100 books like Normal Accidents

By Charles Perrow,

Here are 100 books that Normal Accidents fans have personally recommended if you like Normal Accidents. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Book cover of Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion

Melina Palmer Author Of What Your Customer Wants and Can't Tell You: Unlocking Consumer Decisions with the Science of Behavioral Economics

From my list on brainy branding that results in buying.

Why am I passionate about this?

The more I learn about the brain, the more I want to dig in and discover more. Why do we procrastinate? Why do people buy things? Why do some people love unlocking these topics weekly on The Brainy Business podcast (where each person on this list has been a guest) and sharing those insights with the world? When it comes to selling and buying in a brainy way, behavioral economics is the best way to get there, and these books are all a great first step into learning what behavioral science is, how the brain really works, and up-leveling your brand. 

Melina's book list on brainy branding that results in buying

Melina Palmer Why did Melina love this book?

No list on behavior, sales, and brand messaging would be complete without including Robert Cialdini on the list. Concepts like social proof, scarcity, and reciprocity are key for getting customers to buy in on your product or service before they even get to the buying moment.

If you are one of the millions of people who has already read Influence, his other book Pre-Suasion is amazing as well and so helpful for brands!

By Robert B. Cialdini,

Why should I read it?

24 authors picked Influence as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The foundational and wildly popular go-to resource for influence and persuasion-a renowned international bestseller, with over 5 million copies sold-now revised adding: new research, new insights, new examples, and online applications.

In the new edition of this highly acclaimed bestseller, Robert Cialdini-New York Times bestselling author of Pre-Suasion and the seminal expert in the fields of influence and persuasion-explains the psychology of why people say yes and how to apply these insights ethically in business and everyday settings. Using memorable stories and relatable examples, Cialdini makes this crucially important subject surprisingly easy. With Cialdini as a guide, you don't have…


Book cover of World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War

Johnny B. Truant Author Of Dead City

From my list on Sci-Fi real science that justifies unreal things.

Why am I passionate about this?

Before I was an author, I was a scientist pursuing a PhD in molecular genetics. When I left the lab and started writing, that scientist’s need for real-world sense stuck with me and became a theme in everything I write. The authors I like understand that “suspension of disbelief” is a limited resource, so they’d better only ask readers for it when it counts. Get the baseline facts and logic right, and I’ll believe and enjoy the fantastical stuff spun from it so much more. 

Johnny's book list on Sci-Fi real science that justifies unreal things

Johnny B. Truant Why did Johnny love this book?

This book blew me away! This time, it wasn’t about science in a strict sense but rather the “scientific mindset” the book was written with. Every aspect of a real zombie war is honestly considered—all the ramifications of an event so enormous—versus the simplistic way filmmakers portray it.

How do you fight millions of things that never back down or die? They’d spread out, for instance, so you’d be finding zombies for decades later, maybe in small pieces. They don’t need to breathe, so you could “lose” them underwater until they grab you one day. And what about military strategy? How hard would it be to fight an army of soldiers who can’t panic, never give up, and don’t care enough to retreat? 

By Max Brooks,

Why should I read it?

23 authors picked World War Z as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

It began with rumours from China about another pandemic. Then the cases started to multiply and what had looked like the stirrings of a criminal underclass, even the beginning of a revolution, soon revealed itself to be much, much worse.

Faced with a future of mindless man-eating horror, humanity was forced to accept the logic of world government and face events that tested our sanity and our sense of reality. Based on extensive interviews with survivors and key players in the ten-year fight against the horde, World War Z brings the finest traditions of journalism to bear on what is…


Book cover of Warnings: Finding Cassandras to Stop Catastrophes

Damon P. Coppola Author Of Introduction to International Disaster Management

From my list on expanding your thinking on disaster risk management.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a professional emergency and risk management practitioner, I’ve spent my career supporting and shaping emergency management policy and practice in every context from the village to global levels. What I’ve found to be most rewarding are those opportunities where I’ve been able to translate this knowledge and practice into training the next generation of emergency managers. The textbooks I’ve written, which include the first comprehensive book on emergency management (Introduction to Emergency Management, currently in its 7th edition) and the first book on homeland security in the United States (Introduction to Homeland Security, currently in its 6th Edition), are currently in use at hundreds of universities worldwide.

Damon's book list on expanding your thinking on disaster risk management

Damon P. Coppola Why did Damon love this book?

We’ve all felt like a Cassandra at times, imploring people to see the obvious disaster to come - only to be ignored.

And even when that disaster as predicted materializes, we are rarely credited for having successfully seen what others could not so easily imagine. That said, for every accurate prediction, there are dozens, if not hundreds or even thousands of predictions that prove false.

As risk managers, our job is to reduce uncertainty by predicting the future as accurately as possible. So how do we sift through the chatter and find the most accurate warnings?

This book, written by former national security experts, offers an interesting methodology that can help us do that.  

Book cover of The Unthinkable: Who Survives When Disaster Strikes - and Why

Damon P. Coppola Author Of Introduction to International Disaster Management

From my list on expanding your thinking on disaster risk management.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a professional emergency and risk management practitioner, I’ve spent my career supporting and shaping emergency management policy and practice in every context from the village to global levels. What I’ve found to be most rewarding are those opportunities where I’ve been able to translate this knowledge and practice into training the next generation of emergency managers. The textbooks I’ve written, which include the first comprehensive book on emergency management (Introduction to Emergency Management, currently in its 7th edition) and the first book on homeland security in the United States (Introduction to Homeland Security, currently in its 6th Edition), are currently in use at hundreds of universities worldwide.

Damon's book list on expanding your thinking on disaster risk management

Damon P. Coppola Why did Damon love this book?

This is the obvious recommendation, but a ‘must read’ nonetheless. 

Whereas Cialdini’s text focuses on our response to messaging (on risk or otherwise), Ripley’s book focuses on our response to the incident itself (…and so where the former leaves off, the latter picks up).

The Unthinkable gives readers a deep look into our own psyche to prepare us for how we are likely to response when faced with physical or mortal danger. Nobody knows exactly how they will respond in a high-hazard incident because so many instinctual processes take over.

But as Ripley so effectively explains, it is possible to know what these phenomena look like so that when we are experiencing them we can adjust accordingly to be more effective responders.

Amanda Ripley’s approachable journalistic style effectively turns a collection of meaningful risk management messages into a hard-to-put-down page-turner. 

By Amanda Ripley,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Unthinkable as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Have you ever wondered how you would react to a disaster? Do you think you would be paralysed with fear, like the diplomat who froze, drink still in hand, as terrorists invaded the Dominican Republic's embassy in Colombia in 1980? Or might you find yourself pretending it hadn't happened, like the 9/11 survivor whose first instinct on feeling the shockwaves of the plane crashing into her building was to stay put? Or then again might you suddenly find hidden strengths in yourself, like Joe Stiley, who not only escaped from a dreadful plane wreck, but also managed to survive thirty…


Book cover of Plato and the Nerd: The Creative Partnership of Humans and Technology

Luc de Brabandere Author Of Be Logical, Be Creative, Be Critical: the Art of Thinking in a Digital World

From my list on how using computers influences the way we think.

Why am I passionate about this?

During my life, I’ve been told that I was not a true engineer, not a true banker, not a true CEO, not a true entrepreneur, not a true teacher… But one day an executive told me: “I want to work with you because you’re not a true consultant.” I then realized it is was a privilege not to be a true something! I like to call myself a corporate philosopher. Fellow of the BCG Henderson Institute, and co-founder of Cartoonbase, I split my time between the worlds of academia and business. I have published several other books on various subjects such as language, mathematics, humor, or fallacies.

Luc's book list on how using computers influences the way we think

Luc de Brabandere Why did Luc love this book?

Lee covers and connects two of my favorite topics, creativity, and technology. From the facts and truths of technology to the role models play in creativity (looking at how early philosophers suggested modeling thought), he argues that computers are not universal machines and that their power comes from their partnership with humans.

By Edward Ashford Lee,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Plato and the Nerd as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

How humans and technology evolve together in a creative partnership.

In this book, Edward Ashford Lee makes a bold claim: that the creators of digital technology have an unsurpassed medium for creativity. Technology has advanced to the point where progress seems limited not by physical constraints but the human imagination. Writing for both literate technologists and numerate humanists, Lee makes a case for engineering—creating technology—as a deeply intellectual and fundamentally creative process. Explaining why digital technology has been so transformative and so liberating, Lee argues that the real power of technology stems from its partnership with humans.

Lee explores the…


Book cover of Rocket Girl: The Story of Mary Sherman Morgan, America's First Female Rocket Scientist

Marianne J. Dyson Author Of A Passion for Space: Adventures of a Pioneering Female NASA Flight Controller

From my list on biographical stories of women in space.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I was 14, I wrote in my diary that I wanted to be an astronaut. It was 1968, and all astronauts were men. My role models came from fiction. It wasn’t until after I got my degree in physics and went to work for NASA that I finally got to know other women scientists and engineers, including the first women flight controllers and American women astronauts. After leaving NASA, I became a space journalist, author, editor, and book reviewer, often focusing on women’s contributions to space. I’m currently the volunteer historian for Mission Control and helping to capture more stories of women in space.

Marianne's book list on biographical stories of women in space

Marianne J. Dyson Why did Marianne love this book?

This book surprised me. I was skeptical that Mary Sherman Morgan was the first female rocket scientist—surely I would have heard of her before now! But that’s the problem with pioneering women: most of them remain unknown, their contributions overshadowed by the men they worked for.

Thankfully, her son’s curiosity about his mother’s past uncovered an almost mythical story of a woman fleeing abject poverty and cruelty, giving her baby up for adoption for an inability to take care of it, and yet overcoming discrimination to apply her mathematical genius to formulate the rocket fuel that led directly to the first successful launch of America’s first satellite, Explorer 1.

By George D. Morgan,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Rocket Girl as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

LIKE THE FEMALE SCIENTISTS PORTRAYED IN HIDDEN FIGURES, MARY SHERMAN MORGAN WAS ANOTHERUNSUNG HEROINE OF THE SPACE AGE-NOWHER STORY IS FINALLY TOLD.

This is the extraordinary true story of America's first female rocket scientist. Told by her son, it describes Mary Sherman Morgan's crucial contribution to launching America's first satellite and the author's labyrinthine journey to uncover his mother's lost legacy--one buried deep under a lifetime of secrets political, technological, and personal.
In 1938, a young German rocket enthusiast named Wernher von Braun had dreams of building a rocket that could fly him to the moon. In Ray, North Dakota,…


Book cover of Natural-Born Cyborgs: Minds, Technologies, and the Future of Human Intelligence

Tom Stafford Author Of Mind Hacks: Tips & Tools for Using Your Brain

From my list on understanding the human mind.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am now a Professor of Cognitive Science at the University of Sheffield, UK. I co-wrote Mind Hacks with technologist Matt Webb; we had great fun doing it. My research has always been in cognitive psychology and cognitive neuroscience, using experiments to understand the mind and brain and how they fit together. 

Tom's book list on understanding the human mind

Tom Stafford Why did Tom love this book?

The evolution of the mind is not over yet!

Clark is a philosopher and shows with wit and many great examples how our minds evolved to be a tight meshing between our brains, bodies, and the environment. In this account, our human endowment is to naturally absorb technologies, whether as simple as a stick or as complex as the internet, into our thinking and so warp and expand our consciousness and our capacity for thought.

So much discussion of artificial intelligence is about what computers will do better than humans or instead of humans. This book explodes the whole notion: intelligence has always been artificial, and the most interesting questions are about how we’re going to use technology to think. Onwards!

By Andy Clark,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Natural-Born Cyborgs as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From Robocop to the Terminator to Eve 8, no image better captures our deepest fears about technology than the cyborg, the person who is both flesh and metal, brain and electronics. But philosopher and cognitive scientist Andy Clark sees it differently. Cyborgs, he writes, are not something to be feared-we already are cyborgs.
In Natural-Born Cyborgs, Clark argues that what makes humans so different from other species is our capacity to fully incorporate tools and supporting cultural practices into our existence. Technology as simple as writing on a sketchpad, as familiar as Google or a cellular phone, and as potentially…


Book cover of The Technology Trap: Capital, Labor, and Power in the Age of Automation

Darren McKee Author Of Uncontrollable: The Threat of Artificial Superintelligence and the Race to Save the World

From my list on understanding how AI will shape our lives.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm an author, advisor, speaker, podcaster, and citizen concerned about humanity’s relationship with advanced artificial intelligence. After following developments in AI for many years, I noticed a disconnect between the rapid rate of progress in AI and the public’s understanding of what was happening. The AI issue affects everyone, so I want everyone to be empowered to learn more about how AI will have a large impact on their lives. As a senior policy advisor and a member of the Board of Advisors for Canada's leading safety and governance network, books such as these help me stay informed about the latest developments in advanced artificial intelligence. I hope my recommendations will help you to critically consider how humans should co-exist with this revolutionary technology.

Darren's book list on understanding how AI will shape our lives

Darren McKee Why did Darren love this book?

This excellent book provides a detailed history of technology and employment during the Industrial Revolution and up to the present. It is very well-researched and provides many useful insights.

For example, although the term ‘Luddite’ is often used negatively to describe those resistant to technology, the real Luddites were justified in their concerns as they were ultimately displaced due to automation. People were even put to death because they destroyed some of the new machines.

One of the main ways AI might affect our lives is in terms of employment, or rather, a lack of employment.

Frey empowers us to have a greater understanding of previous technological innovations and how they affected workers so that we are able to have more nuanced opinions on the matter. 

By Carl Benedikt Frey,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Technology Trap as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"Made me look at the industrial revolution, invention, sleeping beauties, contexts and the forces that shape our societies differently."-David Byrne, New York Times Book Review

How the history of technological revolutions can help us better understand economic and political polarization in the age of automation

From the Industrial Revolution to the age of artificial intelligence, The Technology Trap takes a sweeping look at the history of technological progress and how it has radically shifted the distribution of economic and political power among society's members. As Carl Benedikt Frey shows, the Industrial Revolution created unprecedented wealth and prosperity over the long…


Book cover of The Human Condition

Jennifer Banks Author Of Natality: Toward a Philosophy of Birth

From my list on birth, one of our greatest underexplored subjects.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up in a family that was focused on people, poetry, and politics. My parents both worked with children with disabilities in Massachusetts and my mother ran a daycare center in our house. As a reader, student, poet, and then editor, I’ve drawn on those experiences and expectations, and have searched through books looking for their echoes. Since 2007, I've edited books at Yale University Press where I'm currently Senior Executive Editor. I have a BA from Cornell University and an MFA in Creative Writing from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. I've also worked in various publishing roles at ICM, Continuum, and Harvard University Press.

Jennifer's book list on birth, one of our greatest underexplored subjects

Jennifer Banks Why did Jennifer love this book?

First published in 1958, this is one of Hannah Arendt’s most influential books and in it she attempts to define the human condition in the aftermath of World War II, developing her concept “natality.” 

It’s a challenging book that I’ve wrestled with and argued with and never forgotten. It includes some of her most powerful and frequently cited passages about birth. Lately, I’ve been returning to its opening pages, in which she discusses the launch of Sputnik into space. 

She saw this launch not as an exciting technological breakthrough, but as a fateful repudiation of our earthly existence, an existence that was defined by birth with possibilities and limitations.

By Hannah Arendt,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Human Condition as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The past year has seen a resurgence of interest in the political thinker Hannah Arendt, "the theorist of beginnings," whose work probes the logics underlying unexpected transformations-from totalitarianism to revolution.

A work of striking originality, The Human Condition is in many respects more relevant now than when it first appeared in 1958. In her study of the state of modern humanity, Hannah Arendt considers humankind from the perspective of the actions of which it is capable. The problems Arendt identified then-diminishing human agency and political freedom, the paradox that as human powers increase through technological and humanistic inquiry, we are…


Book cover of Chaos Monkeys: Obscene Fortune and Random Failure in Silicon Valley

Rick Umali Author Of Learn GIT in a Month of Lunches

From my list on working in the computer industry.

Why am I passionate about this?

My curiosity and enthusiasm for computers and what they can do has not faded since I first encountered them in grade school (with the Commodore VIC-20). At this stage in my life, I’m thrilled that I can still get paid to play with them and make them do things. The computer industry is both my daily grind and my playground. You can come at this field casually, or intensely, but as long as you can interact with the computer, the computer will welcome you. The five books in this list paint the possibilities of work in this challenging but rewarding industry: failure, success, immortality, and everything in between. Enjoy!

Rick's book list on working in the computer industry

Rick Umali Why did Rick love this book?

Most of my work experiences have been with startups, but that statement is a bit misleading. To be more accurate, I worked at early-stage companies, since the smallest company I worked for was already 35 people. Chaos Monkeys conveys both the excitement and drudgery of founding a real start-up (Antonio starts with two other co-founders).

Antonio’s book takes us from his cushy job on Wall Street to making the leap to running his own venture. Antonio’s flavorful style is the perfect voice as he takes you into those meetings at which money is exchanged, contracts are signed, and options are handed out. His company’s exit and his summation of what was gained and lost are the bread and butter conversations of anyone who’s ever worked in a high-tech startup. This is an illuminating and insightful book.

By Antonio Garcia Martinez,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Chaos Monkeys as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

An adrenaline-fuelled expose of life inside the tech bubble, Chaos Monkeys lays bare the secrets, power plays and lifestyle excesses of the visionaries, grunts, sociopaths, opportunists and money cowboys who are revolutionising our world. Written by startup CEO and industry provocateur Antonio Garcia Martinez, this is Liar's Poker meets The Social Network.

Computer engineers use 'chaos monkey' software to wreak havoc and test system robustness. Similarly, tech entrepreneurs like Antonio Garcia Martinez are society's chaos monkeys - their innovations disrupt every aspect of our lives, from transportation (Uber) and holidays (Airbnb) to television (Netflix) and dating…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in technology, risk management, and innovation?

11,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about technology, risk management, and innovation.

Technology Explore 126 books about technology
Risk Management Explore 30 books about risk management
Innovation Explore 81 books about innovation