Summer Reading for the Well-Rounded IT Professional


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Ah, the long, lazy days of summer. Wallowing away endless hours on the beach or in a hammock—complete with hat, boat drink and striking the pose of the leisure class.

You may think: It just doesn’t get any better than this.

Unless, of course, you’re here on Earth with the rest of us, where the lazy pace of summer is little more than a faint memory of idyllic childhoods past.

Just the same, it’s fun to pretend we have free time—and, in doing so, to make the list of the books we may or may not endeavor to read this season.

In that spirit, here is my list of summer reading—my favorite books, better late than never:


The Innovators Dilemma
—Clayton Christensen is one of the truly rare geniuses of management theory. In this now-classic text, he explains why once-reliable advantages turn against us over time. His notion of “creative destruction” is an important model for understanding the organic nature of business.

Crossing the Chasm—Geoffrey Moore wrote this bible for the start-up set nearly two decades ago, but its lessons endure and continue to inform the practices of the entrepreneur. His key message: Focus on and win an initial beachhead.

The Tipping Point—We all love Malcolm Gladwell because he’s smarter than us (me, at least), but remarkably accessible in his writing. He draws us in with stunningly good storytelling. The Tipping Point explains the inner workings of inflection points—when seemingly small and insignificant things cause great big things to happen. Those who are able to apply his lessons are on their way to moving mountains. This is his most important book.

Who Moved my Cheese?—Business would be easy if it wasn’t for the people. We’ve all felt this way from time to time. This simple story is small in size, but it has a big and important lesson: Leaders don’t avoid change—they adapt to it.


The Structure of Scientific Revolutions—Thomas Kuhn’s treatise popularized the terms “paradigm” and “paradigm shift,” which have since made the list of unoriginal buzzwords we should all actively avoid. But Kuhn’s analysis is anything but unoriginal. It’s safe to say that this midcentury text has informed every subsequent book on innovation theory. It’s a challenging, but very worthwhile read.

Flow—This book by famously unpronounceable Hungarian psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi popularized the notion of “flow” as a way to describe optimal creative output as measured by sustained periods of focused concentration. The theory of flow characterizes the fully immersed, almost trancelike state we enter when we’re “in the flow.” It should inform the work habits of anyone engaged in a creative pursuit—from software developers to poets.

The Mythical Man Month—Fred Brook’s book of software engineering and project management essays famously debunks the conventional notion of the software development process as following a linear investment curve. Brook’s thesis: Adding resources to a software project that’s already late will only make it later.

The Visible Ops Handbook
—”ITIL for the rest of us” is one way to think about The Visible Ops Handbook, which draws from the ITIL framework to offer a set of pragmatic guideposts for achieving high-performance IT operations without heavy bureaucracy and process bloat. Well worth reading for anyone in IT operations.


If you’re like me, you find insight and inspiration in literature outside of the business and technology canons. But you probably don’t have the time or attention span to revisit the classics. Here is some suggested brain-food, fed by the spoon:

The Poet at the Piano
—This unique book by Michiko Kakutani features interviews with famous creative professionals, from visual artists to authors to playwrights. Reads like the best conversations with Charlie Rose.

Best of … Anthologies—Best Short Stories, Creative Nonfiction, Magazine Writing, etc.—these anthologies are a great way to consume a filtered cross-section of literature without becoming a housebound bookworm.

The New Yorker—Skip the front matter and go directly to “Heard on the Street,” “Shouts and Murmurs” and the featured profiles and essays. Reliably good stuff.

What are your selections?

Republished with author's permission from original post.


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