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Another month, another set of book recommendations direct from MakeUseOf HQ. This article highlights geeky books that we think our readers will enjoy reading over the next month. The coming weeks are a little light on non-fiction releases with a strong tech angle, but there are still plenty of good books to choose from.
As always, we’d love to hear what you’re currently reading, so please let us know in the comments at the end of the article.
The Four-Dimensional Human: Ways of Being in the Digital World by Laurence Scott
Our constant connection to the world at large through the internet has changed life as we know it, and Scott’s examination of our new “ways of being” has been hailed as a witty, intelligent, and insightful look at what that means. How does our new disembodied and dislocated reality differ from those that came before? Where do we begin and end, and when can we move outside of the constraints of space and time?
It sounds like an overly philosophical exercise, but these are the sorts of things we need to think about if we’re to really understand what it means to live in the modern world. Scott, recognized as a “New Generation Thinker,” combines reflections on how our social lives have changed with relevant and humorous pop-culture references to make these head-spinning concepts a bit easier to grasp.
Released on August 5, 2016.
The Cyber Effect: A Pioneering Cyberpsychologist Explains How Human Behavior Changes Online by Mary Aiken, PhD
The subtitle of this book gives you an idea of just how wide-ranging the subject matter is. Taking on the subject of how being online changes people’s behavior is a massive undertaking, but Mary Aiken is one of the few people who’s probably qualified to do it. As a cyberpsychologist, she has worked with law enforcement around the world and has given talks on cybersecurity, organized cybercrime, technology-assisted human trafficking, and more.
Her first book looks at issues like the effect on screens on child development, sexting, online addictions, cybercrime, cyberchondria, and other things — both seen and unseen — that are changing our lives via technology. Her focus on the “hidden trends” that change our lives will be sure to open any reader’s eyes to the complex, rapidly changing environment that we’re all a part of. If you’ve ever wondered how technology is changing the human mind, this is the book for you.
Released on August 23, 2016.
When it comes to inventions that have fundamentally changed the world, it’s hard to argue that the book shouldn’t be at the top of the list. It’s taken many forms, but the book has been one of — if not THE — most powerful information-sharing technologies in the history of mankind. Most people take books for granted, and have even come to dismiss them as obsolete, but the story of the book is far from over. And to really understand it, it’s important to look back into the past.
From cuneiform to early bindings to today’s paperbacks and hardcovers, Houston looks at the form of writing and books throughout history. Kirkus Reviews called the book erudite, playful, and illuminating, and other reviewers have praised it as a must-read for book buffs, history lovers, and “those interested in the dynamic relationship among language, the written word, and human ingenuity.”
Released on August 18, 2016.
The Obelisk Gate by N.K. Jemisin
The first book in the The Broken Earth series, The Fifth Season, was met with much critical acclaim, and the follow-up novel has been hotly anticipated. A young-adult (YA) epic fantasy adventure, The Obelisk Gate continues the apocalyptic story of the Stillness, a world that’s breaking apart, and Essun, the mother who would traverse the entire thing to save her daughter.
The second book of the series promises more world-spanning epic fantasy action, ancient mysteries, and the high-quality storytelling that made The Fifth Season such a success. If you haven’t jumped into YA fantasy yet, grab the first The Broken Earth eBook from your library, and be prepared to anxiously await the sequel.
Released on August 16 2016.
A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir
Another YA fantasy sequel, Tahir’s follow-up to An Ember in the Ashes is sure to be one of the most popular books of the summer. It packs all of the fantasy tropes you want into a summer read; warring factions, a huge militaristic empire, a chase across vast lands, friendships, world-changing decisions… it’s going to be tough to put down. As with The Fifth Season, you should definitely grab the first book from the library before this one comes out.
Public Radio International gave the first book high praise, saying that “An Ember in the Ashes could launch Sabaa Tahir into JK Rowling territory… It has the addictive quality of The Hunger Games combined with the fantasy of Harry Potter and the brutality of Game of Thrones”. I’m not sure there’s a better endorsement than that.
Released on August 30, 2016.
The Last Days of New Paris by China Miéville
If you’ve never read a Miéville novel, you’re in for a treat; it’s some of the most unique, most addicting, and absolutely strangest writing you’ll read (his New Crobuzon trilogy got me hooked on modern “weird” fiction). The Last Days of New Paris takes you to an alternate version of Paris in 1950, where World War II had a very different ending.
The book describes the city as a “new, hallucinogenic Paris, where Nazis and the Resistance are trapped in unending conflict, and the streets are stalked by living images and texts — and by the forces of Hell.” Staying true to form, Miéville’s newest novel promises to combine real and fictional characters in a way that you’ve never read before. It may not always be easy to read, but there’s nothing else quite like it.
Released on August 9, 2016.
Sixth Watch by Sergei Lukyanenko
Continuing with the theme of fantasy sequels, Lukyanenko’s Sixth Watch is out this month — and, as you may have guessed from the title, it’s the sixth book in this series. It may feel like too much to commit to reading a hefty series of translated novels, but the Night Watch books are absolutely phenomenal, and will not only appeal to urban fantasy fans, but also get new readers hooked. (If you’ve seen the Night Watch movies, don’t judge the books based on them!)
The Night Watch world focuses on the Others, a group of vampires, warlocks, werewolves, and other magical misfits that live in the Twilight, a world-behind-the-world that normal people can’t see. But the events that take place there have repercussions for the entire world, and the sense of urgency developed throughout each three-part novel will keep you from putting the book down. The way that Lukyanenko brings each of the three parts together in every epic finale is absolutely masterful. It’s a big commitment, but once you get started reading these books you won’t regret it.
Released on August 30, 2016.
What Are You Reading?
These seven books represent some of the best geeky releases for August 2016, but there are plenty more out there. If you have good recommendations — or you want to talk about the best of last month’s releases that you ended up reading based on our recommendation — we want to hear from you!
Which books are you looking forward to in the near future? Which books are you currently reading? Which exciting releases did we miss this month? Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.