On Thu, Jun 9, 2011 at 5:18 PM, Stu [email protected] wrote:
I wanted to start a thread discussion on classic computer science
texts you have read that have influenced you in your lifetime. I am
always on the lookout to acquire books that last beyond the subject
matter where the concepts transcends the era in which it was initially
conceived and implemented. I am an avid collector of books and have an
collected several out of print gems or not available now in hardbacks
over the years as I enjoy collecting these texts for my library.
Hmm, I’m going the opposite direction. I think it will be all PDF from
on out (annoyingly, publishers haven’t embraced this yet). But then
wonder if technical books will even be competitive. Things change so
that books are almost stale by the time they’re published. At the
of the summer I went through all my books, and realized I had some that
had bought within the last year or two but not gotten to read yet, but
were already obsolete.
For example every year I take a week and re-read The C Programming
Language (Kernighan, Ritchie) as it’s the gold standard to simply well
written texts. It’s also a very good read.
O.o That was actually my first book, I bought it because it was the
C book at Barnes and Noble. My opinion of it wasn’t very high at that
I felt like there was some context or tacit information that would have
prevented me from getting past even the first chapter if I hadn’t been
to figure it out. Maybe I would like it more now, but I haven’t felt
compelled to re-read it.
What books have you read that you still admire and refer to even after
all these years? The kind of books that you would love to be
altruistic and loan to your colleague or friend but fear it wont ever
I liked The Pragmatic Programmer, but was probably still too novice to
appreciate most of it at the time I read it. Still, it was pretty
accessible, and very motivating. It makes you want to write good code.
I like Pragmatic Thinking and Learning, I actually reread the last 70
a few days ago, and decided to set up a personal wiki as a result. It’s
another motivating book. Makes you want to be productive, get shit done,
organize your life, encourage your creative side (R-brain in the book).
got a lot of takeaways from this book, and even almost a year later,
do (intermittently) some of the things they talk about in it. It also
a point to give you a mental model for your brain. And I think it gets
better as you go.
Peopleware, I read this b/c Joel Spolsky always talks about it. I found
enlightening and encouraging. It’s a short read, each chapter is pretty
contained. I read about half of it one night instead of studying for
Chemistry It’s about working together, managing teams, developing
software. A lot of attention is paid to environment, things like noise,
concentration, flow, lighting, furniture, etc. A lot about what makes a
team, and how to avoid killing an otherwise good team. A lot of
paid to valuing people.
Rework, if you ever want to start a business. Even if not, there’s a lot
generalizable advice in it. I’ve probably read it three or four times
because each chapter is like a page long, and you can read the whole
in a car ride on the way to your next Ruby conference. I just toss it in
bag, then when I’m waiting for an appointment, gives me something to do
while I wait. You can drop in anywhere and just go with it, literally.
When I took Java in school, I loved Absolute Java. At that time, it was
perfect fit for me, and I learned so much from that book. I thought I’d
it for ever, but when I went through my books last month, I realized I’m
beyond it now, and it doesn’t have anything for me any more, so I gave
the DAV. But I still think its a great starter book, it helped me
things like arrays and memory, and really grounded a lot of concepts for
I’ve read quite a few Ruby books, but none of them have really inspired
Eloquent Ruby might have if I’d read it two years ago (also had to deal
DRM infested bullshit when I tried to buy the PDF from the publisher).
RSpec book probably came the closest, but I didn’t get a chance to
because school started up again, I’m hoping to go through it again this
summer. The Pickaxe looks like it has a lot of great info in it, but I
can’t bring myself to sit down with a 1000 page book.
And lastly, Talion: Revenant, the only fiction book I like. I’ve read it
maybe 6 times, and try to loan it out to all my friends who read fiction
whenever I can. It’s fantasy, so elves and magic and trolls and such.
doesn’t drag you along an “epic journey” like most fantasy books in
quest to copy Lord of the Rings. Instead, it tells two stories of the
character, interleaving them with each chapter. The individual stories
imagination candy, and I think each chapter gets better than the chapter
before it. But it also has strong character development, which really is
what made the biggest difference for me in the end.