If you are one of those holiday shoppers who tends to give gifts that you secretly covet for yourself, here’s an idea—buy books. With books, you can read them, too, before passing them on. Try that with chocolates or a sweater.
Unless you dog-ear the pages or spill some eggnog, no one will ever know that you read it before wrapping it. And should someone suspect something, you can always spin it—you read the book first for their sake, to make sure it was worthy of your giftee.
Here’s a half-dozen of the books published this year that we’re looking forward to buying for other people—if only so we can read them first.
- People repeatedly say that CIOs should be leading change. That’s great, except change is hard. Rebels at Work: A Handbook for Leading Change from Within is supposed to make it easier. It’s described as the essential guide to rocking the boat—but doing so successfully. “Imagine if you and your work mates were appreciated for challenging conventional thinking and proposing new ideas instead of being labeled as annoyances or troublemakers,” the book’s press release notes. Yes, we definitely need this one.
- With ever-changing demands, insider information on what works and what doesn’t can save CIOs some pain. That’s why we’re intrigued by Confessions of a Successful CIO: How the Best CIOs Tackle Their Toughest Business Challenges, which consists of interviews with eight successful CIOs who have mastered the art of tough decision making. Each chapter looks at a different CIO type, from “innovators” to “rocket scientists.” And the fact that there’s a good representation of female CIOs makes us like this book all the more.
- Walter Isaacson’s The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution is a must on this list (even if you haven’t gotten all the way through his Steve Jobs biography). The Apple co-founder is well represented here, too, and we’re happy to see that Isaacson gives full credit to the first programmer, Ada Lovelace. The book emphasizes that innovation is not just the result of some iconoclasts, but requires teamwork and collaboration, a point Washington Post notes in its review of the book.
- Our list wouldn’t be complete without a book on the evils of technology. Our pick is The Glass Cage by Nicholas Carr, who’s made a career out of writing about things in a way that causes us to re-examine what we’re doing. This year’s entry is on automation and how our increasing dependence on it is getting us in trouble. “It turns out all of our apps and endless streams of content and driverless cars might not be the answer to life’s problems,” writes Derrick Harris of GigaOm. “In fact, they might be causing some problems.” If you can no longer get to the grocery store without using a GPS app, this book is for you.
- On the other hand, if you want an inspiring book about the wonderful future that technology will bring to us, there’s The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies. Written by two MIT researchers, the book compares present time to the Industrial Revolution, otherwise known as the first machine age. What’s going to be important, the book argues, is finding ways to keep humans relevant in this machine age. “We need to rethink deeply our social contracts, because labor is so important to a person’s identity and dignity and to societal stability,” writes the New York Times in its review.
- Finally, if there’s one book you have to say you’ve read this year, even if you haven’t, it’s Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century. Everyone from The Economist to Bill Gates has it on their must-read lists. This book is a big reason why so many people have been talking about income inequality lately. (And psst, if you have Kindle Unlimited, it’s free. That’s the kind of economic redistribution we like best!)
A final note: If you’re reading books that you intend to give to others, remember not to scribble in the margins.
Simplicity 2.0 is where we examine the intricate and transitory world of technology—through a Laserfiche lens. By keeping an eye on larger trends, we aim to make software that’s relevant to modern day workers, rather than build technology for technology’s sake.
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