Now that you’ve recovered from Mad Men’s final episode, you may be wondering, “What do I do now?” True, there are still four more episodes of Game of Thrones in this demi-season—let’s hope there are no more weddings—but after that, you’ll be even more bereft. What to do?
As we’ve mentioned before, summer is a great time to read. Books, that is. Actual books. Their batteries don’t run low. They are still legible in the sun. Their pages don’t get smeary sunscreen fingerprints on them when turned. And you don’t have to worry if they happen to come into contact with a few rogue grains of sand.
Here are some of the books, new and old, that we’re looking forward to picking up and working our way through this summer.
- Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future—Is there anyone who doesn’t want to read this? Whether you think of him as Tony Stark, Hank Rearden, or a charlatan, you can’t deny the guy is colorful. Admittedly, some of the most colorful parts are turning out to perhaps not be true, but there’s plenty more that are. Look at the sort of stuff you can get away with when people think you’re brilliant.
- Steve Jobs—While you’re at it, check out the Walter Isaacson biography of Jobs. Compare and contrast. Who’s more maniacal, Jobs or Musk? Not to mention, by reading this you’ll be preparing yourself for the Aaron Sorkin penned Steve Jobs movie coming out in October. Get ready for lots of walking and talking.
- Choosing Not to Choose—If you’re a Rush fan, you’ll remember the line “If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice” from “Free Will.” This book, from one of our favorite behavioral economists, Cass Sunstein, is all about the value of the default and how important it is to pick the right one. If you’re designing apps or processes for people to use, you need this book.
- The Wright Brothers—We’ve been fans of David McCullough since The Johnstown Flood, so we’re always happy when he puts out one of his tomes. 336 pages, 1.6 pounds of fascinating minutiae about how man learned to fly. How can you pass it up?
- Dirty Old London: The Victorian Fight Against Filth—Think your job is tough? Imagine being the guy in charge of cleaning up the horse—and human—“night soil” off the streets in Victorian England. You’ll end up with a whole new appreciation for your job.
- Rational Ritual—As you may recall, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been reading a book every two weeks this year—no doubt trying to catch up with Bill Gates—and this book is one of the most intriguing he’s picked. It’s about the value of game theory—“how people make choices while interacting with others”—in public ceremonies, ranging from the Super Bowl to the French Revolution. And it’s all written by the guy who speculated that Jane Austen was actually a game theorist.
- Quantum: Einstein, Bohr, and the Great Debate about the Nature of Reality—If you’re spending part of your summer in front of other people—particularly coworkers, especially your boss—it’s critical to be reading a book that looks impressive. This is not a time you want to be caught reading The Silver Surfer or 50 Shades of Grey. And what could sound more impressive than quantum physics? Especially when you explain learnedly that the book is really more about philosophy than science?
- Empty Mansions: The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of a Great American Fortune—As F. Scott Fitzgerald famously wrote, the rich are different from you and me. (Aside from the fact that they have more money.) But few people are more different than Huguette Clark, the original eccentric millionaire, and this true story of how she managed to dispose of several fortunes. If your secret weakness is Hoarders, you’ll love this.
That should hold you till Labor Day. And if you really want to read them on a Kindle, go ahead. We won’t tell.
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