What Bill Gates and Other Billionaires Recommend You Read

You probably can't join their yacht club, but you can join their book club

Summer’s the season we dream of all year — surely, now’s the time we can somehow wring out more time to read. Whether it’s a frothy paperback smudged with Coppertone and savored on a sandy beach or an electronic thriller that soothes your nerves through turbulence at 33,000 feet, summertime is reading time.

Not sure where to begin? Here’s a list of book recommendations from four famous faces of financial success. If it’s good enough for Oprah…

Bill Gates

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Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates has been publishing his summer book lists since 2012, and says “sometimes I can get in as much as a book a day.” But don’t worry, Gates’ list isn’t full of clunky textbooks required for a computer-science degree. He’s chosen some mainstream and thought-provoking reads. Here are three memoirs Gates recommends:

Are you a fan of Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show”? Gates loved host Trevor Noah’s memoir, Born a Crime. Noah was born in 1984 in apartheid-era South Africa, where his existence literally was a crime, because his white father and black mother weren’t legally allowed to have a mixed-race relationship.

Gates’ privileged childhood as the son of a prominent lawyer in Seattle was light years away from the world of author J.D. Vance’s family in impoverished Appalachia. Vance’s best-selling “Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis” takes a provocative look at a region that’s poorly understood both outside and inside its borders.

Another memoir makes Gates’ list: Jimmy Carter’s “A Full Life: Reflections at 90,” which offers a richly detailed sweep through the former president’s full and happy life. “The book will help you understand how growing up in rural Georgia in a house without running water, electricity, or insulation shaped — for better and for worse — his time in the White House,” Gates writes.

Warren Buffett

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If you’re interested in books that help explain how billionaires become billionaires, you might look to Gates’ good pal and fellow billionaire Warren Buffett, who spends about 80 percent of his day reading, according to Inc.

The chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, now 86, came under the spell of books early. An HBO documentary about his life reveals that a 7-year-old Warren came across a 1936 book called “One Thousand Ways to Make $1000by Frances Minaker and immediately began putting the author’s ideas into practice, selling things like gum, newspapers and Coca-Cola.

At 19, Buffett came across Benjamin Graham’s The Intelligent Investor, which he says kickstarted him on the road to investing that’s paid off so richly. “This book precisely and clearly prescribes the proper framework,” Buffett said of the work. He’s called it “by far the best book about investing ever written.”

Turns out even Gates himself turns to Buffett for book recommendations. Gates told the Wall Street Journal that back in 1991 he asked for Buffett’s favorite business book, and the Oracle of Omaha sent the Microsoft co-founder his personal copy of Business Adventures: Twelve Classic Tales from the World of Wall Street, a 1969 collection of New Yorker articles by John Brooks.

Oprah Winfrey

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Talk-show-host legend Oprah Winfrey’s on-show book club has made many a best-seller, and many a lucky author rich. After the show ended, Winfrey couldn’t stay away from reading recommendations, launching Oprah’s Book Club 2.0. She also recommends books on her website and in O magazine.

Back in 2012, Winfrey kicked off the second version of her book club with Cheryl Strayed’s “Wild,” which in turn helped kick off a resurgence of interest in hiking America’s 2,659-mile-long Pacific Crest Trail. Strayed’s divorce, the death of her mother, and her own drug issues had thrown her life off track, but the challenging and dangerous hike brought her back in tune with herself.

Last fall, Winfrey chose Colson Whitehead’s “The Underground Railroad.The Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award-winning novel turns America’s famed network of secret escape routes for slaves into a real, physical railroad, with conductors and stations. “Oh, have I found a great book!” Winfrey said of the choice.

Winfrey’s most recent pick, for June 2017, is “Behold the Dreamers” by Imbolo Mbue. The debut novel tells the story of a young Cameroonian couple making a new life in New York just as the recession hits. “It’s got everything that’s grabbing the headlines in America right now,” Winfrey said on her site. “It’s about race and class, the economy, culture, immigration and the danger of the us-versus-them mentality.”

Mark Zuckerberg

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The Facebook founder loves reading so much he founded his own book club, A Year of Books, in 2015, recommending a book every two weeks to his millions of followers. His entire list is still online, but here are three favorites:

Dealing With China: An Insider Unmasks The New Economic Superpower,” by Henry M. Paulson Jr., focuses on the author’s experience working with Chinese leaders over two decades as U.S. Secretary of the Treasury and as head of Goldman Sachs. “I’ve been personally interested as a student of Chinese culture, history and language,” Zuckerberg wrote.

Zuckerberg has the kind of money most people can’t imagine, but he’s also interested in those at the other end of the economic spectrum. “Portfolios of the Poor: How the World’s Poor Live on $2 a Day,” by Daryl Collins, Jonathan Morduch, Stuart Rutherford, and Orlanda Ruthven, delves into the world of the 40 percent of humanity that live on just $2 or less per day. “I hope reading this provides some insight into ways we can all work to support them better as well,” Zuckerberg wrote.

Who doesn’t love Pixar’s animated — yet never childish — movies? Zuckerberg recommends Pixar founder Ed Catmull’s “Creativity, Inc: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration.” It’s a behind-the-Buzz-Lightyear look at one of America’s most creative companies, and how it nurtures innovation and creativity. To infinity, and beyond!

What inspirational — or fun — books do you have on your summer reading list? Share with us in comments below or on our Facebook page.

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