Beach reads for techies 2017

Looking for a great book to read this summer? Ten IT pros share their current reading lists and their all-time favorite books for technologists.

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As summer kicks in and professionals get a chance to kick back, some may find their thoughts turning to... books? That’s right: Compiling a summer reading list is an important ritual for many -- from diehard bibliophiles to those just looking to escape while relaxing on the beach.

We’re here to help. For the fifth year in a row, Computerworld asked technology professionals from around the country in various positions and industries what books they’re reading right now, what books everybody should read in 2017, and which ones top their lists of all-time great reads for techies. Here’s their take on best-bet books for IT pros this summer and beyond.

David Stevens from Maricopa County Maricopa County

David L. Stevens

CIO, Maricopa County, Az.

Vacation plans: “We love spending time in Southern California and enjoying the beach.” Another potential trip: Cancun, “to enjoy the culture, the beach, and a trip to the famed Mayan ruins in Chichen Itza.”

Summer reading list:

  • The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky. “Although I hear [it’s] a difficult read, the story of these three brothers’ rivalries and struggles and the philosophical depth are enough to motivate me to tackle such a work.”
  • Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcom Gladwell. “The notion of practice, being nurtured, and the courage to seize opportunities sound fascinating to me.”

2017 must-read: The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead, “a powerful book (recommended by Oprah’s Book Club) following a young woman escaping slavery.”

Top recommendations for techies:

All-time favorite book: “Not sure I can name a single all-time favorite book; however, I can say I very much enjoyed The Elegant Universe: Superstrings, Hidden Dimensions, and the Quest for the Ultimate Theory by Brian Greene. Fascinating discussion of string theory in non-technical means. I have always been a fan of quantum physics.”

Leon DuPree from Dewpoint Dewpoint

Leon DuPree

Senior security architect, Dewpoint

Vacation plans: Annapolis/Washington area for a tour of the United States Naval Academy, sailing and sightseeing.

Summer reading list:

2017 must-read: The 17 Indisputable Laws of Teamwork: Embrace Them and Empower Your Team by John C. Maxwell. “You need a team!”

Top recommendations for techies:

All-time favorite book: The Bible. “[It] provides me with hope and inspiration.”

Sue B. Workman from Case Western Reserve University Case Western Reserve University

Sue B. Workman

Vice president for university technology and CIO, Case Western Reserve University

Vacation plans: Attending the Solheim Cup, the United States vs. Europe women’s professional golf tournament, set for Aug. 14-20 at the Des Moines Golf and Country Club in Iowa.

Summer reading list: “My reading plan tends to be informal and rely upon serendipity.”

2017 must-read: Sum It Up: A Thousand and Ninety-Eight Victories, a Couple of Irrelevant Losses, and a Life in Perspective by Pat Head Summitt with Sally Jenkins. “[University of Tennessee women’s basketball coach] Summitt was a truly inspirational leader in every sense of the word, including how she led her end game. She finished the 2010-2011 season after being diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s disease, and her death in 2016 was a loss felt by countless players and fans.”

Top recommendations for techies:

All-time favorite book: They Call Me Coach by John Wooden. “[It’s] a seminal piece on how to bring the utmost ethical leadership into every day, every task, every relationship.”

Hong Tsui from Jumpshot Jumpshot

Hong Tsui

Vice president of data science and finance, Jumpshot

Vacation plans: Costa Brava, Spain

Summer reading list: Disrupted: My Misadventure in the Start-up Bubble by Dan Lyons. “It’s an inside and satirical look at startup life.”

2017 must-read: A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman. “I love it because it’s a character development story that is so well done that it makes you fall in love with a difficult exterior person.”

Top recommendations for techies: “These are my recommendations for the general population, because techies are just people, too.”

All-time favorite book: The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway

Reed Sheard from Westmont College Westmont College

Dr. Reed A. Sheard

Vice president for college advancement and CIO, Westmont College

Vacation plans: “I’m going to be doing a three-week driving/camping vacation to Yellowstone, where I’ll hike, then over to Oregon where I’ll golf and fly fish. I met my wife 32 years ago at a job at Yellowstone, so we’re going to go back.”

Summer reading list:

2017 must-read: The Road to Character by David Brooks. “He puts forth in the first two chapters a wonderful way to think about life and leadership and has 10 exemplars of that. It’s one of the best books I’ve ever read. I was absolutely inspired.”

Top recommendation for techies: Becoming Steve Jobs: The Evolution of a Reckless Upstart into a Visionary Leader by Brent Schlender and Rick Tetzeli

All-time favorite book: The Road to Character. “It changes, but right now I go back to that one a lot.”

Mike Vennera from Independence Blue Cross Independence Blue Cross

Mike Vennera

Senior vice president and CIO, Independence Blue Cross

Vacation plans: New Jersey shore

Summer reading list:

  • The Dark Forest by Cixin Liu. “The second book in a mind-blowing Chinese sci-fi trilogy. I read the first book this past winter, and it was a great blend of physics, computers and a classic alien invasion.”
  • Reamde by Neal Stephenson. “Russian gangsters, Islamic terrorists, Chinese hackers, and a massively multiplayer online role-playing game: What’s not to love?”
  • Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow by Yuval Noah Harari. “I am just finishing up Harari’s book on human history [Sapiens, see below]. This sequel is his view into a future of artificial intelligence and genetic engineering, and how these and other technologies will redefine what it means to be human.”

2017 must-read: Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari

Top recommendations for techies:

All-time favorite book: The Iliad by Homer. “It may be thousands of years old, but the story, characters and language remain vivid and compelling. I’ve read it probably five or six times.”

Renée McKaskle Hitachi Data Systems

Renee McKaskle

Senior vice president and CIO, Hitachi Data Systems

Vacation plans: Time in Hawaii “unplugging from tech and having a few mindful moments hiking, stand-up paddleboarding with the sea life, and learning to surf.”

Summer reading list:

2017 must-read: The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer by Siddhartha Mukherjee, a Pulitzer-prize winning book that has been turned into a PBS miniseries by Ken Burns. “As someone who has been through the ‘Big C’ experience firsthand this past year, I was shocked, surprised and disappointed on how (not) close we are to understanding cancer and what causes it.”

Top recommendation for techies: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon, “a book about numbers, a person who is different, and seeing things through others’ perspectives. As techies, these are things that we need to appreciate.”

All-time favorite book: Alan Brennert’s Moloka’i. “It is a story of a little girl, Rachel, during the time when leprosy was (mis)diagnosed on the Hawaiian islands, who was sent to Moloka’i, the leprosy colony... The author does a great job letting me escape to this simpler time while learning about some transformational historical events.”

Craig Patterson from Patterson Consulting Patterson Consulting

Craig L. Patterson

President and CEO, Patterson & Associates Consulting

Vacation plans: Europe or Pacific Islands

Reading list: Books and articles on aerial cinematography and how we see our world. “I love drone photography -- seeing the world differently is inspiring!”

2017 must-read: Leadership and Self-Deception: Getting Out of the Box by the Arbinger Institute. “Creative leadership requires room to oppose the standards, yet to others is a leader deceiving himself until the world catches on?”

Top recommendation for techies: Discover Design Thinking by Jan-Erik Baars. “Learning to think in new ways and to abandon the accepted design formats allows us to innovate in new, yet-to-be-discovered ways. Like a cloud, constantly forming.”

All-time favorite book: The Bible. “As I grow and move through life, the lessons are alive and continue to be ahead of me.”

Deepak Agarwal from LinkedIn LinkedIn

Deepak Agarwal

Vice president of A.I. and machine learning, LinkedIn

Vacation plans: Bhutan and Europe

Summer reading list:

2017 must-read: The New Geography of Jobs by Enrico Moretti. “It is very germane given what’s happening to the world currently. Economic disparity and jobs are the root causes of many issues we are facing in America.”

Top recommendation for techies: Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die by Chip Heath and Dan Heath. “It is likely to help you improve your presentation skills, no matter how good you are. Explaining complex technology by only focusing on core things in a simple and lucid way is something every technologist faces.”

All-time favorite book: The Man Who Knew Infinity: A Life of the Genius Ramanujan by Robert Kanigel. “This book transformed my career and life. I got inspired by how a mathematical genius like Ramanujan pursued his passion despite all hardships and adversity. I was almost in tears reading the sad end to the life of a mathematical genius. The humility of the man is touching: He attributed all his brilliance to God, who came in his dreams and told him the formulae.”

Chris McMasters from City of Corona California City of Corona

Christopher McMasters

CIO, City of Corona, Calif.

Vacation plans: Catalina Island, Calif. “It is a wonderful place to have quality family time and unplug.”

Summer reading list:

2017 must-read: Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t by Simon Sinek

Top recommendations for techies:

All-time favorite book: Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger. “A book about some of his most beloved characters. It is about breaking paradigms. Setting your own standards, letting go of your ego and just acting, realizing what is really sacred and why we should shine our shoes even when we don’t think those watching deserve it.”

What, you want more great reads? Check out
Beach reads for techies 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013

Copyright © 2017 IDG Communications, Inc.

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