Books ordered today

Posted by – May 8, 2010

  • Concrete Mathematics: Foundation for Computer Science (Ronald Graham, Donald Knuth and Oren Patashnik)
  • Programming Pearls (Jon Bentley)
  • The Little Schemer (Daniel Friedman and Matthias Felleisen)
  • Principles of Statistics (M. G. Bulmer)
  • Probability Theory: The Logic of Science: Principles and Elementary Applications Vol 1 (E. T. Jaynes)
  • Coders at Work: Reflections on the Craft of Programming (interviews by Peter Seibel)
  • Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid (Douglas Hofstadter)

Owning these books will make me smarter, right?

10 Comments on Books ordered today

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  1. Incestuous Jihad says:

    Oh yeah, they’ll definitely make you smarter. Beware of actually reading Hofstadter, though. GEB may be one of the greatest books ever written, but being around it too much would put you in serious danger of becoming emo. If you eventually read Hofstadter’s Le ton beau de Marot, that’s it: emo.


  2. sam says:

    I was actually thinking about getting that at some point. Also a novel called The Gold Bug variations by Richard Powers, which I think has a similar nerd-emo cachet.


  3. sam says:

    I’ve also thought about exposing myself to libertarianism:

    • Capitalism and Freedom (Milton Friedman)
    • The Road to Serfdom (Hayek)

    To economics:

    • Price Theory and Applications (Steven Landsburg)

    To the intelligence/genetics-based theory of social class:

    • The Bell Curve

    Some kind of ideology package. Taking a trip…


  4. Incestuous Jihad says:

    I’ve loved everything I’ve read by Hofstadter, including Le ton beau. It’s just that he’s so touchy feely about everything. He loves his grad students, he gets emotional about analogies between logic and genetics, he feels sad about squishing ants… He’s so embarrassingly excitable that I wish it were histrionics. So if you find yourself wearing women’s pants and combing your dyed black hair over one eye while you discuss the sad plight of orphaned puppies over red wine and organ fugues, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

    On a nerdy/Hofstadterian note, this is edutainment at its finest:

    Sounds like a long trip. Is it to prison?


  5. Incestuous Jihad says:

    Best bang for your buck if you want to get smarter through book ownership:

    Kant – Critique of Pure Reason
    Joyce – Finnegans Wake
    Tolstoy – War and Peace
    McLuhan – Understanding Media
    Homer – Iliad

    Owning all those math and statistics books won’t so much make you smarter as dispel ignorance and confer a sincere attitude toward truth-seeking.


  6. sam says:

    I once tried reading Finnegans Wake but it just made my nose bleed.


  7. sam says:

    Oh, and I’ll put of We Care a Lot by Faith No More if I start feeling like the only strange, sad loop in a sick, sad world. That’ll put an end to any incipient artfaggery.

    In truth: I am that sad-eyed emoter already, or at least used to be, so no danger.

    And re market Nazis: I just want to understand, you know?


  8. Incestuous Jihad says:

    Sorry to hear you’re so gay.

    Anyway, I wouldn’t recommend reading Finnegans Wake; I thought we were talking about getting smarter just by owning books. Smart people need to have FW on their shelves whether they’ve read it or not, and the same goes for the other books I listed.

    I’ve been interested in that Jaynes book for some time, but it’s dauntingly huge. I could trudge through it, or I could reread Subjective Probability by Jeffrey five times. Easy choice. It would be cool if you posted some reflections after reading it, though.


  9. sam says:

    We were, and FW has a prominent place in my faker’s library. Of that book I think it’s even the respectable thing to say “I’ve read parts”. I did read War and Peace though, but I’ve recently decided that cool people don’t own many prose classics because “you can get them from the library”.