Book Reviews

The Art of Computer Programming, Knuth

An incredibly in depth analysis of various data structures and algorithms. Great to read for pleasure, but I wouldn’t recommend it for practitioners who ‘just’ want a description of Red Black trees. Use the mobile book for that instead.

Drive, Daniel Pink

Economics is built on the premise that people are rational actors. Unfortunately they don’t actually behave like that. Consider this experiment. An experimenter takes a pair of people and gives one person $10. They get to choose how much to give to the other person. If the other person refuses this amount, they both get nothing. It turns out that the receiver will refuse amounts below about $2, and take $0 instead. This is irrational.

He claims that carrot and stick rewards do not necessarily work, and there is research that shows that cash rewards remove people’s intrinsic motivation, even if they offer short term benefits

Liar’s Poker, Michael Lewis

An account of City excesses during the 1980’s. A combination of lifestyle porn (who wouldn’t like the idea of grabbing a Concord flight to head to the US office on a whim) wrapped up in the narrative of a tragedy.

This Accursed Land, Lennard Bickel

A benchmark against which ‘tough’ expeditions should be measured.

South: The Story of Shackleton’s 1914-1917 expedition

An excellent account of an epic polar exploration.

The Pleasures of Counting, Körner

A beautifully written book. Körner writes about practical applications of maths, and reading it is like sitting next to a really interesting, smart person at a dinner. A must read.

Magic Ink

Magic Ink is a book length article by Bret Victor on the web about interaction design.