Byers Market: What the tech and media titans are reading this summer

Byers Market is a daily newsletter from NBC News senior media reporter Dylan Byers that takes you behind the scenes in Hollywood, Silicon Valley, New York and Washington.
Three literary recommendations from the first annual Byers Market Summer Reading List.
Three of the literary recommendations from the first Byers Market Summer Reading List.NBC News

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By Dylan Byers

Good morning. 📚 Welcome to the first Byers Market Summer Reading List, featuring exclusive literary recommendations from the leading minds of Silicon Valley, Hollywood and beyond.

🦀 I'm en route to the San Juan Islands, where I'll be out of cell range and without Wifi. The newsletter will resume Aug. 12.

Join the Market.


The Summer Reading List

In the spirit of summer, of reflection and contemplation, of slowing down and spending time with stories and ideas, I asked the nation's top tech, media and entertainment executives — and one governor — to share the best books they've read recently, or the books they look forward to reading in the weeks ahead. Enjoy.


Tim Cook, Apple CEO

"Shoe Dog" by Phil Knight, a memoir by the Nike founder about the company's birth and its path to success. Cook tells me it's the "best business book of the century."

"When Breath Becomes Air" by Paul Kalanithi, a neurosurgeon diagnosed with lung cancer who seeks to discover what makes a life worth living. Cook says it's the "best book on re-examining life and values."


Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook CEO

"The Last Days of Night" by Graham Moore. "It's about the competition to electrify the nation between Edison, Westinghouse and Tesla," Zuckerberg tells me. "Graham is a great storyteller."


Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook chief operating officer

"The Moment of Lift" by Melinda Gates. The philanthropist and global advocate for women's rights explains through research and personal experience how empowering women can change the world.


Bob Iger, Disney CEO

"The Second Mountain" by David Brooks, in which The New York Times columnist explores what it takes to lead a meaningful life in a self-centered world. That's "the last one I read," Iger tells me.

Bonus: Iger tells me he's also just read the first nine Horatio Hornblower books by CS Forester, and re-read Thomas Friedman's "Hot, Flat and Crowded," about the need for a green revolution.


Steve Burke, NBCUniversal CEO

"Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power" by Jon Meacham, in which the Pulitzer Prize-winning author explores the life of the politician and president, his understanding of power and his passion for popular government.

(NBCUniversal is the parent company of NBC News.)


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Ari Emanuel, WME co-CEO

"The Age of Surveillance Capitalism" by Shoshana Zuboff, about the quest by powerful corporations to predict and control our behavior and the steps necessary to preserve a human future.

Plus: "The Last Pirate of New York: A Ghost Ship, a Killer, and the Birth of a Gangster Nation" by Rich Cohen, and "Maybe You Should Talk to Someone" by Lori Gottlieb.


Dawn Ostroff, Spotify chief content officer

"Educated: A Memoir" by Tara Westover, about a young girl kept out of school who goes on to earn a doctorate from Cambridge University. Ostroff calls it "a beautiful book about family, tragedy, and hope."

Bonus: Ostroff also recommends the new true-crime podcast "The Clearing," which she describers as "a stunning story about a woman who realizes that her father was a serial killer."


Evan Spiegel, Snap CEO

"Mortal Republic" by Edward Watts, a new history of the fall of the Roman republic that explains why Rome exchanged freedom for autocracy, and provides warning signs for America in the 21st century.


Barry Diller, IAC chairman

"The British are Coming," by David Atkinson. The first volume of the Revolution Trilogy starts in 1775 and recounts the first 21 months of America’s violent war for independence.

"Elvis in Vegas" by Richard Zoglin, who argues that Sin City is where the King of Rock 'n' Roll resurrected his career and created the most exciting show in Vegas history.


Jeffrey Katzenberg, founder of WndrCo

"White Working Class" by Joan Willams, in which the law professor exposes the elite's misguided analysis of the white working class and explains how they can overcome their class cluelessness.

"21 Lessons for 21 Century" by Yuval Harari, who offers a thought-provoking investigation into rapid technological changes and the most pressing challenges of the future.


Gina Raimondo, Rhode Island governor

"The Future of Capitalism" by Paul Collier, who argues for an ethical and pragmatic approach to healing our economic, social and cultural rifts and saving capitalism from itself.

Plus: "Designing the New American University" by Michael Crow; and "The Moment of Lift," by Melinda Gates. The governor says she's currently in the middle of reading all three.


Richard Plepler, former HBO CEO

"Our Man" by George Packer, a portrait of the extraordinary and deeply flawed diplomat Richard Holbrooke, his tenure in foreign affairs and the elite spheres of society and government he inhabited.

Bonus: Like Spotify's Ostroff, above, Plepler tells me he also loved "Educated: A Memoir" by Tara Westover.


Jimmy Pitaro, ESPN president

"The Sixth Man" by Andre Iguodala. The Golden State Warriors' memoir explores his life on and off the court, including his tech investments, his philanthropy and his contributions to the conversation about race in America.


Rupert Murdoch, News Corp. executive chairman, Fox Corp. co-chairman

"When Pride Still Mattered: A Life Of Vince Lombardi" by David Maraniss. The book, published nearly two decades ago, explores the man and the myth that transformed football into a metaphor of the American experience.

Plus: "Alfred Hitchcock: A Brief Life" by Peter Ackroyd;"Picasso: Creator and Destroyer" by Arianna Huffington; and "Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life" by Steve Martin.


🚣 See you Monday, August 12.