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What's in Bill Gates' bookbag?

by Cheryl M | Oct 13, 2017

Photo Credit John Keatley -- Redux

"I keep thinking I should go digital sometime, but I still like to read the old-fashioned way since I write lots of notes in the margins.  I always take a big canvas tote bag of books when I go on vacation.” 

 

The richest person in the world is curious, loves to learn, and loves to read.  That’s good news.  Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft, tops the 2017 Forbes list of the world’s billionaires.  He is also great about giving away his wealth, which is more good news – fighting disease, promoting education, providing computers where there are none. As the owner of one of the first smart homes, his uber-connected mansion near Seattle, you would think Gates reads ebooks across multiple platforms.  But In a June 5, 2017, TIME magazine article, Gates says, “I keep thinking I should go digital sometime, but I still like to read the old-fashioned way since I write lots of notes in the margins.  I always take a big canvas tote bag of books when I go on vacation.”  A big canvas tote bag…he either takes long vacations or reads fast, or both. This is a man who, as a kid, read the whole set of World Book encyclopedia.

Gates praises a book loaned to him by Warren Buffett (second on Forbes list of billionaires) years ago, Business Adventures by John Brooks, as the best business book ever.  A collection of essays, the book tells of business failures and successes, like the Ford Edsel, a spectacular failure.  I agree with Gates that an award for most clever chapter name should go to, “Xerox Xerox Xerox Xerox”.

While his reading is heavy on nonfiction, “so I can keep on learning about the world”, he likes the way fiction can “take you out of your own thoughts and into someone else’s.” He teared up reading The Heart by Maylis De Kerangal, a novel about a young man whose heart is transplanted into another person.

Because of his status and connections, Gates has had the good fortune of interviewing the authors of some of his favorite books.  Check out his website to view an interview, get more book recommendations, or explore Gates’ philanthropic endeavors.

It’s exciting that such an influential person is a voracious reader.  He values learning and growing through the printed word.  As a librarian, I was excited that Gates gives some of the credit for his love of reading as a child to his elementary school librarian who introduced him to biographies of famous people throughout history.  Perhaps today, librarians are guiding tomorrow’s leaders, thinkers, and readers.


cheryl-mCheryl likes reading, bicycling, scrapbooking, travel, history, and cats. Because every life tells a story, her favorite books to read are biographies.

 

3 comments

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  1. Mary Rowe | Oct 24, 2017

    I am very touched by the fact that Bill Gates actually reads "hand held" books, as I call them. If this gentleman can influence others that there will always be a necessity for actual books on a shelf, then he has done a tremendous job for all the patrons of a library and the world.


  2. Becky | Oct 17, 2017
    Hmmm . . . I didn't get the impression that Cheryl ever questioned his reading habits.  If anything, I thought she was expressing delight that he was open about being a voracious reader and acknowledging the importance of reading.  It seems as if reading doesn't receive much press -- so it's gratifying when it does.
  3. Sharon Pugh | Oct 17, 2017
    I am surprised that you would doubt that he wasn't a voracious reader. 

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