Archive for November, 2009

Some books I’ve read this year

Thursday, November 26th, 2009

So, I’m quite a reader. Mostly non-fiction, and books with scientific or technical subject matter. I’ve read some good ones this year. So I thought I’d share what I remember reading in case anyone is looking for a good book for Xmas.

Earlier in the year, I picked up a couple from the LA Times Festival of Books. I immediately read What the Nose Knows, a fascinating read about the science of the perfume industry, and a miscellany of olfactory trivia.

I started with that one because it’s the one I can definitely fix in time. For the rest of this year’s reads, it’s harder to pin down exactly when I read them.

Almost Everyone’s Guide to Science was excellent, especially the chapter on stellar physics. It’s amazing how much we know about the universe when all we can do is look at what’s out there. I mean, it’s not like we can actually devise experiments to do on stars.

The Black Hole War was the other book I picked up at the LA Times Festival, and it was surprisingly approachable, although it got a bit heavy towards the end.

Coders at Work is a collection of interviews with “coders” that has been well covered in the technical blogosphere already. I found it very variable. For starters, it was terribly proofread and full of typos and typesetting errors. About 50% of the interviews were pretty interesting. But I think there were too many interviews with people who don’t code any more, who are too far removed from the average, and who just aren’t doing much to push the boundaries any more.

Garbage Collection: Algorithms for Automatic Dynamic Memory Management is a book that I got early in the year and I’m about halfway through it. It is to GC what K&R is to C. Enough said.

Richard Dawkins’ latest book The Greatest Show on Earth is exactly the kind of book I like to read by Dawkins and has made me want to read some of others of his which I haven’t yet got around to and which are on my shelf. I also read The God Delusion this year and found it well-argued but ultimately less interesting than his books about evolutionary biology. Maybe I’m not the target audience.

At the moment I am reading How Round is Your Circle and I’m finding it really interesting. How do you make a straight line? A flat surface? A ruler? This book explores where geometry meets engineering and it’s great. Linkages, shapes and solids of constant diameter, stacking dominoes, etc. I’m only a few chapters in so far.

I’ll leave it there for now. And maybe at some future point I’ll share some fiction, if I ever read any!