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Nov. 23, 2021, 8:18 a.m. EST

The books Bill Gates loved reading in 2021 bring out his inner sci-fi nerd

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By Syd Stone

For his favorite books of 2021, Bill Gates is throwing it back to his childhood love of science fiction.

“There was something so thrilling to me about these stories that pushed the limits of what was possible,” he wrote in a blog post that continues an annual tradition of spotlighting books he loved during the year.

Two of the Microsoft /zigman2/quotes/207732364/composite MSFT +0.11% co-founder’s book picks are science fiction, both of which made him “think about how people can use technology to respond to challenges,” Gates wrote.

The list also includes a pair of nonfiction books about cutting-edge science: artificial intelligence and gene editing. Gates’ final pick is a novel about how Shakespeare’s personal life might have influenced “Hamlet.”

Here are his reading recommendations.

‘Project Hail Mary’

Gates finished this novel in one weekend.

“The Martian” author Andy Weir tells the story of a high school science teacher who wakes up alone on a spaceship in a different star system with no memory of how he got there.

The protagonist reminds Gates of Mark Watney from “The Martian,” and both sci-fi tales deal with how people work together in challenging situations.

“I recommend the book for anyone who is in the mood for a fun diversion,” Gates wrote . “I started it on a Saturday and finished it on Sunday, and it was a great way to spend a weekend.”

‘Klara and the Sun’ 

Gates says he loves a good robot story, and Kazuo Ishiguro’s novel “ Klara and the Sun ” is one. The book is set in a dystopian future where robots serve as companions. Klara is an “artificial friend” to a sick young girl, Josie.

The British novelist won the 2017 Nobel Prize for Literature and is best known for the novels “The Remains of the Day” and “Never Let Me Go.” Gates said although Ishiguro doesn’t claim to be a technologist or futurist, his perspective on artificial life is “provocative nonetheless.”

“This book made me think about what life with super intelligent robots might look like — and whether we’ll treat these kinds of machines as pieces of technology or as something more,” Gates wrote .

‘A Thousand Brains: A New Theory of Intelligence’ 

Gates says he’s fascinated by “how the cells and connections in our brains give rise to consciousness and our ability to learn.”

He calls “ A Thousand Brains: A New Theory of Intelligence ” much more theoretical than many of the books he’s read about the brain written by academic neuroscientists. It’s written by tech entrepreneur Jeff Hawkins, the co-inventor of the PalmPilot.

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