Fog Creek Software
Discussion Board

"Entertaining" computing-type books

Bored of computing.  Right now I'm looking to order books by authors like AK Dewdney and Martin Gardner to get a more interesting perspective.  Does anyone have any books they'd like to share, or know any authors/publishers/whatever that I could look at to find fun books?

I think I'd call Feynman's lectures on computation entertaining, because he uses a lot of metaphor and personal asides, at least at the beginning.  For the same reason, Gödel Escher Bach.  Bebop Bytes Back was definitely entertaining, at least so I remember.  Indiscrete Thoughts looks like it might be good.

Monday, June 2, 2003

I think the classic "Peopleware" is one of the most entertaining books I've read. If you're fed up with a computing job, you can read this and step back from it to know at least there can be some light at the end of the tunnel and not everything management says is right.

Better Than Being Unemployed...
Monday, June 2, 2003

Hofstadter's other books are worth reading too - Metamagical Themas is columns from SciAm, but quite a lot is at least obliquely related to computing. The more recent Le Ton Beau de Marot is about language and translation, but it's got more good ideas per inch than almost anything else I've read.

Tom Korners, The Pleasures of Counting is a great book on mathematical topics (some computing related). He has a really engaging style, and the topics cover everything from the spread of cholera in Victorian London to breaking the Enigma codes.

Ross Andersen's Security Engineering is a serious book, but it's got so much mind-bending information in that I had to include it - lots of stuff on how system security works in applications as diverse as banking and nuclear command and control. Lots of amusing examples of how things can be hacked.

Monday, June 2, 2003

"The Deadline" by DeMarco is pretty ineresting as well.

It's even got some stuff on function points that WON'T put you to sleep! :-)


Matt H.
Monday, June 2, 2003

Dewdney's biggest contribution to entertainment and computing has to be corewars ( )

I like the books by Simon Singh for light popular science reading.

Monday, June 2, 2003

The Eudaemonic Pie by Thomas Bass

Monday, June 2, 2003

"The Soul of A New Machine", Tracy Kidder, 1981.  Pulitzer Prize winner.  Excellent new hardbound reprint available on Amazon.

Mitch & Murray (from downtown)
Monday, June 2, 2003

I am currently reading "Prisoner's Dilemma" by William Poundstone, about Von Neumann and game theory.  Highly recommended.  I second the Simon Singh vote.

For fiction, if you haven't read Neil Stephenson's Cryptonomicon, do so.  If you are looking for something to read in a weekend at the beach, any of Dan Brown's books (The Da Vinci Code the latest) are a good pick.  They are also re-releasing all of the James Bond books.  (OK, I love spy novels.)

Contrary Mary
Monday, June 2, 2003

Looks like someone beat me to the Neal Stephenson recommendation -- I'm a big fan (and, thus, recommend all of his books except possibly "The Big U").  In particular, "In the Beginning... Was the Command Line" has some interesting (if now somewhat dated; he mentions being curious about what Be will do with BeOS) observations about interface.

Sam Livingston-Gray
Monday, June 2, 2003

Mr. Bunny's Guide to ActiveX.

Monday, June 2, 2003

Bringing Down the House. About an MIT blackjack team.

Monday, June 2, 2003

Jeffery Deaver's "The Blue Nowhere"

Monday, June 2, 2003

... must ... not ... push ... amazon ... wishlist ... beyond ... 300 ... items ...

gawd, how did I ever get to 300 items on my amazon wishlist? Then again, have you seen my actual bookshelves?

"blondie24: playing at the edge of a.i." was a fun read. how do you teach a computer program to play checkers - and become a grandmaster, without even programming in the rules of the game?

i think you can play blondie24 online... google it.

one of my my favorites is "sources of power" by gary klien. I know it's got a cheesy title, but I think it's a great book. My review is on amazon.
Monday, June 2, 2003

OH... I want to read "bringing down the house."

there's another book... from the 70's... with a funny title... about a sysadmin who discovered some sort of international theif or somthing... the cuckoos egg was it?

found it

The Cuckoo's Egg: Tracking a Spy Through the Maze of Computer Espionage
by Clifford Stoll

haven't read it yet, but I hear it's very entertaining.
Monday, June 2, 2003

Jeffery Deaver's "The Blue Nowhere"

I absolutely hated this book.

My techie brain could not get passed the inaccuracies. It seems as if the writer read too many issues of Wired magazine. Cardboard cutout bad guys, good guys that broke keyboards they typed so furiously (ease up there Tex), contrived computer terms, etc. I mean what hacker in the world works from a _DOS_ prompt for god's sake? He'd have his hacker card revoked immediately.

Ian Stallings
Monday, June 2, 2003

> He'd have his hacker card revoked immediately.

And you're saying the book is contrived. We all know that Hackers now have unique identifiers that have been encrypted, scrambled, hacked, and tossed away (hackers hate unique identifiers).
Monday, June 2, 2003

There are also some Knuth books that are entertaining.  Like his Digital Typography book.

Monday, June 2, 2003

Bebop Bytes Back, by Clive Max Maxfield, is outstanding. 

Tuesday, June 3, 2003

A couple more I'm ordering.  Patterns of Software: Tales from the Software Community, by Gabriel.  This is supposed to be more in tune with Christopher Alexander's books on patterns than Design Patterns.

I don't know if See MIPS Run fits under this, but it looks nice.  Amazon's list-making feature is really magical, Lewis Carroll's Symbolic Logic or Tahan's The Man Who Counted may not be topical here, but I found these books while looking around.

Tuesday, June 3, 2003

*  Recent Topics

*  Fog Creek Home