Bill Gates Shares His Holiday Book List for 2022

And a literary scavenger hunt awaits.

By Angela Cabotaje November 21, 2022

Look at that totally not staged holiday backdrop.

Is it really even the holiday season if Bill Gates hasn't released his annual book list yet? Billionaire philanthropists who have time to read for pleasure say no. 

This year, Gates opted to pluck his recommendations from his all-time favorites rather than just books published this year. The result is a selection that's widely varied in subject matter and era, everything from a beloved middle school novel to a newly released memoir. And just like last year, there's a giveaway.

Copies of each of Gates's selections were placed in 100 Little Free Libraries across the country. Twelve of those locations are in Washington, with five in Seattle proper, one in Bellevue, one in Kirkland, one in Redmond, and one on Bainbridge. (Two spots in Bremerton and one in Enumclaw round out the lucky list.) All we can say is happy book hunting.

Stranger in a Strange Land, Robert Heinlein 

In this 1961 sci-fi book, Heinlein tells the story of Michael Valentine Smith, a human who was raised on Mars but returns to Earth as a young adult. The novel delves into the political power of religions, with Smith eventually starting his own. Gates fondly recalls bonding with Microsoft cofounder Paul Allen over books by this author, and the way they made him think about the real world. "I love sci-fi that pushes your thinking about what's possible in the future." 

Surrender, Bono 

Gates dubs this book "the best memoir by a rock star I actually know," which if you're Bill Gates, is saying something. The rock star in question is, of course, U2's frontman Bono (real name Paul Hewson), who shares stories about his upbringing in the suburbs of Dublin, the band's formation and many near-breakups, and their ongoing commitment to fighting poverty and inequity.  

Team of Rivals, Doris Kearns Goodwin 

Turns out Gates is somewhat of an Abraham Lincoln geek, and he calls Goodwin's Team of Rivals the best book he's read about our nation's 16th president. Published in 2005, it recounts Lincoln's leadership as the nation dealt with a violent insurrection and stark ideological and regional divides. Team of Rivals has renewed relevancy and insight in 2022 that Gates says "leaders can learn from today."

The Inner Game of Tennis, Robert Gallwey 

Published in 1974, Inner Game acknowledges two distinct parts to the game of tennis: the outer, mechanical part and the inner one in the mind of the player. Obviously, the themes resonate far beyond tennis and even sports into just about every aspect of life. Gates notes he still gifts this book to friends to this day.

Mendeleyev’s Dream, Paul Strathern 

How much does Gates appreciate the periodic table of elements? He has a giant version in his office with real-life representations of each element. It's easy to see why Paul Strathern's tale of how the table was created, from chemistry's alchemy roots to the final piecing together of the puzzle, made Gates's selection this year.

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