As busy working professionals, most of us no longer have the luxury of the long summer vacations we enjoyed as kids. But hopefully you’re planning on taking some time off before summer is officially over, and what’s quality beach time without some great beach reads? To help you out, we asked our fellow Relics to share some great book recommendations.

Ranging from the technical (“I’m not at work but I’m kind of still thinking about work”) to the motivational (“Hey, a little self-improvement never killed anybody”) and even to the inspirational (“I don’t really want to go back to work, so someone please inspire me to do so”), these books are sure to grab your attention and transform you for the better. If you’re looking to stay sharp while relaxing in the sun, look no further than our latest Relic Reading List!

If you eat, breathe, and read tech…

Accelerate: The Science of Lean Software and DevOps by Nicole Forsgren, Ph.D., Jez Humble, and Gene Kim

Recommended by Fredric Paul, Editor in Chief: “This is the latest book from Gene Kim and Jez Humble (along with Nicole Forsgren, PhD) who also brought you The Phoenix Project and The DevOps Handbook. If you care about DevOps, you need to check it out.”


Algorithms to Live By: The Computer Science of Human Decisions by Brian Christian

Recommended by Alexa Zeazas, Software Engineer: “Really interesting approach to making decisions, especially for those of us who can be indecisive.”

Algorithmic Entities by Lynn M. LoPucki

Recommended by Ward Cunningham, Staff Engineer: “This article argues that algorithmic entities—legal entities that have no human controllers—greatly exacerbate the threat of artificial intelligence. Algorithmic entities are likely to prosper first and most in criminal, terrorist, and other anti-social activities because that is where they have their greatest comparative advantage over human-controlled entities.”

Behind Human Error by David D. Woods

Recommended by Tim Tischler, Senior Software Engineer: “This is a fabulous read, drawing from the fields of air safety, hospital safety, and human factors. It’s the foundation beneath blameless post-mortems and talks about the failure modes of various system, and why ‘human error’ is never a correct root cause (written by the SNAFUcatcher folks).”


Life in Code by Ellen Ullman

Recommended by Isaac Eldridge, Technical Content Editor: “An unique personal history of the tech industry, from a woman’s perspective, starting in the ’90s to present day.”


The Woman Who Smashed Codes: A True Story of Love, Spies, and the Unlikely Heroine Who Outwitted America’s Enemies by Jason Fagone

Recommended by Alexa Zeazas: “Great historical nonfiction book about a relatively unknown pioneer in cryptanalysis.”



WTF?: What’s the Future and Why It’s Up to Us by Tim O’Reilly

Recommended by Sean Kane, Lead Site Reliability Engineer: “Tim O’Reilly has a uniquely broad and deep perspective on the last 40 years of the computer and Internet revolution. This book is full of interesting historical details that explain how we got where we are, but truly shines in its goal of highlighting how we are all in control of the future we build and describing the things we can do to ensure the best possible outcome.”

If you’re looking for personal development…

Deep Work by Cal Newport and The Power of Moments by Chip and Dan Heath

Recommended by Katie Leonard, Senior Software Engineer: “[Deep Work] discusses productivity and setting up the conditions to get into a flow”; “[The Power of Moments] is about learning what a moment is, why it is important, and how you can make more of them to enrich your life.”

People Skills by Robert Bolton

Recommended by Merlyn Albery-Speyer, Lead Software Engineer: “The focus of this book is on your own personal behavior and awareness as to what the impact can be. It leaves you well informed and gives you choices you can make to improve your relationships with others. I read this book to help me learn how to work better with colleagues; what completely surprised me was how much it helped me deepen my relationship with my wife. I can’t recommend this book enough.”

Impro: Improvisation and the Theatre by Keith Johnstone

Recommended by Jonathan Owens, Lead Software Engineer: “Okay, this is not at all a software book but an improvisatory theater book. But, boy, is it ever about both creativity in public and how to be deeply creative in general. I read it as a public speaking text—and it can help with thinking on your feet—but even if you never improvised in a group, it has a lot to say about letting your subconscious take you to creative places and expand your notion of self.”


Principles by Ray Dalio

Recommended by Rob Chappell, Enterprise Account Executive: “It was a good read and nudged me into reading a classic, The Hero with a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell.”

The Myth of the Nice Girl: Achieving a Career You Love Without Becoming a Person You Hate by Fran Hauser

Recommended by Alexa Zeazas: “There are enough books about ‘leaning in’ and being assertive as a female professional. This book talks about how to do all that in a way that is authentic to you. Great read!”

Still Alice by Lisa Genova

Recommended by Barb Bryant, Senior Technical Writer: “My mother was recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. This book has helped me to better understand what she is experiencing with this illness and what I can do to help. The movie Still Alice is also good, but the book is so much better. The movie simply allows me to observe Julianne Moore’s brilliant performance; the book takes me inside Alice.”

And for those days when you need a little inspiration…

The Happiness Trap by Russ Harris

Also recommended by Jonathan Owens: “This book is an introduction to Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, a mindfulness-based approach to coping with difficult experiences and emotions. It’s a rare therapy book that gets at how we think, not just a process for feeling better or different.”


Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel Pink

Recommended by Lori Landesman, Senior Manager of Product Design: “Pink talks about the need for autonomy, mastery, and purpose in one’s work. It resonated strongly for me and has helped me think more clearly about what gives me job satisfaction.”

The Internet Is My Religion by Jim Gilliam

Recommended by Virginette Acacio, Senior Social Media Producer: “A great personal and inspiring story that underscores the birth and evolution of the internet. Personally speaking, I struggle with the notion of religion so this book really hit home with me. It perfectly married my upbringing and love of tech.”


West With the Night by Beryl Markham

Recommended by Rebecca Campbell, VP of Software Engineering: “Markham was an amazing woman who grew up hunting barefoot in Kenya, trained racehorses, became one of the first bush pilots, and was the first solo pilot to cross the Atlantic non-stop from east to west. And, boy, could she write! As Ernest Hemingway said, ‘She has written so well, and marvelously well, that I was completely ashamed of myself as a writer. I felt that I was simply a carpenter with words, picking up whatever was furnished on the job and nailing them together and sometimes making an okay pig pen. But [she] can write rings around all of us who consider ourselves as writers.’”


Lastly, because it’s summer “and the livin’ is easy,” we also asked our fellow Relics to suggest what movies, shows, and lighter reading they are loving right now. Be sure to check them out when you have some downtime!

As for me, I have been reading Gillian Flynn’s Dark Places this summer, but after browsing through all of these great recommendations, I’m feeling more inclined to pick up a slightly more inspiring piece of literature!

Got a great book recommendation of your own, technical or not? Share it with us @NewRelic using the hashtag #RelicReadingList.

Originally from Yuba City, Calif., Adreanna Ekdawy interned at New Relic while attending Santa Clara University, pursuing a B.S. in marketing. She enjoys reading, running, volleyball, sushi, meeting new people, and taking adventures. View posts by .

Interested in writing for New Relic Blog? Send us a pitch!