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Tell me what you read and I’ll tell you who you are


The New York Times reports that editor Aaron Hicklin has asked people to name the ten books they wished they had if marooned on a desert island. If it is true that we are what we read, then make your own judgment about Microsoft founder Bill Gates. The list, which he has just shared on his blog, includes only one classic, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, but it’s topped by a science fiction book, Seveneves, about mankind’s response to the end of life on Earth. The choices reflect a passion for mathematics and sciences, wealth creation, as well as energy saving and the future of mankind. The number ten on the list, The Better Angels of Our Nature, by Steven Pinker, reflects on the increasingly peaceful nature of our species, despite all evidence to the contrary, especially if you look back at the twentieth century, the bloodiest one in history. Gates who turned software into a marketable product in its own right, separate from the hardware, mentions a quote from The Great Gatsby that he and his wife had painted on a wall of their house: “His dream must have seemed so close that he could hardly fail to grasp it.” If not exactly marooned, two Verb editors are currently in Venice, not a desert island, and share titles one each they wished they had as company if they survived a shipwreck: Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, and Gibbon’s The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.


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