How Much Does Bill Gates Read?

Bill Gates has done a lot in his life, from his Microsoft days to his current role as a philanthropist and co-founder of The Giving Pledge. What is the secret to his success? 

Well, if you ask Gates himself, it's simple: he reads. He reads a lot. Gates' voracious literary habit has often been cited as a key example of the 5-hour rule in action, and according to the Wall Street Journal, Gates brings a tote bag of books with him everywhere he goes, and he devours each one crazily fast. As Gates himself told Time Magazine in 2017, "You don't really start getting old until you stop learning. Every book teaches me something new or helps me see things differently." 

It's worth noting, as Inc. explains, that Gates has strict rules about reading: in order to ensure maximum concentration, he always makes sure to block out at least an hour of time exclusively for books — no two minute reading spurts for this fella! — and he always finishes anything he starts. Most interestingly, he likes to leave notes in the margins, particularly when reading nonfiction books, as it helps him retain new information. With these sorts of rules, though, how many books can Gates pack in during the average year?

Bill Gates, reader supreme

Get ready to be amazed. Bill Gates reads about 50 books a year, according to Business Insider, amounting to an average of one book a week. Most of the time, he prefers to flip through his pages the old-fashioned way (I.E., in print format), but he isn't opposed to e-readers. While such #bookstagram creds might sound nigh-on impossible to so-called "non-readers," keep in mind that Gates isn't the only person who can maintain such a habit: if you care about reading, and block out the time for it — for example, by swapping your social media scrolling time with book time, instead — any regular person can do the same. For example, former president Barack Obama credits his own reading habit with helping him survive those eight stressful years in the White House, and Stephen King zooms through 80 books in a year. Which ... of course he does, because he's Stephen King. Duh. 

Anyhow, one can safely assume that Gates packs a variety of genres, styles, and authors into his yearly book supply, though it does seem he has a preference for nonfiction. That said, in recent years, Business Insider reports that he's become a huge fan of David Foster Wallace. As of 2019, he claimed that he was trying to read through every DFW work ever written before launching into the author's infamously huge magnum opus, Infinite Jest, which has over 1,000 pages of story before you even crack into the footnotes. 

So hey, readers, don't be too hard on yourself about not yet finishing Infinite Jest yet. Gates is still working on it, too.