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If you’re looking to fortify or launch a career, reading the canonical and formative as well as the provocative and emerging books in your chosen field is a quick way to glean a lot of valuable info in a little time.
A career in tech is not much different in this way. Books and their considerable, inexhaustible wisdom are not exclusive to other fields.
In fact, tech icons like Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates have even started their own book clubs. In 2015, Bill Gates said he reads more than 50 books a year and Zuckerberg was reading a new book every two weeks. They're both well-known for giving out ample reading recommendations.
In many ways, books allow for the same thing innovation and technology aim to do — create a place where everything you imagine can exist.
Below, you’ll find 15 books that help inform readers about the trends, skills, challenges, and predictions for a technological world. It includes many written by tech CEOs, like "Zero to One," "Lean In," "The Hard Thing About Hard Things," and "How Google Works," as well as scholars, biographers, and thought leaders.
Take a look at 15 of the best books available for those looking to succeed in tech:
Captions taken from Amazon and edited for length.
"Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products" by Nir Eyal
Why do some products capture widespread attention while others flop? What makes us engage with certain products out of sheer habit? Is there a pattern underlying how technologies hook us?
Nir Eyal answers these questions (and many more) by explaining the Hook Model—a four-step process embedded into the products of many successful companies to subtly encourage customer behavior. Through consecutive “hook cycles,” these products reach their ultimate goal of bringing users back again and again without depending on costly advertising or aggressive messaging.
In "The Industries of the Future", Ross provides a “lucid and informed guide” (Financial Times) to the changes coming in the next ten years. He examines the fields that will most shape our economic future, including robotics and artificial intelligence, cybercrime and cybersecurity, the commercialization of genomics, the next step for big data, and the impact of digital technology on money and markets. In each of these realms, Ross addresses the toughest questions: How will we have to adapt to the changing nature of work? Is the prospect of cyberwar sparking the next arms race? How can the world’s rising nations hope to match Silicon Valley with their own innovation hotspots? And what can today’s parents do to prepare their children for tomorrow?
"The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future" by Kevin Kelly
From one of our leading technology thinkers and writers, a guide through the twelve technological imperatives that will shape the next thirty years and transform our lives.
Much of what will happen in the next thirty years is inevitable, driven by technological trends that are already in motion. In this fascinating, provocative new book, Kevin Kelly provides an optimistic road map for the future, showing how the coming changes in our lives—from virtual reality in the home to an on-demand economy to artificial intelligence embedded in everything we manufacture—can be understood as the result of a few long-term, accelerating forces. Kelly both describes these deep trends—interacting, cognifying, flowing, screening, accessing, sharing, filtering, remixing, tracking, and questioning—and demonstrates how they overlap and are co-dependent on one another.
"Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future" by Ashlee Vance
In the spirit of "Steve Jobs" and "Moneyball", "Elon Musk" is both an illuminating and authorized look at the extraordinary life of one of Silicon Valley's most exciting, unpredictable, and ambitious entrepreneurs — a real-life Tony Stark — and a fascinating exploration of the renewal of American invention and its new "makers."
"The Upstarts: How Uber, Airbnb, and the Killer Companies of the New Silicon Valley Are Changing the World" by Brad Stone
"The Upstarts" is the definitive story of two new titans of business and a dawning age of tenacity, conflict and wealth. In Brad Stone's riveting account of the most radical companies of the new Silicon Valley, we discover how it all happened and what it took to change the world.
"Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead" by Sheryl Sandberg
Sandberg is chief operating officer of Facebook and coauthor of "Option B" with Adam Grant. In 2010, she gave an electrifying TED talk in which she described how women unintentionally hold themselves back in their careers. Her talk, which has been viewed more than six million times, encouraged women to “sit at the table,” seek challenges, take risks, and pursue their goals with gusto.
"Lean In" continues that conversation, combining personal anecdotes, hard data, and compelling research to change the conversation from what women can’t do to what they can. Sandberg provides practical advice on negotiation techniques, mentorship, and building a satisfying career. She describes specific steps women can take to combine professional achievement with personal fulfillment, and demonstrates how men can benefit by supporting women both in the workplace and at home.
"The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers" by Ben Horowitz
Ben Horowitz, cofounder of Andreessen Horowitz and one of Silicon Valley's most respected and experienced entrepreneurs, offers essential advice on building and running a startup—practical wisdom for managing the toughest problems business school doesn’t cover, based on his popular ben’s blog.
Filled with his trademark humor and straight talk, "The Hard Thing About Hard Things" is invaluable for veteran entrepreneurs as well as those aspiring to their own new ventures, drawing from Horowitz's personal and often humbling experiences.
"Bold: How to Go Big, Create Wealth and Impact the World" by Peter H. Diamandis, Steven Kotler
A radical, how-to guide for using exponential technologies, moonshot thinking, and crowd-powered tools, "Bold" unfolds in three parts. Part One focuses on the exponential technologies that are disrupting today’s Fortune 500 companies and enabling upstart entrepreneurs to go from “I’ve got an idea” to “I run a billion-dollar company” far faster than ever before. The authors provide exceptional insight into the power of 3D printing, artificial intelligence, robotics, networks and sensors, and synthetic biology.
Part Two draws on insights from billionaires such as Larry Page, Elon Musk, Richard Branson, and Jeff Bezos and reveals their entrepreneurial secrets.
Finally, "Bold" closes with a look at the best practices that allow anyone to leverage today’s hyper-connected crowd like never before. Here, the authors teach how to design and use incentive competitions, launch million-dollar crowdfunding campaigns to tap into tens of billions of dollars of capital, and finally how to build communities—armies of exponentially enabled individuals willing and able to help today’s entrepreneurs make their boldest dreams come true.
The great secret of our time is that there are still uncharted frontiers to explore and new inventions to create. In "Zero to One", legendary entrepreneur and investor Peter Thiel shows how we can find singular ways to create those new things.
Thiel begins with the contrarian premise that we live in an age of technological stagnation, even if we’re too distracted by shiny mobile devices to notice. Information technology has improved rapidly, but there is no reason why progress should be limited to computers or Silicon Valley. Progress can be achieved in any industry or area of business. It comes from the most important skill that every leader must master: learning to think for yourself.
"How Google Works" by Eric Schmidt, Jonathan Rosenberg
Seasoned Google execs Eric Schmidt and Jonathan Rosenberg provide an insider's guide to Google-from the business history and corporate strategy to developing a new management philosophy and creating a workplace culture where innovation and creativity thrive.
"Chaos Monkeys: Obscene Fortune and Random Failure in Silicon Valley" by Antonio Garcia Martinez
"Liar’s Poker" meets "The Social Network" in an irreverent exposé of life inside the tech bubble, from industry provocateur Antonio García Martínez, a former Twitter advisor, Facebook product manager and startup founder/CEO.
"Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World" by Adam Grant
With "Give and Take", Adam Grant not only introduced a landmark new paradigm for success but also established himself as one of his generation’s most compelling and provocative thought leaders. In "Originals" he again addresses the challenge of improving the world, but now from the perspective of becoming original: choosing to champion novel ideas and values that go against the grain, battle conformity, and buck outdated traditions. How can we originate new ideas, policies, and practices without risking it all?
"Innovation and Its Enemies: Why People Resist New Technologies" by Calestous Juma
The rise of artificial intelligence has rekindled a long-standing debate regarding the impact of technology on employment. This is just one of many areas where exponential advances in technology signal both hope and fear, leading to public controversy.
This book shows that many debates over new technologies are framed in the context of risks to moral values, human health, and environmental safety. But it argues that behind these legitimate concerns often lie deeper, but unacknowledged, socioeconomic considerations. Technological tensions are often heightened by perceptions that the benefits of new technologies will accrue only to small sections of society while the risks will be more widely distributed. Similarly, innovations that threaten to alter cultural identities tend to generate intense social concern. As such, societies that exhibit great economic and political inequities are likely to experience heightened technological controversies.
"Alibaba: The House That Jack Ma Built" by Duncan Clark
An engrossing, insider’s account of how a teacher built one of the world’s most valuable companies—rivaling Walmart & Amazon—and forever reshaped the global economy.
In just a decade and a half Jack Ma, a man from modest beginnings who started out as an English teacher, founded and built Alibaba into one of the world’s largest companies, an e-commerce empire on which hundreds of millions of Chinese consumers depend. Alibaba’s $25 billion IPO in 2014 was the largest global IPO ever. A Rockefeller of his age who is courted by CEOs and Presidents around the world, Jack is an icon for China’s booming private sector and the gatekeeper to hundreds of millions of middle-class consumers.
"The Art of Computer Programming" by Donald E. Knuth
Bill Gates once said "definitely send me a resume" if you can finish the famously punishing "The Art of Computer Programming" by Donald Knuth. "If somebody is so brash that they think they know everything, Knuth will help them understand that the world is deep and complicated," he said.