1. String Theory
Subtitle: David Foster Wallace on Tennis
Author: David Foster Wallace
Best Seller Category: Sports Essays
5 Second Summary: A collection of five essays about tennis.
Why Bill Thinks You Should Read It: "Here, as in his other brilliant works, Wallace found mind-blowing ways of bending language like a metal spoon."
Best Quote: "Top athletes are compelling because they embody the comparison-based achievement we Americans revere--fastest, strongest--and because they do so in a totally unambiguous way. Questions of the best plumber or best managerial accountant are impossible even to define, whereas the best relief pitcher, free-throw shooter, or female tennis player is, at any given time, a matter of public statistical record. Top athletes fascinate us by appealing to our twin compulsions with competitive superiority and hard data. Plus they're beautiful: Jordan hanging in midair like a Chagall bride, Sampras laying down a touch volley at an angle that defies Euclid. And they're inspiring. There is about world class athletes carving out exemptions from physical laws a transcendent beauty that makes manifest God in man."
2. Shoe Dog
Subtitle: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike
Author: Phil Knight
Best Seller Category: Individual Sports
5 Second Summary: Nike's founder explains how he made it big.
Why Bill Thinks You Should Read It: "A refreshingly honest reminder of what the bath to business success really looks like: messy, precarious and riddled with mistakes."
Best Quote: "Drenched in sweat, moving as gracefully and effortlessly as I ever had, I saw my Crazy Idea shining up ahead, and it didn't look all that crazy. It didn't even look like an idea. It looked like a place. It looked like a person, or some life force that had existed long before I did, separate from me, but also part of me. Waiting for me, but also hiding from me. That might sound a little high-flown, A little crazy. But that's how I felt back then."
3. The Gene
Subtitle: An Intimate History
Author: Siddhartha Mukherjee
Best Seller Category: Biology & Life Sciences
5 Second Summary: A summary of the current state of gene research and technology.
Why Bill Thinks You Should Read It: "The new genome technologies are at the cusp of affecting us all in profound ways."
Best Quote: "What if we learned to change our genetic code intentionally? If such technologies were available, who would control them, and who would ensure their safety? Who would be the masters, and who the victims, of this technology? How would the acquisition and control of this knowledge--and its inevitable invasion of our private and public lives--alter the way we imagine our societies, our children, and ourselves?"
4. The Myth of the Strong Leader
Subtitle: Political Leadership in the Modern Age
Author: Archie Brown
Best Seller Category: Political Leadership
5 Second Summary: Makes the historical case that "strong leaders"--as most people would define the term--are ultimately bad for a country (or a business) because, while the solve short-term, simple problems, they tend to create long-term complicated one.
Why Bill Thinks You Should Read It: "The leaders who make the biggest contributions to history and humanity generally are not the ones we perceive to be 'strong leaders.' Instead, they tend to be the ones who collaborate, delegate, and negotiate... Brown could not have predicted how resonant his book would become in 2016."
Best Quote: "There are many qualities desirable in a political leader that should matter more than the criterion of strength, one better suited to judging weightlifters or long-distance runners. These include integrity, intelligence, articulateness, collegiality, shrewd judgment, a questioning mind, willingness to seek disparate views, ability to absorb information, flexibility, good memory, courage, vision, empathy and boundless energy. Although incomplete, that is already a formidable list. We should hardly expect most leaders to embody all of those qualities. They are not supermen or superwomen--and they should never forget it, even though it would be a requirement too far to add modesty to this inventory of leadership desiderata."
5. The Grid
Subtitle: The Fraying Wires Between Americans and Our Energy Future
Author: Gretchen Bakke
Best Seller Category: Environmental Engineering
5 Second Summary: A history of our electronic grid, why it's failing and what we can do about it.
Why Bill Thinks You Should Read It: "The electrical grid is one of the engineering wonders of the modern world."
Best Quote: "In the early years of the new millennium, the grid finally began to break; its business model cracked open as much as its copper and cement were worn down. California suffered blackouts so severe the governor declared a state of emergency and one of its major utilities filed for bankruptcy (the first for a large utility since the Depression). Then a nuclear power plant in Vermont toppled over. It literally fell down; its support structure had rotted right through. Not because it hadn't been subject to regular maintenance and inspection, but because all the cameras set to watch the infrastructure age were pointed elsewhere and the maintenance checklists didn't include the beams that held the cooling tower up. Bits of the Pacific Northwest corner of the grid started to crash not two or three times a winter--as had long been the case-but two or three times a month. The local storms have a whole new kind of blow to them. Texas watched helplessly as its grid went down again and again, the blame falling on excessive air conditioner usage. The White House even lost power not once but twice during the Bush years (and twice since)."