Antonin Carette

Machine Learning Engineer & Software Developer

Books recommendation (1/x)

Posted at — Jul 16, 2020

In 2019, I read an average of three books a month, including comic books.

Unfortunately, during the lockdown since March, it was difficult to read new interesting books, due to several reasons:

  1. no new release;
  2. physical bookstores close their doors;
  3. people ordered a lot of books to avoid boredom, which has sharply reduced stocks (and the choice of books as well);
  4. parcel and mail delivery has been greatly impacted too, and delays have been extended from two days to one month.

This strange situation gave me the opportunity to read again some books I like(d), and to make a short list of books I recommend.

All the books I recommend have a link to goodreads if you want to learn more about a particular one.

This is the first part of this recommendation list.

“Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution“, by Steven Levy

First published in 1984, this book changed life of many IT people around the world.
This book describes accurately what hackers look like from the 40’s to the 90’s, from isolated mainframe nerds to the computer revolution that changed our world forever, and the birth of the “hacker ethic” around the DEC PDP computer in MIT.
An inspiring “documentary book” for all computer nerds.

“Masters of Doom”, by David Kushner

I consider John Carmack and John Romero as trully computer heroes. From the first Keen to Quake, “Masters of Doom” describes how those guys (and their friends / colleagues at IdSoftware) revolutionized the video game and computer industry in early 90’s.
The book is well written, and full of great stories.
Also, it is very interesting to read how they developed their hacker spirits via video games and computers, and how the previous book I mentioned (“Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution“) forged them.

“Code: The Hidden Language of Computer Hardware and Software”, by Charles Petzold

Do you want to know everything behind the scenes of computer hardware and software, from atoms to assembly language? If yes, this is a book for you!
I would say that this book can be an introduction to “Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution”, as it describes how Human was ingenious enough to manipulate language and invent new means of communicating with each other.
A must read for curious people and hackers.

(Science)Fiction books

“Neuromancer”, by William Gibson

A science fiction masterpiece, written and released before the release of the first Macintosh in 1984, that exposes one of the most brilliant vision of the twentieth century.
Just “Wow”.

The “Millenium” trilogy, from Stieg Larsson

A brilliant trilogy with one of the most charismatic figures of the 21st century: Lisbeth Salander.
From a complete description of Sweden in its sad moments to the striking psychology of its characters, the first trilogy exposes a crazy, gripping story about murders, hacking, and misogyny.

Comic books

“Scott Pilgrim”, by Bryan Lee O’Malley

Fun, geeky, including a great love story.
For all comic books / manga lovers.

“V for Vendetta”, by Alan Moore

Who said that comic books are apolitical…?
The comic book for adults.

“Wizzywig: Portrait of a Serial Hacker”, by Ed Piskor

From early blue-boxing and phone phreaking days to the Internet, this comic book relates the story of a computer hacker (Kevin Mitnick?) during the 80’s.