In a 2016 interview at the New York Times, Bill Gates said that reading is still the "main way that I both learn new things and test my understanding." He told The Times he reads about 50 books a year.

And as most successful people will attest, Gates doesn't just read anything; he is very selective about what he reads, since books are a gateway to learning, knowledge, and success.

Gates Notes, the ambitious personal blog Gates has used to review all the books he reads, has quickly emerged as a force in the publishing industry. While his topic preference is wide and varied, you'll note an emphasis on development, poverty, disease, and education.

To make matters simple, Quartz recently compiled all 186 of the books recommended on Gates Notes, which dates back to January 2010, and organized them by topic.

While Gates has certainly read and recommended other business books, for this entry, I've highlighted every leadership and management book Gates has read and recommended on Gates Notes, as retrieved by Quartz.

1. The Myth of the Strong Leader, by Archie Brown

Renowned Oxford politics professor Archie Brown challenges the widespread belief that strong leaders--meaning those who dominate their colleagues and the policy-making process--are the most successful and admirable. Drawing on extensive research and decades of political analysis and experience, Brown illuminates the achievements, failures and foibles of a broad array of twentieth century politicians. 

2. Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, by Carol Dweck

World-renowned Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck shows how success in almost every area of human endeavor can be dramatically influenced by how we think about our talents and abilities. In his review, Gates writes, "If you mistakenly believe that your capabilities derive from DNA and destiny, rather than practice and perseverance, then you operate with what Dweck calls a 'fixed mindset' rather than a 'growth mindset.' Gates says, "One of the reasons I loved Mindset is because it's solutions-oriented." 

3. How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character, by Paul Tough

Why do some children succeed while others fail? In How Children Succeed, Paul Tough argues that the qualities that matter more have to do with character: skills like perseverance, curiosity, optimism, and self-control. While not necessarily a book review on Gates Notes, it did make Bill Gates' 2013 summer reading list.

4. The Art of Being Unreasonable: Lessons in Unconventional Thinking, by Eli Broad

Eli Broad's embrace of "unreasonable thinking" has helped him build two Fortune 500 companies, amass personal billions, and use his wealth to create a new approach to philanthropy. The book shares the "unreasonable" principles--from negotiating to risk-taking, from investing to hiring--that have made Eli Broad such a success. 

5. Measure What Matters: How Google, Bono, and the Gates Foundation Rock the World With OKRs, by John Doerr

Legendary venture capitalist John Doerr reveals how the goal-setting system of Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) has helped tech giants from Intel to Google achieve explosive growth--and how it can help any organization thrive. Gates notes, "I'd recommend John's book for anyone interested in becoming a better manager (and I'd say that even if I hadn't been interviewed for a super-nice chapter about the Gates Foundation)."

6. Change by Design: How Design Thinking Transforms Organizations and Inspires Innovation, by Tim Brown

One of ten books Gates recommended in 2014, the book introduces the idea of design thinking as a human-centered approach to problem solving that helps people and organizations become more innovative and more creative. Gates says, "So many of the women and families I meet already have the potential to lift themselves out of poverty. Design thinking reminds us that to unlock this opportunity, we have to first enlist their help."

Published on: Jun 8, 2018