Christmas Book Choice 2012
Written by Sue Gee   
Monday, 17 December 2012
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Christmas Book Choice 2012
Titles for Enthusiasts

Are you looking for a carefully chosen book as a Christmas gift for the programmers and non-programmers among your family and friends? Our selection of ten titles is designed to help.

Books seem such a good idea as presents - easy to wrap, or if the recipient prefers e-books, you can avoid wrapping altogether and also leave it till the last minute. But then you face the problem of which book.

The choice is overwhelming and it also needs not only to suit the end reader it also needs to reflect something about the giver. So the I Programmer team has come up with suggestions for a range significant others in your life.

If you want to read more of the original review click in the link in each title. Clicking on the book jacket in the side panel will take you to Amazon. If you just want to find out more about the book click in the top portion of the thumbnail to open the book's product details page. If you do decide to make a book purchase accessing Amazon from a link on I Programmer means that we are credited with a few cents - so thanks to all of you who support us in this way.

 

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Cooking for Geeks would make a great gift from one scientist to another and would be equally suitable for a son or nephew or for a friend of a similar age. You could give it to your dad if he's just embarked on cooking for himself but I can't see many mums or aunts being pleased by it as it might give the wrong message. The other drawback  is that, as this book is such obvious present material and it's been available for a couple of years you might have been beaten to it. On the other hand, if you don't already have a personal copy now might be the time to drop hints.

COOKINGFORGEEKS

 

Mike James, who is an enthusiastic cook as well as being a committed programmer gave it a 5-star (i.e. highest possible) rating and concluded:

If you are new to cooking and are a geek then you might just be encouraged and inspired to get involved. However I think that the perfect reader for this book is the technically-minded cook who wants to know more - but that's a description of me of course.

Highly recommended and it would make a really great  Xmas gift for any geek.

What more can I say than it's been added to my cookbook shelf and no - you can't borrow it....

 

If you are looking for a book for a fellow programmer then consider  The Art of Readable Code. Giving it a  rating of 5,   Mike James started his review with the words:

If you only read one book this year - make it this one.

 

readablecode

 

This is an easy read with code in a range of languages including C++, Java and JavaScript. It features cartoons that actually help by making a point in an amusing way and there are lots of pull quotes to sum things up.

You probably won't agree with everything that is recommended to make reading code easier - but you don't have to. The book isn't prescriptive. It doesn't insist that there is only one way to do the job. Instead it explains and argues its points and expects you to evaluate the situation to produce an outcome that satisfies you.

If you have a friend whose idea of holiday reading is to pick up a good book on physics, consider The Infinity Puzzle.  In this book, subtitled "How the quest to understand quantum field theory led to extraordinary science, high politics, and the world's most expensive experiment", physicist Frank Close goes well beyond the sort of glossy books for the lay person that don't actually tell you a thing. As a result, while there are no equations in the book, the ideas presented are quite tough. If, however, you have studied an introduction to QFT then you will find it illuminating. In particular, you will understand the importance of the Higgs boson. It is often described as being the source of mass but its real importance is that it provides a way to give mass to the bosons that arise in gauge theories.

 

infinity

 

The book is an examination of the history of QFT and the experimental side of how it was tested. It goes over the events of the early days right up to today and the LHC. The story is mostly told in terms of the people involved and you get the impression that the author really was there - of course he was. Giving it a rating of 4.5 our review concludes:

Buy the book, but don't expect to understand all of it and there will be parts that you just have to skip for one reason or another, but it is a very welcome addition to the physics literature.

 

If you program for fun, and even professional developers are often passionate about programming, you probably want to encourage others to get involved. But is anybody who isn't already a programmer going to want a book on programming for Christmas. The answer to this has to be yes - especially if you also have a bit of time to devote to the initial stages of the project. One of the best books we've come across for introducing people  to programming is Hello World! Computer Programming for Kids and Other Beginners which comes from a father and and son team of authors.

 

HelloWorld

 

Again this isn't a new book and while it was given 5 stars when it was originally reviewed it has one drawback that would now take the rating down by a notch - it relates to Python 2.5 and Python has moved on in the interim. Even so it remains:

a very good introduction to programming and can be recommended to anyone, young or old, who wants to start learning this vital and highly enjoyable skill.

The book employs a child-friendly style and is suitable for any beginner aged from 9 to 99. The language is straightforward and there are plenty of graphics that aid communication. Certain characters appear at intervals. The most important one is Carter - the book's junior co-author who has questions and comments that draw attention to key points, We particularly liked the granny figure who provides information about how things were different "in the good old days" of early personal computers

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