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ALL THE WAY DOWN

To be a reader like Bill Gates, take book recommendations from the kids in your life

Bill Gates Melinda Gates daughter Jennifer Katherine Gates
AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill
Bill, Jennifer, his oldest daughter, and Melinda Gates.
  • Thu-Huong Ha
By Thu-Huong Ha

Reporter

Published Last updated on This article is more than 2 years old.

If you’re looking for your next book recommendation, ask someone who still has a curfew.

Bill Gates, Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist, has become an influential book recommendation machine. He, in turn, seems to be getting recommendations from his own kids.

In a new post on his blog, Gates reviews the bestselling YA novel Turtles All the Way Down, by John Green, with his 15-year-old daughter, Phoebe. It’s not his first Green read. “Paper Towns is still my favorite John Green book—but my family loved talking about Turtles at the dinner table, and I think yours will, too,” writes Gates.

“[Green] is one of her favorite authors, and she’s converted our entire family to fans of his books,” he says of his daughter.

Turtles All the Way Down might make for especially good dinner conversation for the Gates. The book is about Aza, a teenage girl with obsessive compulsive disorder, who goes in search of a missing billionaire, and the romance that ensues between her and his son, Davis. ”Never has a book been able to capture so well what it is like to live in the shadow of someone else’s legacy,” writes Phoebe Gates. “This story shows how Davis struggled to find his own identity outside of his father’s fame and wealth.” Indeed, because of her own world-famous billionaire father, the young Gates is probably more like Green’s character than the other readers in his legion of teen fans. When she met the author in person more than two years ago, he told her the plot of his new book in confidence.

The Gates family often swaps book recommendations. “My kids are old enough now that their taste in books sometimes crosses over with mine,” Gates said in an interview with Time last year. “My son is really into history and policy and has suggested lots of great books that I might have missed.”

Two of Bill’s rare fiction reviews from the last few years, The Heart by Maylis de Kerangal and The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion, he read on recommendation from his wife. “I always trust Melinda’s recommendations, even if they seem like unlikely choices for me at the start,” he told Time. Family book discussion, too, is not uncommon for the Gates. In his 2016 review of Noah Yuval Harari’s Sapiens, Gates wrote, “Both Melinda and I read this one, and it has sparked lots of great conversations at our dinner table.”

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