Types and Programming Languages Benjamic C. Pierce 0262162091 A classic text on type systems that I'm only now getting to :-( My bad. On nature and Language Noam Chomsky 052101624X I suspect I'm something of a linguistic minamilist myself so I'm looking forward to reading what the great man has to say. Slaughterhouse Five Kurt Vonnegut 0586033289 Natural Born Cyborgs: Minds, Technologies, and the Future of Human Intelligence Andy Clark 0195148665 Mother Tongue Bill Bryson 014014305X This book is brimful of excellent not-many-people-know-that factoids about the English language. Examples : Shakespeare is responsible for the phrase "to back a horse". There are about 150 words in English that got there because of typos in dictionaries (ha!). "demit" is the antonym of "commit" which, unfortunately, has fallen into disuse. Instead, we geeks have to say "roll back" as the opposite of "commit". What a shame. My favourite new word out of this book? Catachresis. Yummy. Algorithmics - The spirit of computing by David Harel 0201192403 A very readable 30 thousand feet tour of formal correctness, efficiency, intractability, universality, undecidability, parallelism and probabilistic methods. In other words, big chunks of Computer Science in a digestable 400 pages or so. Ingenious Ireland Mary Mulvihill 0684020947 A county by county breakdown of scientific shenanigans in Ireland over the centuries. It turns out that the mathematician George Stokes - he of 'Navier Stokes Equations' fame. (shudder). Was born just down the road from where I live in Sligo. Even closer to home (Collooney) is the birthplace of William Higgins who invented the chemical notation for Oxygen. Down in Cork, an accountant by the name of Percy Ludgate had the designs for a computer in 1909. Like the well known Babbage machine, it was never built but it contained some fundamental innovatations such as the concept of a subroutine. Its hard to put this book down once you dip into it. The man who loved only numbers Paul Hoffman 1857028295 An engaging bio of Paul Erdos, the eccentric mathematician. His field, graph theory is particularly relevant on the platform known as the Web. In particular the concept of an "Erdos number" invented by his colleagues is an early example of what today would probably be called "social sofware". Information Rules Carl Shapiro & Hal Varian 087584863X A sobering analysis of the economic realities of the software and e-content businesses. Anybody on the receiving end of vendor pitches about "open systems" and "zero lockin" and "standards based" design needs to read this book. There are only so many business models for software and yes, they pretty much all involve maximising your switching costs and squeezing you for recurring revenue. Remember, their business model is not your business model. That all fine and good. Its the realities of capitalism. I'm all for it. But I'm also all for customers being cognisant of the rules of the game. This book spells them out. The Tipping Point Malcom Gladwell 0349114463 An interesting and easy read. Some times things reach a point and then...bang, all is changed. Obviously really, once you see it written down. When reading about connectors and mavens, I found myself buttoning people I knew into those categories. The organisational magic number stuff is very interesting too. I will never be able to look at the number 150 again without thinking about it. The Social Life of Information John Seely Brown, Paul Duguid 1578517087 Interesting sanity check on the information technology revolution. Information, its production, desimmination and use are all extremely social phenomena. Failure to cater for 'soft' issues in IT can lead to unexpected negative consequences. The Monk and the Philosopher Jean-Francois Revel & Mathiew Ricard 0805211039 An engaging series of conversations beteen a father and a son who happen to be western philosopher and Tibetan Buddhist monk respectively. East meets west stuff on epistomology, consciousness, morality etc. Metamagical Themas - Questing for the Essence of Mind and Pattern Douglas R. Hofstadter 0465045669 Great collection of essays from the full vista of Hofstadter's interests. From Rubic Cubes to chaos to AI to number numbness. A great to dip into which always gives me something to think about. The Search for the Perfect Language Umberto Eco 0006863787 A scholarly tour through the most prominent attempts at constructing perfect languages over the centuries. Reading this book will make you appreciate the complexities of language and may even lead to an appreciation of those irregular verbs that drove you wild in school. Godel, Escher, Bach Douglas Hofstadter 0140289208 Wonderful. As a kid in first year comp. sci., this book was an eye opener. It provided validation of a suspicion I had that computing - especially software - could just as easily be housed in the Arts Faculty. Neuromancer William Gibson 0006480411 Just read it. Drop everything and read it NOW. Programming Python Mark Lutz, Laura Lewin, Frank Willson 0596000855 A classic. The first edition of this got me started with Python many years ago. Back then it was one of only two books available on Python. How things have changed. Words and Rules: The Ingredients of Language Stephen Pinker 0060958405 An engaging tour (I flicked some of the detail) around human language and its rules. I have a newfound appreciation for irregular verbs and a boxload of new "not many people know that" factoids. Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy Simon Blackburn 0192831348 A wonderful hypertexted dictionary. Impossible to put down because any term you look up, probably is within 6 degrees of separation of every other term and the hypertext will get you there. Strange Beauty: Murray Gell-Mann and the Revolution in Twentieth-Century Physics George Johnson 0679756884 A bio of Murray Gell-Mann. Very readable. Fascinating insights into the mans personality as well as his work. I'd recommend reading it back-to-back with Genius: Richard Feynman and Modern Physics Genius: Richard Feynman and Modern Physics James Gleick 0349105324 A bio of the great Richard Feynman. Very accomplishes as you would expect from Gleick. I'd recommend reading it back-to-back with Strange Beauty. Enterprise Integration Patterns : Designing, Building, and Deploying Messaging Solutions Gregor Hohpe, Bobby Woolf 0321200683 In case you had not noticed, software integration using XML messaging is basically how Enterprise Application Integration will be done for the forseable future. Web Services, SOAP, REST, Tuple Spaces, SOA, ESB, Indigo, MDB - take your pick. Messaging is *not* about objects. Messaging is *not* about databases. Messaging is *not* about two phase commit ACID transactions. If you are an object guy or a database guy struggling to get to grips with messaging, this book is for you. Chaos - Making a new science James Gleick 0749386061 This was the first book I read about chaos theory. In 96 I think. For a few years before that I had been coding up fractals and fernleaves for display on a 32 bit TI graphics chip we used at work. A great easy reading introduction and some great plates. Cryptonomicon Neal Stephenson 0099410672 A book about war and science and math and money. The only novel I have ever read that contains a perl script. Whats not to like? Naming and Necessity Saul Kripke 0631128018 Thinking about URIs versus URNs? Contemplating a bout of nominalism? Planning an argument with a logical positivist? This book is for you. Kripke is one of those exacerbating thinkers (like Chomsky) who says/writes intriguing stuff on some subject and then moves off to think about other stuff, leaving a trail of debate in their wake. In Kripke's case, he questions a whole bunch of generally accepted stuff from Russell and Frege to do with names and what names really do. Its fascinating to read this stuff with one eye on URIs and the other on URNs:-)