These five books kept Bill Gates up reading long past the time when he should have gone to sleep

Microsoft co-founder, Bill Gates has confessed that some five books kept him reading long past the time when he should have gone to sleep.

The billionaire had once disclosed that he tries to get in seven hours of sleep a night. This he said helped him to stay creative.

However, some five books have made him broke his routine and stayed up long hours reading them.

There’s no science or maths to his selection process. The books are “all simply ones that I loved and made me think in new ways,” he said.


Here are the five books according to Bill Gates that kept him reading long past the time when he should have gone to sleep.

1. “The Vital Question” by Nick Lane

“The Vital Question” explores the relationships between energy and genes. Despite its broad scope, the book’s fundamental interest also happens to be one of science’s greatest mysteries: How did life on Earth begin?

Lane, a biochemist, does an excellent job of illuminating and breaking down the complexities of biology. “He’s so intriguing,” Gates says in the video. “He seems to be the first guy who has looked into certain weird things about the mitochondria and has all sorts of ideas about diseases that really bear looking into.”

2. “Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind” by Yuval Noah Harari


Gates isn’t the only person who enjoyed “Sapiens.” The book received a rating of 4.5 out of five stars (based on more than 500 reviews) on Google Play Books. Harari, a historian and philosopher, takes a look at the many possible reasons why Homo sapiens are so successful.

While Gates found things to disagree with — “especially Harari’s claims that humans were better off before we started farming,” he admits that the book gives us a better “understanding of what it means to be human.” (Barack Obama and Mark Zuckerberg also included “Sapiens” in their lists of favourites.)

3. “How to Not Be Wrong: The Power of Mathematical Thinking” by Jordan Ellenberg

Ultimately, Gates says, this book is “a series of stories about how a lot of the apparently non-mathematical systems that underpin our daily lives are actually deeply mathematical, and people couldn’t develop them until they started asking the right questions.”

You don’t have to love math to enjoy “How to Not Be Wrong.” For what sounds like a potentially boring read, Gates praises Ellenberg’s ability to write about a complicated subject in a way that’s “funny, smooth and accessible.”


4. “The Power to Compete: An Economist and an Entrepreneur on Revitalizing Japan in the Global Economy” by Ryoichi and Hiroshi Mikitani

This book is centrally about Japanese economic prosperity from the perspectives of an economist and an entrepreneur. The authors, a father-son duo, examine the country’s core issues (i.e., it's economy, education system, public infrastructure) and explore different solutions that could lead to revitalization.

It makes sense to see “The Power to Compete” on Gates’ list of must-reads: “I’ve had a soft spot for Japan that dates back three decades or so when I first travelled there for Microsoft,” he says.

5. “Seveneves” by Neal Stephenson

“Seveneves” begins with a catastrophic event: The moon just exploded, what happens next? In a race against time, global leaders work together to save humanity by launching spacecraft beyond our atmosphere. This one is quite a gem, considering that you won’t find a ton of hard sci-fi novels on any of Gates’ book lists.


Unfortunately, neither Jeff Bezos nor Elon Musk makes an appearance, but Gates still calls it a “magnificent” and “visionary” read.


Unblock notifications in browser settings.

Eyewitness? Submit your stories now via social or: