The list, includes four top choices and one honorable mention. Siddhartha Mukherjee's The Gene is on there. Mukherjee, who is as Gates notes a quadruple threat in that he's a physician, teacher, and researcher who also just happens to have won a Pulitzer Prize for a previous book, The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer.
In his newer work, Mukherjee takes the reader through the history, present, and future world of genome science, and doesn't shy away from ethical issues, said Gates, the co-founder of Microsoft (msft) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
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Then there's The Myth of the Strong Leader, by Archie Brown, an Oxford University scholar who studied political leadership for decades. Among his findings, per Gates, is that the leaders who've made the biggest impact on history are not those who were perceived to be strong, but rather those who "collaborate, delegate, and negotiate."
David Foster Wallace's String Theory, a collection of essays about tennis also made the cut. Wallace, who died eight years ago at the age of 46, "found mind-blowing ways of bending language like a metal spoon," Gates wrote.
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And honorable mention goes to: The Grid, by Gretchen Bakke, which details the venerable (read: old) electrical grid that powers our world. Even if you don't dwell on how your laptop charges, Gates thinks this book will make you realize that modernizing the grid is a critical priority for our age.