The 20 books every geek must read while on holiday

Your reading list for the next few months takes in everything from zombies to economics

As nerds, there's nothing we love better than a good beach holiday. The sun, the sea, the golden sand - all dimly visible beyond the pages of the C++ programming manual you're perusing from beneath a parasol and four applications of SPF 75.

On a city break or a fly-drive, there's always something to see, but on a beach there is basically nothing to do - nothing, that is, but immerse yourself in a huge book and a tall cold glass of something. Here's what to read this summer, in no particular order... 

(main image credit: Horia Varlan)

1. The Girl with All the Gifts, M.R. Carey

This is one of those books you really don’t want to know much about before reading, or you’ll spoil all the grisly surprises contained within. The narrator is Melanie, a young girl who goes to a special school - to her, it’s just school, but you won’t be able to sleep until you know why Melanie sleeps in a cell, why she’s only allowed out when under restraint, and why her armed guards seem terrified of her.

(US$18 (RM58)/hardback)

2. the bees, laline paull

In the Imagination Olympics, Laline Paul has pulled off a record-breaking high-jump, successfully creating a host of believable characters from a hive of bees. Flora 717 is a female heroine who starts out as a sanitation drone but, having discovered hidden talents, comes to challenge her society’s rigid (not to mention delicious) structure.

(US$21 (RM68)/hardback)

3. Hatching Twitter, Nick Bilton

The New York Times’ Nick Bilton delves deep into the story behind the world’s favourite micro-blogging service – and does so in rather more than 140 characters. It’s a page-turning read, with the alleged conflicts between Twitter’s colourful co-founders ensuring things stay spicy throughout.

(US$21 (RM68)/hardback)

4. I Am Pilgrim, Terry Hayes

The quintessential beach read: a thumping great 700-page doorstep of murder, espionage, exotic locations, murder, sex, intrigue, thrills, spills, and murder. A nameless man chases a faceless woman’s killer around the world while the dark threads of a grand conspiracy unspool around him, in a plot that will keep you gripped from when the plane takes off to your last squirt of suncream.

(US$12 (RM39)/paperback)

5. Capital, Thomas Piketty

The only work on economics you’ll see on the beach this summer. Actually this book is called Capital in the Twenty-First Century, just as Marx’s famous tome was called Capital: a Critique of Political Economy, with the key noun embiggened by the publisher. The similarities do not end there: Piketty’s thesis is that capitalism inevitably leads to inequality. But while Marx’s sums sometimes leave something to be desired (don’t get us started on his Law of the Falling Rate of Profit, we’ll be here all day), Piketty has a much larger reserve of data (and a computer) to help him demonstrate how the free market unavoidably concentrates wealth in the hands of the few. If you want to understand the world that is taking shape around us, add this to your reading list.

(US$30 (RM97)/hardback)