The best books about hackers

6 authors have picked their favorite books about hackers and why they recommend each book.

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Book cover of Ghost in the Wires: My Adventures as the World's Most Wanted Hacker

Ghost in the Wires: My Adventures as the World's Most Wanted Hacker

By Kevin Mitnick, William L. Simon,

Why this book?

A famous hacker’s real-life story, told from his own perspective, Ghost in the Wires explains how criminal hackers think and act and the diverse techniques they use, no keyboard necessary—all, in this case, with little motive beyond a compulsion to explore and exploit. The hacking community has no bigger characters than Kevin Mitnick and no better first-person accounts of the art of “social engineering,” or human hacking—manipulating people (including, in Mitnick’s case, the FBI and other would-be pursuers) to your own advantage.

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Book cover of Little Brother

Little Brother

By Cory Doctorow,

Why this book?

Cory Doctorow, the champion of nerds everywhere really hit the nail on the head with his book about the state of current politics and society with Little Brother. This book was released in 2008 but seems truer to life now than ever. His protagonist Marcus, watches appalled as the government begins to strip away citizens' rights under the guise of our protection. This book has been called dystopian young adult fiction, but I disagree. It all feels very familiar to the current climate we live in. It can get a little preachy but regardless of your personal politics it’s…

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Book cover of Border Hacker: A Tale of Treachery, Trafficking, and Two Friends on the Run

Border Hacker: A Tale of Treachery, Trafficking, and Two Friends on the Run

By Levi Vonk,

Why this book?

Vonk and Kirschner tell their riveting story of meeting on a Viacrucis Migrante – known to most as a “caravan” of migrants traveling from Central America, up through Mexico. Kirschner is a world-class hacker and his skills lead him and Vonk on an absolutely fascinating journey into the world of human traffickers, anti-government guerillas, and corrupt government officials not to mention corrupt priests. This book will disrupt everything you thought you knew about the migrant caravans, why people decide to join these journeys, and the realities they face along the way.

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Book cover of Olivia Twisted

Olivia Twisted

By Vivi Barnes,

Why this book?

Hands up who wasn’t in a play of Oliver Twist at school! This is such a classic and theatre favourite which I remember starring in twice. But this is a truly modern and interesting reimagining of a Dicken’s masterpiece. Olivia is an orphan, strong and independent but with wounds from her many years within the care system. When her computer skills are noticed she is recruited to Syke’s hacker gang of cyber thieves which masquerades as a home for unwanted children. Each chapter starts with a quote from the original which foreshadows the events to come and provides a nice…

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Book cover of Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution

Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution

By Steven Levy,

Why this book?

Hackers is a classic account of the computer revolution, centered on the pioneering tinkerers, gamers, social theorists, entrepreneurs, and other explorers who made military and corporate technology personal. These are not hackers in the criminal sense most people understand the term today, but men (and a few women) like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and others far less famous. Their interwoven biographies are brilliantly researched and reported, underpinned by what Levy calls a common “hacker ethic” whose tenets dominate our economy, politics, and culture today.

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Book cover of Neuromancer

Neuromancer

By William Gibson,

Why this book?

I came very late to the party on this book, and was still staggered by it. It’s the primary source for the grimy near-future aesthetic I’ve loved and employed for years, and even decades after publication, it still does cyberpunk better than any of its countless descendants. Each page is packed neutron-star tight with branding and slang. The prose is razorous and attentive. The ending’s a bit bleak, but the truly crushing thing is that I’ll never write something this cool.

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Book cover of Warcross

Warcross

By Marie Lu,

Why this book?

Spies, hackers, VR eSports, and exciting action scenes in stunning worlds. This book has it all, plus a little bit of romance. I love stories with diverse casts and this novel delivers that and a plot that moves with relentless purpose and intrigue. The ending is a tad abrupt but leads in perfectly to the equally fun sequel, Wildcard.
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Book cover of Off to Be the Wizard

Off to Be the Wizard

By Scott Meyer,

Why this book?

There is something to be said about Dragons and sorcery. But throw in time travel and a bit of computer wizardry you end up with Off to Be the Wizard. This is one of those books that sticks with you and you end up recommending it to people constantly because it is so original, so witty, so stupidly fun that you end up thinking everyone will like it.

I like this one because it blends a bit of sci-fi into the mix, but you still get the classic Middle Ages adventure. I would be hard-pressed to find something wittier…

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