Your NEXT great read: book recommendations for 2020
Four of the NEXT team recommend books to educate, entertain and challenge you in the year to come.
The NEXT team are clearly readers. I got more than enough book recommendations to justify a post about them alone. Perhaps that shouldn't be a surprise — a conference about looking further ahead — and more deeply — than other tech conferences is always going to attract those who are, in turn, attracted to complex ideas.
Here's enough book recommendations to see you through to the summer, at the very least.
I always have a pile of books sitting on my bedside table. These books (some of them in English, some in German) compete for my attention with the many blog posts and newsletters I read (yes, also in bed - sorry husband). At the moment these books are:
- Winners Take All by Anand Giridharadas
- The Future of Capitalism: Facing the New Anxieties by Sir Paul Collier
- The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate by Peter Wohlleben
- Saša Stanišić's Origins
- Ian McEwan's Machines like Me.
Depending on my state of mind I enjoy reading them in ever-changing order. I just realised that there are no female authors on my pile right now - but I am very much looking forward to reading Kübra Gümüsay's upcoming book Sprache und Sein, which will be published in German in January!
- Endlos leben: Roman by Frédéric Beigbeder is frightening yet funny, but sadly not available in English.
- Future Ethics by Cennydd Bowles — one of the best foundational reads on design ethics at the moment, giving a splendid mix of both educational as well as practical information
- Speculative Everything — Dispelling the idea that innovation means just another idea from a design sprint proclaiming more of the same, the authors come up with provocative concepts of what our future could be, drawing inspiration from all kinds of industries and cultural territories. Finally: some challenging ideas.
- Bored, Lonely, Angry, Stupid: Changing Feelings about Technology, from the Telegraph to Twitter — Admittedly long but super interesting read on how technology not only provokes emotional responses from its users, but also changes the inherent meaning of those feelings at the same time
- Ruined by Design — Probably recommended by all people in my filter bubble, it's a perfect angry, bombshell, end of the year read that ties a cynical ribbon around the clusterfuck we managed to design ourselves into.
- The Book of Why: The New Science of Cause and Effect— A perfect baseline for being able to make sense and use of Artificial Intelligence. Pearl enables us to know not just whether one thing causes another: it lets us explore the world that is and the worlds that could have been.
- Hello World: How to be Human in the Age of the Machine — Still one of the best reads to easily understand how algorithms work and where they can cause problems. Hannah Fry is brilliant and breaks down complexity into the simplest language. Should be read by everyone in order to increase agency in tech.
Kristina pre-empted one of my picks (how does she find the time to read so much?), but here’s a few others for you:
- The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power by Professor Shoshana Zuboff — This book came out nearly a year ago, but it took me until the summer to wind up the enthusiasm to dive into it. After all, we’ve been writing about similar topics here for the last couple of years. But I’m so glad I did. A deep and rigorous look about the way the internet has changed business.
- The Social Photo by Nathan Jurgenson — a rather slimmer volume than the last, but no less interesting for that. It’s a good look at how the internet is changing how we communicate — and how we remember.
- Because Internet: Understanding how language is changing by Gretchen McCulloch — To complete my trilogy of “how the internet is changing…” picks, this one looks at how English is being reshaped by the internet. WTF? LoL!
- Ring The Hill by Tom Cox — a bit like we can offset our carbon emissions if we have to fly, I find I have to offset too much time thinking about digital with something very human. And this latest book from Tom, which I backed on crowdfunding publisher Unbound, is a lovely, beautifully-written and amusing look at life and nature.