Recently in the HQ PRO, our members have been talking about their favourite books inside and outside the field of interactive tech and immersive media. I’ve collated some of the hits here and tried to give you a quick summary of what each of them are about and why you’d want to read them. They span everything from tech, science, fiction, philosophy, business, leadership, and more. So this is your chance to give your eyes a break from the screen and level yourself up with some highly recommended reads.
Tech / Science
Our new fellow HQ teacher, Matthew Ragan, recommended The Pragmatic Programmer by Andrew Hunt and David Thomas. Matthew is not alone in citing how this book can fundamentally change a person’s approach to writing software and problem solving through challenges we commonly face.
Da Xu, with some very useful TouchDesigner tools on GitHub, recommends The Art of Fluid Animations by Jos Stam to the table. This isn’t the first time I’ve heard Jos Stam’s name come up when it comes to fluids, so this one should be on your reading list if you’re serious about fluid simulations inside and outside of TouchDesigner. He also mentions that the Documents of Contemporary Art: Systems by Whitechapel Gallery is a great read about how systems-based art works can interact with us, time, social relations, and even their own outputs.
Chaos: Making a New Science by James Gleick is a recommendation coming to us from Simon Alexander-Adams. You may know him as @polyhop on Instagram with his great dailies. Gleick takes you on a Carl Sagan-like journey through science as it has developed Chaos Theory, which is an amazing way of approaching a view of the universe. If you’re into L-systems or building them in TouchDesigner, he also recommends The Algorithmic Beauty of Plants by Przemyslaw Prusinkiewicz & Aristid Lindenmayer.
I’m a big proponent of working with focus and dedication. Cal Newport wrote a great book that I consider life changing (work changing that trickles into life changing) called Deep Work. Not only recommended by myself, but also our member Candace Hazelwood, who adds that Cal’s newer book Digital Minimalism is also a must-read.
Two books I’ve also had recommended to me before come from Rob McDonald: How To Win Friends And Influence People by Dale Carnegie and The Wealthy Barber by David Chilton. The first is kind of a seminal text in building business relationships and bettering your understanding of working with/dealing with people. There is a lot of wisdom in Carnegie’s book. Chilton’s book is more geared toward financial planning but the unique thing is that the book is written as a fictional tale in which his financial advice is presented. This makes it much easier and fun to read through and learn some solid financial planning advice.
Ken Hill brings us his current read as a recommendation: Leadership Strategy and Tactics: Field Manual by Jocko Willink. You may have heard Jocko’s successful podcast or read one of his other well-received books, but this one dives into the reality of leadership and its practice. It talks about how leadership is different for everyone in a very approachable read with lots of the writer’s own experiences leading teams added. A great read for those looking to lead their company or team on the crazy job sites.
Two of my favourite fiction books are Demons by Fyodor Dostoyevsky and Dune by Frank Herbert. Both classics in their own right. Dostoyevsky takes a lens on politics and revolutionary groups in Russia as ideals put each of the characters on different and colliding paths. Dune is a quintessential sci-fi that examines humanity, politics, and their futures in an interesting way, without needing to be all flashy with technology.
Simon chimes in here as well with The Three Body Problem by Liu Cixin and Hyperion by Dan Simmons. I’ve been recommended Cixin’s book by many folks, so I’m quite certain it is an amazing piece of fiction. Hyperion is also a well-known classic of the sci-fi genre and considered one of the greatest space opera’s written.
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In my picks I had Existentialism is a Humanism by Jean-Paul Sartre and The Myth of Sisyphus by Albert Camus. Both great books at trying to figure out some meaning in life. Short reads but really powerful ones.
Dylan Roscover recommends La Société Du Spectacle by Guy Debord, which takes a look at how society and human interactions have become a “Spectacle” instead of being authentic human experiences.
Hearing Cultures: Essays on Sound, Listening and Modernity by Veit Erlmann is a recommendation coming to us from Stefan Kwint, whom has a series of great YouTube tutorials by the way! He also recommends Sound Ideas: Music, Machines, and Experience by Aden Evans, which looks at the connection between sound, music technology.
In the philosophy/thought realm, Matthew recommends Into the Universe of Technical Images by Vilem Flusser as a game-changing text that will blow your mind.
If you’re anything like me, you probably had a long reading list on your desk already. I know mine has personally doubled after checking out the awesome recommendations by our fellow HQ PRO members. The great mix of topics above will not only provide my eyes with a break from the screen, but will also give my brain a chance to get out of it’s TouchDesigner box a little bit and take in some new thoughts and ideas. I can’t stress enough how important reading books has been to my career, let alone my craft. If you haven’t picked up a book in a while, this is your call to adventure!