28 books recommended by open source technologists to read right now

Members of the Opensource.com community share what books they are enjoying reading.
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Did you get our summer reading list?

It may not be the season of summer where you are, but summer reading lists are quintessential and somewhat cozy no matter what part of the world you live in. I love the idea of a cool breeze, a lounge chair, a drink, and a snack... all wrapped up together with a good book to pour over.

Fiction and non-fiction. Dramas, mysteries, science, romance... let us know in the comments what you're reading.

I'm working through How to Measure Anything, which is pretty cool. Recommended! —Moshe Zadka

For science fiction lovers, I recommend Luis McMaster Bujold's Vorkosigan Saga. I had never heard of her until reading Larry Wall's lecture Perl, the first postmodern computer language: "Note how we still periodically hear the phrase 'serious literature'. This is literature that is supposedly about Real Life. Let me tell you something. The most serious literature I’ve ever read is by Lois McMaster Bujold. Any of you read her? It’s also the funniest literature I’ve ever read. It’s also space opera. 'Genre fiction,' sneers the Modernist. Meaning it follows certain conventions. So what? Nobody in the world can mix gravity and levity the way Bujold does in her Vorkosigan books. It’s oh so definitely about real life. So what if it follows space opera conventions. Sonnets follow certain conventions too, but I don’t see them getting sneered at much these days. Certainly, they were always called 'serious'."

So, I started with the Vor Game and then couldn't stop until I finished all of the series. Moving, funny, entertaining. —Petr Beranek

I finished reading The Sleep Revolution by Arianna Huffington last week. Currently reading The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson. —Lauren Maffeo

I'm currently reading Nemesis Games (book 5 in The Expansesci-fi series).

Next on my reading list is Greater Good (book 2 in theStar Wars: Thrawn Ascendencyseries). I fell into the Star Wars books a few years ago, and have been reading them in between other books on my reading list. I loved the original Thrawn series, the Ahsoka book, the Darth Bane series, and the Darth Plagueis book. Some are not so great, like Outbound Flight (didn't get into it), Master & Apprentice (kind of dull), and Light of the Jedi (the first in the "High Republic" series). And then there are some in the middle, like the Tarkin book (interesting character) and Lords of the Sith (predictable, but good).

McCloud's Understanding Comics is a great book! I read it when I was working on my Master's degree, about 8 years ago, during my independent study on visual rhetoric. My instructor and I found it to be a very useful reference in how images communicate.

Another one: Picture This by Molly Bang. I thumbed through that so many times when learning about icons (same visual rhetoric class) that some of the pages started falling out. —Jim Hall

Sometimes, I wonder what I haven't been reading, because I always have a book or two or three on my Kindle.

I am a huge reader of SciFi and Fantasy, so I just finished the Hugo and Nebula winner, A Memory Called Empire. It has a fascinating premise and good characterizations, but I thought the writing would be a little stronger. Like Ancillary Justice, this book explores the idea of colonization. But in the case of A Memory Called Empire the colonizers look a lot like the Aztec Empire writ large. Oh, and this empire is obsessed with complicated poetry. Citizens use poems to encrypt email and provide travelogues.

My favorite book in a while is All Systems Red, the first book in The Murderbot Diaries, by Martha Wells. Imagine that you have an artificial human, who's a little bit of a clone and a little bit of a robot. She's sentient and self-aware, can destroy a human or a building in seconds flat, and has overwritten her governor program, but really she just wants to curl up in her cubby and binge-watch her favorite infotainment. Oh, and she has social anxiety. Except for the part about being able to destroy a spaceship, she's a lot like me.

I'm also currently reading Brandon Sanderson's Words of Radiance. —Ingrid Towey

One of the best recent books I read was Bomber Mafia by Malcolm Gladwell. It was a fascinating read. I also read Persist by Elizabeth Warren which I found interesting. I just started reading While Justice Sleeps by Stacey Abrams. I recently read "Killing Crazy Horse" by Bill O'Reilly and "The Soul of a Woman" by Isabel Allende. That book was so compelling that I bought copies for my daughter and daughter-in-law. —Don Watkins

I’m currently reading the new Christine Morgan novel Trench Mouth, having just finished the original Metropolis (the one Fritz Lang adapted the movie from), and next up is Cultish: The Language of Fanaticism by Amanda Montell. I’ve also got Workplace Jazz and Culture is the Bass by Gerold Leonard in there, and am eagerly awaiting Final Girl Support Group by Grady Hendrix, which will be out next month. —Kevin Sonney

I've got two books I'm reading: Laziness Does Not Exist by Devon Price. This is a look at how the over-emphasis on productivity has gone too far in our culture. And, His Truth is Marching On by Jon Meacham. This is a look at the life and experience of John Lewis. —Steve Morris

My year-round reading continues to be mainly books from Project Gutenberg. Recently I've read a number of books by Hillaire Belloc, mainly his commentaries on various topics ("On Anything", "On Everything" to name two). I also enjoy reading things by GK Chesterton. It can be hard to decide what the real point is that he is trying to make as he complains about this or that, but he's entertaining nonetheless.

Currently, I'm reading Thirty Strange Stories by HG Wells. I've also read a number of his commentaries, which are quite good generally. It seems that most books I read come from the late 19th or very early 20th century.

[Read next: 10 must-read technology books for 2021]

A book I would recommend if you've never read it is Candide by Voltaire. I went through it hopping back and forth from the English to the French versions. The French seemed just a bit more entertaining.

I do all this with my tablet. Something I've really gotten attached to is the ability to highlight some word or phrase, then immediately be able to look it up on the internet on the tablet, or translate with an app. —Greg Pittman

I recommend: Mastermind by Maria Konnikova, and The Mind Map Book by Tony Buzan —Hüseyin GÜÇ

I've been reading a lot of work-related books through a couple of work bookclubs. One I'm reading now that I really like is No Hard Feelings by Fosslien and Duffy-West. It's a light read that talks about the ways emotions show up at work, and how to manage (your and other people's) emotions at work.

Outside work, I've been reading some books on design. Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud is my current read, and I recently finished the very enjoyable How Design Makes the World by Scott Berkun, simultaneously a great lit review of books on the design of everyday things around us, and an overview of how (conscious and unconscious) design decisions impact our lives, and how we can improve the world by being aware of when we make our own design decisions.

Finally, I have also been reading some historical non-fiction. Most recently, I loved The Guns of August by Barbara Tuchman about the outbreak and early days of World War One. And I'm looking forward to reading "How the Irish Became White" (a book I heard about from Christine Dunbar-Hester, who wrote the book Bryan recommended) about the evolution of the Irish cultural identity through the 19th and 20th century. —Dave Neary

A little out of the how-to corner: I am currently reading Learn You a Haskell for Great Good! It is a beginner's guide to the Haskell programming language, a very strange thing from my viewpoint. —Stephan Avenwedde

Here in Vancouver, Canada we have hit summer weather as well as passing the solstice; today we're expecting a high of 26ºC and by late in the week we may hit 30ºC (which is unusually warm hereabouts). But lovely, for sure. And I'm looking forward to kicking back in the late afternoon with a nice cool beverage and a good book, so just in time for the summer reading list!

My colleagues in Chile are in quarantine right now and it's winter there. The Mapuche new year We Tripantu and the Aymara Willkakuti are upon us, a time of reflection, celebration, and anticipation of the year to come: all, I am sure, hoping for better! There is also the winter school vacation that in theory runs from the 12th to the 23rd of July, which in a normal year would give an opportunity for digging into the recommendations on the summer reading list after a day of chasing the kids around a park or skiing or sledding in the mountains. For anyone interested, here is a short English article on Willkakuti in Bolivia, and here is another on We Tripantu in Argentina and Chile. —Chris Hermansen

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Jen leads a team of community managers for the Digital Communities team at Red Hat. She lives in Raleigh with her husband and daughters, June and Jewel.

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