If you work in tech, digital marketing or simply want to know more about this area that’s all around us and shaping our life, here are the best books about tech you can read right now.
As a tech editor, reading tech books is part of the job description so, after hundreds of reads, I decided to go ahead and select the ones with the most exciting plots and actionable information.
The criteria? Books about society-shaping technology or events, books with engaging action not self-help advice, books with insider-knowledge that you can apply to your own projects or find inspiration in.
Without further ado, here are some of the best books about tech that won’t bore you to tears. It goes without saying but, if you have an exciting read to recommend, do share it in the comments and we can make this list even better together!
If you head about Theranos, the startup that promised to give you a complete health checkup via a single drop of blood, then you head about it because John Carreyrou broke apart the lies supporting this scam.
This is a book that revealed the lies of Elizabeth Holmes, once pegged as Silicon Valley’s next Steve Jobs, and Sunni Balwani, her business and romantic partner, as they created a startup that reached a $9 billion valuation based on no product at all.
If you love true crime and learning more about scams, don’t skip this one. After all, it did inspire multiple documentaries and a Hulu-backed TV miniseries.
What you’ll learn:
- How one person can game the Silicon Valley system
- How your blood test is performed and why you simply can’t skip the traditional process
- The tech limitations that stop health wearables and gadgets from being amazing
It’s impossible to be over the age of 30 and to not have once played Doom, one of the best first-person shooters in the world. It’s also impossible to be a tech enthusiast and not have heard about John Carmack, the programmer genius who, up until recently, helped Meta build their virtual reality headsets and lay the groundwork for the metaverse.
In Masters of Doom by David Kushner you get the full story about how Doom was created and an exciting look into the early days of computing, when dreams were built out of someone’s garage.
Image via ArsTechnica
This book is equal parts nostalgic and engaging, with a story that both sounds familiar and will make you question what happens next.
If you want a true treat, try the Masters of Doom audiobook version read by Will Wheaton. Really, his narration is so enthusiastic, it sometimes feels like you’re watching a movie not listening to an Audiobook. And yeah, if you played the excellent Doom Eternal, you have to read this.
By the way, this book will explain the origin of the incendiary quote in the main image of this article comes from – and boy, is Daikatana a fascinating tale!
What you’ll learn:
- How your childhood’s favorite games used to be built and the people behind them
- Everything about the early days of modern gaming and the origins of shareware
- Intimate details about two very different gaming rockstars, John Carmack and John Romero
- How virtual reality as a concept became an achievable reality
How did we all end up buying everything from toilet paper to cable organizers to 2,000 chairs in a single store? Journalist Brad Stone takes us on a trip to time way back when Jeff Bezos was a boy genius and explains everything that has happened since: the good, the bad and the horrifying.
His book is not just a history lesson but an incredible insight into how the Internet works even today – and a look inside the life of one of the most private leaders of tech.
What you’ll learn:
- The pricing tactics Amazon used to take over the Internet
- Why your favorite blogs are forced to include Amazon recommendations (and why it’s not necessarily such a bad thing)
- Why Jeff Bezos is actually, truly a terrifying boss
How does one turn real estate into an actual, real-life cult? And how does one walk away with billions of dollars after crashing their company?
Reeves Wiedeman dives deep into the history of WeWork, a company so famous and so troubled there’s even a TV show with Jared Leto playing its CEO?
You might have walked by WeWork’s offices on your way downtown, but did you know just how disruptive this company and how controversial its leader was?
If you read Billion Dollar Loser, you’ll find out all of that and a whole lot more about how the tech industry and start-ups in particular work.
What you’ll learn:
- How WeWork revolutionized the modern workspace and paved the way for “work from anywhere”
- How a charismatic individual can push a start-ups valuation into the stratosphere, then land with a golden parachute
- How incredibly crazy the world of tech startups actually is
Trust Me, I’m Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator (about fake news and the disinformation machine taking over)
Author Ryan Holiday might now be known as a self-help author but in his early days he was one of the rockstars of the digital marketing industry – and he spilled a lot of secrets on the way.
“Trust Me, I’m Lying” should be an essential read for anyone who works in this industry or in tech but it’s also an incredibly valuable tool to sift through all the disinformation clogging today’s Internet tubes.
“You’ve seen it all before. A malicious online rumor costs a company millions. A political sideshow derails the national news cycle and destroys a candidate. Some product or celebrity zooms from total obscurity to viral sensation. What you don’t know is that someone is responsible for all this. Usually, someone like me.
I’m a media manipulator. In a world where blogs control and distort the news, my job is to control blogs – as much as any one person can,” he teases in the book description and yes, he does deliver.
This book not only accurately describes the mechanisms by which information is shared online but its followup, Ryan Holiday’s Conspiracy, also has a fascinating look into the case of Peter Thiel suing Gawker into the ground.
One of the world’s most reclusive but influential billionaires unexpectedly joined forces with Hulk Hogan, the wrestling superstar, to take down what seemed to be the most powerful internet gossip blog. How? Let Ryan Holiday give you the inside scoop.
What you’ll learn:
- How the media landscape has changed since the advent of blogs
- How PR can actually influence journalists and create stories out of thin air
- Why disinformation is the hydra that threatens everything and how you can cut through the noise to avoid manipulation
Leave it to the man who defined Generation X through his book “Generation X” to define today’s biggest malady.
Douglas Coupland borrows the tech term “Bit rot” to describe many of the things that ail us today, surrounded by sometimes too much technology, too much digital.
This collection of essays isn’t necessarily a straightforward story or a real-life story but their genuineness will resonate with you nonetheless and it’s one of the best books about tech you could spend time with.
“”Bit rot” is a term used in digital archiving to describe the way digital files can spontaneously and quickly decompose. As Douglas Coupland writes, “Bit rot also describes the way my brain has been feeling since 2000, as I shed older and weaker neurons and connections and enhance new and unexpected ones.”
Bit Rot the book is a fascinating meditation on the ways in which humanity tries to make sense of our shifting consciousness. Coupland, just like the Internet, mixes forms to achieve his ends. Short fiction is interspersed with essays on all aspects of modern life. The result is addictively satisfying for Coupland’s established fanbase hungry for his observations about our world, and a revelation to new readers of his work”.
What you can learn:
- More about yourself and the world today
If you read any of these books, I’d love to hear your thoughts and recommendations. Enjoy!