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Friday, December 22, 2006

Books Worth Reading (mostly technical)

Received an early Christmas gift - a big Amazon gift certificate. Here's what I chose.
  • Design Patterns. This must be the third time I've purchased this book. My first copy was lost; my second, left at my previous employer. When I first encountered this book in 1997, it was a revelation - these beautiful structures and patterns, crisply named and catalogued - Observer, Memento, Adapter, Visitor, Façade… Brilliant stuff.
  • Refactoring. Second time I've purchased this one. An excellent toolkit for cleaning up code - the explicit steps are helpful especially when you don't have an IDE to perform the refactoring for you e.g. PHP. A key to performing refactorings safely is to back them with unit tests - wondering how feasible this is for GUI's.
  • Refactoring to Patterns. I'm averse to reading books I've read before, so I'll be reading the highly recommended Refactoring to Patterns - DP and Refactoring will sit on the shelf as reference.
  • The Little Schemer. Recommended by the great Javascript guru Douglas Crockford. Evidently improves one's ability to think recursively, and introduces neat concepts like the Y combinator.
  • Mastering Regular Expressions. Possibly more than I want to know about regular expressions (delves into their implementation, which could be useful for optimizing performance). But I'm sure I'll pick up several tricks for making better use of this powerful tool.
  • Javascript: The Definitive Guide. Best Javascript book / reference as far as I can tell from the Amazon reviews. A weighty tome. While the Dojo library has already made Javascript an order of magnitude more powerful, safer, and easier to use, I'm still looking forward to this book as a way of increasing my knowledge of the intricacies of the language.
  • Agile Software Development, Principles, Patterns, and Practices. Been a few months since I've read a software process book (last one being Schwaber's Scrum book, which I didn't get a lot out of, and – way before that – The Pragmatic Programmer, which was for me profoundly influential, as was Extreme Programming Installed), so it's time to read another one. This book by Robert Martin is supposed to be full of good ideas.
  • Rapid Development. I keep hearing about McConnell's book, so it's time to see what the fuss is about. I read his Code Complete several years ago – a bit dated, being from the early nineties, but still had some good coding guidelines and tips (see PragProg for something more contemporary).
  • Streamlined Object Modeling. Another book recommended by This one's flush with good Amazon reviews.
  • CSS Mastery. Intermediate-level CSS book. I'd already read CSS Anthology (meaty – good stuff) and Cederholm's Web Standards Solutions (like CSS Anth., but fluffier), so I didn't want another intro-level book (which is why I passed on Cederholm's Bulletproof Web Design). This book, by well-known designers Andy Budd, Simon Collison, and Cameron Moll, seems to be the next step up.
  • The Cyberiad. Hitchiker's Guide-like novel recommended by my colleague Tim. By Stanislaw Lem – evidently one of the sci-fi greats.
  • Startup. Lessons learned from one man's startup. Supposed to be an entertaining read.
  • Dealers of Lightning. Recommended by my colleague Fabricio Zuardi. On the glory days of Xerox PARC.
  • Too Deep For Words. On lectio divina, or meditative reading of scripture.

New books - one of life's sweet pleasures.


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