In January 2015, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg made it his mission to read one book roughly every two weeks. He called it A Year of Books.
The goal was to learn more about the world and humanity’s place in it, so he set about recommending books on culture, history, and science. Many of his recommendations spanned the entirety of human history, ranging from topics like the history of violence to evolution to artificial intelligence.
We’ve rounded up the books on science Zuckerberg thinks everyone should read.
‘Sapiens’ by Yuval Noah Harari
We weren’t always the only species of human on Earth. Roughly 100,000 years ago, there were actually six varieties of people, but homo sapiens were the only ones who made it to the future. How come?
“When I read ‘Sapiens,’ I found the chapter on the evolution of the role of religion in human life most interesting and something I wanted to go deeper on,” Zuckerberg wrote on his Facebook page.
In “Sapiens,” Harari looks toward a future in which genetic engineering and artificial intelligence make our definition of “human” even more fluid.
‘On Immunity’ by Eula Biss
The anti-vaxxer movement sweeping across the US and Europe prompted Biss, a non-fiction writer, to investigate the benefits of vaccination.
Zuckerberg wrote that public-health workers recommended “On Immunity” to him, given all the science in favor of vaccinations. As vaccines lead to individuals contracting fewer infectious diseases, herd immunity kicks in and communities as a whole enjoy greater health.
“This book explores the reasons why some people question vaccines, and then logically explains why the doubts are unfounded and vaccines are in fact effective and safe,” he wrote.
‘The Player of Games’ by Iain M. Banks
Banks’ 1988 science-fiction novel “The Player of Games” isn’t exactly a science book, but it imagines what would happen if humanity conquered the galaxy and enjoyed untold wealth and pleasure thanks to super-intelligent robotics.
Not a huge fan of sci-fi — perhaps since the genre sometimes avoids scientific rigor — Zuckerberg picked the title as a “change of pace,” he wrote on Facebook.
Zuckerberg isn’t alone in the recommendation. Tesla CEO Elon Musk has also said he recommends “The Player of Games” for its forward-thinking application of imaginary technology.