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Are you looking for some suggestions of what to read this summer? Bill Gates suggests these books the library owns.

The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined by Steven Pinker, Call Number: 303.609 P655b
NOTE: “Faced with the ceaseless stream of news about war, crime, and terrorism, one could easily think we live in the most violent age ever seen. Yet as New York Times bestselling author Steven Pinker shows in this startling and engaging new work, just the opposite is true: violence has been diminishing for millennia and we may be living in the most peaceful time in our species’s existence.”

Energy and Civilization: A History by Vaclav Smil, Call Number: 333.79 S641en
NOTE: “This is a comprehensive account of how energy has shaped society, from pre-agricultural foraging societies through today’s fossil fuel–driven civilization.”

Cover of "The Fever"Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress by Steven Pinker, Call Number: 303.44 P655e
NOTE: “Is the world really falling apart? Is the ideal of progress obsolete? In this elegant assessment of the human condition in the third millennium, cognitive scientist and public intellectual Steven Pinker urges us to step back from the gory headlines and prophecies of doom, which play to our psychological biases. Instead, follow the data: In seventy-five jaw-dropping graphs, Pinker shows that life, health, prosperity, safety, peace, knowledge, and happiness are on the rise, not just in the West, but worldwide. This progress is not the result of some cosmic force. It is a gift of the Enlightenment: the conviction that reason and science can enhance human flourishing.”

Factfulness: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About the World – and Why Things Are Better Than You Think by Hans Rosling with Ola Rosling and Anna Rosling Ronnlund, Call Number: 155.904 R821f
NOTE: “In Factfulness, Professor of International Health and global TED phenomenon Hans Rosling, together with his two long-time collaborators, Anna and Ola, offers a radical new explanation of why this happens. They reveal the ten instincts that distort our perspective―from our tendency to divide the world into two camps (usually some version of us and them) to the way we consume media (where fear rules) to how we perceive progress (believing that most things are getting worse).”

The Fever: How Malaria Has Ruled Humankind for 500,000 Years by Sonia Shah, Call Number: 614.532 S525f
NOTE: “In recent years, malaria has emerged as a cause célèbre for voguish philanthropists. Bill Gates, Bono, and Laura Bush are only a few of the personalities who have lent their names – and opened their pocketbooks – in hopes of curing the disease. Still, in a time when every emergent disease inspires waves of panic, why aren’t we doing more to eradicate one of our oldest foes? And how does a parasitic disease that we’ve known how to prevent for more than a century still infect 500 million people every year, killing nearly 1 million of them?”

The Gene: An Intimate History by Siddhartha Mukherjee, Call Number: 572.86 M953g
NOTE: “Siddhartha Mukherjee has written a biography of the gene as deft, brilliant, and illuminating as his extraordinarily successful biography of cancer. Weaving science, social history, and personal narrative to tell us the story of one of the most important conceptual breakthroughs of modern times, Mukherjee animates the quest to understand human heredity and its surprising influence on our lives, personalities, identities, fates, and choices.”

The Grid: The Fraying Wires Between Americans and Our Energy Future by Gretchen Anna Bakke, Call Number: 333.793 I545g
Cover of "The Grid"NOTE: “The grid is an accident of history and of culture, in no way intrinsic to how we produce, deliver and consume electrical power. Yet this is the system the United States ended up with, a jerry-built structure now so rickety and near collapse that a strong wind or a hot day can bring it to a grinding halt. The grid is now under threat from a new source: renewable and variable energy, which puts stress on its logics as much as its components.”

Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow by Yuval N Harari, Call Number: 303.49 H254h
NOTE: “Over the past century, humankind has managed to do the impossible and rein in famine, plague, and war. This may seem hard to accept, but as Harari explains in his trademark style – thorough yet riveting – famine, plague, and war have been transformed from incomprehensible and uncontrollable forces of nature into manageable challenges. For the first time ever, more people die from eating too much than from eating too little; more people die from old age than from infectious diseases; and more people commit suicide than are killed by soldiers, terrorists, and criminals put together. The average American is 1,000 times more likely to die from binging at McDonalds than from being blown up by Al Qaeda.”

House on Fire: The Fight to Eradicate Smallpox by William H Foege, Ebook link
NOTE: “This is the story of how smallpox, a disease that killed, blinded, and scarred millions over centuries of human history, was completely eradicated in a spectacular triumph of medicine and public health.”

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval N Harari, Call Number: 599.9 H254s
NOTE: “From a renowned historian comes a groundbreaking narrative of humanity’s creation and evolution – a number one international best seller – that explores the ways in which biology and history have defined us and enhanced our understanding of what it means to be ‘human’.”

Seveneves: A Novel by Neal Stephenson, Call Number: PB Ste
NOTE: ”

A catastrophic event renders the earth a ticking time bomb. In a feverish race against the inevitable, nations around the globe band together to devise an ambitious plan to ensure the survival of humanity far beyond our atmosphere, in outer space. But the complexities and unpredictability of human nature coupled with unforeseen challenges and dangers threaten the intrepid pioneers, until only a handful of survivors remain….”

Sustainable Materials Without the Hot Air: Making Buildings, Vehicles and Products Efficiently and With Less New Material by Julian M. Allwood and Jonathan M. Cullen, Call Number: 620.11 S553s
NOTE: “Materials, transformed from natural resources into the buildings, equipment, vehicles and goods that underpin our remarkable lifestyle, are made with amazing efficiency. But our growing demand is not sustainable. This optimistic and richly-informed book evaluates all the options and explains how we can greatly reduce the amount of material demanded and used in manufacturing, while still meeting everyone’s needs.”

Thing Explainer: Complicated Stuff in Simple Words by Randall Munroe, Call Number: CL 500 M968t
NOTE: “Have you ever tried to learn more about some incredible thing, only to be frustrated by incomprehensible jargon? Randall Munroe is here to help. In Thing Explainer, he uses line drawings and only the thousand (or, rather, “ten hundred”) most common words to provide simple explanations for some of the most interesting stuff there is, including:

  • food-heating radio boxes (microwaves)
  • tall roads (bridges)
  • computer buildings (datacenters)
  • the shared space house (the International Space Station)
  • the other worlds around the sun (the solar system)
  • the big flat rocks we live on (tectonic plates)
  • the pieces everything is made of (the periodic table)
  • planes with turning wings (helicopters)
  • boxes that make clothes smell better (washers and dryers)
  • the bags of stuff inside you (cells)”

The Vital Question: Energy, Evolution, and the Origins of Complex Life by Nick Lane, Call Number: 576.83 L266v
NOTE: “For two and a half billion years, from the very origins of life, single-celled organisms such as bacteria evolved without changing their basic forms. Then, on just one occasion in four billion years, they made the jump to complexity. All complex life, from mushrooms to man, shares puzzling features, such as sex, which are unknown in bacteria. How and why did this radical transformation happen? The answer, Lane argues, lies in energy: All life on Earth lives off a voltage with the strength of a lightning bolt.”

Factfulness

The 2 Books Bill Gates Says You Absolutely Must Read

Sarah Uthoff is a reference library at Kirkwood Community College. LIKE the Kirkwood Community College Library on Facebook and find links to Sarah all over the web at her About Me Profile.