The ultimate summer reading list for techies

- select the contributor at the end of the page -
It's that time of year again when you actually, finally have time to spend time on something other than work. And what better way to unwind than by reading something offline? We've rounded up some of our all-time favorite titles, ranging in everything from tech and geek to career and motivational topics. Whether you plan to keep it low key on some sleepy beach somewhere or curl up in that neglected hammock in your own backyard, this list is sure to help you relax.

Career books

"Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…and Others Don't" by Jim Collins

If you've ever wondered why some companies are just so much better than others, you'll find a thoughtful, well-rounded explanation for it here. Business consultant Jim Collins had a serious desire to find out what it takes for a good company to become a great one, and that's exactly what he accomplished. Thankfully, he decided to share it with the rest of us.

"Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us" by Daniel Pink

Turns out that we've been doing this whole motivation thing all wrong. Author Daniel Pink takes a look at the science behind what truly motivates people and he lays it all out in this brilliant little book. Even better, he offers some techniques to help us get back on the right track. If you're ever feeling stuck in a rut, this is about all you'll need to find your way out.

"Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don't" by Simon Sinek

Want to be a better leader? Then don't skip this one. The advice here is so insightful (and backed by some pretty hardcore evidence) that you may end up missing whatever fun-filled activities you had planned for the day. We promise it's worth it.

Tech books

“The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains” by Nicholas Carr

No, this isn't some Luddite rant on why you should kill your computer -- though, it will certainly make you feel relieved that you're taking time away from the screen to enjoy your summer. Author Nicholas Carr takes an in-depth look at how the Internet is affecting us at a neurological and social level. Be prepared to want to extend your vacation.

"Countdown to Zero Day: Stuxnet and the Launch of the World's First Digital Weapon" by Kim Zetter

Journalist Kim Zetter takes an incredibly complex story and turns it into a highly engaging read. She's done such a great job with "Countdown to Zero Day" that it's enjoyable for both seasoned techies and novices alike – heck, you don't even have to be interested in tech at all to enjoy this one.

"The Physics of the Future: How Science Will Shape Human Destiny and Our Daily Lives by the Year 2100" by Michio Kaku

All those sci-fi movies you watched as a kid have nothing on physicist and author Michio Kaku's vision of what the world will be like in a not-too-distant future. You'll find everything from nanobots to gene therapy here, including plenty of wild predictions – all stemming from extensive research including interviews with more than 300 scientists. You may not agree with all of it, but you'll almost certainly be inspired.

Geeky reads

"Snow Crash" by Neal Stephenson

Absurd, funny, smart, prophetic … this wildly entertaining book about a hacker, samurai swordsman and pizza-delivery driver will quickly take you to another world.

"Cryptonomicon" by Neal Stephenson

Neal Stephenson clearly knows the way to a geek's heart, or at least their head. Cryptonomicon deals with codes, code breaking and a group of hackers turned treasure hunters. The story flashes back and forth through time featuring, among others, Alan Turing and the invention of the first computers.

“Redshirts: A Novel with Three Codas” by John Scalzi

Get ready for an absurdist tale that asks the ultimate question: What if the characters in a second-rate sci-fi television show (read: Star Trek) were actually alive? “Redshirts” is the story of a group that travels out of its universe and into ours, in search of the show's writer.

"Ready Player One" by Ernest Cline

Soon to be made into a movie by Steven Spielberg, “Ready Player One” is about a near future where most of life happens inside a giant virtual world. It kicks off when a poor kid from a trailer park solves the first part of an Easter egg hunt designed by the virtual world's creator. It's fun sci-fi and a great nostalgia fest.

"The Windup Girl" by Paolo Bacigalupi

This one takes us to a future where food shortages are as prevalent as genetically designed sex workers. It's a book about self-discovery and the slow decay of the old world.

Looking for more books to add to your summer reading list? Check out some of our other favorites, along with these author-recommended tech titles.

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Stacy Warden

Stacy Warden is a contributing editor of the Pluralsight blog and has worked in publishing since the dawn of the iPhone. Currently, Stacy deals in tech and education--a combination that she finds absolutely fascinating. You can find her on Twitter @sterrsi.