Archive for January, 2014

2013 Books

Wednesday, January 8th, 2014

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.