I stopped reading fiction for 13 years… and then this happened

My parents split when I was 12 and I lived with my dad…

He worked long hours so I had a lot of time at home alone…

I didn’t really watch much TV (because there wasn’t really anything on that I liked)…

And forget about social media… this was even before the Internet existed!

So I spent most of my time reading books (I wasn’t much of a sporty kid either :)).

I read everything I could get my hands on – I read authors like Roald Dahl, C.S. Lewis, J.R.R Tolkien, Mark Twain… and I read books from a wide range of genres.

I even read 30 books in a month as part of a book reading competition.

But I stopped reading fiction when I was 16 – I preferred to hang out with friends and go out instead 🙂

I didn’t start reading again until I was 22, when I started to read business books (that’s when I really started to go all-in on my entrepreneurial path).

For the next 13 years I only read business books. I read everything I could, from every author you could think of. You name it and I’ve probably read it.

But I could never really find a fiction book where I could get past the first chapter. I tried but found they didn’t really capture me (I get bored REALLY easily).

Then one day a few years go I was reading Wired Magazine and they recommended a few different books their audience might like. And because I like most of their content, I figured I’d try one out – The Daemon by Daniel Suarez.

Wow…

This book was so awesome that I devoured it in less than a week!

I then read the sequel as soon as I finished the first one… and I finished that one in a week as well!!

I couldn’t believe it – I had found fiction that captured me so much that I finished 2 books in 2 weeks… and that’s after not reading fiction for 13 years!

(Image credit: devtools.org)

I tried seeing if Daniel Suarez had written any other books… he hadn’t.

So I tried finding similar books to the two I just read… but I didn’t really put too much effort into the process so another few years passed without reading any fiction.

Until I went to Bali for my birthday in 2016…

I was sitting at the resort in Bali thinking about what to read (because that’s what you do at a resort, right?) when it struck me…

Maybe that author I had read a few years back had written another book in the last few years??

He had.

And it was awesome.

I devoured it in just a few days (I was on holidays after all!).

And because I was reading it on the Kindle (I LOVE the Kindle by the way), when the book was finished Amazon suggested other titles I might be interested in reading.

That’s when I stumbled across a genre that really resonated with me…

Artificial intelligence or ‘AI’.

I read 3 more books in the next week.

I couldn’t get enough of it.

I was (and still am) compelled by what our future might look like as AI evolves to the singularity and beyond… and how it can happen without us really trying.

So I figured I’d share the books that brought me back to the joy of reading fiction…

Because if you’re like me and you have a really short attention span, maybe this genre is for you as well.

Here goes…

Daemon by Daniel Suarez

This is the first book I read on the topic. I loved it.

From Amazon: A man is found brutally murdered – and the only possible perpetrator happens to be dead. As more killings follow, it becomes clear that mass carnage is being planned and organised from beyond the grave. The Daemon – a lethal and seemingly unstoppable computer program – is responsible and murder is the least of its capabilities. Masterminded by a twisted genius, the Daemon inhabits the systems on which society depends. In a world where everyone and everything is online, nothing is out of its reach. And as we are all connected, there is no escape…

Freedom TM by Daniel Suarez

This is the sequel to The Daemon. Just awesome.

From Amazon: The Daemon – a lethal computer program created by a twisted genius – is firmly in control and moving towards its endgame. As the global economy begins to collapse, the world’s most powerful organizations – monolithic corporations, complete with armies of their own – prepare to fight their unseen enemy. When civil conflict erupts in the United States, former detective Pete Sebeck finds himself forced to protect the new world order. Amid conflicting loyalties, rapidly diminishing human power and the possibility that anyone can be a daemon operative or a corporate spy, Sebeck knows that he embodies the last hope that freedom can survive the information revolution.

Influx by Daniel Suarez

This was the book I read in Bali. It’s by the same author as The Daemon and Freedom TM but it’s not part of the same series.

From Amazon: Change is dangerous, technology lethal. So what if our civilization is more advanced than we know? Particle physicist Jon Grady is ecstatic when his team achieves a major breakthrough: a device that can reflect gravity. Their research will revolutionise the field of physics. But at Grady’s moment of triumph, his lab is locked down by a shadowy organisation whose mission is to prevent the social upheaval caused by sudden technological advances – advances they use to retain total command. They are living in the future we were promised. Now Grady finds himself in a nightmarish high-tech prison built to hold other rebellious geniuses. Can he and his fellow prisoners escape? And even if they can, is it possible to defeat an enemy that wields a technological advantage half a century in the making? The dark ages are ending. Our future is here…

Avogadro Corp: The Singularity Is Closer Than It Appears (Singularity Series Book 1) by William Hertling

I found this series after Amazon recommended it after I finished reading Influx. This is the first book in the series.

From Amazon: David Ryan is the designer of ELOPe, an email language optimization program, that if successful, will make his career. But when the project is suddenly in danger of being canceled, David embeds a hidden directive in the software accidentally creating a runaway artificial intelligence. David and his team are initially thrilled when the project is allocated extra servers and programmers. But excitement turns to fear as the team realizes that they are being manipulated by an A.I. who is redirecting corporate funds, reassigning personnel and arming itself in pursuit of its own agenda.

A.I. Apocalypse (Singularity Series Book 2) by William Hertling

This is the second book in the series and is better than the first (in my opinion).

From Amazon: Leon Tsarev is a high school student set on getting into a great college program, until his uncle, a member of the Russian mob, coerces him into developing a new computer virus for the mob’s botnet – the slave army of computers they used to commit digital crimes. The evolutionary virus Leon creates, based on biological principles, is successful — too successful. All the world’s computers are infected. Everything from cars to payment systems and, of course, computers and smart phones stop functioning, and with them go essential functions including emergency services, transportation, and the food supply. Billions may die. But evolution never stops. The virus continues to evolve, developing intelligence, communication, and finally an entire civilization. Some may be friendly to humans, but others are not. Leon and his companions must race against time and the military to find a way to either befriend or eliminate the virus race and restore the world’s computer infrastructure.

The Last Firewall (Singularity Series Book 3) by William Hertling

I am currently reading this one.

From Amazon: In the year 2035, robots, artificial intelligences, and neural implants have become commonplace. The Institute for Ethics keeps the peace, using social reputation to ensure that robots and humans don’t harm society or each other. But a powerful AI named Adam has found a way around the restrictions. Catherine Matthews, nineteen years old, has a unique gift: the ability to manipulate the net with her neural implant. Yanked out of her perfectly ordinary life, Catherine becomes the last firewall standing between Adam and his quest for world domination.

The Turing Exception (Singularity Series Book 4) by William Hertling

I haven’t read this one yet but I definitely will as this series is awesome.

From Amazon: In the year 2043, humans and AI coexist in a precarious balance of power enforced by a rigid caste reputation system designed to ensure that only those AI who are trustworthy and contribute to human society increase in power. Everything changes when a runaway nanotech event leads to the destruction of Miami. In the grim aftermath, a powerful underground collective known as XOR dedicates that AI can no longer coexist with humanity. AI pioneers Catherine Matthews, Leon Tsarev, and Mike Williams believe that mere months are left before XOR starts an extermination war. Can they find a solution before time runs out?

I hope you enjoy them 🙂

And if you have any book recommendations in this genre (or any others) please let me know.

Alex Cleanthous

Alex Cleanthous

Director of Strategy + Innovation | Co-Founder at Web Profits
I co-founded Web Profits in 2006 with the belief that there's always a smarter and better way to do things. We're now a digital growth consultancy with offices in Australia, Singapore, and the United States. I'm passionate about personal and professional growth, and I like to surround myself with people who are as well. I have substantial private board experience, and have successfully launched an IPO.

2 comments

  1. December 30th, 2016 at 2:51 pm

    Luke Marshall says:

    I’ve had the same problem for quite some time Alex – devouring business books like it’s my job, but abandoning fiction.

    I’m going to give Daniel Suarez a go (how good are Kindles?) and come back to this list if I enjoy it 🙂

    Thanks for the recommendations.

  2. December 30th, 2016 at 3:11 pm

    Alex Cleanthous says:

    Yeah, definitely give him a go Luke and let me know how you go with it 🙂

    And it took me about a week to get used to the Kindle, and now I’ll never go back.

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I’m the co-founder of Web Profits, investor in a number of different companies, and have successfully launched an IPO. Get access to 95% of my best life hacks.