Yuval Harari (left) has left an impression on Bill Gates. Yuval Harari (left) has left an impression on Bill Gates. Yuval Harari (left) has left an impression on Bill Gates (right). (Photo: Courtesy photo)

Is this man Bill Gates' favorite author?

The Microsoft founder isn't the only high-profile person to find the books of Yuval Noah Harari fascinating.

As Memorial Day weekend nears each year, Bill Gates reveals his summer reading list. It's always an eclectic mix – humor, fiction, science. And one author has had multiple books appear on the list for two years running. Meet Yuval Noah Harari.

When you think of bestselling authors, a tenured history professor in Israel is probably not the first person you'd think of. But think again. Harari, who got his Ph.D. from the University of Oxford, now teaches at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Many historians focus on specific time periods or individual characters in history. But Harari's focus is on macro issues: What is the relationship between history and biology? What is the essential difference between humans and other animals? Did people become happier as history unfolded?

His focus on big-picture topics has turned him into an international literary superstar. His 2014 book, "Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind," clocks in at 500 pages and has been translated into more than 30 languages.

Mark Zuckerberg and President Obama recommended it to people. Bill Gates liked it so much that he put it on his summer reading list last year and told everyone to get a copy. (Bill Gates wasn't the only genius to start a book club – Einstein did as well.)

Sapiens summer readingMicrosoft co-founder Bill Gates chose Yuval Harari's books two years in a row for his book club. (Photo: Courtesy)

"It’s so provocative and raises so many questions about human history that I knew it would spark great conversations around the dinner table," said Gates about the book. "It didn’t disappoint. In fact, in the weeks since we’ve been back from our holiday, we still talk about 'Sapiens.'"

The book's sequel, "Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow," was just released in America, and it has also made a mark. In fact, Gates just released his summer reading list for 2017, and guess which book made this year's list? Yep, "Homo Deus," which put Harari on the list two years in a row.

Born in the coastal Mediterranean city of Haifa and now living near Jerusalem, Harari leads a bit of a monastic life: he meditates daily, only eats vegan food, and says he doesn't even own a smartphone. He also thinks we'll all turn into cyborgs in the next 200 years.

Harari has parlayed his popularity into speaking circuit gigs, including multiple TED Talks. To get an idea of what all the excitement over his books is about, here's a video from a TedX event in Israel where Harari explains his research:


Photos and SlideshowsPhotos and Slideshows