When it comes to books for techies, there’s a great deal to choose from. Kristen Lotze put together a book gallery for TechRepublic on 35 books that techies should read, or should be interested in trying to add to their list. Below is an edited transcript of our interview.
Kristen: I basically tried to come up with titles that were going to be as wide-reaching and interesting as possible. Obviously, these are not going to be instructional books–they’re more about tech culture, so a lot of the topics include women in tech, job productivity, the effect of technology on a variety, and artificial intelligence. Then, there are also several recommendations that were featured on Bill Gates’ “Books that shaped how I think about the world” list.
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Karen: What would you say, from the list, are the books that probably stood out the most, and why?
Kristen: There are actually a few that I would’ve picked off that list. The first one being the Elon Musk biography–it’s an authorized biography by Ashley Vance. I thought that was interesting because Elon Musk is so ubiquitous in the tech world–and also in pop culture–so I felt like that was just a really great addition for the list.
The second was Ellen K Pao’s autobiography, Reset. I felt like that was important to include. It’s from her perspective about a very infamous legal case in Silicon Valley told from her perspective, and she’s also just made a lot of really great strides for equality for everyone in the tech world, so thought that was definitely interesting read to have on the list.
Next would be Hans Rosling’s Factfulness. That was one of Bill Gates’ recommendations, he called it a “breakthrough” for him. It’s basically about how a lot of the opinions that we have are misinformed, and how we have misinformation and our perspectives are little bit skewed. Ultimately, it leaves the reader feeling hopeful and inspired. That’s was definitely something that I thought was good to include.
Next would be Productivity Hacks by Emily Price. It includes 500 tips that will help you be more productive in the workplace including using the do not disturb mode on your phone, or creating email templates for more commonly used responses to your emails–just ways to be more time-efficient at work.
Lastly, I would say Weapons of Math Destruction by Cathy O’Neil. Basically it just talks about a lot of the ways that technology is being misused, how big data works against us due to unregulated models, and biased algorithms, and how that shapes our futures. Things from being granted or denied bank loans based on your ZIP Code, to sorting resumes and targeting certain voters. It’s just a call to be aware of that information, and a way to maybe change that in the future.
Karen: Really, a wide range of topics for some things that can really help you on the job to some interesting reads altogether. Do you have one that you would like to read from the list?
Kristen: All of the titles were especially interesting I thought, but I’m torn between the Brief Answers to the Big Questions by Stephen Hawking–that was his final book that he wrote, so I thought that one was interesting.
For the second one I would say John Carreyrou’s Bad Blood, which details the Theranos scandal that happened several years ago–it’s a more detailed account of that. He was the one who covered that from start to finish, so I thought that would definitely be a really interesting read.