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Mónica Guzmán

Stories at the intersection of tech and life from a boldly connected city.

June 14, 2014 at 8:00 PM

My tech book binge: 11 top books for our technological moment

Browsing through some options at Seattle's Ada's Technical Books on Capitol Hill. (Photo: Monica Guzman)

Browsing through some options at Seattle’s Ada’s Technical Books on Capitol Hill. (Photo: Monica Guzman)

I read a lot of emails, tweets and articles about technology.

You know what I hardly read at all?


You’ve told me about some great ones over the past two years, but those emails, tweets and articles have a way of hogging my attention.

No more.

Below are 11 technology books I will read at the no-joke pace of one per week this summer.

I picked them because they’re well reviewed, they come highly recommended by readers and techies I trust and because they have a timeliness — or timelessness — that I hope can deepen my understanding of our technological moment.

Want to read along at any point? By all means, join me.

This is going to be fun.

theshallowsJune 15:The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains” by Nicholas Carr
I’ll start with a book I hear about over and over on what is probably the most important tech issue we face. “It lays out how our brains are literally being rewired as a result of technology,” reader J. Paul Blake wrote. It’s pessimistic, I hear. But brilliant.

smarterthan100June 22:Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Minds for the Better” by Clive Thompson
And for a sunnier look at the same question, I’ll turn to Thompson. It’s a doubleheader I’ll borrow from popular Seattle blogger David Roberts, who has both thinkers debating in his mind as he resets on an offline sabbatical.

hackers100June 29:Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution” by Steven Levy
I could use a smart look back at how this whole computing thing got started. The engineers among you tell me Levy pretty much nails it here.

wherewizards100July 6:Where Wizards Stay Up Late: The Origins of the Internet” by Katie Hafner and Matthew Lyon
My next stop is a history of the most amazing communications technology ever invented. I have bits and pieces of this story, but not the whole thing. Time to fix that.

Little-Brother100July 13:Little Brother” by Cory Doctorow
Fiction break: Danielle Hulton, co-owner of Ada’s Technical Books on Capitol Hill, told me this sci-fi thriller about techie teens is an “amazing read” that’s “100 percent” about our technological moment. Plus, there’s a sequel. Sold.

itscomplicated100July 20:It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens” by danah boyd
I’m glad the Seattle Public Library staff put this book on its list for me. I’ve met danah, and I don’t trust anyone as much as her to paint a well-researched and compassionate picture of how teens and technology actually mix.

writingonthewall100July 27:Writing on the Wall: Social Media — the First 2,000 Years” by Tom Standage
Seattle tech writer Glenn Fleishman, editor of The Magazine, tells me this second look at pre-Facebook social communication is “hilarious and informative.”

technopoly100Aug. 3:Technopoly: The Surrender of Culture to Technology” by Neil Postman
The book is more than 20 years old, but according to Seattle tech author Scott Berkun, Postman’s theory on how we relate to the technology we create is “far more thoughtful and provocative than any of the tech/visionary/culture books of the last decade.”

secondmachine100Aug. 10:The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies” by Eric Brynjolfsson, Andrew McAfee and Jeff Cummings
I’m not sure we can understand technology without understanding productivity. Seattle sci-fi novelist Ramez Naam put it bluntly: “This is the best book about the impact of high-tech on our jobs and lives and economy that I’ve read.”

hardthing100Aug. 17:The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers” by Ben Horowitz
If one book can get me inside the head of a tech entrepreneur, I think it’s this one. I can’t count the number of Seattle techies who’ve told me it’s on their list.

reamde100Aug. 24:Reamde” by Neal Stephenson
Let’s end with a bang. Reader Kathy Swoyer is one of several who’ve recommended this latest thriller by Seattle’s world-famous sci-fi author. I may have to pick up more of his books when I’m done with this summer marathon.

All those emails, tweets and articles might feel too simple by September.

Thanks to the Seattle Public Library, Third Place Books, Ada’s Technical Books and everyone who sounded off on Facebook and Twitter to help build this list, including authors Clive Thompson, Fred Trotter and Alex Soojung-Kim Pang!

–> Got thoughts on the books on this list? Want to join in or follow along? Follow #techbookbinge or say hey on Facebook or Twitter.

If summer were longer… These books almost made my 11-book binge. Check ’em out!

Want to see more great tech book recommendations?

Last but not least, here are more recommendations from Danielle Hulton of Ada’s Technical Books:

Read these two in time for the third book (due out in October):
Apex” <- the one coming out in October
An absolutely beautiful book:
And a fascinating looking read:
The Tale of the Dueling Neurosurgeons



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The opinions expressed in reader comments are those of the author only, and do not reflect the opinions of The Seattle Times.

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