Bill Gates has released his annual list of recommended holiday reading, highlighting books on racism, medicine and history.
“In tough times—and there’s no doubt that 2020 qualifies as tough times—those of us who love to read turn to all kinds of different books,” the Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist wrote on his blog. “Here are five books on a variety of subjects that I’d recommend as we wrap up 2020.”
Gates recommended Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, which he says made him “more convinced than ever that we need a more just approach to sentencing and more investment in communities of color.”
He also praised Bijal P. Trivedi’s Breath from Salt: A Deadly Genetic Disease, a New Era in Science, and the Patients and Families Who Changed Medicine, about a breakthrough in the treatment of cystic fibrosis patients. “This story is especially meaningful to me because I know families who’ve benefited from the new medicines described in this book,” Gates wrote.
Gates had kind words for Erik Larson’s The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz, writing, “Its scope is too narrow to be the only book you ever read on World War II, but it’s a great addition to the literature focused on that tragic period.”
Rounding out his list were Ben Macintyre’s The Spy and the Traitor: The Greatest Espionage Story of the Cold War and David Epstein’s Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World.
“I hope you find something that helps you—or the book lover in your life—finish the year on a good note,” Gates wrote.
Michael Schaub is a Texas-based journalist and regular contributor to NPR.