The most awesome summer reading list in the history of humankind

If there is one thing I love, it’s the smell of books in the morning (and the afternoon, and the evening).

calendar icon
June 30, 2022

Yes, I’m a paper book reader and I refuse to apologize for that. But that’s not the point. The point is that booklists are majorly click-baity and that we use them so that great people like you can get to know our blog and our community, which are absolutely fabulous. If you’re reading this, it means that our scheme worked and I think that that’s beautiful. Welcome to our network! We promise to inspire and connect you forever and ever.

But above all, we were able to convince some of the most intelligent and interesting people on the planet to tell us about the books that have inspired them the most recently: from the President at the Santa Fe Institute, David Krakauer, legendary ‘Technological Revolutions and Financial Capital’ author Carlota Perez and CX Strategist Ken Hughes to our very own ecosystems keynote speaker Rik Vera, CX expert Steven Van Belleghem and many more. Enjoy their tips!

I’m planning to make this a collaborative booklist. So let us know in our community (sign up here) which books blew your mind these past months and we’ll add them here.

Recommended by David Krakauer, President at the Santa Fe Institute

Metaphysical Animals, How Four Women Brought Philosophy Back To Life, by Clare Mac Cumhaill and Rachael Wiseman

How four philosophers, who collectively spanned history, ethics, literature, and language, shaped thought in the second half of the twentieth century. The fact that these philosophers were all women is perhaps no coincidence since life at the margins of the mainstream is more likely to reveal unexpected truths than collecting memberships in academies.

Recommended by Carlota Perez, scholar specialized in technology and socio-economic development and author of 'Technological Revolutions & Financial Capital'

Sustainable Futures: An Agenda for Action, by Raphael Kaplinsky

If you want to understand today’s world and how to fix it, this is the book to read. Kaplinsky shows a formidable capacity to encompass the whole spectrum of today’s global problems and provides realistic – though ambitious – solutions. He begins by analyzing how we got here, what the good life under the mass production revolution was about and how its consequences are part of our current environmental problems. Then he looks at how today’s social problems evolved as the result of technologies, globalization and free market policies. The other half of the book is about the sources of hope and the agenda for action. It’s fascinating, it’s informative and it’s easy to read. He wrote it thinking of his grandchildren.

Recommended by Peter Vander Auwera, Tinkerer — Creator — Sensebreaker

New Ways of Being: Beyond Human Intelligence, by James Bridle

AI is getting closer to human intelligence. But what if human intelligence is not the right benchmark? What are other non-human intelligences out there? James Bridle makes a grand sweep of intelligences we usually don’t see but are there. A masterpiece!

Binge: 60 Stories To Make Your Brain Feel Different, by Douglas Coupland

Rediscover Douglas Coupland by binging on this collection of 60 stories. Just look at the titles of some stories: Alexa, Splenda, Romcom, Fentalyn, Starbursts, etc. and you know you’ll enter a world of new ethics and aesthetics.

Recommended by Jerry Michalski, futurist, strategist, technologist and (amateur) social anthropologist

The Dawn of Everything: A New History of Humanity, by David Graeber and David Wengrow

The stories we've been telling ourselves about the origins of society and governance are mostly wrong. Early humans were pretty clever and flexible. You can reset your story by reading The Dawn of Everything: A New History of Humanity (2021), by the Two Davids: David Graeber and David Wengrow. For bonus points, see how I've mapped the book, in context. 

Recommended by Nancy Rademaker, business keynote speaker

The Cold Start Problem: How to Start and Scale Network Effects, by Andrew Chen

Starting a new business is not too difficult. Scaling it is. This ‘cold start problem’ is dreaded by most startups, and Andrew Chen’s book uncovers some of the mysteries of network effects that can be leveraged to achieve the so much desired growth. As an investor at Andreessen Horowitz (a16z) and with his former experience at Uber, Andrew Chen provides great insights into how networks develop and interact with each other. And the nice thing is that he not only focuses on startups, but also discusses how established companies can best defend themselves against the new kids on the block.

Recommended by Philipp Kristian, author, TEDx Keynote Speaker and Human Futurist

The Divine Within, by Aldous Huxley

Innovation and transformation, for those of us interested in the future, are a fun endeavor – and yet far from easy. To truly scale these topics in and around us, I recommend we reacquaint ourselves with our very own wonders within. After all, it is the human in all of our achievements making all the difference. Huxley’s brilliant mind is a great companion on this journey to the source of our own innovation and transformation powers – the author’s journey from cynicism to mindfulness is perhaps his greatest lifetime achievement beyond his literary legacy. Eye-opening.

Recommended by Ken Hughes, CX strategist

Atlas of the Heart, by Brené Brown

As vulnerability and human-to-human commerce have become front and center in the leadership and CX conversation, books like this give real depth in understanding the nature of human emotion. If we are to truly understand the nature of the Great Resignation and what customers expect of our businesses and brands for the future, we need to understand people at their core. Less corporate thinking and more compassion commerce is needed in our everyday and this book will give you the insight and skills you need, both personally and professionally.

Recommended by Rik Vera, ecosystems author and keynote speaker

I am writing a new book about reinventing the delicate balance between autonomy and collaboration and between citizens and the government. To prepare myself, I have been deep-diving into the past and in doing so, have re-discovered these excellent books:

The Great Transformation by Karl Polanyi, a Hungarian-American political economist

It is about the social and political tipping point that took place during the rise of the market economy. As this economy is fading and is being replaced by a new one, it is good to know the building blocks of the old, as they will be re-used. It is only the new dynamics that will make a difference. Noam Chomsky is a big fan of this book and so am I.

Jean Jacques The Fatalist, by Didier Diderot

I had to read the book at university and fell in love because it celebrates diversity rather than providing clear answers to philosophical problems.

Alice in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll

I could read this book 1000 times, as there are so many scenes one can use to describe the actual events and context of what I call the Twilight Twenties.

History of Modern Art, by H.H. Arnason

To understand our society from a nonpolitical point of view.

Rebuilding Earth: Designing Ecoconscious Habitats for Humans, by Teresa Coady

A great book about a potential future. It was given to me as a present by a friend because the cover reminded her of my own book “Managers The Day After Tomorrow”

Recommended by Fredo De Smet, curator at the interplay of culture and technology

Entangled Life, by Merlin Sheldrake

When I’m looking for answers to the big questions, I often find inspiration in the small things. Fungi, for instance, which is what this book is all about. In the middle of reading it, I actually ordered spores to grow mushrooms for myself. That’s because Sheldrake writes

Recommended by Dewi Van De Vyver, CEO of digital innovation company Flow Pilots.

The Atlas of AI, by Kate Crawford

I always wonder about the full impact of something, not only the obvious things lying in front of us. Kate Crawford, principal investigator at Microsoft Research, co-founder and former research director at the AI Now Institute at NYU, researched what it takes to use AI. From the bias in the data, to the resources of nature, to the human lives it demands. She shows what happens if we look away and how easy it is to dismiss the nagging voice in the back of your head telling you that there is no such thing as unlimited resources.

Recommended by Steven Van Belleghem, CX expert

The Power of Moments: Why Certain Experiences Have Extraordinary Impact, by Chip Heath and Dan Heath

The premise of Dan and Chip Heath’s book is simple yet brilliantly effective. If we would measure every single interaction of your company with a customer, most organizations would probably have an average score of about 6.5 in 10. That’s pretty normal, because they are bound to have highs and lows in the interaction. But if companies orchestrate a number of interactions that are truly outstanding, surprising and positive, the overall feeling would probably climb to a 9 or a 9.5 average.

Recommended by Céline Schillinger, author and CEO at We Need Social

Recollections of My Non-Existence, by Rebecca Solnit

I love everything about this book: the language, the transformative change the author describes, growing into adulthood, her activism and love of literature. Plus, it may be one of the best books (seriously!) for men to grasp what life as a woman is; and for women to put words onto their experience. Profound, enjoyable, highly recommended!

Recommended by Peter Hinssen, international Keynote Speaker and advisor

RISK: A User’s Guide By General Stanley McChrystal

I played RISK, the board game, as a kid. Now that I look back on my career I fully begin to understand the crucial role that risk plays in your personal and professional life. I had the great pleasure to understand the adventurous risk associated with venture capital, the entrepreneurial risk in the world of private equity, and even the calculated and regulated risk in the banking industry. For me, risk is a spectrum, risk is a lens to observe the world, but above all risk is a choice. A brilliant book by an ex-general who tries to bridge the gap between military strategy and risk mechanism, and the corporate world.

Recommended by Jessica Groopman, Speaker & Founder at Kaleido Insights

Redesign the World, by Sam Pitroda

An excellent and clear-minded assessment of what changes are needed and where the leverage points are. 

Recommend by Laurence Van Elegem, Content Director at nexxworks

I have the annoying habit of buying business books and rarely ever finishing them. It doesn’t even mean that I don’t find them interesting, only that I have the attention span of a short hair Chihuahua. Instead, I’d rather listen to podcasts with the authors, which I actually love doing. But, I do read (and finish) fiction books, with the focus of a bald eagle and the appetite of a blue whale with the munchies (no idea where all these weirdly specific animal metaphors are coming from, but I’m prepared to go with the flow, like a bottlenose dolphin caught in a vortex.) Lazy as I am, I just took a picture of some of my most recent fiction purchases (ok, 12 bytes is actually non-fiction, but it’s written by a fiction writer), which all have a link with technology in one way or another. Full disclosure: I haven’t read them all yet, but I will and I will finish them (unless I really don’t like them).

Your name here? – Contributions from readers of the nexxworks blog

If you’d like to contribute to this awesome booklist, send your recommendations to or in our community (sign up here) and we’ll add them here.

Recommended by Sven Jules H., Belgian Justice Department/ Keynote speaker

Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami

“And once the storm is over, you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.”

Recommended by Pascal Vercruysse, Director Global Labs (EMEA, Vietnam, China)

Against the Gods: The Remarkable Story of Risk by Peter L. Bernstein

Recommended by Reggy Mortier, Sales & Strategy Leader Europe at Rf-Technologies

Living the 80/20 Way by Richard Koch

Recommend by Andreas Schattschneider, Senior IT Quality & Compliance Manager at Boehringer Ingelheim GmbH

Essentialism - The disciplined pursuit of less by Greg McKeown

This book is “an essential read for anyone who wants to regain control of their health, wellbeing and happiness” (Ariana Huffington).

Recommend by Mario Major, Trainmanager at NMBS

Your name here? – Contributions from readers of the nexxworks blog

If you’d like to contribute to this awesome booklist, send your recommendations to or in our community (sign up here) and we’ll add them here.

Laurence Van Elegem
Laurence Van Elegem
Laurence has more than 10 years of experience in marketing, communications and disruptive innovation. Passionately curious, she is fascinated by the impact of technology and science on the way we work, consume and live our lives.
See author page
Join us on our next experience
calendar icon
Free Membership
Get front row access to the latest scoop and new upcoming experiences, bundled into a monthly newsletter
You may opt-out any time. 
Read the .
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
calendar icon
June 30, 2022