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7 tech reads to put perspective on 2017

Sometimes it can feel like the best way to survive winter is to hibernate. But since humans aren’t designed to actually sleep through the cold season, my favourite way to pass those long, dark evenings is to find an interesting book (or two) to chill out with or get me thinking.

Here are just a few tech reads that I’d recommend from Starling’s growing library.

1. Mind Change: How digital technologies are leaving their mark on our brains by Susan Greenfield

Controversial as Susan Greenfield may be, I had to include this because it was the first thing I bought on my Starling account and the last book I finished. And it is fascinating, thought-provoking, although perhaps not entirely substantiated. Greenfield identifies some of the popular scientific theories and philosophies around technology and its impact on our brains, our ideas, our ways of thinking and connecting and generating concepts of self. It’ll make you think – even though it’s written in plain English and even if you don’t agree with everything proposed. So for this reason, I’d recommend it. As tech reads go, discussion works particularly well over a pint in the pub with friends.

2. Augmented: Life In The Fast Lane by Brett King

Brett King is a wonderfully readable writer. And Augmented nicely contrasts to some of the theories presented by Greenfield. The book explores how the Internet and smartphone are just the latest in a 250 year long cycle of technological invention that has changed the way we live, work and interact. It’s an optimistic and compelling read – sometimes slipping towards soft science fiction – but definitely worth reading by anyone interested in the way we live now and may in the future. Breaking Banks, which you can see poking out from underneath, is also a fab book to add to any tech reads list. It features King’s interviews with ‘innovators, rogues and strategists’ across the globe, focusing on the technologies, platforms and behaviours that are transforming the way banks and finance work.

3. Originals: How non-conformists change the world by Adam Grant

Wise words that almost all of us could do with bearing in mind. In this book, Adam Grant focuses on answering certain questions of creativity. How can we originate new ideas, policies and practices without risking it all? How can we improve the world? But I can see why this is a book causes marmite reactions, with some loving it and others, well, not. It’s included here because of how the narrative pulls together different themes and anecdotes to create a great introduction to social scientific thoughts on creativity and success. Sometimes a little repetitive and some will prefer less story-telling, more strategy-giving, but nonetheless, a great book to cosy down with on an evening.

4. Sprint: How to Solve Big Problems & Test New Ideas in just Five Days by Jake Knapp

It took a while, but I finally finished Sprint. Phew. As a read, it’s pretty technical – the tech read of tech reads. But don’t worry. If java isn’t your native tongue, this book goes beyond just productivity for tech start-ups. The advice and suggestions are handy for anyone who works in teams and needs to figure out a super productive way of working. As Anne said, it’s a great hands-on book looking at the question, “How does Silicon Valley do it?”. However, I’d say the real benefit is the insight it gives on team work and finishing what you start. Interesting, a little heavy, but worth the time.

5. The Glass Wall: Strategies for Women at Work by Sue Unerman & Kathryn Jacobs

One for the girls, but guys might find it intriguing too. Sarah gave this to me my first month at Starling and it’s quickly become one of the most well-thumbed books on my shelf. Written by two top UK business women, the book offers some down-and-dirty, somewhat brutal advice, on creating opportunity, communicating effectively, and owning success as a woman in the workplace. Rereading at the beginning of year, what was also fascinating was just how different my questions and concerns are now compared to when I started. And how relevant the strategies still were. A great read for women wanting to step up their game.

6. Spare Change: Better Ways To Manage Money by Iona Bain

Iona Bain is the brain behind “Young Money”, one of the UK’s top personal finance blogs. She’s also now the author of this fab little book on money, saving, budgeting, and finding a little focus for your finances. Whilst reading, I definitely found myself cringing at the parts where I identified my own spending habits (who isn’t guilty of splurging from time to time?) but Bain brings personal finance into perspective. There’s no banky jargon. No assumptions that you, the reader, need ‘educating’. No one-size-fits-all set of advice. Maybe it doesn’t fit in with some of the other “tech reads” but Bain does a brilliant job of looking at different spending patterns, saving habits, goals, and aspirations. Big thumbs up and a must-read for anyone who’s ever felt like they want to do more with their money.

7. The Circle by David Eggers

So you’ve seen Black Mirror. You’re more than a little bit freaked out by what’s happening on the news. And then you come across this. If you’re easily disturbed then potentially Eggers isn’t for you, but if you want a little non-fiction that’ll tease your brain and challenge what you think about technology and social media – this is the book. Perfect for a rainy weekend, because you won’t want to put this one down.