Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft, is a voracious reader. He usually publishes book recommendations on his social networks and last week he dedicated a video to Numbers don’t lie, from the Czech-Canadian scientist Vaclav Smil . Why do you recommend it?
First of all, because it says it’s the book “more accessible” of which he is his favorite writer today. “Vaclav Smil’s books are incredible. They give you a very deep understanding of how civilization develops”Explains Gates.
“Here in this book, ‘Numbers Don’t Lie,’ the author summarized 71 things you need to know about the world. It is the largest amount of information that put in a book, and yet probably the most digestible, ”continues Gates.
Among these “things”, Bill Gates was struck by the issue of using energy to build batteries. “One of the best is the battery. He explains that to keep the electrical system reliable it will be very difficult if we only have climate-dependent sources such as solar and wind, ”says Gates.
Another case it takes is the reduction in alcohol consumption. “This was impressive to me. How much wine were people drinking in 1850 vs. 2020? It’s pretty constant from 1850 to 1950, but French wine consumption is now a third of what it was in 1950. That’s surprising to me, ”Gates says.
Another point he deals with: “The whole thing about the humans who came down from the trees to chase the herbivorous animals. Our endurance comes from running on two legs and the ability to sweat, and that allows us to run through these rich sources of protein, which allow our brain to develop, to improve social behaviors that make us even more effective at being hunters- collectors. It’s super new, and something unusual, “he says.
Per capita consumption of wine. Photo Capture from YouTube
Gates thus recommends the book by Smil, Professor Emeritus of the Faculty of Environment at the University of Manitoba in Canada.
The book is available in Argentina but at a high price: about 6 thousand pesos.
50 books per year: how do you read so much and how do you remember what you read?
Many of the most successful entrepreneurs are known to be voracious readers. Bill Gates is a book “killing” machine: read about 50 books a year and it has its own methodology for remembering what is written on those pages.
Then, How does the book-loving billionaire remember what he reads?
The trick, he says, is the context.
“If you read enough, there is a similarity between the things that make it easy, why this is like the other. If you have a wide frame, then you have a place to put everything, ”Gates says in a Quartz video titled “How Bill Gates remembers what he reads.”
When you come to a topic with a basic level of understanding, including new bits of information makes them easier to remember.
“So incremental knowledge is much easier to maintain in a rich way,” says Gates. “At first it is very discouraging, but then as you get the kind of scope, all these pieces fit together. “
If you want to learn about science, for example, Gates says that reading the history of scientists and reading about the progress they made can give you the context or framework to help you remember the details.
“Then you have the timeline, or you have the map or you have the branches of science and what is known and what is not known, “says Gates in the Quartz interview.
Books recommended by Bill Gates. Bill Gates Photo Blog
Reading is more than a hobby for Gates. In 2017, Gates told Time that reading is “absolutely” essential for success.
“You don’t really start to get old until you stop learning”Gates told Time. “Each book teaches me something new or helps me see things differently. I was lucky to have parents who encouraged me to read. Reading fuels a sense of curiosity about the world, which I think helped me advance in my career and in the work I do now with my foundation ”.
Gates is quite demanding in his reading habits: he always finishes a book that he begins, whether he agrees or not.
“I refuse to stop reading a book in the middle, even if I don’t like it,” Gates told Time. “And the more I dislike a book, the more time I spend writing side notes.. That means that sometimes I spend more time reading a book that I cannot bear than a book that I love, ”he said.
And if the material you are reading does not make sense within your current understanding of a topic, you will actively seek an explanation.
“So it’s fun to say, okay, this is where this belongs and does this contradict something I knew before? And you better look it up, you better find out, ”Gates told Quartz.