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The first step in successfully talking a loved one down from the precipice of tech addiction is often as simple as convincing them to read a good book. But not on their Kindle. Not on their iPad. Not on the trusty iPhone that never leaves their side.
Sweet talk the device out of their cold clammy hands, and then replace it with an old-fashioned paper copy of one of these nine excellent books that are needed now more than ever before.
The List: 9 Best Books to Break Tech Addiction
How we spend our time, the things that motivate us, and what we think we want are all being radically altered by our screens. Colier doesn’t mince words and calls it what it is: addiction.
Technology promises to make our lives easier, but the price we pay often seems far too high. In The Power of Off, Colier shows us how to build accountability into our daily practices and use our technology with intention to make our lives better.
2. Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked by Adam Alter
As a professor of both marketing and psychology at NYU, Alter is uniquely well-positioned to understand how tech companies refine their products to perfectly push our behavioral buttons. Through an entertaining combination of anecdotes and research, he lays out a case for turning the energy behind our addictive tendencies towards better and more constructive ends.
Irresistible is a great read for both marketing professionals looking for more ethical ways to channel their talents and consumers fighting to reclaim their time and sanity.
3. The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains by Nicholas Carr
We’ve all been there. A rich and nuanced discussion is rudely cut short when someone whips out their phone and tries to settle the debate by reading a Wikipedia page aloud. That’s the internet for you. It’s bursting with answers to all the easy superfluous queries, and nearly a vacuum when it comes to the more profound questions that are actually worth asking.
Carr unpacks the centuries old interplay between our malleable minds and the cultural mediums of the times to reveal that how we consume information is just as important as what we consume.
4. How to Break Up with Your Phone: The 30-Day Plan to Take Back Your Life by Catherine Price
If you (or a friend of yours, say) is in dire need of an intervention, Price’s practical handbook is a lot cheaper than a cold turkey wilderness camp a hundred miles from the nearest cell tower.
The beauty of Price’s program is that she doesn’t ask or expect you to give up your shiny silicon friend completely. She merely shows you how to tame the torrid romance and get to a healthier place by following a simple but comprehensive 30-day plan.
Kevin Roose tried it and lived to tell the tale.
5. Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder by Nassim Taleb
This isn’t a book about tech addiction, or even technology, per se, and there certainly aren’t any 30-day plans to a better you hidden within. Taleb’s critically acclaimed exploration of luck, time, stress, and volatility is philosophical, authoritative, and endlessly thought-provoking.
Antifragile is a beast of a book in many ways and rewards careful readers with deep new insights into the rapidly changing and increasingly unpredictable world around us. If you’re anything like us, you’ll walk away from this book more suspicious of the hype surrounding new technologies and more focused than ever on finding ways to thrive amidst the chaos.
6. Reclaiming Conversation by Sherry Turkle
You get the feeling reading Turkle that she really drinks her own kool-aid. Not only has she actually sat down and talked with thousands of people about their hopes, fears, and technology use, but she’s also gone many rounds with her own struggle to stay connected to the important people in her life.
Most importantly, Turkle doesn’t hide behind a computer and crunch numbers to understand the technological forces changing the world. She unravels it one person at a time by pulling up a chair, turning off her phone, and having a conversation. Then she does it again and again until undeniable patterns bubble up to the surface. Read this book if you want to converse instead of transact and talk instead of text.
7. It Doesn’t Have to Be Crazy at Work by Jason Fried and DHH
Too many workplaces celebrate the gallows humor of endless “pivots,” too little sleep, and constant stress and anxiety. The authors built a successful software company by playing the long game with a work culture that’s calm, cool, and collected.
If you’re burnt out by late night texts from your boss, non-stop Slack debates about irrelevant business points, and just wish it would all go away, this is a better place than most to start.
8. The Lost Art of Good Conversation: A Mindful Way to Connect with Others and Enrich Everyday Life by Sakyong Mipham
Constant connection is exhausting. Tibet’s spiritual leaders have known this for centuries and have a deep well of wisdom and advice from which we all can thankfully drink. Kindness, mindfulness, and listening with an open heart are all introduced as foundations of a good conversation.
Throughout The Lost Art of Good Conversation, Mipham outlines a steady stream of exercises, regular practices, and reflections to help you put these ancient concepts to work in your own daily life.
9. Annals of the Former World by John McPhee
McPhee tells a riveting story about the long arc of time measured in millennia. There’s no better way to put the typical human lifespan and the small trials we all face into perspective than to study how mountains sleep, wake, and evolve.
Read this and you’ll suddenly feel a bit less tethered to the ethereal whims of a Tweet or the fleeting “Like” count of your next Facebook post. Winner of the 1999 Pulitzer Prize for Nonfiction.
Bonus! Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World by Cal Newport
This 2019 bestseller operates as a blueprint for extracting yourself from the chains of social media, email, and various other forms of 21st century servitude. Once you understand how the companies behind the screens manipulate your desires in an effort to bring you back again and again, you can start to unravel the mystery of your own compulsions.
Digital Minimalism is chock full of practical ideas that you can start applying today for immediate results.
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