These are the tech books you should be reading right now [2018 Year in Review]

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Year in Review Best Books 2018
Get ready for some holiday reading.
Photo: Killian Bell/Cult of Mac

Cult of Mac Year in Review 2018 On the hunt for a great tech-related book to bury yourself in this winter? Fortunately, 2018 turned out to be a great year for the written word.

Here are our choices for the best of the best.

Best tech books of 2018

From Silicon Valley to sci-fi to Steve Jobs’ daughter’s memoir, the best tech books of 2018 will get you thinking and keep you turning pages.

Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup

Bad Blood: An astonishing expose of a fallen giant
An astonishing expose of a fallen giant.
Photo: Knopf

From self-driving cars to potentially life-saving wearable devices like Apple Watch, tech is full of stories of extraordinary people creating game-changing disruptive technologies. These companies frequently rack up hundreds of column inches in magazines and newspapers, secure millions in venture capital, and receive enormous valuations.

But what if the underlying technology doesn’t actually work? That’s the story of biotech startup Theranos, whose founder Elizabeth Holmes modeled herself after Apple’s Steve Jobs.

Theranos claimed it could run a multitude of tests on even tiny amounts of blood. It couldn’t. The Wall Street Journal journalist John Carreyrou eventually exposed the company’s false claims. Carreyrou’s book, Bad Blood, tells the whole sordid story.

Buy from: Amazon — $16.95

Life After Google: The Fall of Big Data and the Rise of the Blockchain Economy

In Life After Google, George Gilder states his case against Google
George Gilder states his case against Google.
Photo: Gateway Editions

Economist and technology advocate George Gilder is best known for his 1981 book Wealth and Poverty. That book about supply-side economics and capitalism made him a favorite intellectual of Ronald Reagan.

Jump forward almost 40 years, and Gilder’s Life After Google lays out the author’s belief that the age of this big data tech giant — with its unerring belief in the power of artificial intelligence — may be coming to an end. It sounds impossible, but Gilder raises some serious problems with the current data economy. All while boosting the rise of Blockchain technologies. An interesting, provocative read.

Buy from: Amazon — $19.71

Technically Wrong: Sexist Apps, Biased Algorithms, and Other Threats of Toxic Tech

Technically Wrong is a fascinating look at bias in technology
A fascinating look at bias in technology.
Photo: W. W. Norton & Company

“Technology is neither good nor bad; nor is it neutral.” That was technology historian Melvin Kranzberg’s famous assertion about technology. That’s borne out in Technically Wrong, a book about the oversights, biases, and other ethical dilemmas which influence the technology we use on a regular basis.

If you’re a user, the book is a timely reminder to question the tools we use. If you’re an engineer, it’s a useful primer on some important aspects to consider when you design your next product.

Buy from: Amazon — $16.96

Small Fry: A Memoir

Small Fry offers a revealing glimpse at Steve Jobs the person
A revealing glimpse at Steve Jobs the person.
Photo: Luke Dormehl/Cult of Mac

The only explicitly Apple book on this list, Small Fry is the memoir of Lisa Brennan-Jobs, aka Steve Jobs’ oldest daughter. Lisa is best known to Apple fans as the child whose paternity Steve Jobs denied, but whom he named a computer after anyway. But there’s far more to her story than this.

Small Fry is an artfully written autobiography about life as the daughter of a successful, but challenging father. Apple’s late CEO doesn’t come across in glowing terms, but this is an important alternative take that’s focused less on what he accomplished and more on what he was like as a person. (You can read my full review here.)

Buy from: Amazon — $17.10

Space Odyssey: Stanley Kubrick, Arthur C. Clarke, and the Making of a Masterpiece

Space Odyssey offers a comprehensive look at classic sci-fi movie 2001
A comprehensive look at a classic sci-fi movie.
Photo: Simon & Schuster

Not, technically, a tech book, but it’s hard to imagine too many technology fans being disappointed to unwrap this volume on Christmas day. Michael Benson’s 50th anniversary celebration of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, this volume chronicles the making of perhaps science fiction’s greatest ever movie.

Even if you’re not a movie buff (although that certainly helps), 2001 was so ahead of its time in predicting today’s tech breakthroughs that it is well worth reading up on.

Buy from: Amazon — $16.47

The Nostalgia Nerd’s Retro Tech: Computer, Consoles and Games

The Nostalgia Nerd's Retro Tech: Computer, Consoles and Games is a fun journey back through gaming history
A fun journey back through gaming history.
Photo: Nostalgia Nerd

Written by computer nostalgia YouTuber The Nostalgia Nerd, this guide to the history of video and computer games consoles is a fun stocking filler. It doesn’t go in depth in the way that, say, Tristan Donovan’s 2010 Replay: The History of Video Games does. But as a fun, easy-to-pick up trip down memory lane, this is a winner.

Each console gets a potted history, fact sheet, and selection of “must see,” “must play,” and “must avoid” games. Add in some nice illustrations and you’ve got an attractive package for any gamer.

Buy from: Amazon — $13.51