It’s that time of year! As you compile your list of gifts for your friends and family this holiday season, consider these ten tech-related books.
For the Visionary:
The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution by Walter Isaacson
This book is great for someone who values history as a way of appreciating what we have in the present, as well as a way of imagining how to keep moving forward. You’ll find no Great Man Theory here: in this book, Walter Isaacson, who also wrote Steve Jobs’ biography, explores how collaboration between many talented people brought about the digital age.
The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses by Eric Ries
If you know someone who dreams of (or is currently) starting their own business or launching a new project, this book provides scientifically-grounded advice on how to succeed. Even if someone doesn’t consider themselves an entrepreneur but is excited about innovation and staying on the cutting edge, this could be a great read.
For the DIY-Lover:
Zero to Maker: Learn (Just Enough) to Make (Almost) Anything by David Lang
This book would be great for that person who’s always tinkering around, taking stuff apart or trying to invent something new. They’ll find plenty of insights in this book before putting it down, ready for another experiment with renewed inspiration.
For the Gamer:
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
This book is commonly categorized as young adult fiction but would also be an enjoyable read for any adult who wants to reminisce about videogames and 80’s pop culture. Ready Player One takes place in a world where much of one’s life can take place in virtual reality; the founder of this virtual reality has left his fortune to whoever can solve a series logical puzzles and riddles in a 80’s-themed quest. The mission becomes not only to win a fortune but to determine how this virtual reality will be used to affect the rest of the world.
For Job and Internship Seekers:
Cracking the Coding Interview: 150 Programming Questions and Solutions by Gayle Laakmann McDowell
With examples in Java and C/C++, this is a book for someone who has had at least one year of coding experience and is looking for a job or internship in software development. One of the best features of this book is its detailed solutions at the back of the book. Even seasoned developers looking to change jobs might benefit from this book, as some of the examples are rather tricky/advanced.
Women in Tech:
Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg
Some of you might be tired of hearing this recommendation, and that’s okay. For those of you who haven’t heard of Lean In, this book is an inspiring call to action by Facebook’s COO to be better role models and foster empowering environments for women in the workplace. While not focused exclusively on the tech industry, there are plenty of insights here that, if anything, are even more appropriate. A new edition, Lean in for Graduates, was released this year.
Pioneer Programmer: Jean Jennings Bartik and the Computer that Changed the World.
This is the only autobiography in existence by one of the six female computer scientists who in 1946 programmed ENIAC, the world’s first all-electronic, programmable computer. Bartik, who led the team, sheds light on an oft-forgotten part of computing history and writes about what it was like to be a female pioneer in computer science. For more biographies on women in computer science, I would recommend researching Ada Lovelace and Grace Hopper.
Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson
If you know someone who loves Apple products and would love learning about the life of its co-founder, this biography is a no-brainer. Walter Isaacson writes about Jobs’ personal and professional life, bringing to life one story behind the cultivation of this well-known company.
Alan Turing: the Enigma by Andrew Hodges
Alan Turing was a brilliant mathematician who developed theories for computing that heavily influenced the progression of computer science. Among many things, he developed the Turing Test which continues to play an important role in the study of artificial intelligence. An fyi: this book is on the lengthy side (about 600 pages).
Let’s Talk Tech and Psychology:
The Most Human Human: What Talking with Computers Teaches Us About What It Means to Be Alive by Brian Christian
This would be a great gift for someone who enjoys psychology and philosophy in addition to a love of technology. What does our view of computers say about our view of humans? This book is sure to generate an interesting discussion.