Bill Gates, philanthropist and co-founder of Microsoft, has a summer reading list for interested parties, and the theme, somewhat unsurprisingly, is math and science. "The following five books are simply ones that I loved, made me think in new ways, and kept me up reading long past when I should have gone to sleep," Gates wrote in his blog post.
  1. Seveneves by Neal Stephenson
    A science fiction book about how people unite to save the human race after figuring out a meteor shower will wipe out all life on Earth in only two years. Gates said the book inspired him to rekindle his sci-fi habit, finding the novel to be a "thought-provoking" and enjoyable technical piece.
  2. How Not to Be Wrong by Jordan Ellenberg
    "On the surface it’s about math, but it’s really about how much math plays into our daily lives without our even knowing it," Gates wrote in his review. In a series of stories about how seemingly non-mathematical things are actually truly mathematical, Ellenberg set out to write about very complicated and cutting-edge thinking for a general audience. As Gates describes it, Ellenberg, a mathematics professor at the University of Wisconsin Madison, ended up writing a "love letter to math."
  3. The Vital Question by Nick Lane
    In a book about biology, biochemist Lane ventures to explain the importance of energy in all living things. "He argues that we can only understand how life began, and how living things got so complex, by understanding how energy works," Gates writes. "Even if the details of Nick’s work turn out to be wrong, I suspect his focus on energy will be seen as an important contribution to our understanding of where we come from."
  4. The Power to Compete by Ryoichi Mikitani and Hiroshi Mikitani
    Wrapped inside conversations between a father and son — late economist Ryoichi Mikitani and his son Hiroshi Mikitani, the founder of the internet company Rakuten — The Power to Compete is a look at the future of Japan and whether the company that has piqued Gates's interest for some time can make a comeback.
  5. Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Noah Yuval Harari
    In 400 pages, Israeli historian Harari tells the entire history of the human race. Gates found it to be a "provocative" account raising many questions about the history of human existence on Earth, focusing on "the power of stories and myths to bring people together": "Although I found things to disagree with—especially Harari’s claim that humans were better off before we started farming—I would recommend Sapiens to anyone who’s interested in the history and future of our species."