6 books to enjoy this winter
6 Books | by Bill Gates
An American Marriage
'Tayari Jones is blessed with vision to see through to the surprising and devastating truths at the heart of ordinary lives, strength to wrest those truths free, and a gift of language to lay it all out, compelling and clear.' - Michael Chabon, author of The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay 'An American Marriage is a stunning, epic love story filled with breathtaking twists and turns, while bursting with realized and unrealized dreams.' - Edwidge Danticat, author of Breath, Eyes, Memory 'An American Marriage asks hard questions about injustice and betrayal, and answers them with a heartbreaking and genuinely suspenseful love story in which nobody's wrong and everybody's wounded.' - Tom Perrotta, author of Little Children Newlyweds, Celestial and Roy, are the embodiment of both the American Dream and the New South. He is a young executive and she is an artist on the brink of an exciting career. They are settling into the routine of their life together, when they are ripped apart by circumstances neither could have imagined. Roy is arrested and sentenced to twelve years for a crime Celestial knows he didn't commit. Though fiercely independent, Celestial finds herself bereft and unmoored, taking comfort in Andre, her childhood friend, and best man at their wedding. As Roy's time in prison passes, she is unable to hold on to the love that has been her center. After five years, Roy's conviction is suddenly overturned, and he returns to Atlanta ready to resume their life together. This stirring love story is a deeply insightful look into the hearts and minds of three people who are at once bound and separated by forces beyond their control. An American Marriage is a masterpiece of storytelling, an intimate look into the souls of people who must reckon with the past while moving forward - with hope and pain - into the future.
Bill said: A moving look at how incarceration changes relationships.
These Truths: A History of the United States
In the most ambitious one-volume American history in decades, award-winning historian and New Yorker writer Jill Lepore offers a magisterial account of the origins and rise of a divided nation, an urgently needed reckoning with the beauty and tragedy of American history. Written in elegiac prose, Lepore’s groundbreaking investigation places truth itself—a devotion to facts, proof, and evidence—at the center of the nation’s history. The American experiment rests on three ideas—"these truths," Jefferson called them—political equality, natural rights, and the sovereignty of the people. And it rests, too, on a fearless dedication to inquiry, Lepore argues, because self-government depends on it. But has the nation, and democracy itself, delivered on that promise? These Truths tells this uniquely American story, beginning in 1492, asking whether the course of events over more than five centuries has proven the nation’s truths, or belied them. To answer that question, Lepore traces the intertwined histories of American politics, law, journalism, and technology, from the colonial town meeting to the nineteenth-century party machine, from talk radio to twenty-first-century Internet polls, from Magna Carta to the Patriot Act, from the printing press to Facebook News. Along the way, Lepore’s sovereign chronicle is filled with arresting sketches of both well-known and lesser-known Americans, from a parade of presidents and a rogues’ gallery of political mischief makers to the intrepid leaders of protest movements, including Frederick Douglass, the famed abolitionist orator; William Jennings Bryan, the three-time presidential candidate and ultimately tragic populist; Pauli Murray, the visionary civil rights strategist; and Phyllis Schlafly, the uncredited architect of modern conservatism. Americans are descended from slaves and slave owners, from conquerors and the conquered, from immigrants and from people who have fought to end immigration. "A nation born in contradiction will fight forever over the meaning of its history," Lepore writes, but engaging in that struggle by studying the past is part of the work of citizenship. "The past is an inheritance, a gift and a burden," These Truths observes. "It can’t be shirked. There’s nothing for it but to get to know it."
Bill said: The most honest and unflinching account of US history I've ever read.
Why We Sleep
A New York Times bestseller and international sensation, this “stimulating and important book” (Financial Times) from the director of UC Berkeley’s Center for Human Sleep Science is a fascinating dive into the purpose and power of slumber. As the Guardian said, Walker explains “how a good night's shut-eye can make us cleverer, more attractive, slimmer, happier, healthier, and ward off cancer.” With two appearances on CBS This Morning and Fresh Air's most popular interview of 2017, Matthew Walker has made abundantly clear that sleep is one of the most important but least understood aspects of our life. Until very recently, science had no answer to the question of why we sleep, or what good it served, or why we suffer such devastating health consequences when it is absent. Compared to the other basic drives in life—eating, drinking, and reproducing—the purpose of sleep remains more elusive. Within the brain, sleep enriches a diversity of functions, including our ability to learn, memorize, and make logical decisions. It recalibrates our emotions, restocks our immune system, fine-tunes our metabolism, and regulates our appetite. Dreaming creates a virtual reality space in which the brain melds past and present knowledge, inspiring creativity. In this “compelling and utterly convincing” (The Sunday Times) book, preeminent neuroscientist and sleep expert Matthew Walker provides a revolutionary exploration of sleep, examining how it affects every aspect of our physical and mental well-being. Charting the most cutting-edge scientific breakthroughs, and marshalling his decades of research and clinical practice, Walker explains how we can harness sleep to improve learning, mood and energy levels, regulate hormones, prevent cancer, Alzheimer’s and diabetes, slow the effects of aging, and increase longevity. He also provides actionable steps towards getting a better night’s sleep every night. Clear-eyed, fascinating, and accessible, Why We Sleep is a crucial and illuminating book. Written with the precision of Atul Gawande, Andrew Solomon, and Sherwin Nuland, it is “recommended for night-table reading in the most pragmatic sense” (The New York Times Book Review).
Bill said: If your New Year's resolution is to be healthier in 2020, this book is a good place to start.
A systematic investigation of growth in nature and society, from tiny organisms to the trajectories of empires and civilizations. Growth has been both an unspoken and an explicit aim of our individual and collective striving. It governs the lives of microorganisms and galaxies; it shapes the capabilities of our extraordinarily large brains and the fortunes of our economies. Growth is manifested in annual increments of continental crust, a rising gross domestic product, a child's growth chart, the spread of cancerous cells. In this magisterial book, Vaclav Smil offers systematic investigation of growth in nature and society, from tiny organisms to the trajectories of empires and civilizations. Smil takes readers from bacterial invasions through animal metabolisms to megacities and the global economy. He begins with organisms whose mature sizes range from microscopic to enormous, looking at disease-causing microbes, the cultivation of staple crops, and human growth from infancy to adulthood. He examines the growth of energy conversions and man-made objects that enable economic activities—developments that have been essential to civilization. Finally, he looks at growth in complex systems, beginning with the growth of human populations and proceeding to the growth of cities. He considers the challenges of tracing the growth of empires and civilizations, explaining that we can chart the growth of organisms across individual and evolutionary time, but that the progress of societies and economies, not so linear, encompasses both decline and renewal. The trajectory of modern civilization, driven by competing imperatives of material growth and biospheric limits, Smil tells us, remains uncertain.
Bill said: Vaclav Smil is one of my favorite thinkers and I couldn't wait to get my hands on his new book about growth.
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