Jag Venugopal's Blog

November 17, 2010

Jag’s Recent Programming Book Purchases

Filed under: Information Technology — Jag @ 11:16 pm

Why, may one ask, does a Project Manager and Business Analyst buy programming books, and that too for obscure (to the average cubicle slave) programming languages? Because its fun, that’s why. Some people like to curl up in front of a fireplace with a novel. For me, computer programming books are “fireplace reading”. And if I do it on my own time, for the love of computing, I will learn only those languages for which excellent open-source implementations exist.

Head First Python is a “right-brained” introduction to Python that I’ve just started reading. I’ve written Python programs off and on for the past few years, and it is now my primary programming language. Hopefully I’ll learn something new, but even if its a recap of stuff I already know, it’s still worthwhile. 

I’ve purchased two Lisp books to finally become proficient in the language. When I was studying for my Master’s in Computer Science at Northeastern, they made us use Scheme. To someone that cut his teeth on K&R C, Scheme was absolutely the most miserable language to write programs in. And to someone schooled in imperative programming, the functional style was a nightmare. However the intervening years and some gray hairs have caused a reassessment of the relative merits of Lisp and C. And so it is that I’ve purchased Practical Common Lisp and Land of Lisp. I’m reading both concurrently, trying to transfer a previous familiarity with Scheme into proper knowledge of Common Lisp. Not quite sure what use I will put this knowledge to, but we’ll figure that one out when I get there.

I purchased all three books in PDF form to read on the iPad. I like reading books on the iPad because:

  • One avoids cluttering up one’s basement with paper copies. I already have three full bookshelves.
  • Unlike the Kindle, the iPad’s screen responds instantaneously. Most importantly, one can read PDFs and full-page documents without losing the original formatting.
  • Ebooks are often available at significant discounts to print books. And when you buy ebooks, never forget to check retailmenot.com to see if coupons are available. I purchased all three books mentioned above at 50% off list.

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