Bookblaze: The Second Annual Backblaze Book Guide

A decorative image showing a book and a bookshelves.

It’s that time again—cozy season is upon us and your Backblaze authors are eager to share some of their favorite reads. Feel free to use them as a gift guide (if you still have gifts to give, that is), as a list of recs to start your New Year’s resolutions off right, or just some excellent excuses to take some much-needed solo time away from the family. 

So, whether the weather outside is frightful, or, like at our home office in San Mateo, weird and drizzly, we hope you enjoy! And, as always, feel free to let us know what you thought in the comments. 

Tech Expertise and Whimsical Reads, All in One List

Pat Patterson, Chief Technical Evangelist

An image of the cover of the book Too Much Too Young by Daniel Rachel.

Too Much Too Young: The 2 Tone Records Story, by Daniel Rachel

In 1979, a clutch of young, multiracial bands burst onto the music scene in the UK, each offering their own take on ska, the precursor to reggae that originated in 1950’s Jamaica. “Too Much Too Young”, named after The Specials’ 1980 UK number one hit, tells the fascinating story of how bands such as The Specials, The Selecter, and The Beat (ok, “The English Beat” in the U.S.) took punk’s do-it-yourself ethic, blended it with reggae rhythms, and, as the 70s turned into the 80s, released a string of singles and albums that dominated the pop charts. 

Looking back from 2023, it’s astonishing to realize that this was the first time many audiences had seen black and white musicians on stage together, and musician-turned-author Daniel Rachel does a great job telling the 2 Tone story in the context of the casual racism, economic recession, and youth unemployment of the time. Highly recommended for any music fan, whether or not you remember moonstomping back in the day!

Vinodh Subramanian, Product Marketing Manager

An image of the book cover for Build: An Unorthodox Guide To Making Things Worth Making, by Tony Fadell.

Build: An Unorthodox Guide To Making Things Worth Making, by Tony Fadell

I picked up this book while waiting for a flight at an airport and it quickly became a source of inspiration. Authored by Tony Fadell, who played a significant role in building successful tech products like iPod, iPhone, and the Nest thermostat, the book provides insights and strategies on how to build yourself, build your career, and ultimately build products that users love. What I love about the book is how it creates a practical roadmap for building things in life and business, and it makes those things seem more possible and achievable regardless of what stage of career (or life) you’re in. I’d highly recommend this for anyone who loves to build things, but is not sure what to focus on in what order. 

nathaniel wagner, Senior Site Reliability Engineer

An image of the cover of the book Designing Data-Intensive Applications by Martin Kleppmann.

Designing Data-Intensive Applications: The Big Ideas Behind Reliable, Scalable, and Maintainable Systems, by Martin Kleppmann

Backblaze has created several data intensive applications, and while normally I am not a fan of deeply technical books because I am a learn-by-doing type of person, I think this book does a fantastic job at explaining the strengths and weaknesses of various strategies to handling large amounts of data. It also helps that I am a big fan of the freedom/speed of NoSQL, and here at Backblaze we use Cassandra to keep our index of over 500 billion Backblaze B2 files. :)

Nicole Gale, Marketing Operations Manager

An image of the cover of the book Before the coffee gets cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi.

Before the Coffee Gets Cold, by Toshikazu Kawaguchi

It’s probably the shortest book I read this year, but the one that stuck with me the most. “Before the Coffee Gets Cold” is a new take (at least for me) on time traveling that dives into what would you do if you could go back in time, but it doesn’t change anything (or does it?). Each chapter is a short story following a different character’s journey to decide to sit in the chair and drink the coffee. You won’t regret picking up this book!

Andy Klein, Principal Cloud Storage Storyteller

An image of the book cover for Stephen Hawking's A Brief History of Time.

A Brief History of Time, by Stephen Hawking

I reread “A Brief History of Time” by Stephen Hawking this past year. I read it years ago to understand the science. This time as I read it I felt an appreciation for the elegance that is the universe. The book is an approachable scientific read, but it does demand your full attention while reading, and if you slept through your high school and college physics classes, the book may not be for you.

Molly Clancy, Senior Content Editor

An image of the book cover for Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver.

Demon Copperhead, by Barbara Kingsolver

“Demon Copperhead” is the book that brought me back to reading for pleasure after having a baby. Some perspective for new parents—he’s almost one and a half, so… go easy on yourselves. Anyway, about this book: you probably never thought you wanted to get inside the head of a teenage boy from the hollers of coal country, but you do. Trust me, you do. Barbara Kingsolver doesn’t hold back when it comes to, let’s say, the authenticity of what a teenage boy from the hollers of coal country thinks about, and she somehow manages to do it without being cringe. It’s a damning critique of social services, the foster care system, the school system to some extent, Big Pharma to a huge extent, and even Big City Liberals in a way that’s clarifying for this Big City Liberal who now lives …in the hollers of coal country.

Troy Liljedahl, Director, Solutions Engineering

An image of the book cover for Radical Candor by Kim Scott.

Radical Candor: Be a Kick-Ass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity, by Kim Scott

The book that really stuck with me this year is “Radical Candor” by Kim Scott. This was the best book on leadership and management I’ve ever read, and I’ve been recommending it to my friends and colleagues who are looking for ways to improve in those skills. I love how Scott gives you actionable items to take with you into the workplace rather than generalized advice that’s less applicable to specific situations. I loved the book so much I started listening to the Radical Candor podcast, which has quickly become a favorite of mine as well.

Kari Rivas, Senior Product Marketing Manager

A cover image of the book The Grace Year by Kim Liggett.

The Grace Year, by Kim Liggett

For fans of “The Handmaid’s Tale”, “Hunger Games”, and any other books where women are badasses (can I say that?) fighting a dystopian empire, “The Grace Year” will not disappoint. This book examines the often fraught and complex relationships between women, with a magical bent. Think Lady of the Flies. Just like the mentioned references, this thrilling read will leave you feeling both hopeful and sad—exactly the mix of feelings we’re all looking for at the end of the year, amIright?

Yev Pusin, Senior Director, Marketing

An image of the book cover The Aeronaut's Windlass by Jim Butcher.

The Aeronaut’s Windlass, by Jim Butcher

I do not feel like I need to sell this book too hard. Here’s the gist. Jim Butcher (of Dresden Files and Codex Alera fame) wrote this book. It’s about an airship-filled steampunk society that’s divided into living habitats they call spires. It has air ship battles. Magic. Snarky characters. And possibly most important of all: TALKING CATS AS A MAIN CHARACTER. Enjoy.

Mark Potter, Chief Information Security Officer

An image of the cover of the book To Shape a Dragon's Breath by Moniquill Blackgoose.

To Shape a Dragon’s Breath: The First Book of Nampeshiweisit, by Moniquill Blackgoose (and some other bonus books!)

I don’t really have a book recommendation, but I have a few books that I’m reading at the moment: “To Shape a Dragon’s Breath” (a recommendation from a fellow Backblazer that I’m only a couple of chapters into) and Robert Jordan’s “The Eye of the World” (has been on my list for over a decade, so far I’m underwhelmed).

Gleb Budman, Chief Executive Officer

An image of the book cover of Tubes by Andrew Blum.

Tubes: A Journey to the Center of the Internet, by Andrew Blum

The idea that the internet is “a series of tubes” may have been widely mocked when former Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska famously described it. But he wasn’t entirely wrong. I love how Blum starts with a simple question: “Where does this cord that comes out of my modem actually go?” and then that takes him on a journey of exploration around the world.

Alison McClelland, Senior Technical Editing Manager

An image of the cover of the book Packing for Mars by Mary Roach.

Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void, by Mary Roach

Mary Roach presents a unique view of the challenges of space, investigating the comical side of planetary exploration, from zero-gravity hijinks to the surprisingly practical challenges of personal hygiene in orbit. Forget packing trendy outfits in your stylish carry-on; in the cosmos, it’s all about zero-gravity hairstyles and toothpaste that doesn’t float away mid-brush.

Stephanie Doyle, Associate Editor and Writer

An image of the book cover for All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders.

All the Birds in the Sky, by Charlie Jane Anders

This book is a wonderful mashup of near-future sci fi, magical realism, strong character arcs, and so much more. It’s brilliant at taking things that seem familiar—urban San Francisco for example, or science as a concept—and inserting chaos and whimsy in ways that challenge our base assumptions and create a totally unexpected, but absolutely believable, universe. It’s so matter-of-fact in tone, that you may just question whether magic does exist. And, with all that, the book ends by delivering a poignant and thoughtful ending that turns all that quirkiness inside out, and forces you to wonder about the world you’re living in right now, and how you can change things. It’s one of my go-to recommendations for fans of all kinds of fiction.

Patrick Thomas, Senior Director, Publishing

An image of the book cover for Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan.

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, by Robin Sloan

So, full disclosure—I continue to struggle with being a toddler dad when it comes to reading. (Evidence: I’ve read “The Grinch”10 times in the last 24 hours and my heart is feeling three sizes too small). So this isn’t a new recommendation, but rather a recommendation I’m realizing not enough people in tech have received yet. “Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore” brings together my two worlds: books and tech… and, well, fantasy and mystery sort of (not my worlds, but I like to dwell in the idea that there’s a near-real fantasy world at the edge of our experience). If you like data and narrative structure, or if you like a spooky adventure, or if you like dusty old bookshops, Robin Sloan has you covered with this one. And, once you’ve read this, get on his email lists, he writes about history, fiction, and technology (and olive oil) beautifully. P.S.: I don’t know why Picador insists on this terrible cover, it does little to convey the world inside the book—don’t make my mistake and judge this book by its cover).

Happy Reading From Backblaze

We hope this list piques your interest—we may be a tech company, but nothing beats a good, old fashioned book (or audiobook) to help you unwind, disconnect, and lose yourself in someone else’s story for a while. (Okay, we may be biased on the Publishing team.) 

Any reading recommendations to give us? Let us know in the comments.


About Stephanie Doyle

Stephanie is the Associate Editor & Writer at Backblaze. She specializes in taking complex topics and writing relatable, engaging, and user-friendly content. You can most often find her reading in public places, and can connect with her on LinkedIn.