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Bill Gates says these were the 5 best books he read in 2017

Bill Gates
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Bill Gates

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

"Reading is my favorite way to indulge my curiosity," he writes on his blog. "Although I'm lucky that I get to meet with a lot of interesting people and visit fascinating places through my work, I still think books are the best way to explore new topics that interest you."

In the same post, he lists his top five books of 2017. For a productive start to 2018, crack open one of Gates's favorites this holiday season:

"The Best We Could Do" by Thi Bui

This national bestseller, an illustrated memoir, "explores what it means to be a parent and a refugee," writes Gates, by way of telling the story of the author's family, who fled South Vietnam in 1978.

"Despite covering such heavy subject matter, 'The Best We Could Do' is ultimately a hopeful book," writes Gates.

Read Gates's full review of "The Best We Could Do."

"Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City" by Matthew Desmond

"If you want a good understanding of how the issues that cause poverty are intertwined, you should read this book about the eviction crisis in Milwaukee," writes Gates. Harvard sociologist Matthew Desmond follows eight families in Milwaukee who struggle to keep a roof over their heads.

"It is beautifully written, thought-provoking, and unforgettable," says Gates.

Read Gates's full review of "Evicted."

"Believe Me: A Memoir of Love, Death, and Jazz Chickens" by Eddie Izzard

In "Believe Me," actor and comedian Eddie Izzard reflects on his difficult childhood, marked by the loss of his mom and his wrestling with gender identity and sexuality, and explains how he managed to make it big.

"His written voice is very similar to his stage voice, and I found myself laughing out loud several times while reading it," writes Gates of the New York Times bestseller.

Read Gates's full review of "Believe Me."

"The Sympathizer" by Viet Thanh Nguyen

"Most of the books I've read and movies I've seen about the Vietnam War focused on the American perspective," writes Gates. This spy novel, by contrast, is narrated by a communist double agent.

"Nguyen's award-winning novel offers much-needed insight into what it was like to be Vietnamese and caught between both sides."

Read Gates's full review of "The Sympathizer"

"Energy and Civilization: A History" by Vaclav Smil

"Smil is one of my favorite authors, and this is his masterpiece," writes Gates. "Energy and Civilization" explores how fuel has shaped society throughout history.

"It's not the easiest book to read, but at the end you'll feel smarter and better informed about how energy innovation alters the course of civilizations."

Read Gates' full review of "Energy and Civilization."

Disclosure: CNBC has affiliate relationships with some retailers so if you purchase one of these books we may get a small share of the revenue from your purchase. This holiday season, the proceeds will be donated to the Council for Economic Education, which supports economic and financial education.

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