My traditional summer blogging break is fast approaching. It’s the time of year when I take a 4-6 week break away from it all and recharge my blogging batteries. It’s something I’ve done for years and it really works for me.

One of the things I do during my break is try and read a lot of books. I mostly read fiction during the break, but this year I’m going to mix in a science auto/biography and a social media/new technology book. The trick is, I’m going to let you all choose which ones.

Below I have a couple of polls where you can vote on which book you want me to read. All the books are ones I have on hand right now so you won’t be costing me anything depending on what you vote for. Some of the science books are relatively recent, some a little older.
Each list has at least one book that I know is a classic that I should’ve read but haven’t. Now’s your chance to correct the error of my ways.

Each poll is followed by a link to the book’s Amazon pages for those that feel they need more information on the books in question.

Social Media

Which social media book should I read this summer?
The Wealth of Networks by Yochai Benkler
Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide by Henry Jenkins
The Long Tail, Revised and Updated Edition by Chris Anderson
Community: The Structure of Belonging by Peter Block
The Future of the Internet–And How to Stop It by Jonathan Zittrain
Disrupting Class: How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns by Clayton Christensen
The Pirate’s Dilemma: How Youth Culture Is Reinventing Capitalism by Matt Mason
  
Free polls from Pollhost.com

Science Auto/Biography

Which science auto/biography book should I read this summer?
A Life Decoded by J. Craig Venter
Benjamin Franklin: An American Life by Walter Isaacson
The Man Who Loved Only Numbers: The Story of Paul Erdos… by Paul Hoffman
Genius: The Life and Science of Richard Feynman by James Gleick
The Art and Politics of Science by Harold Varmus
A Beautiful Mind: The Life of Mathematical Genius and Nobel Laureate John Nash by Silvia Nasar
Time Lord: Sir Sandford Fleming and the Creation of Standard Time by Clark Blaise
  
Free polls from Pollhost.com

I’m looking at taking at least 600 pages worth of this material, so if the top vote-getters are significantly less than that, I’ll probably add another from one of the lists.

(I’ll bump this post to the top of the blog every week or so, just to more people a chance to vote. I’ll end the voting around July 24th.

And yes, I’ve done something like this before.)

Update 2009.07.09: Kicked to the top as a voting reminder.
Update 2009.07.21: Once again, kicked to the top as a voting reminder.

Comments

  1. #1 Dr. Kate
    June 30, 2009

    Do NOT waste your time with “Disrupting Class.” I had to read it for work, and it was one of the worst books I’ve read in a long time. The guy pontificates for hundreds of pages on things he knows nothing about (for example, he seems to think that teachers and teachers’ unions are the ones preventing school districts from implementing innovative instructional practices; and he thinks that the way to solve the educational problems in this country is to plop all students down in front of a computer, with the teacher basically acting as a proctor to fix technology problems).

    If you’ve already bought it, return it–get it from the library if you must read it. But I wouldn’t waste your time!

  2. #2 Lisa
    June 30, 2009

    Great lists! I have to admit,I have only read the one book I voted for from the social media list and I have only read three of the books on the bio list. Maybe one of the ones I haven’t read is better I
    You have inspired me to get a couple of those titles I haven’t read.
    Lisa

  3. #3 David
    June 30, 2009

    I read “Time Lord” a few years ago and found it very engaging. I highly recommend it.

  4. #4 Michael Nielsen
    June 30, 2009

    Fun poll! On social media, I’d read Benkler’s paper “Coase’s Penguin”, which I think gives you more insight per word than his longer book. (The book is also very good). I also have a real soft spot for Peter Block’s book.

    The Franklin and Feynman bios are two of the best I’ve ever read (biography is one of my favourite genres). I also liked the Nash bio. The Erdos one is fine. I’m partway through Venter’s bio at the moment, and I’m finding it extremely interesting.

  5. #5 datamuse
    June 30, 2009

    I’d give Chris Anderson a miss.

    Okay, so it’s Free that’s problematic here, not (so far as anyone yet knows) The Long Tail, but at this point I’m not about to read anything of his.

    Titles of the Catchy Title: Explicatory Subtitle format make me twitch, but Genius is really good.

  6. #6 John Dupuis
    June 30, 2009

    Thanks, Dr. Kate, I appreciate your input. I’ve heard radically different things about the book and I’m curious to see for myself. I fully expect to disagree with it quite a bit.

  7. #7 John Dupuis
    June 30, 2009

    Thanks, Michael. Maybe you should try it yourself ;-)

    I’ll probably take your advice and look at the shorter Benkler, as WoN is a pretty hefty volume. As for the bios, all of them look like they’re going to be very good so no matter what I’m a winner. Have you read David Suzuki’s recent memoirs? I liked that one quite a lot too.

  8. #8 John Dupuis
    June 30, 2009

    datamuse, I hear your pain. Anderson is a pain, but unfortunately I think he’s often got some good ideas buried in amongst the dross and hype. I’m definitely going to read Free and I’m curious enough about The Long Tail that I’m willing to give it a try. As for blahblah: real title, yeah, I hate that too.

  9. #9 Gerry L
    July 9, 2009

    I haven’t read any of the social media books you listed, but where I work you can’t go wrong with Clayton Christensen.

    One I read that is not on your list is Groundswell (Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff). I found it useful for my job in a corporate library.

  10. #10 John Dupuis
    July 10, 2009

    Hi Gerry,

    Thanks for your suggestion. I have read Groundswell and think it’s very good. I even reviewed it earlier this year here.

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