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Practice Management > Building Your Business

Bill Gates’ 5 best books of 2014

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The holidays are a great time spent with the family, friends and cookies galore, but if your gift shopping list isn’t complete, there is still hope. Need a quick gift for the white elephant party at your office or for a special coworker or client? Bill Gates to the rescue!

The business magnate and Microsoft co-founder knows a thing or two about business … after all, he is the wealthiest person in the world with a net worth of $76 billion. Gates wrote about the best books he read in 2014 on his blog on GatesNotes and gave a few insights into what you might take away from each one. Three were published this year and two were not, but bear with Mr. Gates.

And while books came in fourth place as the worst gift you can give, according to a survey from Consumer Reports, so did spirits, as in whiskey, rum, vodka, etc., which came in first. And so, as always, make sure that the person who you are going to buy the gift for loves books, loves to read and can definitely take advantage of reading these five business books. Oh, and don’t forget to keep a gift receipt, just in case.

See the animated video with Legos below and read more about Gates’ picks on the next page.

1. Business Adventures

By John Brooks

Warren Buffet loaned Gates his collection of Brooks’ New Yorker business articles written from 1950s to the 1960s. “I loved them as much as he did,” Gates writes candidly on his blog. “Brooks’s insights about business have aged beautifully, and they are as true today as ever. I still go back to this book from time to time, and this year I had a chance to re-read the chapter on Xerox (which you can download free). Business Adventures is a neglected classic, and it’s still my favorite business book ever,” he wrote.

(Photo: Amazon)

2. Capital in the Twenty-First Century

By Thomas Piketty

There’s been a lot of talk about inequality this year. Gates says that he spent about an hour with Piketty talking about his book. “As I told him, although I have concerns about some of his secondary points and policy prescriptions, I agree with his most important conclusions: inequality is a growing problem and that governments should play a role in reducing it. I admire his work and hope it draws in more smart people to study the causes of, and cures for, inequality,” Gates wrote on his blog. 

(Photo: Amazon)


3. How Asia Works

By Joe Studwell

“How did countries like Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, and China achieve sustained, high growth?” Gates asks. This book has all the simple, “yet hard to execute” answers:

1) Create conditions for small farmers to thrive

2) Use the proceeds from agricultural surpluses to build a manufacturing base focused on exports

3) Nurture both these sectors with financial institutions closely controlled by the government

This book has also inspired Gates to apply some of the models via his foundation in Africa.

(Photo: Amazon)


4. The Rosie Effect

By Graeme Simsion

While this one is not really a business book, Gates seemed to fully enjoy it. It’s the follow-up to the New York Times bestselling novel The Rosie Project, and though Gates didn’t give anything away on his brief review of the book other than, “Simsion brings back some of the best characters and gags from the first novel” and how it’s a “sweet, entertaining, and thought-provoking book” about relationships, this novel deals with how the main character is going to become a father and all the shenanigans that ensue.

Another insight about this funny novel: NPR called the first book a “sparkling entertainment along the lines of Where’d You Go Bernadette and When Harry Met Sally.” So, this might be the sequel to When Harry Met Sally… or sort of.

(Photo: Amazon) 


5. Making the Modern World: Materials and Dematerialization

by Vaclav Smil


Do you like to recycle your trash, upcycle your stuff or, at least, give away the stuff that could still see some more use? Do you believe that today we’re manufacturing items with fewer materials and, therefore, using up less?

Think again. Gates says that while we are making things with less material, for example the soda cans of today are thinner and use less aluminum, which makes them cheaper, this encourages more production. “We’re using more stuff than ever,” Gates wrote. He also disclosed that Smil always makes the list of his favorite books every year.

(Photo: Amazon)

See also:

5 business books to inspire you

25 best business books: 1-25 the series


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