The books on our Summer Reading List 2012 have a technology bent. The overarching theme is how the technology ends up shaping our actual world and fictional ones.
Beyond this heady theme, this year’s summer reading list has two purposes. First, we enjoy sharing our current favourite books. Second, we are hoping that the list will inspire you to share your favourite recent reads with us – technology based or not. With summer holidays approaching, we too will be loading up our e-readers, looking for books at our local libraries and otherwise honing our reading “on-deck circle” of books.
1. Biography: Steve Jobs (Must-Read)
by Walter Isaacson, Published: October 24, 2011
This biography is a fascinating look at Steve Jobs, Apple and computer innovation over the past 40 years.
The book is an unvarnished look at Steve Jobs the person, but, beyond being an investigation of Jobs’ often prickly personality, the book is filled with insights into innovation driven by simplicity and intuitive design. The only small complaint is that the book could have benefited from more time with an editor; however, this is a relatively humble grievance with such a thorough biography. For those who are at all interested in technology and innovation, it is a must-read.
The audio book version read by Dylan Baker is a good option if you are an audio book lover. If you are new to the world of audio books, it may not be the best one to introduce you to the format.
2. Pop Culture Fiction: Ready Player One
by Ernest Cline, Published: August 16, 2011
A high-stakes Sci Fi scavenger hunt set in the virtual reality oasis of 2044. The book is fun but also thought-provoking on the question of what the world would be like if people retreated more and more into virtual worlds created on the internet. A fun read if you like video games, 80’s pop culture, Dungeons and Dragons OR Matrix-like sci fi; you don’t have to like all of these elements to enjoy it. It is not necessarily a guy only book; your book list correspondent isn’t a guy and really enjoyed it.
The audio edition is also excellent; it features Will Weaton (of Next Generation Wesley Crusher fame) as narrator. If you don’t know who Wesley Crusher is, then this book is probably not for you.
3. Great Technology is Magic: The Night Circus
by Erin Morgenstern, Published: September 13, 2011
The Night Circus is a beautifully written novel about a magical circus and duel between two magicians. It is not a children’s story. The circus at the center of the story is written as a wonder of design, amazing customer experiences and innovation.
The audio edition is excellent. The reader, Jim Dale, is a favourite. If you haven’t listened to audio books before, listening to Jim Dale read The Night Circus might make you an instant convert to the audio format.
4. Bonus: Two Tween Book Ideas
The City of Ember
by Jeanne DuPrau, Published: May 13, 2003
The City of Ember is the first book in the Ember series. The book is about a city where there is no natural light, faced with scarcity of power and supplies. The story is a clever unfolding mystery; it provides a thought-provoking look at a world where light is in short supply, and where simple technology like a candle would be revolutionary.
Gregor the Overlander (Underland Chronicles, Book 1)
by Suzanne Collins, August, 2004.
An earlier series by the author of the well-known Hunger Games trilogy. The book is akin to Narnia, set in an underworld below New York City, where humans ride giant bats and sometimes do battle with giant spiders, rats and more.
The main characters are Gregor, an 11-year-old New Yorker, and his 2-year-old sister Boots. The technology hook is that the story has at its heart the attempt by Gregor to rescue his Dad, who is being held captive by creatures bent on extracting his knowledge of science and engineering. This book has lots of adventure and battles, but it is less violent than the Young Adult Hunger Games books.
For more book ideas, please see our posts:
- 2011 Summer Reading List – Marketing, Branding, Innovation & Design Thinking
- 2011 Fall Reading List – Technology’s Dark Side and Innovating in the Reset