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Author Topic: What books are you reading?  (Read 101589 times)
mouser
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« Reply #125 on: November 13, 2010, 12:19:40 PM »

I'm halfway through, and enjoying thoroughly:

"The D Programming Language" by Andrei Alexandrescu:



D is heavily based on C++, but attempts to modernize the language while still keeping a focus on efficiency and systems level programming.  It's an interesting language, with a lot to like about it for those who want to keep as close to the C++ spirit while still breaking away from backward compatibility and avoiding the messiness of C++0x.

I've previously read the earlier book "Learn to Tango with D" which is a good fast intro to the language, but recently D underwent a fairly dramatic change, labeled itself D 2.0, and this book is a much different fish.  Alexandrescu's book is deep, interesting, and serious.  It's a great book for those of us who are perhaps not as much interested in USING the language, but are keenly interested in programming language design decisions.  Very enjoyable reading, especially coming from a C++ background.

i'll note that this represents a redemption of Alexandrescu in my mind, since his previous book that i've read, Modern C++ Design: Generic Programming and Design Patterns Applied represented an impressively cool and twisted book on the use of C++ template programming that i think serves as a good example of exactly how not to program.
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« Reply #126 on: November 13, 2010, 01:21:48 PM »

One book I'm currently plowing through is Stephen Wolfram's  massive (1192 pages and 5.5 lbs!) tome: A New Kind of Science.



I've heard so much about this guy that I couldn't wait to see what he had to say about his own work - as opposed to what others have said about it.

Occasionally interesting, often repetitious, and chock full of the author's inflated notions of self-importance. Much like the Wolfram|Alpha engine itself, there's a good chance there's far less here than meets the eye.

I also have an occasional problem with his making personal claims to "discoveries" and insights that have obviously been made by others long before him. Either this guy has an ego the size of a truck, or he is painfully oblivious to all the mathematical research going on around him.

Since I'm reading it a few pages at a time (with just before bedtime tea) I've only made it about a third of the way through so far. I'll probably finish it since I keep thinking there's something I'm missing, with hopes it doesn't turn out to be mostly smoke and snake oil.

On a positive note, it is well written and nicely illustrated.  undecided

---------

Note: I got my copy at our local library book sale for four bucks. If I had plunked down the $45 cover price I'd be pretty pissed with myself right now.
 Grin

« Last Edit: November 13, 2010, 01:25:31 PM by 40hz » Logged

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mouser
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« Reply #127 on: November 13, 2010, 01:38:35 PM »

Quote
Occasionally interesting, often repetitious, and chock full of the author's inflated notions of self-importance. Much like the Wolfram|Alpha engine itself, there's a good chance there's far less here than meets the eye.

I also have an occasional problem with his making personal claims to "discoveries" and insights that have obviously been made by others long before him. Either this guy has an ego the size of a truck, or he is painfully oblivious to all the mathematical research going on around him.

i've read it and would echo everything you've said but suggest you are understating the crappiness.

i'm not sure if i've already written about how irritated i was with the book here on this forum or just in countless emails when i read it a couple of years ago.

The bottom line is that while the book may help inspire you to think about some interesting things, it much better used as an example for scientists about why its such a bad idea to isolate yourself from the rest of the scientific community and try to write an epic book without paying any attention to what anyone else is doing for 20 years and without getting any feedback.

The things that are genuinely interesting in the book were noted and explored better by smarter people decades ago, and go completely uncited in the book.  and the rest of the book is wolfram over and over and over telling you how amazing and insane and hard to understand the concept of complexity emerging from simple rules is -- something which became completely non-controversial a long long time ago.

Just working from a faint memory now, but I also think there are some other more interesting problems with the book.  I had the chance to press Wolfram about these at a talk he gave once. For example i think there is a central and interesting problem with Wolfram's book, in that the kinds of emergent systems he is most interested in are these that are largely unpredictable without explicit single-step simulation.. and he connects this with natural phenomena (and many have explored long ago fractal patterns in nature, snail shells, etc.); but when considering the physical world one can't help but be impressed by how incredibly predictable much of it is at long timescales, for example paths of planets, etc.  I think i would argue that these "unpredictable" emergent systems that wolfram focuses on as the key to understanding the natural world are precisely NOT the kinds of systems we see for functionally significant large-scale systems in nature.  But now we are getting into some esoteric stuff.
« Last Edit: November 13, 2010, 01:45:45 PM by mouser » Logged
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« Reply #128 on: November 13, 2010, 02:50:16 PM »

@Mouser: well...that ringing 'endorsement' is enough to make me decide to cut my losses and stop reading Wolfram. I've got enough far more interesting books I want to get caught up on that there's no point in my wasting the effort to chug through those last 800 pages.

Thx for the input.  Thmbsup

(And all this time I thought maybe it was just...me!)

---

P.S. If anybody wants this book, drop me a PM and I'll mail it to you if your address is in the USA. mrgreen

« Last Edit: November 13, 2010, 02:52:39 PM by 40hz » Logged

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« Reply #129 on: November 13, 2010, 03:28:00 PM »

I'm halfway through, and enjoying thoroughly:

"The D Programming Language" by Andrei Alexandrescu:

([url=http://www.donationcoder.com/forum/index.php?topic=20287.msg223614#msg223614]see attachment in previous post)[/i][/url]

D is heavily based on C++, but attempts to modernize the language while still keeping a focus on efficiency and systems level programming.  It's an interesting language, with a lot to like about it for those who want to keep as close to the C++ spirit while still breaking away from backward compatibility and avoiding the messiness of C++0x.

I've previously read the earlier book "Learn to Tango with D" which is a good fast intro to the language, but recently D underwent a fairly dramatic change, labeled itself D 2.0, and this book is a much different fish.  Alexandrescu's book is deep, interesting, and serious.  It's a great book for those of us who are perhaps not as much interested in USING the language, but are keenly interested in programming language design decisions.  Very enjoyable reading, especially coming from a C++ background.

i'll note that this represents a redemption of Alexandrescu in my mind, since his previous book that i've read, Modern C++ Design: Generic Programming and Design Patterns Applied represented an impressively cool and twisted book on the use of C++ template programming that i think serves as a good example of exactly how not to program.

I've read an article about D written by Alexandrescu and really liked his writing style. Probably because we seem to share the same kind of humour. I can remember now that I thought I'd probably read that book once it's available just because of that smiley.

I honestly can't remember if I found Modern C++ design funny Wink
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« Reply #130 on: November 13, 2010, 03:48:42 PM »

@Mouser: well...that ringing 'endorsement' is enough to make me decide to cut my losses and stop reading Wolfram. I've got enough far more interesting books I want to get caught up on that there's no point in my wasting the effort to chug through those last 800 pages.

Thx for the input.  Thmbsup

(And all this time I thought maybe it was just...me!)

---

P.S. If anybody wants this book, drop me a PM and I'll mail it to you if your address is in the USA. mrgreen


Hmmm.... maybe you should rethink your position.  Here's why...

The joke concerns twin boys of five or six. Worried that the boys had developed extreme personalities -- one was a total pessimist, the other a total optimist -- their parents took them to a psychiatrist.

First the psychiatrist treated the pessimist. Trying to brighten his outlook, the psychiatrist took him to a room piled to the ceiling with brand-new toys. But instead of yelping with delight, the little boy burst into tears. "What's the matter?" the psychiatrist asked, baffled. "Don't you want to play with any of the toys?" "Yes," the little boy bawled, "but if I did I'd only break them."

Next the psychiatrist treated the optimist. Trying to dampen his out look, the psychiatrist took him to a room piled to the ceiling with horse manure. But instead of wrinkling his nose in disgust, the optimist emitted just the yelp of delight the psychiatrist had been hoping to hear from his brother, the pessimist. Then he clambered to the top of the pile, dropped to his knees, and began gleefully digging out scoop after scoop with his bare hands. "What do you think you're doing?" the psychiatrist asked, just as baffled by the optimist as he had been by the pessimist. "With all this manure," the little boy replied, beaming, "there must be a pony in here somewhere!"


Wink
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40hz
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« Reply #131 on: November 13, 2010, 04:56:39 PM »

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« Reply #132 on: November 14, 2010, 10:40:43 AM »

The premise is a dystopic future in which computers and an internet-type feed are hardwired into our bodies and integrated directly into our thoughts. So... people walk around with constant advertising targetting them depending on what they are looking at/passing, and carry on private text conversations with others, share memories,

Er...  don't you have anyone with an Internet-connected mobile phone near you?   ohmy  I mean, the future is now the present?  And why engage in a series of doubtless painful, expensive operations to insert implants, probably needing them done over in a few years time for maintenance and upgrading, when you could just go to a store, buy an off-the-shelf iSucker, and you're good to go?

Current book in progress:  The life and works of Alfred Bestall, illustrator of Rupert Bear by Caroline G. Bott

Just finished:
  • I Shall Wear Midnight by Terry Pratchett  (one of the Tiffany Aching ones)
  • The Ring of Solomon by Jonathan Stroud  (Bartimaeus rides again, or rather, before!)
  • German Requiem by Philip Kerr (third in his Bernie Gunther series)
« Last Edit: November 14, 2010, 01:36:25 PM by rjbull » Logged
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« Reply #133 on: November 14, 2010, 04:54:58 PM »

I read the Bartimaeus trilogy earlier this year - loved it! Therefore, I MUST read "The Ring of Solomon" - thanks for the pointer, I would not have known that it is out otherwise.

"Feed" was published about 8 years ago and "worked" for me because even after such a brief time it seems prescient...
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« Reply #134 on: November 14, 2010, 05:19:41 PM »

+1 for the Bartimaeus Trilogy
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« Reply #135 on: November 15, 2010, 03:24:25 PM »

I MUST read "The Ring of Solomon"

Don't overlook Heroes of the Valley either  Cool
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« Reply #136 on: November 15, 2010, 06:29:13 PM »

I MUST read "The Ring of Solomon"

Don't overlook Heroes of the Valley either  Cool

Doh! That looks good as well! Thanks for pointing that one out, too  Kiss
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« Reply #137 on: November 15, 2010, 08:23:47 PM »

I can heartily recommend "The Fionavar Tapestry" by Guy Gavriel Kay.  Read those books years ago when they first came out.  Thinking about getting them again, this time for the Kindle.
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« Reply #138 on: November 15, 2010, 08:37:13 PM »

Very Very Ammusing.




Started Reading this, then stopped cause it turned stupid and boring.
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« Reply #139 on: November 15, 2010, 08:38:32 PM »

2nd that
I can heartily recommend "The Fionavar Tapestry" by Guy Gavriel Kay.
2nd that, pretty much anything by Guy Gavriel Kay.
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« Reply #140 on: November 15, 2010, 09:09:24 PM »

Quote
I can heartily recommend "The Fionavar Tapestry" by Guy Gavriel Kay.
2nd that, pretty much anything by Guy Gavriel Kay.

Yep.  Also was quite impressed by Tigana and A Song for Arbonne.  Both were extremely lyrical.
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« Reply #141 on: November 15, 2010, 10:25:20 PM »

Right - he's on my list (sigh! it's growing)...
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« Reply #142 on: November 23, 2010, 09:54:14 PM »

Finished "Under the Dome" (Stephen King) -- good read!

Now reading "I Am Number Four" (Pittacus Lore), first in a series (others haven't been written yet)
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« Reply #143 on: November 30, 2010, 08:17:16 PM »

Finished "I Am Number Four".  Pros: fast-paced, interesting concepts.  Cons: seems geared a bit more to younger readers (dare I say "teens").  I give it 3.5 stars.

Finished "Infected" by Scott Sigler.  Excellent read.  Very fast-paced, held my interest.  Good prose.  I give it 4 stars.
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« Reply #144 on: November 30, 2010, 09:23:47 PM »

Charles de Lint
Octavia Butler
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« Reply #145 on: December 04, 2010, 06:09:05 PM »

Just finished "Sole Survivor" (Dean Koontz) -- seventeenth novel of his I've read, thus far.  Quite entertaining...
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« Reply #146 on: December 04, 2010, 06:24:27 PM »

The reviews of this sounded good enough to make me read it, and i rarely read fiction:
http://www.amazon.com/San...hard-Kadrey/dp/0061976261

Quote
Sandman Slim.. provides biting humor, an over-the-top antihero and a rich stew of metaphoric language in this testosterone- and adrenaline-charged noir thriller. James Stark spent 11 years killing monsters in Lucifer's arena for the entertainment of fallen angels, but now he's back in seedy, magic-riddled L.A., trying to avenge his girlfriend's murder and hunt down Mason Faim, the black magician responsible for getting him sent downtown. He meets with some initial success, beheading second-rate magician Kasabian (whose head becomes Stark's smart-mouthed sidekick), but he can't find Faim. Instead he encounters Homeland Security agents, a near-psychotic angel and some odd nonhuman, nonangelic beings called the kissi. Darkly atmospheric settings, such as a posh gentlemen's club where angels are tortured in an attempt to bring about Armageddon, bring this violent fantasy into sharp, compelling focus.

Review
“If Simon R. Green wrote an episode of Dog the Bounty Hunter, it would read much like Sandman Slim – violent, vivid, non-stop action of the supernatural kind. I couldn’t put it down.” (Charlaine Harris )

“The most hard-boiled piece of supernatural fiction I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading. … all confident and energetic and fresh and angry. I loved this book and all its screwed-up people.” (Cory Doctorow, author of Little Brother )

“The best B movie I’ve read in at least twenty years. An addictively satisfying, deeply amusing, dirty-ass masterpiece, Sandman Slim swerves hell-bent through our culture’s impacted gridlock of genres…it’s like watching Sergio Leone and Clive Barker co-direct from a script by Jim Thompson and S. Clay Wilson.” (William Gibson )

“Sarcastic, irreverent and ridiculously enjoyable riff on the Urban Fantasy genre. … a lot like a mosh pit -- rough, exuberant, unpredictable -- and a heck of a lot of fun.” (Miami Herald )

“Nicotine and octane in equal parts might come close to the high-energy buzz from Richard Kadrey’s Sandman Slim. Crisp world building, recognizable and fully-realized characters, and a refreshingly unique storytelling style make for an absorbing read.Sandman Slim is my kind of hero.” (Kim Harrison )

“Paced like greased lightning (watch out for friction burns on your turning finger), blend the movie-ish delights of tough guy noir and such smart-mouthgore-fests as “Reanimator” and “Army of Darkness”, seasoned by soupcons of Gaimanian romanticism and Koontzian sentiment.” (Booklist )


It wasn't bad.
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« Reply #147 on: December 04, 2010, 10:03:43 PM »



I read "Sandman Slim" earlier this year.  Pretty fast-paced and entertaining.  Not suitable for children.  It's also rather irreverent, but it has that dark, gritty texture that a lot of people seem to enjoy.  Like I indicated, I liked it.

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« Reply #148 on: December 05, 2010, 03:20:57 AM »

Digging through some boxes of books I have in storage, I found my old battered paperback edition of John Myers Myers' (not a typo) fantasy masterpiece: Silverlock. I remembered how much I enjoyed it and decided to give it a re-read to see if it was still as great a book as I remembered.



For the next few hours I became a cliche. Because once I started Silverlock, I really couldn't put it down.  And I lost the better part of a night's sleep doing so.

Yes, it really is that good...

The story revolves around a self-centered and cynical Chicago businessman by the name of A. Clarence Shandon (aka Silverlock) who finds himself shipwrecked in a strange country known only as The Commonwealth. The Commonwealth seems to be composed entirely of people and places from the great works of adventure fiction - something Shandon (whose education extends only as far as a BA in "business administration" could take him) is completely and delightfully ignorant about.

What follows is an allegorical coming of age story so well-written that it never once gets heavy-handed or obvious. Shandon encounters Orpheus, Mephistopheles, Circe, a certain sorrowful knight, Beowulf, and a host of others who guide, challenge, and occasionally give his ass a swift kick.

One of the fun things about this book is trying to identify all the literary allusions, characters, and works (there are hundreds) found throughout the story.

But enough blathering from me. Read this book. It's a masterpiece.  Thmbsup

----###----

NESFA has released an edition of Silverlock in hardcover which includes the hard-to-find Silverlock Companion which gives a complete listing and bibliography of all the "stuff" found in the story.



I just ordered a copy from Amazon. My old paperback has definitely seen better days. And if I wind up thumbing through this copy as much as I did my old one, I think I'd be better of with having it in hardcover. At $25, it's a good deal since NESFA editions are well made books.

There's also an inexpensive trade paperback available for about $10 here.



« Last Edit: December 05, 2010, 03:59:58 AM by 40hz » Logged

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« Reply #149 on: December 05, 2010, 09:47:25 AM »

Thanks for the great info, 40hz!  I will give this one a try!

Question?  If I buy the hardback from Amazon, does that also mean I'm entitled to the Kindle version?  Or is it one or the other?
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