Hitting the Books: Summer reading list

by mcdix

Over a million new titles are published in the US yearly, far more than even the most bibliophile secret agent could get through. Even with a weekly publishing schedule, we can only bring you 52 Hit the Books a year. To highlight all the great stories that can’t be featured in our weekly column, we’re now bringing you Hitting the Books Quarterly, a biannual roundup of books that may not be all about technology, but we think you’ll like it anyway. This edition’s selection runs from STEM to Sci-Fi, including quotes from New York Times bestselling author John Scalzi, UC Berkeley professor of sociology Carolyn Chen, and journalist Stephen Witt. We hope you will enjoy it.

Work Bid Code: When Work Becomes Religion in Silicon Valley by Carolyn Chen

Silicon Valley may bill itself as the Emerald City at the end of America’s Yellow Brick Road. Still, you only need to pull open the curtain to discover the oppressive capitalist machinery behind it. In her new book, Work Pray Code, Carolyn Chen, a sociology professor at UC Berkeley, examines how an industry already poised to worship the founder myth has steadily forced itself on the religious beliefs and practices of its employees and Buddhist adjacent “wellness programs” in the hopes of achieving productivity relief. What, you thought the corporate town wouldn’t have a corporate church?

How Music Became Free: A Story of Obsession and Invention by Stephen Witt

In the early days of social media, just as the popularity of physical media was beginning to wane, but long before the rise of ubiquitous streaming services, there was a time of limitless possibilities. It was a time when every song ever made could be yours, for free and at the click of a button, assuming at least one other person on your network had a full copy. Many music collections were collected during the unregulated era of file sharing, much to the chagrin of the record industry. But no one has copied music close to Dell Glover’s scale. In his 2016 book, How Music Got Free, journalist Stephen Witt explains how Glover exploited his position at a compact disc factory in North Carolina to stealthily steal and leak over 2,000 albums over a decade before he was arrested. Somebody gives that guy a medal.


The Kaiju Preservation Society by John Scalzi

Stuck in a dead-end job amid the depths of the first COVID lockdown, Jamie Gray is looking for a way out of his bleak, cramped existence. Bad luck for him; he’s about to get what he wants in The Kaiju Preservation Society, the latest from John Scalzi, New York bestselling author of Old Man’s War and Redshirts.

Women of Walt Disney Imagineering: 12 Women Reflect on Their Pioneering Theme Park Careers

Walt Disney may have had the initial spark of inspiration for what would eventually become one of the world’s largest media empires. Still, ever since his noggin went into cold storage, the responsibility for bringing those stories, rides, and attractions to life has fallen on the company’s legion of passionate designers, fabricators, and builders: the Imagineers. Women of Walt Disney Imagineering collects firsthand accounts of a dozen women who worked behind the scenes and struggled in a predominantly male industry to ensure that Disney’s theme parks live up to their reputation as the most magical places on earth.

The Lost World by Tom Sweterlitsch

In this tight, time-traveling thriller, NCIS Special Agent Shannon Moss is tasked with discovering why a Navy SEAL killed his family — and where his teenage daughter went missing. Taking advantage of the world’s ‘Deep Time’ chrono-hopping phenomena, Moss jumps across the fourth dimension, fluttering between alternate realities in search of clues to the killer’s motivations. That is until she encounters a near-future event that could end humanity completely. Do you have a recommendation for a book you couldn’t put down? Message us at [email protected] about it, and we may be able to include it in a future collection! Our editorial team, independent of our parent company, has selected all products recommended by Engadget. Some of our stories contain affiliate links. We may earn an affiliate commission if you buy something through one of these links.

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