When was the last time you read a book cover to cover? With our lives focused on feeds, tweets, and full inboxes, taking time to read and digest a book can easily become a forgotten treat. It shouldn’t be! Whether it’s a nail-biting whodunit, an exciting biography, or a specialist book extending your field of expertise, reading boosts your imagination, your analytical skills, and your focus. It’s also been shown to reduce stress. And no matter what, you’ll come away with useful knowledge or a unique new perspective.

So what started out as a quarantine pastime for our team has now morphed into a regular source of inspiration. See what the bookworms at Chatfuel have been reading lately to help you answer the question, What should I read next?

📚 Blood, Sweat and Pixels by Jason Schreier

Book recommendation by: Nina, QA Engineer at Chatfuel

One-line summary: A collection of stories about the development of some of the best-selling recent video games; a journey of trials and tribulations, obstacles, and successes

Great for: Anyone who plays or develops games, and anyone who thinks they’ve already seen the deepest abysses of burnout and chaos around them

blood sweat and pixels

What made you pick up this book? 🔍

I chose it for several reasons:

  1. To quote one of the readers from Goodreads: “I picked this book for one reason: to learn why Diablo 3 was such a letdown”. Then when I paged through it, I saw the story of another epic game, The Witcher. That was the second reason.
  2. I'm an avid gamer, and I am working in IT myself. I was always curious about the behind-the-scenes stories related to game development. And this book was especially interesting to discuss in my circle of friends, because it made me appreciate the enormous work and challenges faced by video-game development teams.
  3. During my own work, I’m often challenged by tight deadlines, stress, and communication issues. Difficult conversations, negotiations, personal stuff can have a big impact on my work. When I saw the title, Blood, Sweat and Pixels, it felt like a call from someone who shared the same challenges. I just had to read it.

What's it about? 📝

The author takes readers into the hellfire of the game development process. The book gives you a glimpse of the hard work, the emotions, and the dedication that go into creating a new game. It charts the setbacks and successes, the many hurdles, and how teams cope when nothing goes to plan.

What were your key takeaways from this book? 💡

My takeaways from this read were:

  1. Don’t give up, even if it’s only you and your other half working on something (from the Stardew Valley story).
  2. Work together with people who share your passion (from the Witcher 3 story).
  3. Don’t be afraid to start over and over again to achieve perfection (from the Diablo 3 and Dragon Age stories).
  4. Work hard, play hard (from the Uncharted 4 story).

Any favorite quotes to share from this book? 💬

  • On long hours: “Your team had to crunch for at least a month before each major milestone (E3, alpha, beta, etc.) and even though you bought them all dinners to make up for it, you still can’t stop thinking about the missed anniversaries, the lost birthday parties, and the evenings they didn’t get to spend with their kids because they were stuck in meetings about the best color schemes for your plumber’s overalls. Is there a way to make great video games without that sort of sacrifice? Is it possible to develop a game without putting in endless hours? Will there ever be a reliable formula for making games that allows for more predictable schedules?”
  • On uncharted territory and unplanned hurdles: “Making a game is like constructing a building during an earthquake or trying to run a train, as someone else is laying down track as you go...”

📚 Educated by Tara Westover

Book recommendation by: Mary, Content Manager at Chatfuel

One-line summary: The importance of education and determination to expand your world, spread your wings, and push boundaries

Great for: Anyone who might feel a bit stuck, who is experiencing tension in the workplace or in their family, or who needs a boost of confidence and inspiration

educated tara

What made you pick up this book? 🔍

To be completely honest, I just happened to pick up this book from our office bookshelf. But once I started reading, I couldn’t put it down. And no wonder; Educated was ranked as one of the top ten books of 2018 by the New York Times.

This is a contemporary story, set in the here and now. It’s about the value of a formal education, but also about how we're shaped by the knowledge and values passed on from our parents and our environment.

What's it about? 📝

This is Tara’s memoir, and she reminds me of a character straight out of George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion. It’s Tara’s story about growing up in an American Mormon family, eventually breaking the boundaries of beliefs and imposed opinions, and then learning about life outside of this context. It’s about the importance of education, healthy family relationships, and personal freedoms.

What were your key takeaways from this book? 💡

Reading this book made me feel confident about my own upcoming exams. If Tara can overcome her obstacles to be awarded a PhD from Cambridge University and be a successful author by the age of 35, then anything is possible. So my takeaways from this story are:

  1. A traumatic family past won’t stop a young woman from finding herself and fighting for her rights.
  2. Trust, determination, desire, and hard work matter.
  3. Education and knowledge are the keys to broadening our horizons, believing in ourselves, and changing our lives.

Any favorite quotes to share from this book? 💬

  • On making excuses: “But sometimes I think we choose our illnesses, because they benefit us in some way.”
  • On reaching that tipping point in your life: “The decisions I made after that moment were not the ones she would have made. They were the choices of a changed person, a new self. You could call this selfhood many things. Transformation. Metamorphosis. Falsity. Betrayal. I call it an education.”
  • On traits that make us uniquely us: “Whomever you become, whatever you make yourself into, that is who you always were.”

📚 The New One Minute Manager by Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson

Book recommendation by: Chris, Director of User Happiness at Chatfuel

One-line summary: This book covers techniques for a more effective management style that encourages collaboration and precise communication.

Great for: Anyone who is new to management and is willing to try different approaches. In saying that, I’ve now read it several times, and it never ceases to be a source of inspiration and guidance.

new one minute manager

What made you pick up this book? 🔍

I’ve read this book many times. At my first technical job, it was recommended to me by a (very observant) coworker who knew I struggled to understand exactly how to be a great team leader. Now  I read it regularly. It gets updated every few years, so it's great to continue to learn about the latest thinking in and approaches to management. It's a short and straightforward book: a hundred pages packed full of valuable insights.

What's it about? 📝

The book centers around any business’s most valuable asset: its people. It provides hands-on, practical advice on how to empower your team and get the most out of their potential. It also acknowledges and addresses the balancing act many managers face between focusing on productivity and business results, and employee motivation and success. Although it gets updated regularly with modern practices, the methodology at its core has remained unchanged.

What were your key takeaways from this book? 💡

  1. Being an authoritarian-type leader or being “super bossy” isn’t the sign of an effective manager. Instead, it's generally a short-sighted strategy.
  2. Always remember that you're working with other human beings who have feelings and need to be motivated in positive ways. Keeping this in mind will help you empower your team and, ultimately, positively affect productivity.

Any favorite quotes to share from this book? 💬

  • On the worth of making time for people: It’s the quote used heavily in the book’s marketing, but it's the heart of the message: “The best minute I spend is the one I invest in people.”

📚 My Name Is Red by Orhan Pamuk

Book recommendation by: Victor, SRE Engineer at Chatfuel

One-line summary: A beautifully crafted history lesson set in the Ottoman Empire of the 16th century, disguised as a murder mystery

Great for: Readers who are curious about the history of the Ottoman Empire, Turkey, and Istanbul, and its culture, arts, and traditions. I recommend it if you love Haruki Murakami or Gabriel García Márquez. My Name is Red reminded me very much of their styles.

orhan pamuk

What made you pick up this book? 🔍

It may sound like a corny way to find a book to read, but I saw this novel in the hands of a girl on the subway and I liked the title. And after reading the author's biography and the short intro, I knew I had to read the whole thing. After years of being influenced by the classic writers of Europe, Russia, and the USA, I was ready to immerse myself into a different world of different writers than what I was used to.

What's it about? 📝

Orkhan Pamuk, the author, is an accomplished Turkish writer, and his novel marked the start of my literary journey through Asia. The story is set in 1591 Istanbul. And although it's a detective story at heart, it has plenty of other plot twists and turns with conflicts, medieval history, love, and confrontations between cultures and civilizations. It takes you through nine snowy winter days in a 16th-century Istanbul ruled by an Ottoman sultan.

What were your key takeaways from this book? 💡

The novel oozes the spirit of the East: its customs and traditions, philosophies, and relations between people and even other cultures. The book inspired me to learn about the history of this amazing, ancient world. I’d like to think it helped me have a greater understanding of the people around me, and it also makes me want to visit Istanbul as soon as possible.

Any favorite quotes to share from this book? 💬

  • In the author’s own words: “The best that can be left of the empire is sadness," from an interview with Orhan Pamuk.
  • On equality, or lack thereof: “The blind and the seeing are not equal.”
  • On the effects of time: “With growing panic, I tried desperately to remember her, only to realize that despite love, a face long not seen finally fades.”

Put down your phone; pick up a book

Especially during times like these, self-care is important. Take a break from the news and the busyness. Curl up in a cozy spot with an interesting book to read as a way to relax and look after yourself, and to gain some new knowledge along the way.

Support local bookstores and grab yourself a good read—then share your book review with us on Twitter @Chatfuel using #BookfuelClub! 📖Want more recommendations? Check out the book suggestions from four other members of the Chatfuel team.