Bill Gates recommends 2 money-related books this summer: 'I think anyone would enjoy this'

Bill Gates, co-chair of Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation attends a conversation at the 2019 New Economy Forum in Beijing, China, November 21, 2019.
Jason Lee | Reuters

If you're looking for a way to stay entertained in the sun while social distancing this Memorial Day weekend, and on into the summer, "you can't beat reading a book," says Bill Gates.

The billionaire co-founder of Microsoft shared his annual summer reading list on Monday, which includes a selection of both fiction and nonfiction. A couple of the books in particular could help guide your thinking about your career and your money, as well as about economics and business more generally. In the first, "two brilliant economists explain hot-button issues." The second is "a business book I'd actually recommend."

Here are Gates' summer reading suggestions.

'Good Economics for Hard Times,' by Abhijit V. Banerjee and Esther Duflo

Banerjee and Duflo, the authors of "Good Economics for Hard Times," won the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences last year. Gates calls the husband-and-wife team "two of the smartest economists working today," and notes that they're "very good at making economics accessible to the average person." 

The book may help you make informed financial decisions. As Gates explains in his review, Banerjee and Duflo have an expertise in microeconomics, which is a branch of the field that examines how individual people's decisions affect the broader economy. 

The authors also take on hot-button financial issues that affect everyday Americans like taxes, the job market, and income inequality. For example, Gates says, Banerjee and Duflo lay out a strong argument "for a tax system in which the rich pay more taxes than we currently do." 

"Some economists argue that there's at least one surefire way to boost an economy: cutting taxes. But Banerjee and Duflo show that even the iconic version of these cuts, the major tax reform enacted under Ronald Reagan, did little if anything to accelerate growth," says Gates. 

Reading "Good Economics for Hard Times" might help you better understand the inner workings of the U.S. economy as well as government economic policies that affect your wallet, which can be especially useful in an election year.

'The Ride of a Lifetime' by Robert Iger

In "The Ride of a Lifetime," Bob Iger, who stepped down as Disney's CEO earlier this year, writes about the lessons he learned during his 15 years as the leader of one of America's most iconic companies. 

Gates gives the New York Times-bestselling book a rave review, saying, "This is one of the best business books I've read in several years."

Iger offers anecdotes and recollections about various high-risk business decisions, like buying Pixar in in 2006 when Apple co-founder Steve Jobs was the animation company's majority owner. And Iger shares with readers the wisdom he's accumulated throughout his career with a list of "lessons to lead by."

"Normally, I am allergic to lists like this because they're so vacuous. But Iger's is quite perceptive," Gates says. One of Iger's most relatable insights that Gates found useful is Iger's choice to be "comfortable with failure — not with lack of effort, but with the fact that if you want innovation, you need to grant permission to fail." Gates says he and his wife Melinda often give team members at their Foundation the same advice. 

If you're using your time at home to reflect on your career trajectory, Gates says that "The Ride of a Lifetime" is an especially great read. Overall, though, "I think anyone would enjoy this book, whether they're looking for business insights or just want a good read by a humble guy who rose up the corporate ladder to successfully run one of the biggest companies in the world."

Other diversions Gates recommends

Gates' summer reading list also includes "The Choice," by Dr. Edith Eva Eger, an Auschwitz survivor who now works as a therapist; the novel "Cloud Atlas," by David Mitchell, which, Gates says "you'll think and talk about for a long time after you finish it;" and "The Great Influenza," by John M. Barry an account of the 1918 influenza pandemic, one of the deadliest outbreaks in history.

Gates shares some of the TV shows and movies he's been enjoying during the pandemic, too, including "A Million Little Things," "This Is Us," and "Ozark," and the movie "Spy Game" starring Robert Redford and Brad Pitt. 

To stay entertained, Gates says, he's still also playing bridge with his friend and fellow billionaire Warren Buffett using the online platform Bridge Base

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