Ben Holliday

What’s on my bookshelf this summer (2017)

Almost a year ago I shared my summer reading list for 2016.

Looking back I managed to get through most of the books. It took me until the end of the year and I picked up a few more along the way.

As we reach the school holidays I’m about to head off with my family to the beaches of Cornwall again. I thought I’d share a new reading list and try and work my way through it by September.

Here’s what’s on this my reading list this summer.

No Is Not Enough

Defeating the New Shock Politics
Naomi Klein

No Is Not Enough book cover

I’m currently half way through this book. It’s inspired me to go back and re-read No Logo (17 years on from publication this challenge to our corporate branded world feels as relevant ever).

How to Stop Time

Matt Haig

How to Stop Time book cover

I’ve heard that this is very good. I really liked Matt Haig’s book Reasons to Stay Alive.

Small is Beautiful

A study of economics if people mattered.
E. F Schumacher

Small is Beautiful cover

This book was first published in 1973 and feels very relevant to the big questions for society we’re trying to answer in 2017.


Mass innovation, not mass production
Charles Leadbeater

We-Think book cover

This book has sat on my bookshelf for a few years. I’m determined to get to it this summer. It was written with the emergent culture of the internet-era in mind. The second edition was published in 2009 so I’m interested to see how well it holds up.

Happy City

Transforming our lives through urban design
Charles Montgomery

Happy City book cover

I’ve become increasingly interested in urban design and the design and culture of modern cities. The cover illustration also caught my eye in the bookshop.

Go Figure

Things you didn’t know you didn’t know: The Economist Explains
Tom Standage

Go Figure book cover

This book is more for fun. We don’t know what we don’t know etc. etc.

The Greatest

The Quest for Sporting Perfection
Matthew Syed

The Greatest book cover

I enjoyed reading Matthew Syed’s last book Black Box Thinking.

The Reluctant Fundamentalist

Mohsin Hamid

The Reluctant Fundamentalist book cover

This is the paperback novel I’m planning to read on holiday. See my other recommendations for more of Mohsin Hamid’s writing.

Born to Run

Bruce Springsteen

Born to Run book cover

I’ve had this book for a while and need to finish it. It’s good, but a heavy weight hardback (not one for the beach).

The Refusal of Work

The Theory and Practice of Resistance to Work
David Frayne

The Refusal of Work book cover

Redefining Brutalism

Simon Henley

Redefining Brutalism book cover

Books that I’ve read this year and would recommend

Since working through my summer 2016 reading list I’ve picked up plenty of other good books. Here are some of my recommendations from the last 6-9 months:

PostCapitalism: A Guide to Our Future

Paul Mason

PostCapitalism: A Guide to Our Future book cover

I picked this up after the Meaning conference in Brighton back in October 2016. Paul was an excellent host and challenging speaker throughout the conference. An important book for reimagining the future.

Utopia for Realists

Rutger Bregman

Utopia for Realists book cover

Another important guide to designing the future.

Design for Real Life

Sarah Wachter-Boettcher and Eric Meyer

Design for Real Life book cover

Thanks to Caroline Jarrett for giving me a copy of this book. Highly recommended for understanding the importance of empathy and user-centred design.

The Undoing Project

A Friendship that Changed the World
Michael Lewis

The Undoing Project book cover

I read this last Christmas. The story of Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman.

The Course of Love

Alain de Botton

The Course of Love book cover

I always enjoy Alain de Botton’s writing. This is great storytelling and philosophy combined on the subject of relationships.

100 Acts of Minor Dissent

Mark Thomas

100 Acts of Minor Dissent book cover

I read this the day after the UK general election on the train home from Plymouth (it felt strangely relevant). I think this book has great examples of collective, small actions and the importance of acts of minor dissent.

If you understand the importance of stickers then this book is for you.

The Dance of The Possible

The mostly honest completely irreverent guide to creativity
Scott Berkun

The Dance of The Possible book cover

Highly recommended. A small but beautifully written book about creativity. I read this is one sitting on the flight back to the UK from Australia in April.

Do Design

Why Beauty is Key to Everything
Alan Moored

DO Design book cover

A book about design and beauty. This is a good companion to The Dance of The Possible by Scott Berkun.


A Rebel’s Guide for Digital Transformation
Gerry McGovan

Transform book cover

Thanks to Tom Simcox for giving me a copy of this book last month. I didn’t agree with everything here but still worth recommending as it has some useful content.

Sense and Respond

How Successful Organizations Listen to Customers and Create New Products Continuously
Jeff Gothelf and Josh Seinden

Sense and Respond book cover

I really enjoyed this book. It brings together some of the most important themes and challenges for organisations adapting to deliver products in an internet-era of services.

Thanks to Jeff Gothelf and Josh Seinden for the free copy of the book at UX London.

Exit West

Mohsin Hamid

Exit West book cover

I read this on my trip to Australia back in March/April. This is my top fiction recommendation and why I’m now working my way through Mohsin’s Hamid’s back catalogue.

This is my blog where I’ve been writing for 18 years. You can follow all of my posts by subscribing to this RSS feed. You can also find me on Bluesky, less frequently now on X (formally Twitter), and on LinkedIn.