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Jun 19, 2017 01:28 PM IST

Hot cup of tea and a book: Bill Gates wants you to read these five books this season

The books will make the reader think about how our experiences shape us and where humanity might be headed.

Microsoft founder Bill Gates has released the list of his 5 best summer reads. With the monsoons setting in this part of the world, Gates’ recommendations are a perfect accompaniment to your cup of tea on a rainy day.

The books are mainly a collection of memoirs which follow the lives of a child of mixed race in apartheid South Africa, a young man trying to escape his impoverished life in rural Appalachia, and the son of a peanut farmer in Plains, Georgia. The selection draws on stories that throw its readers in lives that have been lived on the fringes of the mainstream.

The books will make the reader think about how our experiences shape us and where humanity might be headed.

The Heart, by Maylis de Kerangal:

The only fiction title in Gates' list, the author tells the story of a heart transplant that follows after the death of a young man in an accident. The plot melts away as de Kerangal encourages deep human connections with her characters through her language, reminding the reader that everyone else has lives as full one’s self.

For example, de Kerangal goes on for pages about the girlfriend of the surgeon who does the transplant even though the reader never meets that character. The book deals with grief and how it feels to have to change your life suddenly because somebody who was in it isn’t in it anymore. It forces the reader to feel the depth of that grief, which is the root of empathy.

Born a Crime, by Trevor Noah:

The book is a memoir about how the host of the Daily Show used his outsider status to gain his acceptance with the rest of the world.

Born to a black South African mother and a white Swiss father in apartheid South Africa, he entered the world as a biracial child in a country where mixed-race relationships were forbidden. His flair for languages (he knows English, Afrikaans, Xhosa, Zulu, Tsonga, Tswana, German and Spanish) got him to change his perceptions of his mixed race.

Despite being a heart-breaking story, Gate’s identifies Noah’s mother as the true hero of the story, who taught him to think for himself, and have a unique perspective of the world around him. The Daily Show host does so, and shares it with a comic flair.

Hillbilly Elegy, by J.D. Vance: The book is a memoir of a self-made man from a disadvantaged family. The narrator was raised by volatile grandparents and was consigned to a life of hopelessness and poverty.

However, through the grit and the love and support of family , the narrator manages to get past his class barriers, only to become a lawyer from Yale University, and offered six-figure sums. It is told with a vulnerability that Gates notes as brave.

Homo Deus, by Yuval Noah Harari:

A follow-up to the title Sapiens, Harari’s brings our attention to our shedding away our religious rules, and are achieving our earthly goals like getting rid of sickness, hunger, and war, which historically are at an all-time low. Thus, society in the 21st century would need new ways to fulfill man’s need for meaning in life.

Harari suggests a bleak scenario where artificial intelligence would rise to serve the elite, rendering the rest of humanity inconsequential. Agree or disagree, it will get one to think to abut the future, and by extension, about the present.

A Full Life, by Jimmy Carter:

The book is on a farmboy’s unexpected rise to the world’s highest office. Jimmy Carter, along with President Harry Truman is the symbol for the American Dream where anyone can fulfill their highest ambitions if they can match it up with the hard work, dedication and grit.

Gates finds A Full Life to be a timely read in an era when the public’s confidence in national political figures and institutions is low. The book tells incidences in Carter’s life which show his discipline, his focus and his dedication in serving humanity.
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