Bill Gates is giving away free copies of one of the most important books he's read to all college graduates — here's how to get yours

  • Bill Gates is gifting all college grads one of his favorite books of the year, Hans Rosling's "Factfulness: Ten Reasons we're wrong about the world — and why things are better than you think." 
  • It's an economist's look at the ways in which life is steadily improving around the world, but it's arguably not a complete picture
  • The books are electronic, downloadable copies and will be available on Gates' website for at least a couple of days. 

Put down the cap and gown and pick up a book.

Bill Gates is offering free copies of one of his favorite reads of 2018 to all new graduates of US colleges and universities.

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The best books, according to Bill Gates
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The best books, according to Bill Gates

When Breath Becomes Air 

Gates' review: "I’m usually not one for tear-jerkers about death and dying—I didn’t love The Last Lecture or Tuesdays with Morrie. But this book definitely earned my admiration—and tears." 

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I Contain Multitudes 

Gates' review: "In the end, I Contain Multitudes is a healthy corrective. Yong succeeds in his intention to give us a “grander view of life” and does so without falling prey to grand, unifying explanations that are far too simplistic."

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The Heart 

Gates' review: "When Melinda recommended the book to me, she said, “It’s different from most of the books you read.” And that’s true—but part of the reason for that is that it’s different from most books."

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Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow 

Gates' review: "Harari’s new book is as challenging and readable as Sapiens. Rather than looking back, as Sapiens does, it looks to the future. I don’t agree with everything the author has to say, but he has written a thoughtful look at what may be in store for humanity."

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Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis

Gates' review: "Through deeply personal stories like these, Hillbilly Elegy sheds light our nation’s vast cultural divide—a topic that has become far more relevant than Vance ever dreamed when he was writing this book." 

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Born A Crime: Stories From A South African Childhood 

Gates' review: "In fact, Noah’s mother emerges as the real hero of the book. [...] If my mother had one goal, it was to free my mind,” he writes. Like many fans of Noah’s, I am thankful she did."

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A Full Life: Reflections At Ninety 

Gates' review: "A Full Life feels timely in an era when the public’s confidence in national political figures and institutions is low. It is true that President Carter made unforced errors during his time in office. But when you read this book and have a chance to meet him in person, you can’t help but conclude that Carter is a brave, thoughtful, disciplined leader who understands the world at a remarkable level and who has improved the lives of billions of people through his advocacy for human rights and global health."

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"If you’re being awarded an associate’s, bachelor’s, or post-graduate degree, download your free copy," Gates wrote Tuesday, announcing his giveaway.

The book, "Factfulness," was written by Swedish doctor and statistician Hans Rosling, who died of pancreatic cancer last year at the age of 68. His son Ola and daughter-in-law Anna helped finish up the final pages of the book, which suggests the world is not nearly as bad as we tend to assume.

You can download the book, in .epub format, over on Gates' Gatesnotes Blog.

Factfulness is just one book in a long line of uplifting and inquisitive reads on Gates' must-read book lists, from Steven Pinker's "Enlightenment Now," to a new biography of Leonardo da Vinci and a complete history of the universe by historian David Christian.

Gates has lauded Factfulness as "One of the most important books I've ever read ― an indispensable guide to thinking clearly about the world."

His wife, Melinda, has echoed this praise. "Hans Rosling tells the story of 'the secret silent miracle of human progress' as only he can," she wrote in her review.

Factfulness is aimed as a wake-up call to nay-sayers

Rosling wrote in his book that he aimed to arm readers with "a set of simple thinking tools" to get a better sense of how the world works, from rising education rates, to better life expectancies and health outcomes around the world. 

"The aim with 'Factfulness' is to debunk old prejudices and change the way people view the world – not just now, but for at least another 20 years to come," Rosling's daughter-in-law and co-author Anna Rosling Rönnlund told Swedish business magazine Veckans Affärer in May, after Rosling's death.

"The thoughts in 'Factfulness' are important for giving people a more fact-based view of the world," she said. 

It's an important enough message to Gates that he's decided he wants the next generation of thinkers to take a look at Rosling's ideas, on his dime.

But the book arguably leaves some of the less-than-rosy facts about the state of the world out of the picture.

While it's true that people are living longer, more educated lives than they used to, world hunger is also on the rise, people in rich countries are arguably less healthy than ever, and women with advanced degrees still have higher rates of unemployment than their male counterparts, even as girls outperform boys around the world at school.

If you're a curious graduate, go ahead pick up your free copy of "Factfulness" from Gates here, and then decide for yourself whether things really are "better than you think."

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