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Relax! Your 2023 Summer Reading List has arrived

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21 December 2023

James Riley

Ho, ho, ho dear readers, it’s time for my favorite column of the year. In the past month, we have sent an army of email elves to the far-flung reaches of the Australian continent in search of book recommendations.

We have interrogated leaders and luminaries from across the different parts of our beautiful and complex innovation landscape. From government ministers and institutional researchers to startup CEOs and business leaders, we have got an incredible mix of views and interested represented here.

The Summer Reading List is the best-read story of the year, and in 2023 the list is a stunner. So relax everyone, we’ve got your summer holidays all sorted!

Every year in December we ask a bunch of leaders three simple questions:

  • What was the best industry book you read in 2023?
  • What was the best non-industry book (fiction or non-fiction) book of 2023?
  • What do you plan to read over the summer break?

We have included the list of 21 people that have provided recommendations at the top to make it easier to find your peeps. These are all incredibly interesting and accomplished leaders. I love hearing what kind of books they’re into.

I am going to start with recommendations of my own. But before I do, I wanted to wish all of our readers a happy and hopefully relaxing Christmas and New Year holiday. And thank you all for the energy and enthusiasm that you put into Australia’s tech and innovation system, making its such a great place to be a reporter.

You’re all legends. Enjoy your downtime.

Ok, off we go. I will get the ball rolling with my own recommendations.

My favourite industry book of the year was Elon Musk by Walter Isaacson. Yeah, I know what you’re thinking. Yes, the SpaceX founder is complex, and yes he is polarising. But he is absolutely the entrepreneur of his generation. This book puts three-dimensional context to a man who is often portrayed as a cartoon.

For me, the best non-industry book this year was The Fall: The End of the Murdoch Empire by Michael Wolff. The Fall is a razor sharp dissection of the Murdoch empire and the intrigue of succession “planning”. Speaking of which, the narrator in the Audible version of this book sounds like Roman Roy from the popular TV show Succession, which is hilarious and adds layers to its appeal.

Over the summer, I will be reading Your Face Belongs to Us: The Secretive Startup Dismantling Your Privacy by Kashmir Hill, which explores the controversial US facial recognition startup Clearview AI, founded by Australian entrepreneur Hoan Ton-That.

The full list of our contributors for this year’s Summer Reading List. You can find their recommendations in the story below:

  • Minister Ed Husic, Minister for Industry and Science, Australian Government
  • Deputy Premier Susan Close, Deputy Premier, Minister for Education and Minister for Innovation, South Australian Government
  • Minister Anoulack Chanthivong, Minister for Innovation, Science and Technology, NSW Government
  • Senator Tim Ayres, Assistant Minister for Manufacturing, Assistant Minister for Trade
  • Kate Pounder, CEO, Technology Council of Australia
  • Toby Walsh, Chief Scientist at UNSW’s AI Institute; Laureate Fellow UNSW
  • Kersti Eesmaa, Ambassador of Estonia to Australia
  • Andrew Dzurak, CEO & Founder, Diraq
  • Dr Sarah Jones, CEO, Sydney School of Entrepreneurship
  • Professor Nicholas Opie, founding director, Synchron
  • Professor Emily Hilder, Head of Advanced Strategic Capabilities Accelerator (ASCA), Department of Defence
  • Doug Hilton, CEO, CSIRO
  • Dr Cathy Foley, Australian Government Chief Scientist
  • Rob Le Busque, Regional Vice-President, Asia-Pacific, Verizon Business Group
  • Tanya Monro, Chief Defence Scientist, Department of Defence
  • Sandy Plunkett, Industry consultant and author
  • April Parmerlee, CEO, American Chamber of Commerce in Australia
  • Abu Odige, Founder & CEO, Tendertrace
  • Adam Gilmour, CEO, Gilmour Space Technologies
  • Bronwyn Le Grice, CEO, ANDHealth
  • Julia Spicer, Queensland Chief Entrepreneur

Our final book recommendations for 2023 come from Queensland Chief Entrepreneur Julia Spicer, who puts forward Chapter One: You have the Power to Change Stuff  by Daniel Flynn as her industry book of the year and Sand Talk: How Indigenous Thinking can Save the World by Tyson Yunkaporta

Her best non-industry book of the year was Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus: “I loved the book and very much looking forward to the screen adaptation,” Julia says.

Over the summer, Julia Spicer intends reading Head & Heart: The Art of Modern Leadership by Kirstin Ferguson.

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