Bill Gates thinks every student should read this book

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Once upon a time, Bill Gates was a hard-nosed businessman. Since stepping down as the CEO of Microsoft in 2000, he has reemerged as a thoughtful philanthropist. And his reading recommendations for students reflect this change: In a post on Twitter aimed at 2017 graduates, he recommended a book all students should read. It wasn’t about business, or how to make your fortune or even investing wisely. It was a psychology book entitled “The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined.”

The book, which was published in 2011, was written by Harvard psychologist Steven A. Pinker and, surprisingly, presents a rosier outlook on our world than you might expect. According to The New York Times, the book attempts to explain why “our era is less violent, less cruel and more peaceful than any previous period of human existence,” despite headlines and conventional wisdom that scream the opposite.

“That matters,” Gates wrote in his Twitter thread, “because if you think the world is getting better, you want to spread the progress to more people and places.”

Gates admitted in his Tweet that he wished he had understood inequality in the world sooner and that “intelligence takes many different forms.”

“It is not one-dimensional,” he wrote. “And not as important as I used to think.”

He also suggested to recent graduates that they pursue careers in artificial intelligence, energy and bioscience. And if Gates says that’s the route to take, it seems like a pretty good idea to listen.

But back to the book, Gates tweeted, “If I could give each of you a graduation present, it would be this—the most inspiring book I’ve ever read.” Obviously, the book’s sales are surging: It currently sits at the No. 2 spot for Amazon’s “Top 20 Most Sold & Most Read Books of the Week” in the nonfiction category.

In his Twitter post, Gates writes, “[Pinker] shows how the world is getting better. Sounds crazy, but it’s true. This is the most peaceful time in human history.”

“It doesn’t mean you ignore the serious problems we face. It just means you believe they can be solved,” he continues. “This is the core of my worldview. It sustains me in tough times and is the reason I love my work. I think it can do same for you.”

We don’t know about you, but we might have to go pick up a copy of this book. If  Gates recommends it, it has to be worth the read.

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About the Author
Jessica Suss
Current high-school English teacher, native Chicagoan, and nut butter enthusiast moonlighting as a writer.

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