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What Good Technical Books Adorn Your Library? 160

bluefoxlucid asks: "Lately I've been looking into technical books, and have come to the conclusion that there are a lot of useful books out there containing information that could be useful to me. To my alarm, I've found that many of these titles are not in my local public library! This requires action; I must build my own library, and actually use that bookshelf in my room! But, without a way to sample the books, how should I know which to buy? What (mainly non-fiction) recommendations would you make for anyone who would fall into the Slashdot audience to read?"
"Here I present a list of books I have and am looking into buying, with ISBN for each as well; in case anyone wants to know anything about a particular title, the objects I own are accompanied by a '*' while those on order stand next to a '#'. I haven't read all those I own; particularly, I skimmed Silence on the Wire and only read a chapter of Game Design: Secrets of the Sages. These range from

Hobby. These books have hobbyist value, giving tips for making useful things out of other less useful things. These range from ballistics to shoving a survival kit in a watch. Nothing on rail guns, gauss guns, sonic canons, particle accelerators, magnetic drive launchers, ionic wind engines, or any of the other nifty electromagnetic projects you can create; maybe in the future I'll find something.
  • The Art of the Catapult (ISBN 1556525265)
  • Backyard Ballistics (ISBN 1556523750)
  • Hardware Hacking Projects for Geeks (ISBN 0596003145)
  • Sneaky Uses for Everyday Things (ISBN 0740738593)#
  • Sneakier Uses for Everyday Things (ISBN 0740754963)#
  • The Unofficial MacGyver How-to Handbook: Revised 2nd Edition (ISBN 1887641475)

Computers, Hacking, Security. These books give technical puzzles or information for programmers and security experts. These include an outdated Assembly book and a Game Design book, just because I had them and programmers and game designers may find use for this information. I should probably find a more up-to-date Assembly book that can be used with gas on Linux.
  • 1337 h4x0r h4ndb00k (ISBN 0672327279)
  • The Art of Deception: Controlling the Human Element Of Security (ISBN 076454280X)
  • The Art of Intrusion: The Real Stories Behind the Exploits of Hackers, Intruders & Deceivers (ISBN 0764569597)
  • Assembler Inside and Out (ISBN 0078818427)*
  • Game Design: Secrets of the Sages (ISBN 1575952572)*
  • Hacker's Delight (ISBN 0201914654)
  • Hacking: The Art of Exploitation (ISBN 1593270070)*
  • Programming Challenges (ISBN 0387001638)
  • Puzzles for Hackers (ISBN 1931769451)#
  • Reversing: Secrets of Reverse Engineering (ISBN 0764574817)
  • Silence on the Wire (ISBN 1593270461)*

Mathematics. These books are mathematics related. Actually there's only one here, I was going to throw it in the above section and label it 'Technical' but the Psychology and Neuroscience stuff below is also 'Technical.'
  • Statistics Hacks: Tips & Tools for Measuring the World and Beating the Odds (ISBN 0596101643)

Psychology and Neuroscience. These pieces are interesting because they explain the brain and learning, and how to use yours better. They may possibly have been more amusing if written by Q; the authors don't appear to want to remind you that you're primitive beings that can only expand your realm of thinking for fractions of a second at a time. Sadly, they were written by sane individuals and not alien beings who happen to be egomaniacs.
  • Mind Hacks (ISBN 0596007795)#
  • Mind Performance Hacks: Tips & Tools for Overclocking Your Brain (ISBN 0596101538)#

Humor and Nonsense. Funny stuff only a nerd could enjoy... but you know, if there's ever a Class 4 zombie invasion, you'll be ready. None of this stuff is useful, unless your brain is burning out and you need something to distract you while it relaxes and repairs itself; what better way than to read up on how to enter a burning building or choke a man with your bare thighs?
  • The Action Hero's Handbook (ISBN 193168605X)
  • The Action Heroine's Handbook (ISBN 1931686688)
  • Prank University (ISBN 0307338436)
  • The Superman Handbook (ISBN 1594741131)
  • The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection from the Living Dead (ISBN 1400049628)*

That's it for my list. Surprised? Not only is it short but I actually own only a few of the items that have caught my eye! And yes, all of the humor is from ThinkGeek; that's where I found Hacking: The Art of Exploitation in the first place, which started all this. With the exception of Mind Hacks and The Zombie Survival Guide, none of the '*' and '#' items were found in a library search. I searched on some of the others as well, with no good results. Some of this stuff is in the Library of Congress; but a good number of the ones I searched for weren't.

This leaves my options for discovering new and interesting reads pretty limited—I can buy the books, or harass Slashdot and see if any of you actually have something useful. Rather than try to tailor your responses to me, just go wild; I'm sure anyone in any other technical field besides just programming would appreciate knowing about little gems they'll not find in a library anywhere."
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What Good Technical Books Adorn Your Library?

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  • by c0d3h4x0r ( 604141 ) on Wednesday November 15, 2006 @06:22PM (#16860314) Homepage Journal
    Someone was asked to put together a Christmas list, weren't they?

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by itwerx ( 165526 )
      Someone was asked to put together a Christmas list, weren't they?

      Mod parent up!!!!!!!!!
            (Mine just got a heck of a lot easier! :)
    • Step outside. Go to your an IRL book store (I don't care what chain, or any chain, suits your fancy) and browse. Most book stores will let you sit and read for a little bit. When you find what you like, buy it.

      That solves the sampling problem.

      • Sorry to reply to my own post, but here's an even better idea: Once you find what you like, buy two (if it is within your means) and donate one to the library.

  • "Adorn"? (Score:4, Funny)

    by adavies42 ( 746183 ) on Wednesday November 15, 2006 @06:25PM (#16860352)
    Someone give you a thesaurus recently?
    • by itwerx ( 165526 )
      Someone give you a thesaurus recently?

      More likely they simply managed to graduate high school. Heck, there might even be a bit of graduate school involved! (The not-so-subtle message here being that some schooling is actually useful in the real world, especially when communicating with a reasonably intelligent audience).
      • by richdun ( 672214 )

        a reasonably intelligent audience


      • Yeah, see adorn is not really the correct word to use here. Or at least it's a very weird use of the word. I go with the thesaurus theory.
        • by itwerx ( 165526 )
          Yeah, see adorn is not really the correct word to use here.

          Too true! Tends to evoke images of doilies, or flowers or something.
                (Unless of course the submitter has no intention of ever actually reading them, in which case the terminology is sadly apropos. :)
  • Algorithms textbook (Score:5, Informative)

    by frenetic3 ( 166950 ) * <houston@al u m . m i> on Wednesday November 15, 2006 @06:25PM (#16860358) Homepage Journal
    can't go too far without mentioning the canonical algorithms textbook --

    Introduction to Algorithms by Cormen, Leiserson and Rivest []

    i read a ton of business books too -- maybe i'll post some of my favorites in a little bit.

    • if you're a tech entrepreneur, you might find these interesting:

      guy kawasaki's ten favorite books []

      definitely second guy's suggestions of influence [], crossing the chasm [] and innovator's dilemma []; i'd also include the tipping point [] and blink [] (both by malcolm gladwell, quick reads -- kinda fluffy but interesting), seth godin's all marketers are liars [], high tech startup [] by john nesheim, emotional intelligence by daniel goleman [], and windows internals [] by mark russinovich, and for web design don't make me think [] is pr
      • Amen Brother.

        A few more:

        The Entrepreneurial Mindset (ISBN: 0875848346) (A bit theoretical, but gives some good qualitative measuring sticks)
        The Beermat Entrepreneur (ISBN: 0273704540) (Available mainly in the UK, from what I can tell. Fantastic book about the phases of growing a company!)
        The Art of the Start (ISBN: 1591840562) (I know the parent mentions Guy Kawasaki)
        High Tech Startup (ISBN: 068487170X) (I second the recommendation of the parent)
        The Intelligent Investor (ISBN: 0060555661) (A great book abou
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by El Cubano ( 631386 )

      can't go too far without mentioning the canonical algorithms textbook --

      Don't forget Stein.

      On another note, the authors are awesome. I thought I had found a mistake (or inconsistency) in the book's explanation of an algorithm. I sent an email to the bug reporting address. Within a couple of days Dr. Cormen replied and told me that I was wrong :-) I restated my position and tried to explain to him why I thought the explanation in the text was wrong. He spent a couple of days trading emails with me

    • I don't know about that suggestion - that is an excellent book, if you're taking a course and it's the textbook. If you're not taking a course, you're probably not going to get much out of it, because there's no way to find out what the answers to any of the exercises are (and considering the number of "the proof of this is given in exercise 12.1-3" or, "see exercise 34.1-5 for the solution to this problem" cookies in this text, you're missing a lot if you happen to be stuck on a given exercise). Infuriat

  • No offense... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    If more than 1% of the books you own, or more than one of the non-programming books you own, contains the word "hack" in the title, you're a pompous ninny. The one exception is for MIT people: anything prank-related doesn't count against the limit.

    I was going to except Nethack players, also, but realized they don't deserve it.

  • Anarchist Cookbook

    Seriously the smoke bombs alone are worth it.
    • but won't that get you least that's what a recent /. article said.(couldn't find it...)
    • by plopez ( 54068 )
      Seriously the smoke bombs alone are worth it.

      And many of the others will kill you. Though I suppose it is a good way to cull the herd...
  • Refactoring (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Refactoring: Improving the Design of Existing Code
    by Martin Fowler, Kent Beck, John Brant, William Opdyke, Don Roberts
  • Who could forget... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Bugs42 ( 788576 ) <[superjambob] [at] []> on Wednesday November 15, 2006 @06:30PM (#16860454)
    -The Art of Computer Programming - Knuth -The C Programming Language - K&R -Anything from O'Reilly
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Sangui5 ( 12317 )
      Second on the Knuth and K&R. Especially the Knuth -- the level of detail is beyond belief. If Knuth has anything about it, he has everything you ever wanted to know about it; like the 15 jillion different ways to do a hash table. K&R unfortunately is covering a fairly simple topic, so it doesn't get used as much (actually, use it for lending more than anything).

      Besides Knuth, the book I use the most is "Computer Architecture, A Quantitative Approach", by Hennessy & Patterson, although it isn'
      • I disagree on the Knuth. I don't really know anyone who has made anything more than a tiny dent into any of them. Most programmers I know that actually own it use it mostly for shelf candy. Maybe if you are into pure computer science, this is a great book, but most of us have work to do, and Knuth is way too dense. There are better and more practical books out there.
        • by Sangui5 ( 12317 )
          If you're sitting down to read through Knuth all at once, well, gads that is painful to try. They really aren't books to learn the concepts from, but rather serve as a reference for a wide variety of basic topics. Although there are better books on all of the individual topics, Knuth covers a lot in just three volumes. True, volume 1 is of limited practical use, but I've often referenced 2 and 3, for when I needed custom random number generation, custom hash tables, had to deal with unusual sorts, and as
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by ignavusinfo ( 883331 )
      there once was a time when i'd agree with "Anything from O'Reilly" -- nowadays their titles are hit or miss and aimed more at the mid to low tech market rather than in days of old. (and there are real gaps in their library. no really great LDAP books, for instance, and little in the realm of obj-c/cocoa, no updated mod_perl v2 book, little in the way of C, C++ and so on, but lots of annoyance books.)

      but on a more upbeat note, along with K&R i'd have to nominate:

      • graham's _on lisp_ no matter what
    • The only worthwhile part of Knuth's work is the first book on sorting, and even then it is dry. Just because he can sling nasty formulas around when comparing algorithms doesn't mean a lot. These days we are using hardware that resemble DSPs and locality of reference problems can outweigh counting the number of multiplies by a long shot. Just learning O notation, what is an L2 cache miss and *to actually profile your code* instead of theorizing about it is much more important. His formulas aren't releva

      • by linguae ( 763922 ) on Thursday November 16, 2006 @01:12AM (#16864782)
        The only worthwhile part of Knuth's work is the first book on sorting, and even then it is dry. Just because he can sling nasty formulas around when comparing algorithms doesn't mean a lot. These days we are using hardware that resemble DSPs and locality of reference problems can outweigh counting the number of multiplies by a long shot. Just learning O notation, what is an L2 cache miss and *to actually profile your code* instead of theorizing about it is much more important. His formulas aren't relevant on modern hardware.

        The Art of Computer Programming is about algorithm analysis and development, not about computer architecture (caching) or software development (profiling). TAOCP, combined with Concrete Mathematics, the MIT algorithms book, and a good text on combinatorial algorithms should be more than enough to satisfy the needs of a computer scientist or seasoned software developer who needs all of the good algorithms that he or she can get. TAOCP isn't a book about all of computer science, but it isn't trying to be one either.

        The K&R's C Programming Language is only useful to people who already know C. And C is such a small language that you shouldn't need a reference book once you know it. However, if you are a language geek and like that kind of thing, get the actual C standard and read it. Seriously, it isn't that big.

        K&R is a useful book for C reference; in fact, I consider it as an explanation to the C standard. I refer to K&R, not necessarily the standard, for reference whenever I am stuck on a certain C concept. (Compiler construction is different; you should follow the standard to the letter). There is a reason why the K&R book hasn't been updated since 1989; other than C99 extensions, the book is a very good explanation of C as is. I learned C largely from this book (although, to be fair, I used an O'Reilly book to learn the basics of C before taking a class that used C. The professor in that class didn't assign a book, so I sought out the best book according to ratings: K&R. My book is worn out out of 2 years of use, but I love it).

        • satisfy the needs of a computer scientist or seasoned software developer who needs all of the good algorithms that he or she can get. I'm assuming you don't write mainstream commercial software. And in that case you should be doing better research, not archaeology. There is a reason why the K&R book hasn't been updated since 1989 The reason they don't update it is because then it wouldn't be the overpriced sacred fossil that it is. Seriously, I have tried loaning my copy to people who were learning
    • by Intron ( 870560 )
      A copy of Knuth is worthless without some practical reference textbooks to go with it. It's one thing to be able to find an algorithm written in MIX, and quite another to create the best possible implementation using the most up-to-date tools.

      That's why I'm never without my copy of True []
  • "Hackers" by Steven Levy

    NOTE: You know you're growing old when the book you read 22 years ago in hardback is now a Penguin Classic paperback with the distinctive orange cover.
  • Unix in a Nutshell

    That's it. Everything else I can look up online, or check out from a library.

    Current library books:

    Beyond Fear
    The Art of the Start
    • by Phillup ( 317168 )
      Everything else I can look up online, or check out from a library.

      And what is in that book you can't look up online?

      (I have the book and haven't looked at it in at least a decade.)
  • Sure.. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Dan East ( 318230 ) on Wednesday November 15, 2006 @06:33PM (#16860510) Journal
    My favorite is Effective Googling.

    Okay, so I made that book up. Anyways, I find myself using hardly any formal reference material at this point (during software development). I used to consult MSDN regularly, and sometimes I still do if Google directs me there.

    Dan East
  • Nearly anything by O'Reilly Press.
    • Nearly anything by O'Reilly Press.

      But specifically, Sed & Awk, and the latest Perl Nutshell book (3rd edition). A healthy subscription to alt.binaries.ebook.technical is also a must.

  • Make magazine (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Noksagt ( 69097 ) * on Wednesday November 15, 2006 @06:33PM (#16860522) Homepage
    The quarterly Make [] magazine fits nicely with the other hobbyist books.

    Amazon has subscriptions and back issues [].
  • I've got a bunch of the "Sam's Teach Yourself in Days/Hours" books...I find them to be a great way to dive into a completely new language.

    Sam's PL/SQL & Java books have saved my bacon many times over, and I never would've gotten my website up & running without Sam's PHP & MySQL books.

    For some reason, these click for me, more so than the O'Reilly "...In a Nutshell" books.

  • I like Green Eggs and Ham. Yes I have it somewhere. In fact, I might go read it right now.

    It taught me how to form sentences.
  • Safari (Score:3, Insightful)

    by wikinerd ( 809585 ) on Wednesday November 15, 2006 @06:43PM (#16860708) Journal
    Get a Safari subscription.
    • Second that. The new all-you-can-eat plan from Safari has saved me a fortune in book buying, and I have to lug a lot less stuff around to be productive as well.
  • I work at a library and We order books that you ask so if you have a book in mind ask and we will order it. This will be a fun topic to read since there will be a lot of misinformation on it.
  • Polya's magnum opus is a practical manual on how to train yourself to have good hunches. I have many more authoritative books on specific subjects but this one is my all-around favorite.
    • Polya is a genius. He is concise and yet insightful. His How to Solve It [] is also recommended. It is geared towards mathematics, but can be applied elsewhere. His methodology can be summed up as:
      1. Understand the problem.
      2. Plan
      3. Execute the plan
      4. Look back (check your work)
  • Reference Books (Score:4, Informative)

    by Noksagt ( 69097 ) on Wednesday November 15, 2006 @06:45PM (#16860746) Homepage
    Pocket Ref [] has been lauded as a "shirtpocket database of tech info" It has an amazing number of diverse charts and tables for unit conversion, materials properties, standards used by different countries, etc. Combine that with a book of engineering formulas (like this one []) and you're set.
  • A few suggestions (Score:4, Informative)

    by MythMoth ( 73648 ) on Wednesday November 15, 2006 @06:48PM (#16860814) Homepage
    I've tried to keep these sufficiently un-obvious that you might not have them. Hopefully I've succeeded with most of them, though Penrose and Brookes works are well known - though nothing like as well known as they should be.

    The Inventions of Daedalus
    The Further Inventions of Daedalus
    These two books are just fabulous. The author, David E. H. Jones comes up with far fetched inventions, immaculately thought through and presented. Sometimes they then come true - he predicted buckyballs rather handily, for example. The books are collections of his columns for Nature and other publications, with additional notes and cartoons. Absolutely lovely, but sadly out of print - you'll have to snap up second hand copies quick. I'd love it if Jones did a new edition, or better yet another book!

    The Emperor's New Mind - Roger Penrose.
    An exposition of weak AI, but taking in computer science and particle physics. Pretty epic, though I have trouble with his conclusions.

    The Man Who Knew Too Much - Stephen Inwood.
    A life of Robert Hooke, a multi-talented scientist of the 17th century. Fascinating insight into the perspective of a friend or acquaintance of Newton, Christopher Wren, and Edmund Halley.

    Mind Children - Hans Moravec
    Musings on the future of robot and human intelligence, with particular thoughts about how we might "upload" our minds to computers. Not as silly a book as I make it sound, I think.

    The Mythical Man Month - Fred Brookes
    The truth about project management. Written in 1975 and we still haven't learnt.

    Paradigms of Artificial Intelligence Programming (Case Studies in Common Lisp) - Peter Norvig
    Lots of hands on stuff, plenty of examples, and a good introduction to Lisp into the bargain. I loved it at college, and I've just bought myself a copy after all these years (the Library at University didn't see their copy very often while I was there).

    Hacking Matter - Wil McCarthy (not a typo, it really is "Wil")
    This is great, but I have to say I didn't enjoy it quite as much as the entertaining semi-humorous science fiction novel The Collapsium that's based to a large part around the more speculative parts of this non-fiction book. But regardless, it opened my eyes to a number of possibilities; even if they come to naught I appreciate his voice on the subject.

    Thanks for the excellent question - I'll enjoy reading the other contributions to this thread.
    • The Dilbert Principle takes pride of place in the management & business section of my personal library; more true-to-life, and certainly more readable, than the Porter, Senge, Schwartz and Peters tracts gathering dust next to it.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by jthill ( 303417 )
      The Emperor's New Mind - Roger Penrose.

      Bah. The man fell for the chestnut about neurons not understanding Chinese. He understands physics, not computers, but even so he should have been able to see that trick for what it is.

  • I saw TAOCP and K&R mentioned already, so here's a couple more from the bookshelf:
    • Advanced Programming in the Unix Environment - Stevens
    • Unix Network Programming - Stevens
    • Computer Networks - Tanenbaum
  • The shelf next to my computer has:

    The C Programing Language by Kernighan and Ritchie
    The Linux Bible from Wiley and Sons
    Snowcrash by Neil Stephenson
    Cryptonomicron by Neil Stephenson (autographed)
    The Differencial Engine by William Gibson
    Tricks With Your Head by Mac King
    The Tarbell Course in Magic vol 1&2
    Exchange Server 2003 Unleashed
    Citizen of the Galaxy by Robert Heinlein

  • by Usquebaugh ( 230216 ) on Wednesday November 15, 2006 @07:03PM (#16861086)
    I was thinking of all the books I've collected over the years for reference including Knuth, Tufte, SICP, SICM etc etc Maybe some early texts Plato, Aristole, Socrates, Newton etc Or early computer papers Turing, Church, Shannon etc etc What do I find on the list a bunch of how to books, that is how to with little or no understanding. (Bleh)

    To the OP put down these comics and go and research something to first principles, just one interesting subject e.g. gunpowder or steel or calculus. Find out not only how the stuff is made today and in the past, but also the reasons for the change the people involved, who was the monk who first wrote it down in the western world and why were the chinese ahead of us. The chemistry and the physics involved, how much gunpowder do you need to knock down a wall vs. how much gasoline. To get a good foundation should take no longer than three months of daily application. At the end of which you'll know a lot about gunpowder but also a lot more about how to find and use information to garner knowledge. The latter is far more valuble skill than what's available in the how to for dummies.

    The idea is that you don't stop at one subject but you take an interest in something related e.g. machining or poisons. This leads to other areas. Each time you'll reach understanding a little quicker. After a year or so any new subject should be childs play for you to grasp and manipulate.

  • The UNIX Programming Environment [], by Kernighan and Pike. This is the book that really taught me to appreciate Unix. It's also got a nice introduction to ANSI C. Definitely a more beginner level book, I must admit, but I'd say it's the single tech book I've got the most mileage out of.
  • Some favorites (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Scarblac ( 122480 ) <> on Wednesday November 15, 2006 @07:18PM (#16861300) Homepage


    1. The Pragmatic Programmer, from Journeyman to Master: guide to being a professional software developer, covers a lot
    2. Code Complete: how to craft a little bit of code; stuff like naming, indentation, etc. I read the 2nd edition which was great, the 3rd is reputed to be better.
    3. Refactoring: giving a name to "improving existing code little by little", something we do every day; I found this a much more accessible first book to get into "High Church OO" than, say, Design Patterns.


    1. Great Mambo Chicken and the Transhuman Condition: enthusiastic stories about scientific hubris
    2. The Making of the Atomic Bomb: good history
    3. The Colossal Book of Short Puzzles and Problems: got this as a birthday present, it's brilliant
    4. Fiction by Neil Gaiman or Connie Willis
    5. If you are into really far looking SF, fiction by Greg Egan
    6. If you like unorthodox fantasy, fiction by China Mieville

    Chess, why not:

    1. The King, by Donner
  • by exp(pi*sqrt(163)) ( 613870 ) on Wednesday November 15, 2006 @07:36PM (#16861604) Journal
    Lectures on Riemann Surfaces, RC Gunning (Best book I've read on Riemann surfaces.)
    On Numbers and Games, J Conway (You know the strategy for Nim. This is that on acid.)
    Enumerative Combinatorics I & II, Stanley (Everything you need to know about counting.)
    Quantum Field Theory, Ryder (This is where I learned much of what I know.)
    Differential Forms in Algebraic Topology, Bott & Tu (A masterpiece of clarity.)
    Introduction to Algorithms, Cormen, Leiserson & Rivest (I thought I knew it all until I read this!)
    The Blackwell Guide to Philosophical Logic, Goble (How many logics are there? More than you think.)
    QED, Feynman (I'm lying, it's not on my shelf, I forgot who I lent it to. Eschew all QM books until you've read this.)
    Categories for the Working Mathematician, MacLane. (I'm lying again. It's too expensive, but it should be on my shelf...)
    Thinking Forth, Brodie. (Forth is the most beautiful programming language ever...after Haskell.)
    A First Course in General Relativity, Schutz. (I swear I understood this stuff 20 years ago, but age takes its toll...)
  • by GuyMannDude ( 574364 ) on Wednesday November 15, 2006 @07:38PM (#16861636) Journal

    Since you list humorous books, I'm not sure what your definition of "technical" is. I'll assume you meant "non-fiction". Here's a few titles that are recommended for anyone who has a brain and wants to think hard about the state of the world.

    • Books by Edward Tufte [] on how graphs, PowerPoint presentations, and other sources of technical information can mislead rather than inform (and how to correct this).
    • _A Mathematician Reads the Newspaper_ or any other books by John Allen Paulos [] which focus on how a misunderstanding of mathematics has consequences for our society.
    • The Demon-Haunted World [] by Carl Sagan.
    • On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society [] by West Point psychologist, military historian, and former Army Ranger Lt. Col. Grossman. Anyone who thinks that they would be able to "do what must be done" and kill anyone who threatened their family ought to read this. Also recommended reading for all the hawks out there that are so anxious to send our young out to fight unnecessary wars.


    • by DG ( 989 )
      Amazingly, I've got all those books on my shelf. Good list.

      Allow me to add to your list:

      "On Combat" by Col Grossman. Where "On Killing" is analysis, "On Combat" is tactics - how to deal with the physiological and psychological consequences of being called upon to deal deadly force. A must read for any soldier, cop, EMT tech, but a good read for everybody else. Col Grossman also has an audio presentation of the stuff in this book, it is fascinating stuff.

      "The Face of Battle" and "The Mask of Command" by John
  • My library (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    • Compilers: Principles, Techniques, and Tools. This book is no joke.
    • Numerical Recipes in C has saved me a lot of time over the past few years.
    • An Embedded Software Primer. When I had a bug up my ass about creating my own computer, this was a great help.
    • I often refer to some second-hand math and english textbooks. They've been invaluable to me, but maybe I'm dumb.

    Some advice

    • I wasted a signifigant portion of my youth hacking. Don't bother. It's not interesting.
    • O'Reilly books are basically collections of
  • As a Librarian... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 15, 2006 @07:41PM (#16861696)

    ...I urge you to check into whether or not your library accepts requests if you haven't already.

    Also, many academic libraries are open to the public. I actually have a colleague that works in your local library system, If I can find her email address I'll bring this to her attention.

    If not that, find out if your library offers interlibrary loan services or check out if there is anything available at open WorldCat. [] [] Perhaps someplace within reasonable driving distance will have it. (I realize this all assumes you will go to the same lengths I will to not spend a buck)

    We (as a profession) really do try to get you everything you need free of charge. Unfortunately, we can't always get every item people want, but letting us know what you'd like helps.
  • TCP/IP Illustrated, Volume 1. If this isn't on your bookshelf you're not an Internet guru.
  • "The Art of Electronics" 2nd ed., 1989, ISBN 0521370957
    Some of it, especially the stuff covering microprocessors, shows its age, but you won't find more practical info about electronics in one place than here. It requires some basic electronics knowledge (some DC and AC circuits, basic transistors), but from there it will take you a good ways.
    One coauthor (Hill) posts to Usenet, and rumors of a third edition have been made (many analog parts mentions need updating as well), but if it happens it will be a fe
    • The AoE and the Pease book are great suggestions. Another good one is a recent copy of the "ARRL handbook". Intended for radio hams, it is a good general electronics reference, particularly for analog/RF work.
    • YES! A ./er after my own heart. The Art Of Electronics is on my nightstand on the moment, and Troubleshooting Analog Circuits is on the shelf.

      Being a audio geek, I have a particular penchant for vacuum tubes, so I'll add:
      RCA Receiving Tube Manual RC-27 There are PDF copies of various printings available on the internet.
      Valve Amplifiers, 2nd Ed. (Morgan Jones) I wouldn't mind upgrading to the 3rd ed plus the complimentary Building Valve Amplifiers
      The Ultimate Tone Vol. 1-3 (Kevin O'Connor)

      Along those lin
  • The Shellcoder's Handbook: Discovering and Exploiting Security Holes (ISBN: 0764544683)
    Rootkits: Subverting the Windows Kernel (ISBN: 0321294319)
    Absolute OpenBSD: UNIX for the Practical Paranoid (ISBN: 1886411999)

  • Surprised nobody mentioned my (ancient) favorites -- then again, so few people left doing hardcore C/C++ systems coding. Seems to all be Java these days. Feh, tykes.

    No links - no karma whoring.

    The C Programing Language (K&R)
    The C++ Programming Language -- Special 3rd Edition (Stroustrup)
    Effective STL: 50 Specific Ways to Improve Your Use of the Standard Template Library (Myers)
    Exceptional C++: 47 Engineering Puzzles, Programming Problems, and Solutions (Herb Sutter)

    The Scheme Programming Language (Dyb
    • by EQ ( 28372 )
      Damn. While I was looking at my shelf picking them out, about 2/3 of them were posted.

  • Here [] is a list of what I consider to be the best free textbooks online. As it explains there, I've been wanting to put together a free CD of these (or at least an ISO image available via bittorrent) to promote the concept of free textbooks. Unfortunately the summer ended, and I've been busy teaching instead of following through on this project :-)
  • If we're talking technical, diagrams and the like...

    Bunkai Jutsu, Ian Abernethy
    Five Years One Kata, Bill Burgar

    There's a bunch in the same vein but those two stand out as exceptional.

    Advanced programming in the Unix environment, Stevens.

    Again, there's a bunch of programming (in various languages), sysadmin manuals but that one gets to the heart of the matter.

    Collins complete DIY manual, Jackson & Day

    I wish I hadn't binned a couple of my old Maths and Stats books when I moved.
  • An ASCII Chart (Score:2, Interesting)

    by SurturZ ( 54334 )
    I have an old extended ASCII table that I scanned in about a decade ago and reprint on a regular basis. Over the years I've added other stuff to it (hexadecimal conversion tables, colour tables etc).

    It's getting a bit less useful in these Unicode days, but it is the longest lived technical document I still use.
  • Mathematical Models [] by H. M. Cundy, A. P. Rollett
    A 55 year old textbook that has stood the test of time amazingly well. If you've ever wanted to make a paper model of a stellated icosadodecahedron, this book will tell you how, and if you haven't ever wanted to, then you soon will. The mix of slightly dry writing from english mathematics professors, high math and solid tips on the best way to manufacture glass nibs for a twin-elliptic harmonograph really captured my imagination as a child, and I was soon ada
  • The Handbook of Artificial Intelligence, edited by Avron Barr & Edward Feigenbaum.

    It comes in four volumes, each covering different topics. It's mostly introductory material, but it's served me as a great reference for algorithms. Probably out of print, but I got my copies used and it seems like it's easy enough to grab off of Amazon. Rather than chronological order, here's the order of usefulness:

    I: Search, knowledge representation, computational linguistics.
    IV: Blackboard systems, expert systems,
  • The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook []
    ISBN 0811825558

    Here's an excerpt:
    How to Wrestle Free from an Alligator: 4. If its jaws are closed on something you want to remove (for example, a limb), tap or punch it on the snout.
  • Somewhere in "The Art of Computer Programming" Knuth recommends:

    "How To Lie With Statistics", Darrel Huff, 1954.
    This book goes no deeper into the math of statistics than average, mean and mode, but the examples of such things as selection biases and the (mis)use of graphs in advertising and propaganda make this a classic book, AND a hoot. It may fall more into the humor category than technical, but what it does cover, it covers correctly. As the author says in the intro, it's actually how to protect yoursel
  • Avoid anything with the word "dummies" in it. You are what you read.

    I would reccomend reading "How to keep your volkswagen alive, a manual of step-by-step procedures for the compleat idiot". It is an accessible example of how to write a detailed set of procedures.
    The author, John Muir, was an engineer before dropping out and opening up a garage. The section on 'Procedure for following procedures' is in my office, I think I am the only one that gets the joke (I am very lonely at work... and at home... and in
  • Building Scientific Apparatus
  • I would suggest going light on books that focus on the tech du jour, APIs that are under rapid development etc. and invest in stuff that has lasting value.

    Core Java: no
    K&R: yes

    C#: No
    EJB: No
    XML: No

    Applied Cryptography: yes
    Introduction to Algorithms: yes

    Python Cookbook: No
    Perl Cookbook: No

    Of course if you are working in a particular area, then it migh be worthwhile to pick up something - used books from Amazon Marketplace or Safari are good for this sort of thing.

    If you want to get a feel for a book you c
  • Horowitz and Hill

    2nd Edition.

    Can't go wrong with that.

  • Stevens, Advanced Programming in the UNIX Environment
  • by Macgrrl ( 762836 ) on Thursday November 16, 2006 @12:14AM (#16864372)

    The Australian Oxford Dictionary
    ISBN: 0195517962

    The Elements of Style, Fourth Edition
    William Strunk Jr., E. B. White, Roger Angell (Foreword)
    ISBN: 020530902X

    Most of my business communications are written - making these tools essential.

  • by sohp ( 22984 )
    There's really a book titled, "1337 h4x0r h4ndb00k"?

  • I've been accumulating books for years. I think the best ones are the down to earth programming ones -- Code Complete, The Practice of Programming, Programming Pearls, and the like.

    I have a photo on Flickr [] that I like to look at when I feel stupid.

    There are a few more books at work, but most of these have served me well at various times. Apart from the BEEP protocol book, that was a total waste.

  • Computer stuff:
    Whichever of Bruce Eckel's "Thinking In..." books is appropriate for what you want to learn.
    Bruce McKinney's Hardcore Visual Basic is a very good book. Unfortunately, it's about Visual Basic.
    PostScript Language Reference
    O'Reilly's XSLT book
    The Guru's Guide to Transact-SQL
    Tannenbaum's networking book
    The hopelessly outdated "Peter Norton's Guide to the IBM PC" is still interesting.

  • Programming/dp/0471375233 []

    This is the only book on Assembly you need, and it covers linux at the back.

  • Not sure if this is just about computer science, or interesting books in general.

    Feynman - six easy and not so easy pieces (how science works) - character of physical law (how to think like science). He explains the scientific process, and is a good teacher. He was also a hardware hacker of a sort (safes and stuff).

    Programming Perl - even if you don't, it's a thinking paradigm shift and introduction to a new culture.

    The design & evolution of C++ - if you know C++, this account is fascinating.

  • Ballistics is an interesting field for the hobbyist, but I can't say I agree with your choice of book.

    For the advanced hobbyist, Modern Exterior Ballistics by McCoy (ISBN 0764307207) is the choice. However, the math is tougher than most people want to deal with and there are errors in the text. Consider it a "going from intermediate to advanced" book. McCoy, now deceased, is never going to correct the errors in the book and I doubt anyone else would want to bother, so you need to be knowledgeable enough
  • On Brains:

    "The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat" offera a look at some of the fascinating ways in which our wetware controller can go wrong. Or read any other book by Oliver Sachs. He knows his stuff, and he's a very entertaining writer.

    On Statistics:

    "How to Lie With Statistics" is a venerable book that is still in print 60 years after it was written. It's slim, funny, and clearly communicates the many ways in which deceptive entities (like corporations, media, and government) lie to you using statistics.
  • I can't begin to list the number of books on all manner of subjects that my wife and I have in our library. Let it suffice to say that we own well north of 1000 volumes, and it is an eclectic mixture of fiction and fact. I can, however, reccommend a few general things that may interest you, as well as upon the proper way to build up a good library:

    Let me first start off with library building. Purchasing books new is sometimes necessary - new books are released every day, and sometimes you just have to have

The relative importance of files depends on their cost in terms of the human effort needed to regenerate them. -- T.A. Dolotta