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Bill Gates
(Photo courtesy of Gates Notes)

Bill Gates travels the world to all sorts of exotic places and probably gets to meet with pretty much anyone he might have an interest in. But through books, the Microsoft co-founder said he is truly transported.

As is the billionaire philanthropist’s custom this time of year, Gates has shared his recommendations for great books that he read over the previous 12 months, and a new blog post details five of the “amazing” titles that indulged his curiosity.

But before getting to his list, Gates managed to make it eight books he thoroughly enjoyed, by mentioning “Black Flags: The Rise of ISIS,” by Joby Warrick; “Turtles All the Way Down,” by John Green; and “The Color of Law,” by Richard Rothstein. Add those to the pile left over from the five titles he recommended back in May for summer reading.

Regardless of whether you can keep up with Gates’ pace and squeeze these into what’s left of the year before 2018 — and more new lists! — here are the five that he thinks would be great for curling up with next to the fireplace. The short synopses are all by Gates and each title links off to a longer review written by him.

Gates book recommendations
(Amazon Photos)

“The Best We Could Do,” by Thi Bui. “This gorgeous graphic novel is a deeply personal memoir that explores what it means to be a parent and a refugee. The author’s family fled Vietnam in 1978. After giving birth to her own child, she decides to learn more about her parents’ experiences growing up in a country torn apart by foreign occupiers.”

“Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City,” by Matthew Desmond. “If you want a good understanding of how the issues that cause poverty are intertwined, you should read this book about the eviction crisis in Milwaukee. Desmond has written a brilliant portrait of Americans living in poverty. He gave me a better sense of what it is like to be poor in this country than anything else I have read.”

“Believe Me: A Memoir of Love, Death, and Jazz Chickens,” by Eddie Izzard. “Izzard’s personal story is fascinating: he survived a difficult childhood and worked relentlessly to overcome his lack of natural talent and become an international star. If you’re a huge fan of him like I am, you’ll love this book. His written voice is very similar to his stage voice, and I found myself laughing out loud several times while reading it.”

“The Sympathizer,” by Viet Thanh Nguyen. “Most of the books I’ve read and movies I’ve seen about the Vietnam War focused on the American perspective. Nguyen’s award-winning novel offers much-needed insight into what it was like to be Vietnamese and caught between both sides. Despite how dark it is, The Sympathizer is a gripping story about a double agent and the trouble he gets himself into.”

“Energy and Civilization: A History,” by Vaclav Smil. “Smil is one of my favorite authors, and this is his masterpiece. He lays out how our need for energy has shaped human history – from the era of donkey- powered mills to today’s quest for renewable energy. It’s not the easiest book to read, but at the end you’ll feel smarter and better informed about how energy innovation alters the course of civilizations.”

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