9 Book Recommendations From Billionaires Like Warren Buffett

Woman reading a book on a tablet
Photo by Dragana Gordic / Shutterstock.com

Summer’s the season we dream of all year — surely, those hazy, lazy, carefree days will allow us to 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 how to begin compiling your summer reading list? Following is a list of book recommendations from some famous faces of financial success.

Warren Buffett

If you’re interested in books that help explain how billionaires become billionaires, you might look to Warren Buffett. The billionaire investor extraordinaire and Berkshire Hathaway chairman spends about 80% of his day reading, according to Inc.

Three titles that influenced Buffett:

  1. One Thousand Ways to Make $1000: Buffett came under the spell of books early. An HBO documentary about his life reveals that 7-year-old Warren came across this 1936 book edited by F.C. Minaker and began putting the author’s ideas into practice selling things like gum, newspapers and Coca-Cola.
  2. The Intelligent Investor: At 19, Buffett came across this Benjamin Graham book, which he says kick-started him on the road to the life of investing that’s paid off so richly. Buffett has called it “by far the best book about investing ever written.”
  3. Business Adventures: Twelve Classic Tales from the World of Wall Street: In the early 1990s, fellow billionaire Bill Gates asked Buffett for his favorite business book, and the Oracle of Omaha sent the Microsoft co-founder his personal copy of this collection of articles by John Brooks. Gates, too, has called it the best business book he’s ever read.

Oprah Winfrey

Talk-show-host legend Oprah Winfrey’s on-show book club made many a book a bestseller, and many a lucky author rich. After her TV show ended, Winfrey couldn’t stay away from making reading recommendations, launching Oprah’s Book Club 2.0.

Three titles that have made Oprah’s list:

  1. Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail : Cheryl Strayed’s memoir helped kick off a resurgence of interest in hiking America’s Pacific Crest Trail (and a film starring Reese Witherspoon). 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.
  2. The Underground Railroad: Colson Whitehead’s 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.
  3. Behold the Dreamers: A Novel: Imbolo Mbue’s debut novel tells the story of a young Cameroonian couple making a new life in New York City just as the recession hits. “It’s got everything that’s grabbing the headlines in America right now,” Winfrey said of the book in 2017. “It’s about race and class, the economy, culture, immigration and the danger of the us-versus-them mentality.”

Bill Gates

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates has been publishing summer book lists — and other book lists — for years. But don’t worry, Gates’ lists aren’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 has recommended:

  1. Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood: Are you a fan of Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show”? Gates loved this memoir by the show’s current host, Trevor Noah. He was born in apartheid-era South Africa, where his existence was a crime, because his white father and black mother weren’t legally allowed to have a mixed-race relationship.
  2. Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis: Gates’ privileged childhood was light years away from the world of author J.D. Vance, whose bestseller takes a provocative look at the struggles of America’s white working class.
  3. A Full Life: Reflections at Ninety: This memoir by President Jimmy Carter 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.

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