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On Thu, Jun 9, 2011 at 5:18 PM, Stu <stu / rubyprogrammer.net> 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 here
on out (annoyingly, publishers haven't embraced this yet). But then again, I
wonder if technical books will even be competitive. Things change so fast
that books are almost stale by the time they're published. At the beginning
of the summer I went through all my books, and realized I had some that I
had bought within the last year or two but not gotten to read yet, but they
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 shortest
C book at Barnes and Noble. My opinion of it wasn't very high at that time.
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 able
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
> get returned?
>
>
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 pages
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). I
got a lot of takeaways from this book, and even almost a year later, still
do (intermittently) some of the things they talk about in it. It also makes
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 it
enlightening and encouraging. It's a short read, each chapter is pretty self
contained. I read about half of it one night instead of studying for
Chemistry :P 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 good
team, and how to avoid killing an otherwise good team. A lot of attention
paid to valuing people.

Rework, if you ever want to start a business. Even if not, there's a lot of
generalizable advice in it. I've probably read it three or four times now,
because each chapter is like a page long, and you can read the whole thing
in a car ride on the way to your next Ruby conference. I just toss it in my
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 a
perfect fit for me, and I learned so much from that book. I thought I'd keep
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 it to
the DAV. But I still think its a great starter book, it helped me understand
things like arrays and memory, and really grounded a lot of concepts for me.

I've read quite a few Ruby books, but none of them have really inspired me.
Eloquent Ruby might have if I'd read it two years ago (also had to deal with
DRM infested bullshit when I tried to buy the PDF from the publisher). The
RSpec book probably came the closest, but I didn't get a chance to finish it
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 just
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. But it
doesn't drag you along an "epic journey" like most fantasy books in their
quest to copy Lord of the Rings. Instead, it tells two stories of the same
character, interleaving them with each chapter. The individual stories are
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.

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