Friday, August 7, 2015

Summer Reading lists from People who Ought to Know

Summer Reading lists from People who Ought to Know

Bill Gates kindly put his suggestions for summer reading on his blog.  Thanks to Matt

Krantz for reporting this.

Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh. This book collects short stories from the author’s early life. Gates says it’s a quick read, “but you’ll wish it went on longer, because it’s funny and smart as hell.”
The Magic of Reality by Richard Dawkins. Huge questions, like “how did the universe form?” are tackled in a readable and engaging way. “It’s also a plea for readers of all ages to approach mysteries with rigor and curiosity,” Gates says.
What If? by Randall Munroe. The author tackles answering reader questions on everything from physics to chemistry and biology. “Munroe’s explanations are funny, but the science underpinning his answers is very accurate,” Gates writes.
XKCD by Randall Munroe. Another collection of items – this time comics from the author’s blog poking fun at computers and scientists to name a few … but also journalists. “The last panel is all the reporters dead on the floor because they ate arsenic. It’s that kind of humor, which not everybody loves, but I do,” Gates says.
On Immunity by Eula Biss. A “pleasure” to read, says Gates, features the misinformation that cause some parents to fear vaccinations.
How to Lie with Statistics by Darrell Huff. This book, first published in 1954, highlights how data can actually mask the truth. “A timely reminder, given how often infographics show up in your Facebook and Twitter feeds these days,” Gates writes.
Should We Eat Meat? by Vaclav Smil. Gates himself has been writing about the virtues for sustainability by shifting away from animal production for meat. This book by an author he often refers to, builds the case. “I’m betting on innovation, including higher agricultural productivity and the development of meat substitutes, to help the world meet its need for meat. A timely book, though probably the least beach-friendly one on this list.”

As posted by Kate Torgovnick May, Dave Isay of StoryCorps, the winner of the 2015 TED Prize, has centered his life around the art of the interview — where stories of everyday individuals are surfaced and the gift of listening is given. His recommendations, naturally, gravitate toward magical conversations:
Up in the Old Hotel by Joseph Mitchell. “The astounding collection of profiles from a legendary The New Yorker writer. Too many good stories to list, but I named my daughter after ‘Mazie,’ his profile of the foul-mouthed ticket taker/bouncer/angel of a low-rent movie theatre catering to homeless men in New York.”
They Called Me Mayer July: Painted Memories of a Jewish Childhood in Poland Before the Holocaust by Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett and Mayer Kirshenblatt. “Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett spent forty years interviewing her father about the Polish town where he grew up. After decades of prodding, Mayer — a retired house painter — picked up a brush and began painting his memories of the town as well. The book creates a singular portrait of a world wiped off the face of the earth.”
Maus: A Survivor’s Tale by Art Spiegelman. “In this graphic novel — one of the greatest works of the twentieth century, in my opinion — Spiegelman interviews his father about living through the Holocaust.”
The Bridge: The Building of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge by Gay Talese. “An ode to the men who built the Verrazano-Narrows, it centers around the question, ‘Who are the high-wire walkers wearing boots and hard hats, earning their living by risking their lives in places where falls are often fatal and where the bridges and skyscrapers are looked upon as sepulchers by the families and coworkers of the deceased?’”
Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson. “I’m currently reading this autobiography. As Bryan Stevenson said in his TED Talk: ‘We will ultimately not be judged by our technology; we won’t be judged by our design; we won’t be judged by our intellect and reason. Ultimately, you judge the character of a society by how they treat the poor, the condemned, the incarcerated.’ This book is not to be missed.”
The Four Things That Matter Most: A Book About Living by Ira Byock. “A small, beautiful book which reminds us to say the important things we want to say to the people we care about.”



  1. What wonderful reading tastes you have, Warren! Thank you for the introduction to the Gay Talese book. I have very, very vague memories of the Verazzano Narrows bridge when it was new. I can only imagaine how Mr. Talese handles the story of that bridge. It was a wonder in it's time. Now I'm going to see if the book accords with any of my memories.

  2. Warren, right now I'm reading TEAM OF RIVALS by Doris Kearns Goodwin downstairs which I'm finding fascinating, and two mysteries upstairs. I'm rereading Margaret Maron's Judge Deborah Knott series that I read years ago. I have some of her newer mysteries in the series, but wanted to refresh my memory of what had happened before.