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5 Books Bill Gates thinks you should read

Learning has always been a crucial reason for people to travel – the thrill of tasting new cuisines, seeing natural wonders or picking up some dance moves from the locals. As the pandemic continues to thrive, 90% of the world is under travel restrictions and we have had to find new ways of unwinding, learning and experiencing new cultures. While reading may not be the perfect replacement for travel, it does allow one to experience different places from the comfort of one’s bed. In the words of George R.R. Martin, ‘A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only once.” Here’s Bill Gates’ latest reading list to get us through this third lockdown in the United Kingdom. 

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, by Michelle Alexander

Alexander’s book offers an eye-opening look into how the criminal justice system unfairly targets communities of colour and especially Black communities. It’s especially good at explaining the history and the numbers behind mass incarceration. Challenging the notion that the election of Barack Obama signalled a new era of colourblindness in the United States, The New Jim Crow reveals how racial discrimination was not ended but merely redesigned. By targeting black men through the War on Drugs and decimating communities of colour, the American criminal justice system functions as a contemporary system of racial control, relegating millions to a permanent second-class status even as it formally adheres to the principle of colourblindness. This is one of the most important books about race in the 21st century, a must-read for everyone concerned with social justice. 

Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World, by David Epstein

Epstein argues that although the world seems to demand more and more specialization—in your career, for example—what we actually need is more people “who start broad and embrace diverse experiences and perspectives while they progress.” Studying the world’s most successful athletes, artists, musicians, inventors and scientists, Epstein demonstrates why in most fields – especially those that are complex and unpredictable – generalists, not specialists are primed to excel. No matter what you do, where you are in life, whether you are a teacher, student, scientist, business analyst, parent, job hunter, retiree, you will see the world differently after you’ve read Range. You’ll understand better how we solve problems, how we learn and how we succeed. You’ll see why failing a test is the best way to learn and why frequent quitters end up with the most fulfilling careers.

The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz, by Erik Larson

Erik Larson gives a new and brilliantly cinematic account of how Britain’s most iconic leader set about unifying the nation at its most vulnerable moment and teaching ‘the art of being fearless.’ Larson follows Churchill as prime minister through the fraught meeting rooms, streets and air raids of London’s darkest year, and Churchill as a family man into his home, where tensions were just as complicated: his wife, Clementine; their daughters, Sarah, Diana, and the youngest, Mary, who chafed against her parents’ wartime protectiveness; their son, Randolph; his beautiful, unhappy wife, Pamela; her illicit lover, a dashing American emissary; and the cadre of close advisors who comprised Churchill’s ‘Secret Circle’. Drawing on once-secret intelligence reports and diaries, The Splendid and the Vile takes readers out of today’s political dysfunction and back to a time of true leadership, when – in the face of unrelenting horror – a leader of eloquence, strategic brilliance and perseverance bound a country, and a family, together.

The Spy and the Traitor: The Greatest Espionage Story of the Cold War, by Ben Macintyre

This nonfiction account focuses on Oleg Gordievsky, a KGB officer who became a double agent for the British, and Aldrich Ames, the American turncoat who likely betrayed him. Ben Macintyre reveals a tale of betrayal, duplicity and raw courage that changed the course of the Cold War forever.

Breath from Salt: A Deadly Genetic Disease, a New Era in Science, and the Patients and Families Who Changed Medicine, by Bijal P. Trivedi

This book is truly uplifting. Told from the perspectives of the patients, families, physicians, scientists, and philanthropists fighting on the front lines, Breath from Salt is a remarkable story of unlikely scientific and medical firsts, of setbacks and successes, and of people who refused to give up hope-and a fascinating peek into the future of genetics and medicine.

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