In 2018 I’ve managed to go through 24 fantastic books—a little less than I’ve planned, but anxiety got in the way. The prevalent theme was undoubtedly feminism—especially touching on systemic racial oppression. Second most read subject was the effect of technology on humanity—an equally important issue.
In no particular order, here’s a short commentary that might be useful if you’re looking for thought-provoking reads that will help you grow both personally and professionally.
Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts
Brené Brown ∙ 2018 ∙ Get it here
Brené’s books, without a fail, have been the most impactful reads in my life. She tackles crucial subjects of shame, perfectionism, worthiness and thoroughly explains how to show up courageously, every single day. An essential guide to both personal and professional development.
Lost and Founder: The Mostly Awful, Sometimes Awesome Truth about Building a Tech Startup
Rand Fishkin ∙ 2018 ∙ Get it here
I’m going to admit I haven’t heard about Rand, or Moz, until recently. However, Lost and Founder is the most no-bullshit, anti-hustle startup book I’ve ever read. Big thumbs up for refreshing sincerity and vulnerability our industry is often lacking.
Factfulness: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About the World and Why Things Are Better Than You Think
Hans, Ola and Anna Rosling ∙ 2018 ∙ Get it here
Factfulness is exactly the book we need in the time of fake news and widespread fearmongering. It provides necessary context on how much humanity has progressed and what else is left to be done.
A Uterus Is a Feature, Not a Bug: The Working Woman’s Guide to Overthrowing the Patriarchy
Sarah Lacy ∙ 2017 ∙ Get it here
The founder of PandoDaily debunks patriarchal misconceptions on how women, especially mothers, are supposedly less skilled as employees and entrepreneurs. A great read on the “Maternal Wall” bias and how to overcome it.
Text Me When You Get Home: The Evolution and Triumph of Modern Female Friendship
Kayleen Schaefer ∙ 2018 ∙ Get it here
This book really moved me. A wonderful account of female frienships, emphasising how crucial those relationships are and how they should be treated at the same level as romantic partnerships. Love my besties.
Not That Bad: Dispatches from Rape Culture
Edited by Roxane Gay ∙ 2018 ∙ Get it here
Roxane is one of the most important voices in the current day and age. It’s an excellent, albeit very confronting, collection of essays on assault, harassment and rape. It made me realise how many situations labelled as “not that bad” came back to haunt me years later.
New Dark Age: Technology and the End of the Future
James Bridle ∙ 2018 ∙ Get it here
I’ve stumbled upon this book somewhat accidentally but it’s one of the best dissections of the influence of technology on our lives. James paints a honest picture of environmental repercussions, surveillance, power inequalities and violence. A must read.
Call Them by Their True Names: American Crises (and Essays)
Rebecca Solnit ∙ 2018 ∙ Get it here
I love Rebecca Solnit. Her recent essay collections have been one of my favourite reads. While a lot of her writing dissects American culture and current, difficult climate, she touches on universal issues. This book is a study of violence against women with a dash of hope for the future.
Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie ∙ 2017 ∙ Get it here
Adichie’s “We Should All Be Feminists” is a modern feminist staple and I did love the successor as well. I’m not a parent myself but I’ve wondered how I’d raise children to be allies and Chimamanda comes to rescue with a lovely letter-to-a-friend format.
Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy
Cathy O'Neil ∙ 2016 ∙ Get it here
A quantitative analyst telling the story of how algorithms royally screw us over, promoting inequality, racial discrimination and oppression. A sobering read for those working on the Web platform looking to understand the true repercussions of their making.
Automating Inequality: How High-Tech Tools Profile, Police, and Punish the Poor
Virginia Eubanks ∙ 2018 ∙ Get it here
An investigation on how software punishes the poor and ensures that economically disadvantaged can’t break the cycle of poverty. The stories told by Eubanks didn’t leave my head for a long time.
The Best Interface Is No Interface: The Simple Path to Brilliant Technology
Golden Krishna ∙ 2015 ∙ Get it here
A critical look on the current state of user experience design and infatuation with with technology. Great primer on usability and minimalism.
Brotopia: Breaking Up the Boys’ Club of Silicon Valley
Emily Chang ∙ 2018 ∙ Get it here
If you think you’ve heard it all about Silicon Valley, trust me, you haven’t. In her exposé, Chang reveals the worst of bro culture and shows how to end it, once for all.
Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action
Simon Sinek ∙ 2009 ∙ Get it here
Accordingly to Goodreads, this was the most popular book from the entire collection, but frankly, I can recollect very little other than it was horribly boring. If you’re after leadership advice, better check out Brené’s writing.
Lindy West ∙ 2017 ∙ Get it here
West manages to simulatenously make you laugh uncontrollably and learn to confront prevalent negative programming about your body image. What an incredibly powerful voice taking on fat shaming.
Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World
Adam M. Grant ∙ 2016 ∙ Get it here
Originals offers a range of studies and stories on breaking the groupthink and embracing creativity. A good read on how to foster originality and how dissent can prove to be tremendously useful.
So You Want to Talk About Race
Ijeoma Oluo ∙ 2018 ∙ Get it here
THE BOOK every single white person should read, immediately. Cover to cover, multiple times. A succint primer allowing to start grasping race and racial oppression in the supercharged world of inequality.
Bitch Doctrine: Essays for Dissenting Adults
Laurie Penny ∙ 2017 ∙ Get it here
Laurie’s previous writing, “Unspeakable Things” is one of the best feminist reads I’ve came across. She doesn’t disappoint here either—wittily tackling the end of patriarchy and the struggle of gender binary. Penny also manages to emphatize with those who she critiques most, which is refreshing.
Intercom on Marketing
Des Traynor & Matt Hodges ∙ 2018 ∙ Get it here
I’ve read most of the Intercom books and find them valuable and well edited. This was no exception. However, some of the advice only applies to bigger organisations, not startups.
Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race
Reni Eddo-Lodge ∙ 2017 ∙ Get it here
After Ijeoma’s book, this is a second position in your race education manual. While mostly focusing on the landscape of racial discrimination in the United Kingdom it still will open your eyes to oppression non-white people face, every day.
Technically Wrong: Sexist Apps, Biased Algorithms, and Other Threats of Toxic Tech
Sara Wachter-Boettcher ∙ 2017 ∙ Get it here
Sara offers a thorough walkthrough of harmful biases embedded in tech products we use everyday. She demystifies the lack of values leading to creating toxic technologies. A must read on ethical design.
Hopefully, you have found a few interesting reads for yourself. Onwards, 2019!