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The 10 Best Books About Technology

Technology has become a ubiquitous and transformative force in the modern world, reshaping everything from the way we work and communicate to the very foundations of society and the economy. It‘s no wonder, then, that a flood of books have been written in recent years attempting to chronicle the rise of the tech giants, illuminate the inner workings of Silicon Valley, and grapple with technology‘s impact and implications.

With so many titles to choose from, separating the truly insightful and compelling tech books from the quickly outdated and thinly researched can be a challenge. To help you zero in on the best of the best, we‘ve compiled a list of ten essential reads that shine a light on the people, companies, and ideas driving the technology revolution.

The books on this list run the gamut from deeply reported inside stories of companies like Google and Twitter to big picture analyses of how technologies like AI are changing the world. Whether you‘re a budding entrepreneur looking for inspiration and advice, a tech history buff, or simply curious to understand the Silicon Valley giants that increasingly shape our lives, there‘s a book here for you.

For an up close and personal look at the driven, quirky, and often controversial people behind some of the world‘s most successful tech companies, you can‘t beat a well-researched, compellingly written biography. Two of the very best chronicle the lives of perhaps the most influential tech founders of the modern era:

  1. Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson
    Isaacson‘s 2011 biography, written with Jobs‘ cooperation, is a warts-and-all portrait of the mercurial Apple co-founder. Compiled from over 40 interviews with Jobs himself as well as more than 100 friends, family members, colleagues, and rivals, it offers an unvarnished look at the man who reshaped multiple industries with products like the iMac, iPod, and iPhone. While some have criticized Isaacson for pulling punches, the book succeeds in explaining how Jobs‘ relentless drive and uncompromising vision turned Apple into the world‘s most valuable company.

  2. The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon by Brad Stone
    Stone‘s 2013 look at the rise of Amazon and its founder Jeff Bezos reveals the ways in which the company‘s culture is inseparable from Bezos‘ exacting standards and customer-obsessed philosophy. Based on interviews with hundreds of current and former Amazon employees, the book details how Bezos built a company that has upended the retail industry and expanded far beyond its original niche as an online bookseller. It‘s an illuminating exploration of the mindset and strategies behind one of the world‘s most valuable and influential corporations.

Company Deep Dives
To really understand the tech world, it helps to have a detailed understanding of the unique business models, breakthrough innovations, and defining power struggles and rivalries of its leading companies. These books provide a behind-the-scenes look at what makes tech‘s major players tick.

  1. In the Plex: How Google Thinks, Works, and Shapes Our Lives by Steven Levy
    Wired writer Levy was granted unprecedented access to spend time inside Google to report this book, which chronicles the search giant‘s evolution from graduate school project to world-changing behemoth. Through interviews with top executives and detailed accounts of key moments in the company‘s history, Levy reveals how Google‘s focus on ambitious technical breakthroughs and freewheeling culture of experimentation reshaped the worlds of search, online advertising, mobile computing, and more. It‘s an essential read for understanding one of the 21st century‘s most consequential companies.

  2. Hatching Twitter by Nick Bilton
    Bilton‘s thrilling 2013 history details the power struggles, betrayals, and breakthroughs that accompanied the rise of the social media giant. Drawn from extensive interviews with Twitter‘s founders and early employees, the book brings readers inside the company‘s tumultuous early days and reveals how a simple idea—allowing users to broadcast short messages to the world—upended the worlds of media, politics, and communication. You‘ll come away with a new appreciation for both the potential and pitfalls of the Silicon Valley startup dream.

  3. The Upstarts: How Uber, Airbnb and the Killer Companies of the New Silicon Valley are Changing the World by Brad Stone
    In this 2017 book, Stone (who also wrote The Everything Store) turns his attention to the new crop of "sharing economy" startups epitomized by Uber and Airbnb. Through interviews with the companies‘ founders, employees, and users, he details how they leveraged new technologies and business models to challenge entrenched industries—and how they have struggled to live up to their own hype. It‘s a vivid portrait of the opportunities and obstacles facing today‘s tech upstarts.

Startup Advice
If you‘re an entrepreneur or hoping to start your own company, you‘ll find plenty of useful lessons and hard-won wisdom in these guides from some of the startup world‘s most successful operators.

  1. Zero to One by Peter Thiel with Blake Masters
    Thiel, the billionaire PayPal co-founder and Facebook investor, is Silicon Valley‘s consummate contrarian, and this 2014 book lays out his unique approach to entrepreneurship. Drawn from a course Thiel taught at Stanford, it argues that truly transformative startups don‘t just incrementally improve on the status quo, but create something entirely new. It‘s an invigorating call to think big and embrace contrarian ideas that will leave you rethinking many of the cliches of the startup world.

  2. The Lean Startup by Eric Ries
    Ries‘ hugely influential 2011 book lays out an approach to building companies that has been embraced by entrepreneurs around the world. Inspired by Ries‘ own experience launching failed startups and his work as a consultant and advisor, the book outlines a philosophy of efficient, iterative product development that prioritizes experimentation, customer feedback, and agile decision-making over long-term business plans. It remains a bible for many in the tech world.

The Big Picture
Taking a step back to consider how technological change is reshaping society, politics, and the economy can provide invaluable context for understanding the tech world. These ambitious books identify the trends that are turning Silicon Valley‘s creations into some of the most powerful forces on the planet.

  1. The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future by Kevin Kelly
    Kelly, the founding executive editor of Wired magazine, has had a front row seat to the rise of transformative technologies for decades. In this sweeping 2016 book, he lays out a dozen technological trends—from artificial intelligence to virtual reality—that he believes will utterly reshape our lives and the world in the coming decades. You may not agree with all his predictions, but his insights into the direction and implications of today‘s emerging technologies are unparalleled.

  2. Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy by Cathy O‘Neil
    O‘Neil, a mathematician turned data scientist, has been sounding the alarm for years about the dangers posed by opaque and unaccountable algorithms. In this sobering 2016 book, she details how mathematical models are being used to make hugely consequential decisions about everything from job hiring to prison sentences—and argues that they often serve to reinforce society‘s existing biases and inequalities. It‘s a chilling look at the dark side of Big Data that has only become more relevant in the years since its publication.

  3. AI Superpowers: China, Silicon Valley, and the New World Order by Kai-Fu Lee
    Lee, a tech investor and former Google China president, believes that recent breakthroughs in artificial intelligence are ushering in a new era in which the United States‘ historical dominance of the technology industry will be challenged by a rising China. In this provocative 2018 book, he argues that China‘s enormous reservoirs of data, huge market of AI-hungry businesses, and government support have put the country on track to become the world leader in practical AI applications—and explores the economic and political implications of this shift. Agree or disagree with Lee‘s view of the future, his book is a bracing introduction to one of the most important technological races of the 21st century.

What to Know Before You Buy
With so many technology books on the market, it can be hard to know where to start. Here are a few tips to keep in mind as you look for your next read:

  • Check the publication date. The technology world moves quickly, and even books from a few years ago can feel dated. Unless you‘re looking for a history lesson, prioritize titles that are relatively recent (published within the last five years or so).

  • Consider the author‘s credentials. Is the book written by a journalist with deep knowledge of the industry, a successful founder sharing their own experiences, or an academic with unique insights into technology‘s impact? A knowledgeable, credible author can make the difference between a book that truly enlightens and one that merely rehashes conventional wisdom.

  • Know your interests. Are you looking for page-turning company dramas, strategic startup advice, or high-level reflections on the future of technology? Do you want to learn about a particular company, trend, or figure? Having a sense of your own aims and interests can help you quickly narrow down the field.

Where to Start
If you‘re new to tech books and aren‘t quite sure where to dive in, you might consider beginning with one of the titles on this list that matches your level of experience and immediate goals:

  • If you‘re an entrepreneur embarking on your own startup journey, Peter Thiel‘s Zero to One offers a bracing introduction to the nuts and bolts—and underlying philosophy—of building a business.

  • If you want to understand some of the tech world‘s most important companies, Brad Stone‘s The Everything Store (about Amazon) and Steven Levy‘s In the Plex (about Google) offer engaging, deeply reported narratives about hugely influential firms.

  • For a big picture view of technology‘s trajectory and impact, Kevin Kelly‘s The Inevitable provides an accessible and invigorating look at the trends that are poised to shape our future.

The ten books on this list merely scratch the surface of all there is to read and learn about the past, present, and future of technology. But taken together, they offer an enlightening introduction to the industry‘s most important companies, an honest accounting of its blind spots and shortcomings, and an inspiring preview of where the technology revolution may take us next. Whether you‘re a tech veteran or a curious newcomer, cracking open one of these books is sure to give you a fresh perspective on the Silicon Valley giants that increasingly shape our world.