Sunday, February 15, 2009

recent readings

Hal Abelson and Jerry Sussman with Julie Sussman, Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs chapter 4, with Mary and friends. Like The Little Schemer, deeper than it seems.

Alan Greenspan, The Age of Turbulence: Adventures in a New World. Not exactly deathless prose, but a pretty interesting perspective on some aspects of recent history. He's certainly been around a lot of it.

Arbinger, Leadership and Self Deception. Corny style, but an interesting point that people put them selves to a lot of emotional and actual trouble to avoid the cognitive dissonance of not living up to their conscience.

Armstrong, Programming Erlang. It's good; it deserves a longer post. I'm kicking myself that I didn't twig to what was good about Erlang when Luke raved about it probably ten years ago.

Jose Saramago, Blindness. It seems interesting but slow, and I stopped about half way. I'll try again later.

Mark Z. Danielewski, House of Leaves. Gripping, reawakened a particular type of book-appetite. Requires a fair amount of extended concentration - not the sort of book that you can pick up and read just a couple of pages.

Edleson, Value Averaging. A good research paper padded out to an only OK book, by adding several extended walkthroughs of different situations. Maybe I'm just grumpy because Kinokuniya sold it shrink-wrapped, I half suspect so that you couldn't see discover this before purchasing.

David Lebedoff, The Same Man: George Orwell and Evelyn Waugh in Love and War. A lovely dual biography starting from the conceit that Orwell and Waugh while very different were also much the same. It's inspired me to read much more from both of them this year, starting with Down and Out in Paris and London which was itself excellent.

Chris Okasaki, Purely Functional Data Structures. Just started, looking good.

J.R.R. Tolkein, The Lord of the Rings. Re-reading it for the fourth time or so, and seeing some new parts on each visit.

Tim Keller, The Reason for God. Not bad, and less ranty than The God Delusion, but in the first half showing an unworthy predilection for straw men. We get "Stalin and Hitler were atheists!" on page 5 (!!) but it's mostly uphill from there.

On a Sony PRS-505, using only free content and (non-embedded) software:

Adam Smith, An Enquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations - very readable and interesting; the only caveat being that there are sometimes a few pages of text when (to the modern reader) a table or graph would be better.

Anthony Trollope, The Warden. Easy to read and enjoyable; I'll definitely read more of his work.

Mark Twain, Christian Science. Picked pretty much at random from PG as one I hadn't read or heard of. Not particularly noteworthy or recommended, except that reading a minor work gives a broader perspective of the author.

I tempted pitti into buying one of these and then packaging the Calibre software for maintaining the e-Book reader. It makes an excellent interface for reading free content such as Gutenberg texts that would otherwise have to be printed out.

To be continued...

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