Looking for a good read? Here are the best, most eye-opening books about tech

Sometimes it’s sensible to put down the gadgets and pick up a good old-fashioned book — to read about the latest gadgets, of course. But with so many tech-themed books around, which should you check out first?

Whether it’s finding a thought provoking tome to take on your next vacation or selecting the right gift for your geeky significant other, here are our picks for the best tech books available right now.

iGen: Why Today’s Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy — and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood — and What That Means for the Rest of Us


What has happened to the first generation who grew up with always-on connectivity and smartphones? That’s the broad premise of American psychologist Dr. Jean Twenge’s latest book, which acts as a survey of the so-called “iGen” or Generation Z: the kids born around the turn of the millenium.

While tech and its more damaging aspects is a theme that runs throughout iGen, however, (an excerpt published in The Atlantic was titled “Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation?”) this isn’t a polemic, and nor is it narrow focused. Instead, Twenge examines everything from iGen’s attitudes to work, life goals, development, relationships and politics: much of which winds up being filtered through their constant use of screens. If you’ve ever read Sherry Turkle’s books (a nice companion piece for iGen may be her 2011 book Alone Together), you’ll be right at home with Twenge’s work.

Although other books on this list focus on tech’s innovators and the business strategies of its movers-and-shakers, iGen looks at those who use its technologies every day. And how they’re changing the world as a result.

Chaos Monkeys: Obscene Fortune and Random Failure in Silicon Valley

Chaos Monkeys: Obscene Fortune and Random Failure in Silicon Valley

Antonio García Martínez is a previous advisor to Twitter, product manager at Facebook, Goldman Sachs employee and startup founder and CEO. Those credentials make him sound like your typical tech business strategy author, ready to impart some gems of wisdom about how to make it in Silicon Valley — and how the tech bigwigs could be doing a little bit better if they’d only listen to his advice.

In fact, Chaos Monkeys is a riotous portrait of life in the tech trenches, complete with crazy anecdotes and an outsider’s cynicism regarding an industry which is often more about luck than skill. If you enjoy TV’s Silicon Valley and want to read the real thing, this should certainly be on your list.

Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future

Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future

We’ve done our best to avoid overloading this list with tech biographies since, chances are, they’re the ones you’ve already read. After all, what self-respecting geek didn’t find a copy of Walter Isaacson’s colossal Steve Jobs biography under their Christmas tree back in 2011?

We’re including one recent tech bio, however, and that’s Ashlee Vance’s brilliant biography of Space X and Tesla (and a growing assortment of other companies) founder and CEO Elon Musk. As perhaps the most fascinating entrepreneur working today, Musk has lived an amazing life and reinvented more industries than the most of us could hope to have a halfway detailed knowledge of.

The fact that Vance enjoyed great access to Musk and other tech heavy-hitters makes this an authoritative entry on our list.

What the Dormouse Said: How the Sixties Counterculture Shaped the Personal Computer Industry

What the Dormouse Said: How the Sixties Counterculture Shaped the Personal Computer Industry

Steve Jobs liked to sometimes style himself as a hippy, talking about dropping acid, despite being a ruthless capitalist who wasn’t always the most “peace and love” guy around. If you ever wanted to understand where this conflation of hippy idealism and tech innovation comes from, check out John Markoff’s brilliant 2005 book, What the Dormouse Said.

It deals with the pre-Jobs Silicon Valley generation, who experimented with all kinds of psychedelics, while dreaming utopian dreams about reclaiming computers from the military-industrial complex — and helped invent the modern tech industry in the process. It’s rare that you read a book that claims to be a “secret history” of a subject you know well, and manages to surprise you on almost every page. This is one such book.

The Soul of a New Machine

The Soul of a New Machine

Do you remember the Data General Eclipse MV/8000? No, chances are that you don’t. But that doesn’t matter. Tracy Kidder’s 1981 Pulitzer Prize-winning non-fiction book could very well be the greatest piece of tech reportage ever published.

It follows the challenges of Data General Corporation’s attempts to design and build what was then its next-generation computer. The book follows the work of many of the folks who worked on the computer to design and debug it en route to completion. It makes no difference that the machine itself is now many, many generations outdated, or that Data General Corporation has been dead and buried since 1999.

With the possible exception of Steven Levy’s brilliant Insanely Great (about the making of the original 1984 Macintosh 128K), this is the best narrative history of a computer’s creation from start to finish — complete with all the triumph and frustration that entails.

Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies

Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies

Probably the hardest book on this list to read, Swedish philosopher Nick Bostrom’s 2014 book Superintelligence still manages to be immensely rewarding and provocative. It hypothesizes that, at the point at which machine brains surpass human brains in terms of general intellect, humanity will be overtaken as the dominant life on Earth.

That sounds like science fiction, but Bostrom breaks down a number of the big advances in artificial intelligence, and argues his case convincingly. Not always a fun read (both in form and the warning of its subject matter), this may nonetheless be the single most important book on this list — particularly as we navigate the challenges of the years to come.

Machine, Platform, Crowd: Harnessing Our Digital Future

Machine, Platform, Crowd: Harnessing Our Digital Future

MIT researchers Andrew McAfee and Erik Brynjolfsson previously wrote the excellent book The Second Machine Age, painstakingly detailing how modern technology is changing business, work, and the economy.

Their latest book, Machine, Platform, Crowd picks up where that last title left off. They examine three trends — machine intelligence, products and platforms, and the ability to harness the crowd — and make a case for how these are shaping life as we know it. McAfee and Brynjolfsson have a great understanding of technology, and a good knowledge of history, which informs their work.

If you’re looking for a business primer on life in 2018, this should be your starting point.

Future Crimes: Everything Is Connected, Everyone Is Vulnerable and What We Can Do About It

Future Crimes: Everything Is Connected, Everyone Is Vulnerable and What We Can Do About It

As a former FBI futurist and current cybercrime consultant, author Marc Goodman is the perfect guide to the dark side of technology. This lengthy, but consistently compelling book covers a myriad of threats that we face in today’s hyper-connected world — from cyberattacks targeting companies and online identity theft to hacking smart devices and, yes, the ultra relevant topic of digital surveillance.

Highly readable, full of surprising tidbits, and with some practical advice thrown in for good measure, Future Crimes is a tech book which deserves a place on everyone’s bookshelf.

The Four: The Hidden DNA of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google

Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google are so well documented as a companies that you’d be forgiven for yawning at the prospect of yet another book about them. However, in the case of The Four, by NYU Stern marketing professor Scott Galloway, you’d be making a mistake.

Rather than just rehash the story of each company for the umpteenth time, Galloway uses his astute business knowledge to forensically delve into each company’s approach to what it does — with the common thread being that all four have to the potential to become the world’s first $1 trillion company.

He talks about each company’s strength, weakness, strategy and unique challenges. The results will make you reexamine the way you look at each company and its extraordinary achievements. Galloway can be opinionated at times, and there are some companies he likes more than others, but it’s never dull. You’ll learn something on every page.

The Net Delusion: How Not to Liberate the World

Since the very beginning, discussion of the internet has erred on the utopian side. Given that it’s a technology making information accessible to people the world over, that’s not too much of a surprise. However, the belief that the internet is inherently a pro-democratic tool for freedom can be a mistake.

Scholar Evgeny Morozov is, in many ways, the techno-skeptic the world needs. His gruffly polemical, wryly humorous writing style is always exhilarating, and his conclusions about the way technology can be misused by bad actors is important.

Published in 2011, The Net Delusion is a few years out of date by now, but the central arguments are as sharply relevant as ever. If not even more so.


Spawn creator suggests the antihero could appear in ‘Mortal Kombat 11’

Spawn creator Todd McFarlane hinted that the comic book antihero could join the cast of Mortal Kombat 11 during a Reddit AMA. Spawn previously appeared in SoulCalibur II on the original Xbox.

19 portable tech gadgets you’ll want to use every day

If you're looking for portable tech to keep you charged up while on the go (or for some great stocking stuffer ideas), we've rounded up 19 must-have gadgets. You'll find everything from a mini gaming controller to a folding Bluetooth…
Emerging Tech

The 20 best tech toys for kids will make you wish you were 10 again

Looking for the perfect toy or gadget for your child? Thankfully, we've rounded up some of our personal favorite tech toys, including microscopes, computer kits, and a spherical droid from a galaxy far, far away.

Microsoft blocks optional Windows 10 update that bricked Surface Book 2 devices

The Windows 10 problems just keep on coming. Microsoft is now pulling back an optional monthly cumulative update that recently bricked and rendered some Surface Book 2 devices useless.
Emerging Tech

Transplanted pig hearts show promise in baboon trials. Are humans next?

Researchers in Germany have successfully transplanted modified pig hearts into baboons. The results take us one step closer to ending organ transplant waiting lists for good. Here's why.
Emerging Tech

An A.I. cracks the internet’s squiggly letter bot test in 0.5 seconds

How do you prove that you’re a human when communicating on the internet? The answer used to be by solving a CAPTCHA puzzle. But maybe not for too much longer. Here is the reason why.

Print your heart’s desire: Enter our giveaway to win a free Monoprice 3D printer

We’re giving away a $400 Monoprice MP Voxel 3D Printer. It's easy to use, especially for beginners, with its simple menu system and touchscreen display. It comes fully assembled so you can spend more time printing instead of setting up.
Emerging Tech

Makerbot is back with a new 3D printer that’s faster and more precise than ever

MakerBot's new Method 3D printer aims to bridge the gap between home 3D printers and more industrial 3D printing tech. Here are a few of the tantalizing things you can expect from it.
Emerging Tech

Warm ski beanie instantly hardens into a head-protecting helmet upon impact

Wool hats are way more comfortable than hard helmets. You know what they're not? Safer. That could soon change, thanks to an innovative new ski beanie which instantly hardens upon impact.

Take to the skies with these 5 drones on sale for under $50

On the hunt for some cool tech for under $50? We've rounded up 5 drones under $50 that you can still get before Christmas. These models are great for kids, adults, and anyone just getting started with drones.
Emerging Tech

With this robotic garage, retrieving your car is like using a vending machine

Remembering where we parked our cars can be a real pain. But what if our cars came to find us, rather than the other way around? A new automated robot parking valet system aims to help.

Best Products of 2018

Our reception desk has so many brown boxes stacked up, it looks like a loading dock. We’re on a first-name basis with the UPS guy. We get new dishwashers more frequently than most people get new shoes. What we’re trying to say is: We…
Emerging Tech

A lidar-equipped truck knows exactly how much de-icer to apply on roads

Lidar is best known as the laser-based technology that helps self-driving cars sense their surroundings. But the city of Knoxville has another, more seasonal use for it: De-icing roads.
Emerging Tech

This unusual nature-inspired robot is equally at home on land or in the water

This intriguing, nature-inspired robot may look unusual, but it's impressively capable of moving on both land and water without problem. Heck, it can even travel on ice if necessary.