It's that time of year when graduates are buried in gifts. Photo frames, to display those gown-and-tassel snapshots. Luggage, for dreamed-of world travels yet to come. Furniture for first apartments. But this year, U.S. college graduates can get a gift from a man they may never meet. Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates announced on his Gates Notes blog on Tuesday that he has a present for all American students graduating college this spring, whether they're receiving an associate's, bachelor's, or post-graduate degree.
"If you're getting a degree from a U.S. college this spring, I have a present for you," Gates writes. "It's a book. (No surprise there. Books are my go-to gift.)"
Not just any book, but one of the five books Gates recently recommended everyone read this summer. The book is Factfulness: Ten Reasons We're Wrong About the World--and Why Things Are Better Than You Think, by the late Swedish global-health lecturer Hans Rosling, whom Gates called a friend.
In a lengthy online review, Gates breaks down why he believes Factfulness is such an important read.
"In (the book), (Rosling) offers a new framework for how to think about the world," Gates says. "The bulk of the book is devoted to 10 instincts that keep us from seeing the world factfully. These range from the fear instinct (we pay more attention to scary things) to the size instinct (standalone numbers often look more impressive than they really are) to the gap instinct (most people fall between two extremes)."
Rosling gives the example of a tornado that kills 10 people in a small town. While the event is a tragedy for those involved, headlines and news coverage are unlikely to point out that advanced warning systems make modern tornadoes much less deadly than they once were.
The book's a gem, Gates, says, but he feels it's especially valuable to those about to embark on a post-college career.
"It is packed with advice about how to see the world clearly," he writes. "Although I think everyone should read it, it has especially useful insights for anyone who's making the leap out of college and into the next phase of life.
New college graduates need only to go to the page explaining the offer on Gates' site and fill in the name of their school. Then they can download a free digital copy of the 352-page book, which would cost more than $18 in hardcover and more than $14 for a Kindle version if purchased on Amazon.com, where it currently has a 4.5 out of 5 star rating with more than 140 reviews.
"My wish for you at this special time is to learn to think, and act, factfully," Gates tells new grads. "Congratulations, and good luck!"