As part of a string of tweets packed with useful advice for new college graduates, the philanthropist and former chief executive of Microsoft told his Twitter followers that if he could "give each of [them] a graduation present" he would give them copies of The Better Angels of Our Nature: A History of Violence and Humanity by Steven Pinker.
The book, which was shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize in 2012, an annual British prize for the best non-fiction writing in the English language, is described as a history of violence and humanity. Pinker's publisher, Penguin, states on its website that the book "argues that, contrary to popular belief, humankind has become progressively less violent, over millennia and decades."
Since Gates posted his series of tweets yesterday, the book has surged in popularity, moving into Amazon's Movers & Shakers chart—a collection of the company's biggest gainers in sales rank over the past 24 hours. The book has increased in popularity by 3,301%, moving from position 4,116 in the sales chart to number 121 at the time of writing. "[Steven Pinker] shows how the world is getting better. Sounds crazy, but it’s true. This is the most peaceful time in human history," Gates wrote.
As well as recommending college graduates to read Pinker's bestseller, Gates advised them: "Surround yourself with people who challenge you, teach you, and push you to be your best self." ("As Melinda Gates does for me," he added.) He also revealed that if he was starting out today, he would work in artificial intelligence, energy, or biosciences, which he described as "promising fields where you can make a huge impact."