Bill Gates says these were the 5 best books he read in 2016

Bill Gates
Lacy O’ Toole | CNBC

Self-made billionaire Bill Gates goes through about 50 books a year.

"Reading books is my favorite way to learn about a new topic," he writes on his blog. "I've been reading about a book a week on average since I was a kid. Even when my schedule is out of control, I carve out a lot of time for reading."

In the same blog post, he lists his four favorite books of 2016, plus an honorable mention.

For a productive start to 2017, crack open one of Gates' favorites this holiday season:

"String Theory" by David Foster Wallace

Wallace's "String Theory" is a collection of essays on the game of tennis, but "you don't have to play or even watch tennis to love this book," Gates writes.

"Here, as in his other brilliant works, Wallace found mind-blowing ways of bending language like a metal spoon."

Read Gates' full review of "String Theory."

"Shoe Dog" by Phil Knight

This memoir by the co-founder of Nike "is a refreshingly honest reminder of what the path to business success really looks like: messy, precarious, and riddled with mistakes," says Gates.

"I don't think Knight sets out to teach the reader anything. Instead, he accomplishes something better. He tells his story as honestly as he can. It's an amazing tale."

Read Gates' full review of "Shoe Dog."

"The Gene" by Siddhartha Mukherjee

Mukherjee is a cancer physician, an assistant professor of medicine at Columbia University, and a Pulitzer Prize-winning author.

In "The Gene," he "guides us through the past, present, and future of genome science, with a special focus on huge ethical questions that the latest and greatest genome technologies provoke," Gates explains. "Mukherjee wrote this book for a lay audience, because he knows that the new genome technologies are at the cusp of affecting us all in profound ways."

Read Gates' full review of "The Gene."

"The Myth of the Strong Leader" by Archie Brown

"This year's fierce election battle prompted me to pick up this 2014 book, by an Oxford University scholar who has studied political leadership — good, bad, and ugly — for more than 50 years," writes Gates.

"Brown shows that the leaders who make the biggest contributions to history and humanity generally are not the ones we perceive to be 'strong leaders.' Instead, they tend to be the ones who collaborate, delegate, and negotiate — and recognize that no one person can or should have all the answers."

Read Gates' full review of "The Myth of the Strong Leader."

"The Grid" by Gretchen Bakke

Bakke's book about the aging electrical grid notched an honorable mention on Gates' list.

"Part of the reason I find this topic fascinating is because my first job, in high school, was writing software for the entity that controls the power grid in the Northwest," says Gates. "But even if you have never given a moment's thought to how electricity reaches your outlets, I think this book would convince you that the electrical grid is one of the greatest engineering wonders of the modern world."

Read more about "The Grid."

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