Bill Gates is an avid reader. The Microsoft co-founder reads every night, has reviewed hundreds of books on his blog and regularly shares lists of his favorite books. He often credits books likes these for helping him understand new perspectives and even changing his priorities.
In one blog post, Gates writes about meeting with famed epidemiologist Dr. Bill Foege, a long-time mentor who sparked the tech billionaire's interest in global health by way of a reading list years ago.
Foege has served as a mentor to Bill and Melinda Gates since 1999 and has helped inform their global health philanthropy ever since. Beyond answering questions and giving academic advice, Foege gave Gates a list of 81 books and reports on global health issues.
"All these books opened a new world for me," writes Gates. "Making Bill's passion for fighting poverty and disease a passion of my own."
These three books stood out in particular:
Princes and Peasants – Smallpox in History by Donald R. Hopkins
Hopkins' thorough history of smallpox, the first disease to be medically eradicated, was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in 1983.
Mosquitoes, Malaria & Man: A History of the Hostilities Since 1880 by Gordon Harrison
This book follows the history of Malaria, which the Gates Foundation intends to eradicate. According to the Foundation's website, "Given sufficient global commitment, major investments in research and development, and transformative new tools and delivery strategies, the ambitious goal of malaria eradication can be met."
Investing in Health: World Development Report 1993 by The World Bank
Gates describes this paper from The World Bank as "a groundbreaking report on the importance of global health investment."
Gate's newfound interest in public health inspired his foundation to set the ambitious goal of eradicating malaria. He is so passionate about the subject that he once released a swarm of mosquitoes on an unsuspecting audience at a TED conference in 2009 in order to prove a point: Global health is something that should concern all of us. "There's no reason only poor people should have the experience," he said.
The tech tycoon argues that the United States should play a larger role in improving global health. When President Donald Trump proposed a 31 percent cut to the U.S. foreign aid budget in 2017, Gates said, "I'm a big fan of America's investments in the health and well-being of the world's poor. Unfortunately, not everyone feels the same way." He argued, "When people in one place do better, the rest of us do better, too."
Foege is surprised by how popular these books have become with people outside of the global health community, Gates reports.
"It is incredible what has happened. We've gone from global health being a total backwater of study. Anyone who wanted to get into it had to discover their own way," says Foege. "All that changed and within a few short years it turned out to be one of the most popular subjects in school after school."
This is an updated version of a previously published story.
Like this story? Subscribe to CNBC Make It on YouTube!