A common characteristic among successful people is a penchant for reading non-fiction books. When someone as highly revered as Bill Gates is willing to share what he's read lately, people take notice.

Ever since he was a kid, Gates has loved to read. As a youngster with limited resources, the Microsoft co-founder read through his parents' set of World Book Encyclopedias in alphabetical order. Even with the abundance of video lectures, online courses and podcasts readily available these days, Gates says reading books is his favorite way to learn about a new topic.

If you happen to be in the market for a good book to enjoy over the holidays (or you simply want an excuse to mentally "check out" during family gatherings), perhaps one of Gates' five recommendations is worth a look.

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