Best summer reads for IT pros

Summer is finally here, so we’ve put together a list of reading recommendations — both from Allstream staff and the editors — to enjoy on your much-deserved downtime.

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Summer took its time getting here, but now that temperatures are on the rise and half-day Fridays are in full effect, it’s time to embrace the short, sweet days of summertime. And it’s a perfect time to pick up that book you’ve been meaning to read, preferably while kicking back in a Muskoka chair and soaking up the rays with an icy cold beverage.

There are some noteworthy releases this year, including a biography of Apple CEO Tim Cook and the brilliantly titled Zucked by a former Facebook investor who’s now one of its harshest critics. But to help narrow down your choices, we’ve put together a list of summer reading recommendations — both from Allstream staff and the editors — to enjoy on your much-deserved downtime.

Millions, Billions, Zillions

For those who regularly work with 0’s and 1’s, Kyle Gurnsey, a communication technician with Allstream, recommends Millions, Billions, Zillions: Defending Yourself in a World of Too Many Numbers by Brian Kernighan. Gurnsey says it’s an invaluable guide to recognizing wrong numbers and incorrect data: “Brian explains how we are bombarded with numbers in the millions, billions and trillions but are those numbers telling us the actual truth? With some simple math (nothing more than basic multiplication or division) and a few simple questions, it’s easy to see if the numbers we are told are correct, or if someone is pulling a fast one on us. A nice short read at only 176 pages, it’s a perfect short travel book that can help us understand so much.”

The Surprising Science of Meetings

Admittedly, you may not want to spend your summer weekends perusing a book about corporate meetings. But this hour-long read could save you time when you’re back in the boardroom. The Surprising Science of Meetings by Steven G. Rogelberg explains why most workplaces have not mastered the art of the meeting. Rogelberg, a professor of management at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, doesn’t suggest we eliminate meetings; rather, he has a few suggestions for improving meeting quality and taking innovative approaches (walking meeting, anyone?).

The Overstory

Doug Denney, Allstream’s vice-president of costs and policy, recommends The Overstory by Richard Powers: “It’s about trees but don’t let that scare you away, [it’s the] best book I’ve read in the past few years.” This sweeping novel (which won a Pulitzer Prize for fiction in April) follows nine characters whose life experience brings them together to save threatened forests in what the Pulitzer committee called “an ingeniously structured narrative” that makes trees seem like characters themselves.

Digital Minimalism

If you’re trying to limit your screen time during your downtime, you might want to flip through a good old-fashioned book on Digital Minimalism. Written by Cal Newport, a computer science professor and author of Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World, his latest book explains how to decrease the amount of time we spend online so we can instead focus on a few meaningful activities — and that, in turn, drives success.

Possible Minds

If you’re working with AI (or curious about it), it’s worth picking up Possible Minds: Twenty-Five Ways of Looking at AI. Some of us believe artificial intelligence will make the world a better place; some fear a dystopian robot uprising. Edited  by John Brockman, this book compiles essays from 25 of the world’s biggest scientific brains — like Nobel Prize-winning physicist Frank Wilczek — to give us their take on the future. And fnd out if the robots will, indeed, take over the world.


If podcasts are more your style, check out Ex5 (Explain It Like I’m Five). As one Allstream employee explains it, this podcast “takes big concepts like cyber security, debts and deficit, tariffs or the canola crisis and explains to the listener in the most simplistic terms to make it so easy to understand.” Just like you’re five years old.

Image: swissmediavision/iStock

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