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Tech Books I Will Read Again

I have read a crap-ton of technical books, mostly on software, but some either more general or hardware related so I felt the need to generalize the genre to "technical" books. If you've been following my blog for the last year, you'll agree that especially recently, my reading rate has been arguably excessive. I'm reaching a point where I'd like to slow down and focus on some other things in my free time, but I'm also reflecting on all of the great and not-so-great tech books I've read. One of the defining factors in whether I think a tech book is excellent versus merely good is if I have the urge to read it again. (For anyone wondering, there is no distinction needed for the bad tech books.) This feeling might happen right after I finish it, or even while I'm reading it the first time. It also might take a while to percolate and rise back to the surface as a book I want to go back to. The bottom line is, a mark of a great tech book is that it's worth revisiting, so what follows is a list of tech books I've read that I thought were so great that I'm going to read them again.

Tech Book Face Off: Game Engine Black Book [Wolfenstein 3D Vs. Doom]

After all of the heavier reading I've been doing lately—machine learning, CUDA programming, fundamental Lisp programming, etc.—I wanted to kick back and read something a bit more relaxing and entertaining. Luckily, at just the right time a friend lent me a couple of books that promised to fit the bill perfectly: the Game Engine Black Books for Wolfenstein 3D and Doom, both by Fabien Sanglard. I grew up with these games, with them being my first and second PC FPS games. I played countless hours of these and other id Software games and other games that used id Software engines like Rise of the Triad, Heretic, and Hexen. I couldn't wait to dig into these books and see what was underneath the games that pleasantly wasted away the night hours of my youth.

Game Engine Black Book: Wolfenstein 3D front coverVS.Game Engine Black Book: Doom front cover

Tech Book Face Off: How to Design Programs Vs. Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs

After reading and reviewing dozens of books on programming, software development, and computer science, I've finally come to a couple of books that I should have read a long time ago. I'm not quite sure why I didn't read these two books earlier. Distractions abound, and I always had something else I wanted to read first. I still wanted to see what they had to offer, so here I am reading How to Design Programs by Matthias Felleisen, Robert Bruce Findler, Matthew Flatt, and Shriram Krishnamurthi and Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs by Harold Abelson, Gerald Jay Sussman, and Julie Sussman. As I understand it, these books are meant to introduce new students to programming so not reading them until now will probably make it difficult to accurately critique them from the perspective of the target audience. I'm still going to give it a try.

How to Design Programs front coverVS.Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs front cover

Tech Book Face Off: Facts and Fallacies of Software Engineering Vs. Programming Pearls 2

Since I've been hitting the tech books pretty hard for a while now, for this Tech Book Face Off I wanted to take a bit of a breather and do a couple of relatively easy reads. These books have been on my to-read list for some time, so I decided to finally check them out. The first one, Facts and Fallacies of Software Engineering by Robert L. Glass is a book in a similar vein as The Pragmatic Programmer in that it relates various tidbits of advice on the craft of software engineering. As for Programming Pearls 2 by Jon Bentley, this book surprised me. I thought it would be somewhat similar to Facts and Fallacies, just more directly related to instructive programming examples than to the software engineering field at large, but it turned out to be quite a bit different, as we'll see in this review.

Facts and Fallacies of Software Engineering front coverVS.Programming Pearls front cover

Tech Book Face Off: Don't Make Me Think Revisited Vs. The Non-Designer's Design Book

I read a lot of technical books about programming languages, development methods, and coding techniques. Those books help enhance my skills in what I do most of the time, which is embedded firmware development, and what I'm interested in, which is learning new programming languages and new ways of solving problems with software. Every once in a while I feel like I should dip my toes into the design side of the pond so I can get a better sense of how to design features that will make the stuff I build easier to use, and so I can better understand the reasons behind what makes a particular design good or bad. For this dip in the pond, I chose Don't Make Me Think Revisited by Steve Krug, a safe book considering that I've already read and loved the previous version of the book. I also picked up a book I've been meaning to read for a while: The Non-Designer's Design Book by Robin Williams, off of a reading list from Joel Spolsky's blog. These books were both quick, enjoyable reads, but let's break it down a little more.

Don't Make Me Think Revisited front coverVS.The Non-Designer's Design Book front cover

Tech Book Face Off: Programming Elixir ≥ 1.6 Vs. Metaprogramming Elixir

Since I wasn't quite satisfied with the first Elixir book I read, and I wanted to learn more about this rich, complex programming language, I selected a couple more books to help me explore the more advanced aspects of Elixir. The first selection, Programming Elixir ≥ 1.6 by Dave Thomas, promises to cover all of the major parts of Elixir with a clean, well-written book from the coauthor of the excellent The Pragmatic Programmer. The second selection, Metaprogramming Elixir by Chris McCord, focuses on the ways that a programmer can write code to write code in Elixir, always a fascinating endeavor. Both of these books are again by The Pragmatic Programmers publishing company, since I've been mostly pleased with the books they put out. I might just have another of their books waiting in the wings for a review later this year, but let's take a look at how these two Elixir books stack up.

Programming Elixir ≥ 1.6 front coverVS.Metaprogramming Elixir front cover

Tech Book Face Off: Getting Clojure Vs. Learn Functional Programming With Elixir

Ever since I read Seven Languages in Seven Weeks and Seven More Languages in Seven Weeks, I've been wanting to dig into some of the languages covered by those books a bit more, and so I've selected a couple of books on two interesting functional languages: Clojure and Elixir. For Clojure I narrowed the options down to Getting Clojure by Russ Olsen, and for Elixir I went with Learn Functional Programming with Elixir by Ulisses Almeida. You may notice that, like the Seven in Seven books, both of these books are from The Pragmatic Programmers. They seem to pretty consistently publish solid, engaging programming books, and I was hoping to have more good luck with these two books. We'll see how they turned out.

Getting Clojure front coverVS.Learn Functional Programming With Elixir front cover