Bill Gates, the former CEO of Microsoft, has said he breezes through about 50 books a year — or about a book a week.
Most of the books are nonfiction. But Gates recommends the few fictional books with as much enthusiasm as the history or science books he loves so much.
Here are the novels he thinks everyone should read.
“Seveneves” by Neal Stephenson
After a science-fiction dry spell of more than a decade, Gates picked up “Seveneves” on a friend’s recommendation, and he says he’s grateful for it. “The plot gets going in the first sentence, when the moon blows up,” he wrote on his blog.
But that’s only the beginning. The world soon learns the entire species is doomed: In two years’ time, a cataclysmic meteor shower will destroy all life on the pale blue dot. It’s up to humanity to send as many spacecraft into orbit as possible with the hope of escaping the apocalypse.
“You might lose patience with all the information you’ll get about space flight,” Gates writes, “but I loved the technical details.”
‘The Heart’ by Maylis de Kerangal
Though it may be a novel, “The Heart” is about as close to creative nonfiction as fiction gets, Gates says.
The story involves a man dying in an accident, after which his parents decide to donate his heart. “But the plot is secondary to the strength of its words and characters,” Gates wrote on his blog. “The book uses beautiful language to connect you deeply with people who may be in the story for only a few minutes.”
The recommendation is courtesy of his wife Melinda, he says, and now he’s passing it along to the public.
‘The Rosie Project’ by Graeme Simsion
A recommendation from Melinda, “The Rosie Project” offered Gates the chance to introspect a bit.
“Anyone who occasionally gets overly logical will identify with the hero, a genetics professor with Asperger’s Syndrome who goes looking for a wife,” he wrote on his blog. “(Melinda thought I would appreciate the parts where he’s a little too obsessed with optimizing his schedule. She was right.)”
Gates called the book “clever, funny, and moving,” and even remarked that it was one of the most profound novels he’s read in a long time.