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2016 in books

Since I started tracking the books I read with goodreads I realised I spent way more time than I thought reading. This last year has been pretty good (when it comes to reading, that is), so I thought I'd share some sort of top 10 with those I've liked the most. List is in UDC order, not favourite ranking.

This was one of the books that has been on my sights for quite a long time. Making a compiler for a toy language is something I've always wanted to do, and as far as I knew this was the best, most thorough book on compilers so far (The second edition may be more current but it's also very expensive).

I wasn't expecting something like this. So many details. So many things. There is so much in it I'm pretty much certain I'll read it again soon. As a bonus this book got me interested in parsers, which until now I was assuming to be pretty boring and tedious things that were pretty much solved at this point (Lesson learned: Learn things before formal education makes you hate them).

A friend of mine sent me a bunch of security-related books, and this one was between them. Sure, the storytelling isn't perfect and at times it reads like something you'd find in a book from The Famous Five series, but it does a pretty good job on getting the points accross and It's really entertaining. It's even more fun if you think about what you get from it before it gets spoonfed to you at the end of the book ;)

Another of the books that has been in the list for a long time. I was expecting a regular explanation about how plane engines work, but the level of detail in this thing is just amazing. Explanations from a general systems perspective to the physical phenomena that drive individual parts, including general directions on assembly, maintenance, repair and overhaul. It's amazing. Even if the edition I was reading was outdated by 30+ years (Recent editions are crazy expensive) it holds up pretty well.

This one had to be on the list. I read an old edition that had the basics and not much else but it was really dense and packed with useful information. Current editions are even more thorough, and totally worth the >EUR 100 they cost if you want anything to do with rockets and can afford them.

I wasn't really sure about putting this one (The story about the design and making of the Data General Eclipse MV/8000 minicomputer) on the list. I didn't exactly like it, but I didn't dislike it either. It has some nice information and can teach you (Or point to interesting things) about electronics, software, management and many other things. But the main reason it's on the list is because it reminded me about This movie. It describes vividly the breakneck development pace and the immense pressure to a point you start feeling anxious yourself. And then you finish the book and can't stop asking yourself what the point of everything was. It's one of those stories that make you say "Wait, that's it?" when you read it. Kind of like the last minutes of American Psycho. Anyway, I'm bad at explaining things. You should read this book.

Another classic that I've been wanting to read for quite a long time. Some of the writing is not exactly brilliant, but overall is exactly what I was expecting, and I loved it.

I'm not sure how I stumbled upon this book, but it's one of the best things I've ever read. It's really, really good. Go read it, even if you are not even remotely interested in phone phreaking. Trust me, you'll like it.

Adding this book to this list is kind of pointless since most people have already seen the TV show (The content is identical), but it's still good, no matter how many times you watch it. James Burke made some very good points about our interactions with technology in the original TV series that still hold true today, and I really enjoy his way of explaining things and unraveling history.

This book is good. It's so good that the only way you are going to read this is via PDF, since the original copies are absurdly hard to find (And absurdly expensive when you do). If you are interested in rockets, chemistry, crazy engineering or nice collections of "they did WHAT?" anecdotes, this book is totally for you. Pretty short and fun to read.

This is the second time I read this one. If you like space this is a must read. If not for the history, just for how well it shows how important is taking humans into account when designing, planning and running things (Which is something that gets forgotten constantly when computers are involved).


Some good ones were left out of the list, but I wanted to limit myself to a top10 for no real reason. The rest of them can be found here.

For 2017 I'm planning to focus more on computer science books, change the biology for engineering (as far as the budget allows to) and keep up with history books. Any recommendations are welcome! :)



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