Why Bill Gates says he'll read anything this author writes

Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates, behind a pile of books
Doug Wilson | Getty Images

Bill Gates is always reading. The Microsoft co-founder reads every night, has reviewed hundreds of books on his blog and regularly shares lists of his favorite books.

One of his favorite authors is Vaclav Smil, a Czech-Canadian professor emeritus at the University of Manitoba.

"I've read nearly all of his 37 books. I wait for new Smil books the way some people wait for the next Star Wars movie," writes Gates on his blog.

Even though Gates has read dozens of Smil's books, he's particularly excited by the author's most recent work, "Energy and Civilization: A History."

"I read Smil because he's uniquely good at going both deep and broad," Gates writes. "In his latest book, 'Energy and Civilization: A History,' he goes deep and broad to explain how innovations in humans' ability to turn energy into heat, light and motion have been a driving force behind our cultural and economic progress over the past 10,000 years."

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"Yes, our history has a lot to do with kings and queens and games of thrones," he writes. "Smil shows that it has even more to do with energy innovation."

Gates explains, "The past 300 years have seen the most miraculous advances in the human condition — and just about all of those advances can be traced directly to the exploitation of new forms of energy."

Even though Gates admires Smil's work, he admits that it can be difficult to process. "I'll admit that 'Energy and Civilization' is not easy reading," writes Gates. "In fact, when I read my first Smil books years ago, I felt a little beat up and asked myself, 'Am I ever going to be able to understand all of this?'"

Despite his sometimes complex topics, Gates says he's committed to reading anything Smil writes.

"Smil told me that his next book is going to be about growth — everything from crops and babies to empires and economies," says Gates. "The truth is, I'd read just about any topic he found interesting and wanted to dissect. But growth sounds like a perfect topic for him. I'm looking forward to it already."

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