Books I read in 2013:
- Mr Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore (Robin Sloane)
I loved this book. A modern-day mystery story, set in San Francisco with all the tech hipsterism that implies, but also featuring old books, movable type and a secret society.
- Taking Sudoku Seriously (Jason Rosenhouse and Laura Taalman)
This was another awesome book. A thorough exploration of sudoku and all related puzzles, taking in a bunch of branches of mathematics along the way; completely accessible without being dumbed down.
- Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency (Douglas Adams)
A fun break to re-read this. I think I prefer the Dirk Gently titles to the Hitchhiker ones.
- The Long Dark Teatime of the Soul (Douglas Adams)
Likewise a quick read after the first Dirk Gently novel. I think I watched the TV series as well at this point.
- Notes on the Synthesis of Form (Christopher Alexander)
It’s supposed to be a classic, but I found it fairly unfulfilling. Maybe it was too high-level for my taste.
- The Man Who Knew Infinity: A Life of the Genius Ramanujan (Robert Kanigel)
This was slow going at first, but I persevered with it, and it got better. Ramanujan was an incredible man.
- When Computers Were Human (David Alan Grier)
This was interesting in parts but so slow-going that I only got halfway through it. Perhaps someday I’ll find the time to finish the rest.
- StrengthsFinder 2.0 (Tom Rath)
I read this for a course at work. Unsurprisingly my #1 strength came out as ‘Learner’.
- The Magic of Reality: How We Know What’s Really True (Richard Dawkins)
A fairly interesting and certainly beautifully produced book. I read it mostly as a precursor to having my kids read it (which they haven’t, yet). Understandably it’s a bit below the level I want from a science title. I prefer Dawkins-as-hardcore-evolutionary-biologist as in The Selfish Gene, rather than Dawkins-as-celebrated-atheist-champion.
- Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking (Susan Cain)
This was enjoyable and somewhat thought-provoking. And I identified with a lot of what was said.
- Reinventing Comics: How Imagination and Technology Are Revolutionizing an Art Form (Scott McCloud)
A sequel of sorts to the famous Understanding Comics – and similarly engaging. Unfortunately I missed the chance to see a lecture from Scott when he came to Blizzard.
- A Mathematician’s Apology (G. H. Hardy)
A quick read and an enjoyable one. Something I felt I should read.
- Lisp Hackers (Vsevolod Dyomkin)
A free download and a cool collection of interviews with developers. This was worth the read.
- Guitar Zero: The Science of Becoming Musical at Any Age (Gary Marcus)
The title promised, but the text didn’t really deliver. It was too long on questionably-interesting anecdotes and too short on science. I unreservedly recommend Musicophilia (Oliver Sacks) instead.
- Thinking, Fast and Slow (Daniel Kahneman)
This book is good, but too long. I’m still slogging through it. This is where the Kindle experience can be disheartening – you read a whole chapter and only minimally advance the percentage-read figure. I think I will need to make a precis of the salient points after I finish, so I can remember them. There is a lot in here.
- Good Math: A Geek’s Guide to the Beauty of Numbers, Logic, and Computation (Mark Chu-Carroll)
I bought this on a whim because I recognised the author’s name and I thought it would be worth it. It’s pretty good, but I’m really reading too much of this kind of thing and getting over-satiated.
- The Medical Detectives (Berton Roueche)
The last book I finished in 2013, and it was excellent. Real-life case studies of epidemiological puzzles and the stories of how they were solved.