Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek. 

 

He claims it's just a coincidence.

He says: "This summer, my recommended reading list has a good dose of books with science and math at their core. But there's no science or math to my selection process."

But in selecting his five books to read this summer, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates has gone serious. Again.

He says these books stopped him from sleeping. In a good way. They made him think. One assumes, also in a good way.

But who needs to think when summer comes? That's the last thing I want to do.

Actually, most days it's the last thing I want to do.

Gates can really be very funny. He made some marvelous ads with Jerry Seinfeld for Microsoft a few years ago.

Still, here are the seriously Gatesian selections for your beach trip.

1. Seveneves, by Neal Stephenson.

Gates says he loved the technical details. Well, yes. It's a sci-fi novel. But even he says: "You might lose patience with all the information you'll get about space flight." Warning: This book has 880 pages.

2. How Not to Be Wrong, by Jordan Ellenberg.

This is a book about math. You need this for your vacation. Math is taking over the world. Math has taken over the world. We are currently being math-ticated by all sorts of tech companies. However, even Gates says: "In some places, the math gets quite complicated." I fear a pattern emerging here. Who wants a complicated summer?

3. The Vital Question, by Nick Lane.

Who wants to think about vital questions when you're trying to decide whether your wine should be from the Douro region or from Alentejo? This is a book about energy. I fear it might sap mine. Especially after the second glass of Ervideira's wine aged at the bottom of a lake

4. The Power to Compete, by Ryoichi Mikitani and Hiroshi Mikitani.

Gates was known to be a fearfully competitive sort. This, thankfully, isn't a book about how to smite those in your way. Instead, it's a book about Japan and whether it can return to its former economic glories. This might be one book to take to the beach, as Japan is truly fascinating. But still, it's quite serious. The book, not Japan. Japan is wonderfully entertaining.

5. Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, by Noah Yuval Harari.

This rambunctious comedy traces a battle between two former lovers who are both trying to prove they know more about where we came from than the other. No, of course it isn't. It's an attempt to tell the history of the entire human race in 400 pages. But you don't really need to read it, do you? You know humanity is doomed and you can do nothing about it. Even Stephen Hawking wants us to disappear and go live in space. It will be a little like going on vacation. But cold and permanent.

 

Published on: May 17, 2016