Holiday Reading 2020
Written by Kay Ewbank   
Thursday, 24 December 2020
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Holiday Reading 2020
Robots, Hardware, IoT - Titles To Tempt You

We've almost made it through the weirdness that is 2020, and sitting out the rest of it with a good book sounds like a plan. Immerse yourself in one of our top titles and avoid the endless round of news on Covid, lockdowns, and travel restrictions.

The selection of books in this round-up are those that the contributors of I Programmer have chosen as books they'd either happily read themselves, or give to people they like. Some of the books are designed to be easy reading or light-hearted. Others show off areas of computing (and maths) that as a team, or as individuals, we think are worth knowing about. They're all books we'd be happy to get as a present.


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.


The Pragmatic Programmer (2e)

Author: David Thomas, Andrew Hunt
Publisher: Addison-Wesley
Pages: 352
ISBN: 978-0135957059

This is a classic title and its 20th Anniversary edition, its second edition, give us a chance to catch up with it. As well as being a classic, it's well written and easy to read.

This isn't a "how to" book it is more an inspirational self-improvement book angled towards programming. It does make reference to things that only programmers would know about, but it isn't "technical". 



For many readers it will be enjoyable and almost inspiring. Mike James says that what isn't so clear is whether at the end of reading it you will be a better programmer. It reminds Mike a lot of the tradition of making New Year's resolutions which are so quickly forgotten.

However, if you are looking for a book that is fun to read and will make you think about what you are doing when you program, then you will want a copy of this book.

Programming for the Puzzled

Author: Srini Devadas
Publisher: MIT Press
Pages: 272
ISBN: 978-0262534307

While the previous title was aimed at any programmer, this one aims to teach Python programmers new programming ideas via puzzles.The book is full of puzzle analysis. The idea is:

"take a puzzle, usually one that is simple to explain, and then work through algorithmic solutions".

Throughout the book you are led through a sequence of mini-investigations that usually involve some coding in Python. It doesn't go explain the Python language, it just uses it to solve the problems and you are expected to learn something about programming in general.


To get the best from the book, you'll be a reasonably well experienced Python programmer who likes puzzles, and you'd like to take a look at some classic and not-so-classic programming problems.

The Healthy Programmer  

Author: Joe Kutner
Publisher: Pragmatic Bookshelf
Pages: 220
ISBN: 978-1937785314

Given this book's subtitle of  Get Fit, Feel Better and Keep Coding, it might be one for the new year's resolutions rather than reading while eating chips and chocolate. The idea is that

Your job shouldn't hurt you, and with the right tools it won't. The heath effects of being a sedentary programmer are treatable, and in most cases reversible. This book will help guide you in that transformation. 

Let's refactor your health 



The chapters in the book tackle different aspects of getting fitter - exercising more, 'agile dieting', preventing back pain - all the things you know you ought to do but that slip down the priority lists.

It is written by someone who thinks like a programmer and this is a real advantage. It doesn't come across as prescriptive and preachy, but as well researched, carefully considered, experimental and pragmatic. 

The Programmer’s Guide To Theory

Author: Dr Mike James
Publisher: I/O Press
Pages: 214
ISBN: 978-1871962437

As its subtitle "Great ideas explained" suggests, this book sets out to present the fundamental ideas of computer science in an informal and yet informative way. I Programmer's own Mike James explores the concepts that underpin modern computer use, and shows how they provide ways to reason about information and randomness that are understandable without the need to resort to abstract math.



Topics covered in the book range from Turing Machines, the Halting Problem and Finite State machines, through lower-level concerns such as Boolean logic, information theory and error correction, to deeper dives into computational complexity. All are covered in a very approachable, and even entertaining way..

Cooking for Geeks 

Author: Jeff Potter
Publisher: O'Reilly
Pages: 432
ISBN: 9780596805883

This is an updated edition of an old favorite, and is perhaps better suited to being read while groaning over that last slice of pie. We reviewed the first edition and it has since been updated with new sidebars and labs for "geeky parents wanting to experiment with their kids"


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....

<ASIN: 0135957052>



<ASIN: 159327758X>

<ASIN: 1871962439>
<ASIN: B081YS81L7>



Last Updated ( Thursday, 24 December 2020 )