Billionaire and book lover Bill Gates has some reading recommendations for you.
The Microsoft co-founder released his annual summer reading list for readers looking for something to bring to the beach. (Well, the backyard, anyway.) As in previous years, Gates’ list is heavy on serious books.
If you’re looking for an escape from the news, you’ll probably want to disregard Gates’ suggestion that you read John M. Barry’s The Great Influenza, about the 1918 virus pandemic that claimed 50 million lives.
Gates also recommended Edith Eva Eger’s The Choice, a Holocaust survivor’s memoir that focuses on processing trauma. “I think many people will find comfort right now from her suggestions on how to handle difficult situations,” Gates wrote.
Ever the businessman, Gates gave a shout out to Bob Iger’s The Ride of a Lifetime and Abhijit V. Banerjee and Esther Duflo’s Good Economics for Hard Times. He rounded out his list with a plug for David Mitchell’s novel Cloud Atlas, which he called “a really compelling tale about the best and worst of humanity.”
Perhaps mindful that some readers are looking for a laugh, Gates also recommended Allie Brosh’s graphic memoir Hyperbole and a Half and Randall Munroe’s comic collection What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions.
He also struck a hopeful note while writing about Andy Weir’s novel The Martian. “You may remember the movie from a few years ago, when Matt Damon—playing a botanist who’s been stranded on Mars—sets aside his fear and says, ‘I’m going to science the s*** out of this,’” Gates wrote. “We’re doing the same thing with the novel coronavirus.”
Michael Schaub is a Texas-based journalist and regular contributor to NPR.