Visualizing the Books That Bill Gates Loves and Recommends
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Visualizing the Books That Bill Gates Loves and Recommends



Bill Gates loves books.

The co-founder of Microsoft and heavyweight philanthropist says he reads around 50 books each year, or the equivalent of one per week for those keeping score at home.

The Stamp of Approval

On occasion, a book is so good that Mr. Gates will recommend it on his popular blog, Gates Notes. Over the years, there have been nearly 190 such recommendations on his blog, with underlying themes such as how things work and the quirks of human nature.

Today’s visualization below breaks down over 150 of Gates’ nonfiction recommendations by plotting each book based on review scores from GoodReads, one of the world’s most popular sites for book reviews. Meanwhile, the bubbles are sized based on the number of reviews, giving an approximation of the book’s overall popularity.

As an avid reader and influential person, Gates’ book recommendations hold a lot of weight, so it’s worth taking a closer look at the list.

Bill Reads Bestsellers, Too

When between scientific tomes and tennis player autobiographies, Bill Gates reads the bestsellers just like everyone else. More prominent circles on our visualization include now iconic books such as Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond, and Steve Jobs, the biography written by Walter Isaacson.

There’s something comforting in the fact that one of the world’s richest people is gaining insight from the same book you can borrow from the library for free. There’s no billionaire version of Enlightenment Now.

bill gates books popularity

Vaclav Smil’s Biggest Fan

While Bill Gates has recommended some hugely successful books, he’s also not afraid to introduce his audience to niche selections. A prime example of this is the long list of books by Czech-Canadian scientist and policy analyst, Vaclav Smil.

A prolific author, Smil has published dozens of books over his distinguished career that cover topics ranging from global energy to whether humans should be eating meat.

Vaclav Smil books

I wait for new Smil books the way some people wait for the next Star Wars movie.

– Bill Gates

Rich Visual Content

Within the long list of books with a conventional format are a few titles that have a decidedly more visual component. Interestingly, they come from books published over a half-century apart.

The first example is How to Lie with Statistics by Darrell Huff and illustrated by Irving Geis. This unique book is full of inventive illustrations that help demonstrate concepts that would be cumbersome to explain in text form. In the age of fake news, How to Lie with Statistics has seen renewed popularity, with come help from Bill Gates’ recommendation.

Bill Gates' Visual Recommendations

Next, are two books published by Randall Munroe of XKCD fame. These books embrace a more diagrammatic approach to explaining complex concepts in Munroe’s quirky style.

Summer Reading

Based on the popularity of Gates’ recent 5 Books Worth Reading This Summer post, it’s safe to say this body of recommendations will continue to grow.

In case you missed it: Visual Capitalist recently published a book called Visualizing Change.

Correction: One of the graphics in this post previously listed the book Hillbilly Elegy as “Hillbilly Eulogy”. We regret the error.

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The Most Fuel Efficient Cars From 1975 to Today

This infographic lists the most fuel efficient cars over the past 46 years, including the current leader for 2023.



The Most Fuel Efficient Cars From 1975 to Today

When shopping for a new car, what is the most important factor you look for? According to Statista, it’s not design, quality, or even safety—it’s fuel efficiency.

Because of this, automakers are always looking for clever ways to improve gas mileage in their cars. Beating the competition by even the slimmest of margins can give valuable bragging rights within a segment.

In this infographic, we’ve used data from the EPA’s 2022 Automotive Trends Report to list off the most fuel efficient cars from 1975 to today.

Editor’s note: This is from a U.S. government agency, so the data shown skews towards cars sold in North America.

Data Overview

All of the information in the above infographic is listed in the table below. Data was only available in 5-year increments up until 2005, after which it switches to annual.

Model YearMakeModelReal World Fuel Economy (mpg)Engine Type
2011BMWActive E100.6EV
2013ToyotaiQ EV117EV
2017HyundaiIoniq Electric132.6EV
2018HyundaiIoniq Electric132.6EV
2019HyundaiIoniq Electric132.6EV

From this dataset, we can identify three distinct approaches to maximizing fuel efficiency.


Prior to 2000, the best way for automakers to achieve good fuel efficiency was by downsizing. Making cars smaller (lighter) meant they could also be fitted with very small engines.

For example, the 1985 Chevrolet Sprint was rated at 49.6 MPG, but had a sluggish 0-60 time of 15 seconds.


The 2000s saw the introduction of mass-market hybrid vehicles like the Honda Insight and Toyota Prius. By including a small battery to support the combustion engine, automakers could achieve good MPGs without sacrificing so heavily on size.

While the Insight achieved better fuel economy than the Prius, it was the latter that became synonymous with the term “hybrid”. This was largely due to the Prius’ more practical 4-door design.

The following table compares annual U.S. sales figures for both models. Insight sales have fluctuated drastically because Honda has produced the model in several short spans (1999-2006, 2009-2014, 2018-2022).

YearInsight SalesPrius Sales


The Prius may have dominated the hybrid market for a long time, but it too has run into troubles. Sales have been declining since 2014, even setting historic lows in recent years.

There are several reasons behind this trend, with one being a wider availability of hybrid models from other brands. We also can’t ignore the release of the Tesla Model 3, which began shipping to customers in 2017.

Electric Vehicles

We’re currently in the middle of a historic transition to electric vehicles. However, because EVs do not use fuel, the EPA had to develop a new system called MPGe (miles per gallon of gasoline-equivalent).

This new metric gives us the ability to compare the efficiency of EVs with traditional gas-powered cars. An underlying assumption of MPGe is that 33.7 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity is comparable to the energy content of a gallon of fuel.

The most fuel efficient car you can buy today is the 2023 Lucid Air, which achieves 140 MPGe. Close behind it is the 2023 Tesla Model 3 RWD, which is rated at 132 MPGe.

Check out this page to see the EPA’s top 10 most efficient vehicles for 2023.

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