Bill Gates' book recommendations for 2016: Check out his top 5 picks

Gates Notes

Bill Gates, the renowned Microsoft co-founder, philanthropist and author, has been reading a book a week since he was a child. He used to pore over his parents' World Book Encyclopedias (because what kid doesn't do that?), and while we now have online courses, video lectures and podcasts, he still prefers to learn the old-fashioned way, by reading.

The computer magnate is practically a human hard drive, consuming knowledge via the written word and storing it to be used at a later date. It's served him well, too. His fortune recently surpassed the $90-billion mark, accounting for 0.5% of the United States' total gross domestic product, and it makes sense his reading habits have at least something to do with that. 

With that said, now Gates is sharing his favorite books of 2016 for your reading delight, all of which dropped him "down a rabbit hole of unexpected insights and pleasures." 

String Theory, by David Foster Wallace

Don't let the title dissuade you from picking this one up. According to Gates, "This book has nothing to do with physics, but its title will make you look super smart." Instead of tackling how particles propagate through space, String Theory is a collection of five essays on tennis.

Shoe Dog, by Phil Knight

A memoir by the co-founder of Nike, Shoe Dog gives its readers a brutally honest reflection on the path to business success, which is evidently "messy, precarious and riddled with mistakes." It's not so much a get-rich instruction manual as it is Knight's amazing tale of making it to the top.

The Gene, by Siddhartha Mukherjee

The author of The Gene is a "triple-threat" doctor who treats patients, teaches medical students and conducts research. He's also won the Pulitzer Prize. Mukherjee tackles the topic of genome science, providing a rich historical account of its progress, as well as confronting the ensuing ethical dilemmas. But fear not, Gates assures us that this book is written "for the lay audience, because [Mukherjee] knows that the new genome technologies are at the cusp of affecting us all in profound ways."

The Myth of the Strong Leader, by Archie Brown

Archie Brown has studied political leadership for over 50 years, and shares his vast knowledge on the subject to show that truly "strong leaders" aren't necessarily the ones we'd think. Instead of strong-arming, they "collaborate, delegate and negotiate — and recognize that no one person can or should have all the answers." 

The Grid, by Gretchen Bakke

Gates freely admits the topic of this book about our aging electrical gird is "mundane," but that doesn't mean it's not "actually fascinating." Granted, Gates has a particular affinity for this subject given his first job in high school "was writing software for the entity that controls the power grid in the Northwest." Even still, Gates assures this book will convince you the electrical grid is "one of the greatest engineering wonders of the modern world."

What are your favorite books of 2016?