12 books that will change the way you think in 2017
Set yourself a reading resolution for the New Year, starting with these recommendations. Image: Syda Productions/Shutterstock

12 books that will change the way you think in 2017

6 Jan 2017

Inspired by the many writers taking to the Inspirefest stage, here are 12 great non-fiction reads to help you spark a revolution this year.

Mark Zuckerberg famously set himself the New Year’s resolution of reading one book every two weeks in 2015. Reportedly, the Facebook CEO didn’t quite manage to reach this goal, but he gave it a good shot and ended the year with 23 reading recommendations for his fans and followers.

Personally, I think reading one book a month is a more manageable challenge to set yourself, and one that I myself have enjoyed tackling (though I have admittedly skipped a month here and there).

As is the nature of setting out with best intentions in January, I plan to keep this habit up in 2017. And, if you plan on reading one book per month this year, here are 12 suggestions that will take you through to 2018.

Build Your Dream Network, Kelly Hoey

Hot off the presses, Kelly Hoey’s Build Your Dream Network promises sound advice on genuine and effective networking. I’ve seen Hoey’s networking skill in person, as she visited Dublin for Inspirefest last year. Not only did she captivate an audience, she instantly made herself a fulcrum of connectivity at the conference and fringe festival, effortlessly drawing delegates and experts together. Check out her Inspirefest keynote for a taster of what to expect from Build Your Dream Network.

Hoey’s helpful handbook is illustrated with infographics and flowcharts, guiding the reader in how to master a timeworn skill in a digital age.

Women in Tech: Take Your Career to the Next Level with Practical Advice and Inspiring Stories, Tarah Wheeler (lead author)

Hacker, start-up co-founder, CEO and now ‘website security tsar’ at Symantec, Tarah Wheeler is also lead author of Women in Tech: Take Your Career to the Next Level with Practical Advice and Inspiring Stories. This compilation features practical advice for women looking to advance their tech career, with inspiring stories from the likes of video-game developer Brianna Wu, a prominent figure in the fight to change the gaming industry.

Wu now plans to run for US congress, while Wheeler has been booked for Inspirefest 2017.

Peers Inc: How People and Platforms Are Inventing the Collaborative Economy and Reinventing Capitalism, Robin Chase

Robin Chase, co-founder of Zipcar, spoke at Inspirefest 2016 about how modern businesses caught up with industrial giants in the blink of an eye. Just look at Airbnb, the accommodation platform that owns no property. Or Uber, the unicorn transport company with no fleet of its own.

‘Peers Inc’ is Chase’s term for the latest industrial revolution and, in her book, she explores how accessible information technology has forged a collaborative economy where “each side is doing what they do best and leaving it on the table for the other guys to do their part”.

Jewels of Allah: The Untold Story of Women in Iran, Dr Nina Ansary

Described by San Francisco Book Review as “a much-needed antidote to Western misconceptions”, Jewels of Allah intentionally shatters simplistic stereotypes of Iranian woman.

In her book, Inspirefest 2015 speaker Dr Nina Ansary highlights the female leaders and advocates throughout Iran’s history and unravels the complex tale of a full-blown feminist movement born in a post-revolutionary patriarchal society.

In order to support the empowerment of disadvantaged young women in present-day Iran, 100pc of all proceeds from the sale of Jewels of Allah go to various charities, primarily the OMID Foundation.

The Glass Universe: How the Ladies of the Harvard Observatory Took the Measure of the Stars, Dava Sobel

Bestselling author Dava Sobel has previously written about Copernicus and the daughter of renowned astronomer Galileo. In her latest work, she turns her focus to a group of women who made a remarkable contribution to the early days of astronomy.

Supported by extracts from letters, diaries and memoirs, The Glass Universe unearths a hidden history of women ‘computers’ at the Harvard College Observatory in the mid-19th century. It includes women such as Williamina Fleming, who identified 10 novae and more than 300 variable stars; and Annie Jump Cannon, who designed a stellar classification system that is still in use today.

Saving Bletchley Park, Dr Sue Black and Stevyn Colgan

Speaking of women written out of computing history, Saving Bletchley Park documents the online campaign that saved the home of World War II’s British codebreakers.

Written by Dr Sue Black, who led the campaign, with additional historical detail furnished by QI researcher Stevyn Colgan, Saving Bletchley Park is as much a guide to social media activism as it is a heartening story. A great guidebook for those seeking to effect change through social media in 2017.

Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World, Rachel Ignotofsky

OK, while we’re on the subject, we could all do with learning that bit more about the great women of history. And there’s no more pleasurable way to do so than by flicking through Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World.

This New York Times bestseller is more of a coffee-table book than a sit-down read, but it’s one of my favourites from 2016. Beautifully illustrated by Rachel Ignotofsky, every spread highlights different women from science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), spanning a timeline from Ancient Greece to the modern world.

Science and the City: The Mechanics Behind the Metropolis, Laurie Winkless

One of our very own Science 50, lapsed physicist Laurie Winkless will open city-dwellers’ eyes up to the science all around us in Science and the City.

From the foundations of skyscrapers to the sensors making data-based decisions in the blink of an eye, our urban lives are heavily governed by science, and SATC shows you how, in clear-cut language accessible to non-scientific readers.

Strategy That Works: How Winning Companies Close the Strategy-to-Execution Gap, Paul Leinwand and Cesare Mainardi

Having a business strategy is one thing. Executing it is another.

At Strategy&, PwC’s strategy consulting business, Paul Leinwand and Cesare Mainardi noted conventional business practices that were unintentionally creating a gap between these two stages, and they tackle this issue in Strategy That Works.

Based on years of research, this Harvard Business Review publication explores the gap between a company’s strategy and its execution and, through a selection of case studies, explains those strategies that have worked and why.

This Idea Must Die: Scientific Theories That Are Blocking Progress, John Brockman (editor)

Some books generate new ideas, but this one wants to put a few of the old ones to bed.

Every year, Edge.org publisher John Brockman asks a provocative question and receives numerous replies from some of the world’s premier thinkers. In 2014, the question was ‘What scientific idea has become a relic, blocking human progress?’

The resulting answer comes in the form of 175 essays compiled in This Idea Must Die, with contributors ranging from noted social scientist Sherry Turkle to novelist Ian McEwan.

The Fangirl Life: A Guide to All the Feels and Learning How to Deal, Kathleen Smith

Switching to something a bit more lighthearted, The Fangirl Life is one for the fangirls and fanboys who can’t stop fanning about.

There’s nothing wrong with fandom, but fiction fixations can prevent you from focusing on real-life challenges. With the help of proud fangirl and licensed therapist Kathleen Smith, readers can learn to put their pop culture obsessions to work in tackling stress, anxiety and low self-esteem.

This is a debut book from blogger Smith, who is apparently already working on a second.

Flourishing, Dr Maureen Gaffney

The oldest book on our list, 2011’s Flourishing comes from Inspirefest 2016 speaker Dr Maureen Gaffney.

Gaffney originally wrote this book in response to the idea that flourishing in a time of deep crisis seems unimaginable and now, as we face the unknown of 2017, this is a prospect that feels more real than ever.

All is not lost, however, thanks to Gaffney’s guide to achieving a deeper sense of wellbeing, meaning and purpose in the face of adversity. In fact, Gaffney believes that adversity can mark a positive turning point in our lives.

Flourishing outlines 10 basic strategies that can be applied in all aspects of life and help readers respond to setbacks with resilience.

Kelly Hoey, Dr Sue Black and Tarah Wheeler are coming to Dublin this summer to speak at Inspirefest, Silicon Republic’s international event connecting sci-tech professionals passionate about the future of STEM. Book now to get your Early Bird tickets.

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Elaine Burke
By Elaine Burke

Elaine Burke was editor of Silicon Republic until 2023, and is now the host of For Tech’s Sake, a co-production from Silicon Republic and The HeadStuff Podcast Network. Elaine joined Silicon Republic in 2011 as a journalist covering gadgets, new media and tech jobs. She later served as managing editor before stepping up as editor in 2019. She comes from a background in publishing and is known for being particularly pernickety when it comes to spelling and grammar – earning her the nickname, Critical Red Pen.

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