Your NEXT read: Christmas reading for digital minds

Turn your festive break into a feast for the intellect as well as the stomach with this reading list from members of the NEXT community.

If there’s one thing we know that unites you, the NEXT community, it’s an open and enquiring mind. Our attendees, readers and speakers have always been people who can see the good and the bad in digital, the threats and the opportunities. You are not people who seek out reassuring pablum, but folks who want to be challenged, stimulated and surprised.

And so, here’s a selection of reading recommendations to see you through the holiday period, and to enter 2023 with new inspiration and new energy…

Our Recommenders:

  • Monique van Dusseldorp, NEXT curator
  • David Thompson, Owner / Creative Director Text, DJT Copywriting
  • Adam Tinworth, blogger, NEXT Insights


Monique van Dusseldorp

Olga Ravn, The Employees

Shortlisted for the International Booker Prize and the Ursula K. Le Guin Prize, The Employees reshuffles a sci-fi voyage into a riotously original existential nightmare. Funny and doom-drenched, it chronicles the fate of the Six-Thousand Ship. The human and humanoid crew members complain about their daily tasks in a series of staff reports and memos. When the ship takes on a number of strange objects from the planet New Discovery, the crew becomes strangely and deeply attached to them, even as tensions boil toward mutiny, especially among the humanoids. Olga Ravn’s prose is chilling, crackling, exhilarating, and foreboding. The Employees probes into what makes us human, while delivering a hilariously stinging critique of life governed by the logic of productivity.

David Sedaris, Happy-Go-Lucky

In Happy-Go-Lucky, David Sedaris once again captures what is most unexpected, hilarious, and poignant about these recent upheavals, personal and public, and expresses in precise language both the misanthropy and desire for connection that drive us all. If we must live in interesting times, there is no one better to chronicle them than the incomparable David Sedaris.

David Thompson

Leo Tolstoy, War & Peace

Particularly topical with today’s Russia-Ukraine conflict, in this iconic masterpiece Tolstoy mixes fictional narrative with chapters on history, warfare and philosophy.

F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

Published in 1925, the book is set in the Jazz Age on Long Island, near New York City. The novel depicts narrator Nick Carraway’s interactions with mysterious millionaire Jay Gatsby and his obsession with his former lover, Daisy Buchanan.

Adam Tinworth

Annie Kirby, The Hollow Sea

A compelling story of one woman’s quest to discover her forgotten past, and she starts finding unexpected answers on a small Scottish Island where history, science and myths come together.


Monique van Dusseldorp

Russell Davies: Everything I Know about Life I Learned from PowerPoint

For anyone in events, and for anyone else, this is a delightful book. Russell Davies takes a look at the history of PowerPoint built out of PowerPoint – jokes, culture, politics, serious points about power and more, better, jokes. PowerPoint is probably the most successful piece of software in history. At its heart, the app is about presentation, theatre and culture. About how to think, create and persuade. And it’s hated and loved in equal measure for reasons that tell us a lot about power and who gets to say what where. This book gives you a lot of ideas about how we learn and how we get together.

Matthew Heising: Out of the Ether: The Amazing Story of Ethereum and the $55 Million Heist that Almost Destroyed It All

This book tells the astonishing tale of the disappearance of $55 million worth of the cryptocurrency ether in June 2016. It also chronicles the creation of the Ethereum blockchain from the mind of inventor Vitalik Buterin and the ragtag group of people he assembled around him to build the second-largest crypto universe after Bitcoin.

David Thompson

Alfred Lansing, Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage

One of the greatest adventure stories of all time is the harrowing tale of British explorer Ernest Shackleton’s 1914 attempt to reach the South Pole which turned into a dramatic struggle to save his crew from pack ice. The adventure started with the infamous ad: “Men wanted for hazardous journey. Low wages, bitter cold, long hours of complete darkness. Safe return doubtful. Honour and recognition in event of success.”

Keith Richards, Life

This is an autobiography of Keith Richards, guitarist, songwriter, singer, and founding member of the Rolling Stones. Over 60 years, Keith Richards created the songs that roused the world, and he lived the original rock and roll life. Wonderful storytelling plus Keith’s favourite “sausage & mash” recipes.

Boris Herrmann and Andreas Wolfers, Allein zwischen Himmel und Meer

Co-written by German sailor Boris Herrmann and German writer Andreas Wolfers, in this fascinating book Herrmann talks for the first time in detail about his participation in the Vendée Globe, the struggle with nature, and the struggle with himself.

Adam Tinworth

Michael Bond, Wayfinding: The Art and Science of How We Find and Lose Our Way

This is more than a book about navigation, this is a work that probes our brains — and on how our digital devices change how we think. After reading this, I found myself turning off and putting away my phone for long country walks during the summer, allowing my own natural abilities and a good old-fashioned map to navigate the family around. We have some incredible cognitive abilities that we should use — or lose.


David recommends these:

For your planet: Treehugger

Treehugger is a green consumer blog with a mission to bring a sustainable lifestyle to the masses. Its ethos, that a green lifestyle does not have to mean sacrifice, and its positive, upbeat feel have attracted over 1.8m unique users a month.

For your health: Eat Smarter

Eat Smarter is a definitive guide to healthy home cooking. By joining a community of at-home chefs, you’re on your way to discovering more than 80,000 dynamic, seasonal recipes and access to more than 2,000 free, digital cookbooks. Learn about nutritious ingredients, kitchen-basics, read about the latest wellness practices and much more.

For your look: The Satorialist

As ideas go, this one is pretty simple. A man wanders around Manhattan with a camera. Spots someone whose outfit he likes. Asks if he can take a picture. Goes home and posts it on his blog. But the man in question is Scott Schuman, who had 15 years’ experience working at the high-fashion end of the clothing industry before starting The Sartorialist.

For your brain: Crooked Timber

With a title pulled from Immanuel Kant’s famous statement that ‘out of the crooked timber of humanity, no straight thing was ever made’, it’s a blend of academic and political writing. Launched in 2003 as an internet supergroup, pulling several popular intellectual blogs together, Crooked Timber now has 16 members – largely academics – across the US, Europe, Australia and Asia. The site has built itself a reputation as something of an intellectual powerhouse; a sort of global philosophical think tank conducted via blog.

For your writing: Copyblogger

It’s dry, real, and deafeningly practical, but for an online writing-for-the-internet blog, Copyblogger, founded in 2006, is remarkably interesting. Swelling with advice on online writing, it’s an essential tool for anyone trying to make themselves heard online, whether commenting on a discussion board or putting together a corporate website.


David recommends Generational Intelligence

Dr Eliza Filby is a writer, regular NEXT speaker and researcher who specialises in what she calls ‘Generational Intelligence’, helping companies and services understand generational shifts within politics, society and the workplace.

Adam recommends The Ruffian

I first encountered Ian Leslie as a co-host on a Royal Society of Arts podcast, and have followed his writing since. His newsletter is a fascinatingly eclectic look at ideas, concepts and politics that avoid received wisdom and tried to dig deeper into what’s actually happening — exactly the sort of thing we try to do. Reading Ian’s work makes me a better writer.