gates loved reading in 2021.
Klara and the Sun, by Kazuo Ishiguro
Kazuo Ishiguro's novel, Klara and the Sun, I enjoy a good robot story, and Kazuo Ishiguro's novel about a sick young girl's "artificial friend" is no exception. Despite the fact that it takes place in a dystopian future, the robots are not a force for evil. They are instead used as companions to keep people company. This book got me thinking about what life might be like with super intelligent robots and whether we'll treat these machines as mere pieces of technology or as something more.
Project Hail Mary, by Andy Weir
Andy Weir's Project Hail Mary. Like most people, I became acquainted with Weir's work through The Martian. His most recent novel is a wild story about a high school science teacher who awakens in a different star system with no memory of how he got there. The rest of the story revolves around his use of science and engineering to save the day. It's a fun book to read, and I finished it in one weekend.
The Code Breaker
Walter Isaacson's The Code Breaker: Jennifer Doudna, Gene Editing, and the Future of the Human Race
The CRISPR gene editing system is one of the most fascinating and potentially game-changing scientific breakthroughs of the last decade.
I'm familiar with it because of my work at the foundation—we fund a number of projects that use it—but I learned a lot from this comprehensive and accessible book about its discovery by Nobel Prize-winning biochemist Jennifer Doudna and her colleagues.
Isaacson does an excellent job of highlighting the most important ethical issues surrounding gene editing.
Hamnet, by Maggie O’Farrell
Maggie O'Farrell's Hamnet. If you like Shakespeare, you'll appreciate this moving novel about how his personal life may have influenced the writing of one of his most famous plays. O'Farrell's story is based on two facts we know about "The Bard": his son Hamnet died when he was 11 years old, and Shakespeare wrote a tragedy called Hamlet a few years later. I especially enjoyed reading about his wife, Anne, who is portrayed as an almost supernatural figure in this novel.
A Thousand Brains
A Thousand Brains: A New Theory of Intelligence by Jeff Hawkins Few topics have captivated the imaginations of science fiction writers more than artificial intelligence. If you're curious about what it might take to create a true AI, this book offers an intriguing theory. Hawkins is best known as the co-inventor of the PalmPilot, but he's spent decades thinking about the connections between neuroscience and machine learning, and this book is the best introduction to his thinking.