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Computer Books For A Library? 509

Basalisk asks: "I've been asked to come up with a list of suggestions for books covering computer subjects that would be appropriate for a public library. Ideally, the books suggested would have a fairly long shelf life and cater to as many different audiences as possible, from the absolute beginner to an experienced geek. What books dealing with computer subjects should a library have on it's shelves?" Considering that library books need to have lasting and generalized value, not just programming fads of the month, what books would you recommend for a desert-island library collection? What books won't you give up on your tech-library?
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Computer Books For A Library?

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  • Most of my career has been spent as the engineering liaison to operations, supporting embedded products, thus the systems category is one which I know well enough to make suggestions. If I made recommendations for books in other fields, I'd be doing a disservice to anybody who read my post, as I wouldn't know the difference, for example, between a good user interface book and a great one.

    Perhaps you are knowledgeable enough in one of the aforementioned fields that you can give knowledgeable recommendations, beyond 'my professor said this one is really good'?


  • My short list, in no particular order:
    • The Art of Computer Programming -- Knuth
    • Advanced Programming in the UNIX Environment -- Stevens
    • C/C++/Java How To Program -- Deital & Deital stupid titles, good beginning books
    • The Practical SQL Handbook -- Bowman
    • Joe Celko's SQL for Smarties
    • Essential System Administration -- Frisch
    • TCP/IP Network Administration -- Hunt
    • Modern Operating Systems --- Tanenbaum
    • The Mythical Man Month -- Brooks
    • The C++ Programming Language -- Stroustroup
    • Generic Programming and the STL... -- Austern
    • Computer Networks -- Tanenbaum
    • Upgrading and Repairing PCs -- Mueller
    • Applied Cryptography -- Schneir
    • C Programming Language -- K&R
    • Internetworking with TCP/IP 1, 2 & 3 -- Comer
    • Unix Network Programming 1&2-- Stevens
    Nothing else comes to mind offhand...

  • I'm a fan of computer history and there's nothing wrong with fiction. Here's some other stuff to throw into the mix.

    • Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution
      by Steven Levy
    • Cuckoo's Egg: Tracking a Spy Through the Maze of Computer Espionage
      by Cliff Stoll
    • Microserfs
      by Douglas Coupland
  • Algorithms in C -- Sedgewick

    Please tell me you're joking. This is probably one of the worst books on the subject I have ever read. The algorithm descriptions themselves aren't bad, but the code examples are horrendous. There are countless examples of bad coding style, not the least of which is the use of the letter "ell" as a variable name. Sure, it's compact, but it makes understanding the code very difficult. Often it's tough to tell whether a variable or numeric constant is being used.

    Rivest, et. al. have a much better algorithms book. The writing style is clearer and it covers more material. The section on complexity alone makes the book far superior to Sedgewick.


  • by rafa ( 491 )
    Learning Python
    programming Python
    , both featuring Mark Lutz, and published by O'Reilly.

    Learning python is a very good book to introduce someone to python programming, and programming in general. Python as a language is easy to get to grips with, and free.

    Programming Python is a good reference work to go along with python's online documentation and is a great book to have. Both are well written and easy to read.

  • by servo8 ( 572 ) on Monday July 30, 2001 @02:44PM (#2181775)
    Addison-Wesley's "Design Patterns" tends to be language-agnostic and focuses on actual object designs which have survived the test of time. Very useful for anyone involved in OO work.
  • While not strictly a computer book, The Mythical Man Month is essential reading for anyone interested in software or engineering in general. No library is complete without it.
  • How very predictable that everyone in here would suggest Knuth. The sad thing about that is that noone has ever read the whole tome. Most of us (no, I haven't either) didn't even make it past the first 100 pages. Partly because it's very dense and difficult, but also partly because it's written in a incredibly dull and uninteresting way.

    I have read the whole tome, 2nd edition. I did make it past the first 100 pages. But I also 100% agree with you that it is hard to read, heavy on the maths, and the style of writing is definitely dull.

    Knuth can write well (TeXBook proves that) but TAOCP isn't an easy read. I certainly wouldn't recommend it for a public library. It is far more appropriate for a specialised library (eg, the university library).

    But it's a great way to show people how smart you are, which, I presume, is all you wanted to do.

    Amen. /. is full of posers. And I'm no role model because I've just been a poser too by admitting to having read all of TAOCP. It's an easy trap to fall into.

  • by Nate Fox ( 1271 ) on Monday July 30, 2001 @04:31PM (#2181779)
    Absolutely Life-Changing..., December 27, 2000
    Reviewer: Paul Sorano (see more about me) from Ft. Lauderdale, FL
    OH MY! I am so glad I purchased this guide. I went from hardly knowing how to turn my computer on to making $1000's of dollars in weeks, just by simply running a website on the internet. Thanks so much for introducing this easy to follow guide. Nothing could have been easier! You have truly outdone yourselves!!

    I'm a bit skeptical: this comment was written during the boom. ;)

    If Bill Gates had a nickel for every time Windows crashed...
  • by Foaf ( 1882 ) on Monday July 30, 2001 @03:25PM (#2181782) Homepage
    How about all the back issues and a subscription to Dr Dobbs? There have been hundreds of articles by notable programmers over the years, not to mention Jon Bentleys columns that eventually became the two editions of Programming Pearls
  • by djKing ( 1970 ) on Monday July 30, 2001 @03:16PM (#2181783) Homepage Journal
    Refactoring: Improving the Design of Existing Code
    By Martin Fowler.

    What I love about this book, is that it starts with bad code and transforms it into good code. The book defines what is and is not good code, with clear examples. As many new developers start out maintaining bad code, this is a must for new OO developers.

    In the Java course I teach I recomend the Refactoring book followed by the Design Pattern book.


  • Debugging the Development Process, Code Complete, Rapid Development and a variety of other books from Microsoft Press.

    The Mythical Man Month is another good book.
  • Of the computing books [] I've reviewed, some are now totally useless [], while others [] will probably still be valuable in another century.


  • I must admit that Corman/Leisterson/Rivast is a much more useful Algorithms book to me.
  • You couldn't be called a library if you didn't have books on PostScript:
    1. PostScript Language Program Design

    2. PostScript Language Reference manual
      PostScript Language Tutorial and Cookbook
    These are the so-called Green, Red and Blue books. In a tutorial fashio, a highly- recommended PostScript book is:
    1. Real World postScript
    All of the abovefrom Addison-Wesley.
    A somewhat antiquated 2/3D graphics programming book is called
    1. Computer Graphics Software Construction
    (ISBN 0-13-162793-7) published by Prentice Hall. it is not very current, but is a respectable work that will get you aquainted with graphics primitives, all the way up to basic 3D surface spline calculations.
    And if you're interested is learning how Holywood does it,
    1. The Renderman Companion

    describes this fantastic retained rendering language. This one, too, published by Addison-Wesley.

    Karma karma karma karma karmeleon: it comes and goes, it comes and goes.
  • Nice to see a mention of the "Macintosh Human Interface Guidelines."

    I'd add Tufte's "The Visual Display of Quantitative Information," "Envisioning Information," and "Visual Explanations." Also Laurel's "The Art of Human-Computer Interface Design," Tognazzini's "Tog on Interface" and "Tog on Software Design" and Raskin's "The Humane Interface."

    Programming is great - but these are books you'll want if you want people to want to use your program, and to enjoy doing so. Most of the world's not propeller heads, and even said heads can see their lives improve with good UI. (do you still punch cards and program with switches?)

    I'd also add Flack and Wiese's "The Story About Ping" for a nice high-level explanation of ping(8).
  • by ChaosDiscord ( 4913 ) on Monday July 30, 2001 @06:31PM (#2181796) Homepage Journal

    C++ may not be "timeless," but it's here now, and will be here for many years. Besides, improving yourself in one language helps reveal patterns and designs in other languages. C++ will be influencing language design for a long time.

    So, here are a few C++ oriented books that I'm very fond of. All of them helped me improve as a programmer, not just in C++.

    If you're working in C++, you probably want The Design and Evolution of C++ [] by Bjarne Stroustrup []. If you're a C programmer considering C++, you need this book. It really helps get your mind wrapped around the language. C++ may be a mess, but at least you'll understand why it's a mess, and why it really couldn't have succeeded any other way. By understanding why C++ is C++ (and not, say, Java or C#), you'll write faster, cleaner C++. Even if you don't see C++ as the future, armed with the knowledge in this book you can better judge other languages.

    For useful ways to improve your coding right away, I'm fond of Steve Maguire []'s Writing Solid Code [] and Scott Meyer []'s pair Effective C++ [] and More Effective C++ []. Both will give you little improvements that will improve your code tomorrow, next year, and in five years. Parts of all of these books apply to any language. (My copy of Effective C++ is going on 10 years old, and I still find it helpful to reread occasionally.)

  • But A Pattern Language [] is a good book for thinking in terms of "greater than the sum of the parts". It talks in terms of architecture, but it can apply in multiple fields. It's a tough one to slog through, and definitely not the first book for a programmer-in-training, but good to round off the top of that sharp CS peak you might get from a daily dose of Knuth.

    Another, very very important book to add (and all geeks and nerds should buy and read) is Strunk & White's Elements of Style []. Imperitive to learning how to write clearly and concisely, which is terribly important when it comes time to document.

  • It's a slim, expensive tome, but absolutely indispensable

    Seconded. I picked up a copy at my local B&N and had to specifically ask for it. Shocked that a volume as important as this wasn't out on the shelves, it was explained to me that this particular book had a habit of growing legs and running off. I hope the library in question has a good theft-prevention system.

  • Can't believe I haven't seen this guy's name yet in this thread...

    W. Richard Stevens, "Advanced Programming in the UNIX Environment".
  • I agree with the above, and would suggest the following to supplement these:

    Tanenbaum, "Structured Computer Organisation" - a very well written, accessible volume explaining how computers are actually organized.

    Rich, Knight, "Artificial Intelligence" - a good introductory text to this field.

    Glassner, et. al., "Graphics Gems" - a series of volumes that (if you can afford them) collects everything you need graphics-wise in an encyclopedic, rather than narrative, format.

    Boolos, Jeffrey, "Computabgility and Logic" - Another introductory text that is great reading for anybody interested in the field of computability (and you even get to prove Gödel's theorem!).

    There are others that are true classics (the Cinderella book comes to mind) but as you are asking for titles for a general-interst library they might be a bit too obscure.

  • Why, in my day, the public library had three books on computers: A spanish language introduction to programming on System 370 assembly language, a book devoted to prettyprinting PL/I programs, and a Fortran book
    (from which I gained much knowledge.) That was
    1977. A few years later, they had a shelf of similarly obsolete texts, but never anything really enlightening. I'm referring to the central
    library in Dallas, Texas, a library designed by Frank Lloyd Wright that probably housed several million books.

    Today, I would still not expect to find the whole Addison-Wesely catalog or even a single O'Reilly
    book in any library east of California. (IN California, I expect to see these books at the convenience store, or rather, have seen, in Mountain View at least!)

    I wonder how many W. Richard Stevens texts are available at your average public library? How about the Sun Java series, or even the Solaris System Administrators Guides? Knuth? Booch?
    Jacobsen? Rumbaugh?

    Hard computer science books, starting with Cormen Leiserson and Rivest: Introduction to Algorithms,
    and Knuth: The Art of Computer Programming.

    O'Reilly books seem to find themselves neither on library shelves nor as primary texts for university classes. I wonder if it is because of the marketing niche that ORA has carved out as more of an independent publisher. At least, recent years have seen the availability of these types of books at chain bookstores.

    If I could have put my hands on Introduction to Algorithms and on various Automata texts when I was at my peak of mathematical aptitude, I would be much further along academically than I am now.

  • >Want any MS Dos 3.0 programming books?

    Actually... well... no, but I had to
    pause to think about it... I still refer, not infrequently, to the Programmer's Guide to the IBM
    PC, by Peter Norton.
    Every time I'm tempted to move it from my bookshelf to storage, I end up referring to it,
    so it stays.

    I keep an old 2-volume Solaris book around, knowing that Sparc's DON'T COME WITH MANUALS,
    and the manuals you do get aren't particularly useful.

    I'd love to have a copy of David Ahl's 101 Basic Computer Games, but even I tossed things that old.

    Strategy guides to some of the old games? Sure,
    (not to mention the abandonware issue!)

    I suppose the list goes on. Let's see, I can donate my extra copy of Stevens Unix Network Programming I, a whole shelf of Java 1.x books,
    "The Teachings of Buddha" which was in a hotel room instead of Gideon's Bible(!), the novelisation of Girl, Interrupted, an english-spanish dictionary with no cover, and *maybe* my extra Programming Perl-2nd-ed.

    That's about all I can part with, and I just might
    hoof them down to my local library.

    I'm finding that in my community, in these economic good times, the used bookstore has taken the role traditionally filled by the library.
    I realize that doesn't really bring literacy to the poor, but it is a phenomenon that I've observed. Books change hands from peer to peer and through such a vehicle as a used book seller, and these are the very people who would, in other circumstances, be a frequent library patron.

    I don't mean to diminish the other services that are provided by libraries of course. I just tallied up the CS books I still want to buy this year, and I'm over $1000. Not counting what adding a shelf will cost!! A library might let
    me try-before-I-buy or even read-instead-of-buy.
    The costs of these books doesn't bother me at all
    though, and I wish this could somehow be a datapoint in the whole copyright/artist-gets-paid misunderstanding.

    thank you for your pixels

  • >Advanced C: Tips and Techniques

    I had a college class with this as the textbook, and an instructor who was programming industrial robotics (day job) while teaching our class. Outstanding book!
    I still go here first, if presented with questions about operator precedence or multidimensional pointer arithmetic, it's always on the shelf right next to K&R, and makes a good complement to it.

    I also heartily recommend Bruce Eckel's Thinking in C++.

    In the C++ textbook department, a local University teaches an intro programming course with Gary Bronson, _A First Book of C++: From Here to There_ 0-314-04236-9; If I were teaching
    such a class, I'd enjoy using this text, although
    it does speak from a procedural design standpoint in the early chapters.

  • For the timeless, good reading shelf:
    • Steve McConnell's Code Complete and Rapid Development
    • Stephen Levy's Hackers
    • Cliff Stoll's Silicon Snake Oil
    • Douglas Coupland's Microserfs
    • The Cathedral and the Bazaar

    For the practical, replace-every-3-years, people-will-find-them-useful shelf:
    • The Dummies books on the most basic stuff everyone uses: MS Word, MS Excel, Excel macros, and the current versions of Windows. The series as a whole is very spotty, but these are solid, helpful guides.
    • Judith Bowman's Practical SQL Handbook. A solid, easy-to-follow tutorial in the basics of SQL that won't go stale. The same can't be said for the bundled CD of an old Sybase personal server.
    • Unix System Administration Handbook, 3rd Edition, by Hein, Nemeth, Seebass et al., a great warhorse that always opens to something useful. Possibly the only pure "Unix" book better than its O'Reilly counterpart. So well done that the last edition, some 10 years old now, is still useful, a real rarity in reference titles. I'd give this one a good 5-7 years of use.
    • O'Reilly's Learning Perl. As an intro tutorial, and a very good one, it should remain useful longer than a reference title.
    • An HTML tutorial and O'Reilly's XHTML and Javascript books. Maybe. They'll be more obsolete than a PDP-8 book in a few years, but they'll get used now.
    • A book on DIY PC repair. In paperback. With lots of pictures and step-by-step instructions. It will be laughable in a decade, but I think library patrons would find it useful.
    • A tutorial on Visual Basic.

    In general, I'd skip all but the most elegant half dozen or so books on programming languages because of the shelf-life issue. Think Kernighan and Ritchie on C and maybe things like Bruce Eckel's Thinking in Java, which is as timelessly abstract a Java book as I've seen. But Java will be unrecognizable in 5 years, so tread lightly here.

    Get nothing on web development other than an HTML book or two. Those are useless after one year, never mind five.

  • The recommendations here, while excellent books in the main, are virtually all books for programmers.

    Some books for system administrators would be a very good idea (I'd imagine there's some O'Reilly guides which would be a good place to start), a user's guide to Linux or two would be appropriate, and a smattering of books on Windows, MacOS, and popular applications for each would be appropriate.

    In addition, some "perspective" books would be appreciated by library users. A couple of suggestions to start with - The New Hacker's Dictionary (the print version of the Jargon File), In The Beginning Was The Command Line by Neal Stephenson, and The Emperor's New Mind by Roger Penrose (not that I agree with a lot of what he says, but it's still a great read). Others?

    Go you big red fire engine!

  • Here is my editing of the above list with a little more focus on sys admin. I like some of the hacking exposed books for computer security(or northrup's intrusion detection). But they seem a little to placed in time. Any ideas on a good timeless security book? UNIX System Administration Handbook []

    Essential System Administration []

    Computer Networks []

    Interconnections, Second Edition []

    TCP/IP Illustrated, Volume 1: The Protocols []

    Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs []

    The Mythical-Man Month []

    Modern Operating Systems []

    The Art of Computer Programming, All 3 Volumes []

    Programming Perl (3rd Edition) []

    Applied Cryptography []

  • I have a rather extensive library. Of the books in my library, these are the ones that a) have lasting value as I have been using these books for years and/or b)are excellent learning and training manuals.

    Most of them are practical experience books, ie no "pure" research books.

    "The Practice of Programming" Kernighan Pike
    "The C programming language" Kernighan Pike
    "Writing MS-DOS Device Drivers" Lai
    "Compilers Principles, Techniques, and Tools" Aho Sethi Ullman
    "Algorithms in C" Sedgewick
    "Multithreading Applications in Win32" Beveridge Wiener

    Coriolis Group Books
    "Graphics Programming Black Book" Abrash

    Morgan Kaufmann Publishers
    "Joe Celko's SQL for Smarties: Advanced SQL Programming" Celko
    SQL Puzzles by Celko as well, can't find my copy

    Prentice Hall
    "Internetworking with TCP/IP Volumes 1-3" Comer Stevens
    "C How to Program" Deitel/Deitel

    Microsoft Press
    "Writing Solid Code" Maguire
    "Code Complete" McConnell

    "Applied Cryptography" Schneier

    "Encyclopedia of Graphics File Formats" Murray & Vanryper
    "Practical UNIX & Internet Security" Garfinkey & Spafford
    "Essential System Administration" Frisch
    "Programming Perl" Wall Christiansen Schwartz
    "Mastering Algorithms with Perl" Orwant Hietaniemi Macdonald

    "Linux Socket Programming by Example" Gay

    "TCP/IP Blueprints" Burk, Blight, Lee, et al

    "The Mythical Man Month" Lent out at the moment

    Out of print books
    "Peter Norton's guide to the PC" Norton

  • by ansible ( 9585 ) on Monday July 30, 2001 @03:22PM (#2181817) Journal

    Ack! I can't believe that no one has mentioned Object Oriented Software Construction (2nd Edition) by Bertrand Meyer.

    Though you may not always agree with what he says, he brings a rigor and thoughtfulness to OO design. This book can help you understand how stuff like multiple inheritance should work. He also gives some interesting ideas on things like parallel programming in an OO world... something beyond just threads and semaphores.

    Even if you don't (or can't) program in Eiffel (the language used in the book) I believe this hefty tome (1000+ pages) can improve your design ability.

  • Since I haven't seen it anywhere in the top few postings: Algorithms + Data Structures = Programs, by Wirth.

  • Obviously people are going for Kernighan, Knuth and various dry tomes on algorithms, but I'd suggest Mr. Bunny's Big Cup O' Java [], a snip at $12. It's not instructive in a technical sense, but its purpose is to warn the reader off buzzwords and bullshit computer manuals through satire and nonsense. Tim Lindhom (JVM spec. co-author): Mr. CE III does have a way of capturing the industry patois and spewing it back as absurdity. Well, at least it made me snigger loudly in a crowded bookshop, so make of it what you will.
  • by wirefarm ( 18470 ) <`jim' `at' `'> on Monday July 30, 2001 @04:37PM (#2181835) Homepage
    CJ Date's "Introduction To Database Systems"
    Great book.
    All of the O'Reilly books.
    Mythical Man Month.
    Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman.
    The K & R C book.

    That would do it for me...

    Jim in Tokyo

    Have no clue about firewalls? []
  • It sounds kind of lame, but you should get some topical textbooks, not just ones like Java in a Nutshell (though I would recommend a copy of that), but also some AI, Neural Network, Graphics, and Operating Systems books. These books have a long shelf life and lasting value, so they won't go out of style. Also, perhaps a couple C/C++ programming books. Theory is always a good thing. Then I would get some really beginner sorts of books as well. I think that the best way to start if you're working on a monthly budget sort of deal is to get topical reference books first, and work your way to more fad/language oreinted books that won't have so long a shelf life. Also, try to stick to ANSI standards, as they are the ones that will be the most applicable across platforms. IE, get a book on ANSI C, and maybe hold off on the one on Visual C++. Try to cover a smattering of topics and things that are of general academic interest more in depth rather than getting several books on a single language.

    Perhaps you could generate some usage reports using the online catalog, see what the people are checking out, and buy more in that direction. If you bought a sampling of books from many different subjects, and then looked on the catalog to see which ones are out the most, you could tailor your library to what the local interest seems to be.
  • "Hot Grits! A Users Guide to Posting on Slashdot" You gotta admit, it does have potential ;)
  • Brooks, Fred, The Mythical Man-Month -- Because it woke the world up to how to build big systems.

    On a similar note you should have "Rapid Development" by Steve McConnell. This is a great book on how to apply the lessons learned by Fred Brooks in the real world.

  • My list is geared toward providing a good research base for technical people and folks that want to become technical people. Here are the hard-core technical books:
    • The Art of Computer Programming, volumes I-III - Donald Knuth
    • The Mythical Man-Month - Fred Brooks
    • Peopleware - Tom DeMarco & Timothy Lister
    • The Psychology of Computer Programming - Gerald M. Weinberg
    • Compilers: Principles, Techniques and Tools - Aho, Sethi, and Ullman
    • Compiler Design in C or Compiler Design in Java - Allen Hollub
    • C+C++ Programming With Objects in C and C++ - Allen Hollub
    • Object-Oriented Programming: An Evolutionary Approach - Cox & Novobilski
    • Computer Architecture: A Quantitative Approach - Hennesy & Patterson
    • The C Programming Language - Kernighan & Ritchie
    • The UNIX Programming Environment - Kernighan & Pike
    • Information Theory - Claude E. Shannon
    • Claude Elwood Shannon: Collected Papers - Sloane and Wyner
    • Cybernetics - Norbert Wiener
    • Numerical Recipes in C - Press, Vetterling, Teukolsky, & Flannery
    • Operating System Design: The XINU Approach - Douglass Comer
    • Operating System Concepts - Silberschatz & Galvin
    • Mobile Robotics: Inspiration to Implementation - Jones & Flynn
    • Tog on Software Design - Bruce Tognazzini
    And, for the non-technical end of things, more history oriented:
    • The Soul of a New Machine - Tracy Kidder
    • Fire in the Valley: The Making of the Personal Computer - Freiberger & Swaine
    • IBM's Early Computers - Bashe, Johnson, Palmer & Pugh
    • The Cathedral and the Bazaar - Eric S. Raymond (I'm not a karma whore, I'm more of a self-promoter: I'm in the acknowledgements)
    • The Age of Intelligent Machines - Raymond Kurzweil (not to be confused with his more recent book The Age of Spiritual Machines, which is likely a load of tripe, but may be worth including anyhow)
    • Freedom's Edge: The Computer Threat to Society - Milton R. Wessel (a much saner analysis of the effect of computers on our culture than Kurzweil's recent book)
    Otherwise, I'd get some stuff on relational database theory and design (the book by C. J. Date is widely used, though nearly unreadable), a few books about other languages (both common and rare, you should at least have books on Java, Pascal, Lisp, Fortran and BASIC, but it shouldn't be too hard to construct a set covering far more), as well as some books about assorted kinds of hardware (a couple of microprocessor books -- 6502, Z80, 68000, 8086/8088 -- as well as some of the older minis and mainframes -- CDC 6600, PDP-11, DEC VAX, IBM 360 -- along with a few books on specific models of personal computers -- Apple II, Macintosh, IBM-PC -- should satisfy most people's curiosity). You might top it off with some non-computer books about electronics and methematics, but I don't know what to suggest there.

    You should be able to find some very nice deals on a number of these books at used bookstores. Some of the books are out of print, so this may be your only real option. Amazon has links to used bookstores, and many of them have their own websites if you are still mad at Amazon over the one-click patent stuff. I'd suggest Powell's Books [] in Portland, they've got a better selection than I've seen almost anywhere else, and they deliver.

  • I'll second this nomination. I discovered this book (Computer Power and Human Reason) in my library while finding books for my own list. I haven't any idea where or when I bought it, but I'm reading it now, and it is really good. I'd put it under the non-technical/historical/philosophical category. A good companion piece to Freedom's Edge and Kurzweils recent load of hooey (The Age of Spiritual Machines not to be confused with his earlier book, The Age of Intelligent Machines which is actually quite good).

    I also thought of a few more books that deserve to be mentioned: A number of books by Edward Yourdon (Structured Analysis and Design The Decline and Fall of the American Programmer and The Rise and Resurection of the American Programmer should pretty well cover Yourdon) are good to have, even if his theses are no longer much in vogue. Similarly, the OO books by Grady and Booch are worth having, along with some UML, Use Cases and Patterns related texts.

    Finally, there was a little hippy-trippy book I ran into back in college in the early nineties, but was never able to find again later. The title was Digital Memory and was some kind of treatise on Peace, Love, and Interactive Computing. It actually had a few interesting things to say, even if the tone was a bit on the too-much-THC-in-my-bloodstream side.

  • "Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs" by Abelson and Sussman (MIT Press).

    One of the most eye-opening and amazing books on CS. It's based on scheme ('the' elegant dialect of Lisp) and takes a no-holds barred approach to introducing oversimplifications (e.g., data + program) and then turning them on their heads for great instruction.

    A (so far) timeless classic.

    = Joe =
  • Yes! "Advanced Programming in the Unix Environment", which is part of the same series from Richard Stevens, is my trusted companion as a C programmer making the escape from Microsoft to Linux.

    And it's not Linux specific - it's pretty much POSIX, and does talk about some of the differences between implementations where they matter.

    An excellent and comprehensive set of books.

    Torrey Hoffman (Azog)
  • Some of the long shelf-life Windows programming books:

    • Programming Windows -- Charles Petzold
    • Programming Windows with MFC -- Jeff Prosise (though I shudder to think of more MFC programmers)
    • Win32 Multithreaded Programming -- Cohen and Woodring
    • Network Programming for Microsoft Windows -- Jones and Ohlund
    • Professional NT Services -- Kevin Miller

    And a non-Windows goodie I haven't seen mentioned:

    • Assembly Language Step-by-Step -- Jeff Duntemann
  • While this book is probably entirely not about computers (ok except for the part about the punchcards going faster), i think you're brings up a really good point.

    I think the goal of libraries should be to drum up interest for the topic in question, not necessarilty provide hardcore reference books. Extrapolating to physics Six Easy Pieces [] and the two Feynman [] pseudoautobiographies [] do a fantastic job at getting people interested in science, while his berkley lectures have a lot less appeal, even though they're probably better for your local physics majors.

    Consider this. Say you're interested in physics. Would you want to read Six not so easy pieces [], a relatively easy book that deals with relativity, or the chapter on relativity in Classical dynamics of particles and systems [], which i can barely understand, even after using it in class for a year?

    This is exactly what we're doing when we recommend things like Halabi [] or most [] random [] O'Reilly [] books []. Why do we like O'Reilly? because when i need to know the name of the object that controls blabla, then I can look it up. Quickly. Having a book that tells you that ListCellRenderer has 1 method called getListCellRendererComponent really has limited value to most people.

    Learning Perl [] is great, because it's an introductory book (but even that is a lot easier to read if you already know C). O'Reilly does have a lot of good books that cover introductory topics (incidentally, i own none of them), but just because it's on your bookshelf and probably is the most kickass book on it's topic, that doesn't mean it's entirely suitable for your public library.

  • Yes. Yes. Yes.

    Why hasn't anybody mentioned any good photoshop books? i sure as hell wish i knew photoshop in highschool, i may not have owned it, but my computer lab had it. In my experience, having photoshop experience is way way way more pratical on a widescale than say, what you learn from the dragon book. Books on popular programs, like Photoshop don't only appeal to the geeks, but also the artsy people, and even just random people who say, have to design a small advertisement at work or something.

    I'm sure every book that every person has suggested is a good book. I own a lot of them as well. I do not think my public library necessarily should though, in the grand scheme of things how many people really care about compiler design?

    It's not like these books are entirely inaccessible, that's what your local state college/university's library is for, because they already have these things. Imho the goal of a public library should be to cater to mass appeal, and not very many of these suggested books do this. Mass appeal is introductory and intermediate books on HTML and javascript, not on compiler design and BGPv4.

  • by figment ( 22844 ) on Monday July 30, 2001 @06:09PM (#2181851)
    > The only problem with the "For Dummies" books
    > is that they are tailored for one version of
    > any particular subject without really
    > explaining the fundamentals of what's happening

    Yes. But imho, that's exactly what we want for libraries. I think the idea should be to drum up interest for different things, and the "For dummies" books do these things quite well. They are (or at least try to be) mildly entertaining (in contrast you cannot read Java in a Nutshell [] as evening reading material.

    While we shouldn't just limit ourselves to shallow books, we do not need the most expert books either. Someone earlier suggested Halabi [] (which i treat as my bible), but it really has limited use in a public library, anyone who needs the book will purchase it because they need it 24/7. A more reasonable book would be TCP/IP Network Adminstration [] which allows people to learn the basics, and points them in the right direction if they desire to learn more. I even think the Cricket book [] is inappropriate because although it really explains dns well, it also explains why you cannot point an MX to a CNAME (and if i didn't administer a couple DNS servers, i wouldn't care in the least why this was), when a book on how the general internet works could supply so much more pertinent information for the money.

    > In a couple of years they will be out of date,
    > and you'll have to buy a new set.

    Probably true, but i don't think they go out of date any faster than any other programming book (especially html/javascript variants). Also "For dummies" books are comparitively cheap. Last I checked Dummies books went for $20, now they're going for anywhere from $25~40. With the notable exception of O'rielly, most books now go for ~$50~60, so you are able to get a broader scope of things with the Dummies books.

    My personal library is almost exclusively O'Rielly and Cisco Press, i don't think there is very much of a debate that these are probably the best reference books out there, but imho it's not what my local public library needs.

  • by sohp ( 22984 ) <> on Monday July 30, 2001 @02:53PM (#2181852) Homepage
    Brooks, Fred, The Mythical Man-Month -- Because it woke the world up to how to build big systems.

    Schneier, Bruce Applied Cryptography -- Because libraries should have the books THEY don't want you to read.

    DeMarco, Tom, and Timothy Lister, Peopleware: Productive Projects and Teams -- How programmers working in teams actually get things done.

    Gamma, Helm, Johnson, & Vlissides, Design Patterns -- Landmark book on developing with objects

    Knuth, Donald, The Art of Computer Programming, Knuth -- Landmark classic

    Alexander, Christopher A Pattern Language, ChristopherAlexander, et. al., and Timeless Way of Building -- Thinking about programs that people can actually use.

  • ...I'm going to recommend a book from (gasp!) Microsoft Press. If ever they institute some sort of formal test before people are let loose on poor innocent computers, Code Complete should be the programmer's equivalent of the Highway Code.

    It's full of good advice, and there's nothing in there that's particularly language-dependent. My one complaint would be the lack of solid OO coverage - a book that addresses the same sort of issue for OO languages would be great as well.

    Code Complete at Amazon []

    For more specific information on MS systems, I think the one text book that covers everything you need to know in sufficient detail is Mr Bunny's Guide to ActiveX [] - if you haven't read this book and are currently developing for MS platforms, stop now. You can read the book too, but that's entirely optional.

    And before I'm inundated by anti-Microsoft zealots accusing me of only putting forward pro-MS books, might I also recommend the remarkable Mr Bunny's Big Cup o' Java [], which will teach you everything, something, or even less about Java, and possibly a little about rabbits.

  • Yes, but all the content CAN'T be had in digital form. There are many forces that would rather not have data available digitally-- at least, not until they can charge you by the minute. Right now, scientists are planning on boycotting scientific journals that won't permit scientific works to be made available online.

    Libraries are also commonly supplied with computers for web surfing, which helps get lower-income people involved in this whole great digital playground.

    And which would you rather read in bed: a book or a laptop?

    Some books IN a library may be obsolete, certainly I never read computer magazines any more, but libraries themselves-- not for a long time yet.

    Nice troll.
  • One book I'd reccomend is "Thinking in Java" by Bruce Eckel. Another very excellent book recently released is "Effective Java" by Josh Bloch, written in the same style as "Effective C++" (which you should proabbly also get!). Yet another great choice is "Concurrent programming in Java" which is a great book about multithreaded programming and seems like it would be good source material for threads in just about any language as it's really more about patterns to use in threaded programming.

    I wish I could think of some better books to learn programming from scratch, as there don't seem to be many suggestion in that area. Perhaps "Scheme and the Art Of Programming"? That coupled with a simple scheme implementation to learn from would be great - I think suggestions of Ruby and Python to learn are also good.
  • I'd reccomend "The Design and Evolution of C++" by Bjarne Stroustrup, which is specific to C++ but gives you a lot of insight into how a language forms and I think is a great read no matter what language you like to use.

  • But these two books are rather important. While not computer how-to books, they should be read by everyone who is thinking of picking up the other books:

    1) High Tech Heretic : Reflections of a Computer Contrarian
    By Clifford Stoll

    Do we need computers everywhere, particularly in schools? Nope. Not necessarily. Although some of us have made them the be all and end all of our lives, it's not normal, and shouldn't be expected.

    Easy to read, easy to understand, tough to refute.

    2) In the Beginning...Was the Command Line

    By Neal Stephenson

    You don't need to program Apple Basic (or mainframe Fortran, or other archaic things) to be able to use computers. But this book is another nice, non-technical addition to a complete computer bookshelf.

  • Besides the already mentioned (Kernighan&Ritchie, Stroustrup etc. etc.) I would vote for the following:

    Lamport: Latex, a document preparation system

    Goosens et al: The Latex Compation

    Nemeth et al: Unix system administration

    Gamma et al: Design patterns

    Butenhof: Programming with Posix threads

    Meyers: Effective C++

    A good data structures book in C/C++ (unsure, I haven't yet found one I'm completely comfortable with)

    The X windows series from O'Reilly, since even if GTK and Qt are the flavor of the moment, if one learns how to program in Xlib/Xt/Motif, one can pick up pretty much anything.

  • The Art of Computer Programming, of course!
  • Surely You're Joking Mister Feynman by Richard P. Feynman

    This was actually a text for a few Penn State compsci courses (though it was optional).

    I also liked Peopleware by Tom Demarco and Timothy Lister

  • by LetterRip ( 30937 ) on Monday July 30, 2001 @03:15PM (#2181873)
    That no one has suggested

    Code Complete


    Rapid Development

    they are two of the most important computer (programmer) books out there...

  • Besides the two Microsoft Books that some people have said to stay away from (Writing Solid Code and Rapid Development) I'd have to say just about anything published by Dorset House [] These Include books that have been recommended here before such as:
    • Peopleware
    But I'll add some more:
    • Are Your Lights On?
    • Becoming a Technical Leader
    • Creating a Software Engineering Culture
    • Designing Quality Databases with IDEF1X Information Models
    • An Introduction to General Systems Thinking: Silver Anniversary Edition
    • Managing Expectations: Working with People Who Want More, Better, Faster, Sooner, NOW!
    You'll notice that a LOT of these books are by Weinberg - You can also add all four volumes of "Quality Software Management" once the developer gets a bit more advanced You'll notice a pattern here - Not ONE of these books is about a particular language. They are about HOW to develop projects. Language books go out of date - FAST. Books on HOW to be a programmer LAST, some of these books have been in publication for more than 25 years and are not out of date.
  • Artificial Intelligence - A Modern Approach [] by Stuart Russell and Peter Norvig is a great book that explains many concepts in AI. It is the book the most used in Universities around the world to teach this subject. It is not language specific, covers most aspects of AI, is okay for beginners, and goes in the details...

    I really enjoyed this book and think it is a great buy.
  • Speaking of O'Reilly:

    here is the website you'll want, []
  • "30 years ago, linked lists might have been novel, but today, anyone who doesn't understand them and claims to have some programming knowledge is a fool."

    1. There's much more to TAOCP than linked lists, and I doubt you would claim to know every technique presented therein - or even half of them.

    2. The idea is to get books for a library, where people who are learning programming might check them out, and be exposed to the fundamentals of computer science.

    3. What is with your attitude?
  • Remember the computer history books - a large collection of these is essential to any library, to see where this all started from, and where it may be heading to.

    There are a few good recently published "History of Computers" books, but honestly, the best way to get a history of computers is to find older computer reference books (ie, books which when sold presented "state-of-the-art" information about computers - I have some real interesting ones from the 40's and 50's).

    Books on Babbage, Pascal, Lord Kelvin, Ada Lovelace, Alan Turing, etc - would also be welcome additions to such a section. Throw in books on Hollerith, as well. Add recent stuff (hacker history - like the Jargon File, etc - and others), as well as more "popular" stuff - like "The Media Lab" and Steven Levy's "Hackers"...

    Gotta know where all this came from, and where are roots are, as well...

    Worldcom [] - Generation Duh!
  • Here are some titles I tend to keep on my shelf. Books that have served me well over the years, and maintained relevance to various aspects of my job

    The Dragon Book (Compilers, principles, techniques and tools) by Aho, Sethi and Ullman

    The Cricket Book (DNS and BIND) by Albitz and Liu

    The Bat Book (Sendmail) Allman and co-conspirators

    The BGP Book (Internet Routing Architectures) Sam Halabi

    A whole bunch of William Stallings books (Cryptography and Network Security, High Speed Nets and ATM Design, SNMP)

    The whole series of Roger L. Freeman's Reference Manual for Telecommunications Engineering.

    Telecommunications Engineer's Reference Book, by Mazda

    At home, I have the classics, Knuth's Art of Computer Programming volumes I to III, The Mythical Man Month, Godel Escher Bach, and many others I can't remember in this inebriated state.

    For a lending library, I'd add the whole of the O'Reilly series, a bunch of Cisco Press, Dilbert and of course User Friendly []

    the AC

  • Imagine checking out the camel book for a week, and getting started on Perl. Then you have to turn it in. Minutes later, you'll need the book again.

    You will probably buy one to keep. You certainly would know the worth of a good reference book, and remember those funny animal sketches.

    the AC
  • The original edition, and the sequel More Programming Pearls. Also, Introduction to Algorithms by Cormen, Leiserson and Rivest is a good basic algorithm reference.
  • this publisher who puts a different animal on the cover of each book. The name escapes [] me at the moment, but I'd try there genius.

  • If you get Design Patterns, get also "Pattern Hatching" by Vlissides (one of the Gang of Four who wrote the original). It's a much thinner tome, and concerns application of patterns - in the first example, it shows how a number of patterns are found in building a filesystem model with symlinks and other basic info.

    Not absolutely neccessary reading, but very useful.

    (BTW, I concur with whoever posted to get the first edition with examples in Smalltalk alongside C++. Smalltalk owns, one of the coolest languages I ever learned in college.)
  • by UnknownSoldier ( 67820 ) on Tuesday July 31, 2001 @05:59AM (#2181915)
    • Design & Evolution of C++, Bjarne Stroustrup
    • Annotated Reference Manual, Bjarne Stroustrup
    • Effective C++: 50 Specific Ways to Improve Your Programs and Design, Scott Meyers
    • More Effective C++: 35 New Ways to Improve Your Programs and Designs, Scott Meyers
    • Thinking in C++: Introduction to Standard C++ Volume One, Bruce Eckel

    Advanced C++
    • Advanced C++ Programming Paradigms and Idioms, James Coplien
    • Design Patterns, Gamma Helm Johnson Vlissides
    • Stl Tutorial & Reference Guide : C++ Programming With the Standard Template Library, David R. Musser
    • Generic Programming and the STL: Using and Extending the C++ Standard Template Library, Matthew H. Austern
    • Effective STL: 50 Specific Ways to Improve Your Use of the Standard Template Library, Scott Meyers

    • Computer Graphics : Principles and Practice, Second Edition in C, Foley, van Dam, Feiner, F. Hughes
    • Graphic Gems I II III IV V
    • OpenGL Programming Guide
    • 3D Game Engine Design : A Practical Approach to Real-Time Computer Graphics, David H. Eberly
    • Jim Blinn's Corner : A Trip Down the Graphics Pipeline, Jim Blinn
    • Jim Blinn's Corner : Dirty Pixels, Jim Blinn

    Game Programming
    • Game Programming Gems 1 & 2
    • Game Architecture and Design, Andrew Rollings
    • 3D Games, Volume 1 : Real-time Rendering and Software Technology, Alan Watt & Fabio Policarpo
    • Game Developer (monthly)

    Software Engineering: (these are the BEST ones, not the long boring ones that put you to sleep)
    • Writing Solid Code,Steve Maguire
    • Rapid Develepment,Steve McConnell
    • Code Complete,Steve McConnell
    • Mythical Man-Month Anniversary Edition,Fred Brooks

    • The CRC Concise Encyclopedia of Mathematics, Eric W. Weisstein
    • Godel, Escher, Bach : An Eternal Golden Braid, Douglas R. Hofstadter
    • The Feynman Lectures on Physics : Commemorative Issue, Richard Phillips Feynman

    Enjoy !

    "The issue today is the same as it has been throughout all history, whether man shall be allowed to govern himself or be ruled by a small elite." - Thomas Jefferson
  • Get _TCP/IP Illustrated_, volumes I, II, and III, all by W. Richard Stevens. These are, hands down, the most informative books regarding the TCP/IP protocol. I have yet to find any other book that contains even a tenth the information that any one of these have, the closest runner-up being O'Reilly's TCP/IP handbook for UNIX admins. Volume I has become required reading at my job (Network Engineer for a large ISP), and I'm sure anyone who works with TCP/IP networks for a living or hobby would find these books invaluable.
  • The three books I have found the most helpful, and recommended to the most people over the last many years would be:

    1. Code Complete by Steve McConnell -- A briliant text on all aspects of software creation, language neutral

    2. Software Project Survival Guide, also by Steve McConnell -- All you wanted to know about the best processes for executing a software project and getting it shipped with your career in one piece

    3. Advanced Programming in the Unix Environment by W. Richard Stevens -- no intro necessary.

  • The first edtion acknowledged that there was more than one OO language/style in the universe, with code examples in Smalltalk, CLOS, etc. The later editions went to pure C++, and lost a lot in the translation.
  • This is part history of AI hacking culture, part history of the AI bubble and how Lucid soared and crashed, and part Gabriel's take on patterns (he thinks they're mostly being used as crib notes to teach beginners how to get around limitations in lowest-common-denominator OO langauges).

    For more info visit his web site [], and particularly the part on Worse is Better []
    • Brooks, Fred, The Mythical Man-Month -- Because it woke the world up to how to build big systems.

    Oh? The world is awake when it comes to the issues concerning how to build big systems?

    I hadn't noticed.

    I do agree with the choice, I'm just disparing at how few project managers and executives I've known really understand something as simple as "adding people to a late project makes it later".

  • How about these books too (shamelessly copied and pasted from Bjarne Stroupstrup's website):
    • Bjarne Stroustrup: The Design and Evolution of C++. Addison Wesley, Reading, MA. 1994. ISBN 0-201-54330-3. 472 pages. Softcover.
    • Margaret A. Ellis and Bjarne Stroustrup: The Annotated C++ Reference Manual. Addison-Wesley, Reading, MA. 1990. ISBN 0-201-51459-1. 478 pages. Hardcover.

  • Advanced C++ Programming Styles and Idioms
    James O. Coplien

    It's a great book for novice C++ programmers. It explained a lot to me. Unlike other books of its kind, it's completely OS-independent.

    Code Complete : A Practical Handbook of Software Construction
    Steve C McConnell

    This is one of those "how to write code that can be maintained by anyone" books. A library can't have too many books like these.
    Lord Nimon

  • Scott Meyers has several good C++ books...
    The first is organized as 50 tips (really concepts) to improve your code.
    The second is 35 more.
    The latest is on STL. I haven't read that one, but based on his previous ones and how long he took to write it, I trust it's also a good read.
  • Numerical Recipies by William Press, Saul Teukolsky, William Vetterling and Brain Flannery.
    There are C, Fortran, Pascal, and Basic versions. Obviously you don't need all. Any one will do. Although the Fortran version has the advantage that it would be contiguous with NR in F90 which is not like any of the others in that it focuses on parallel programming. I'd have to say that NR in F90 isn't nearly as essential as any one of the standard NR texts.
  • by jerdenn ( 86993 ) <> on Monday July 30, 2001 @03:59PM (#2181940)
    avoid everything from Microsoft Press or written by Microsoft employees

    You are mostly correct - one notable exception is Steve McConnell, author of two very notable books - "Code Complete" and "Rapid Development".
  • The most important things to teach students about any subject is diversity. I can't believe how many college grads that I had to interview that thought they were good candidates because they knew all Microsoft stuff. I hired the one who had experience with at least three different environments, and could tell me the pros and cons of each. Give me someone who knows 10 years of A, and someone who knows 5 years of A and 5 years of B, and I'm more likely to hire the latter.

    So I would pick at least O'reilly's "Unix in a Nutshell" [] so you always have your reference.

    And then get "AppleDesign: The Works of the Apple Industrial Design Group" [] to remind you that computers should be more than boring boxes and uninspired designs.

  • I would get Ullman/Aho/Hopcroft's automata book instead. They just came out with a brand new, much more accessible and understandable, yet unchanged in depth, edition (about time! =) )
  • Concrete Mathematics by Grahm, Knuth and Patashnik

    The book unvails the wonderfull world of Mathematics that goes into computer programming. It is a must have in any library, especially if you want to understand TAOCP.

  • by NoRefill ( 92509 ) on Monday July 30, 2001 @02:53PM (#2181953)
    "The Art of Programming Vol. 1-3" by Donald Knuth. The definitive guide to theoretical and practical Computer Science. Check it out [].
  • by renard ( 94190 ) on Monday July 30, 2001 @03:00PM (#2181955)
    For those who use computers as tools to comprehend the world... there is no alternative.

    Numerical Recipes in C: The Art of Scientific Computing [], by William H. Press,Brian P. Flannery,Saul A. Teukolsky,William T. Vetterling.

    To paraphrase the Planet of the Apes star: Anyone who wants my copy can pry it out of my cold, dead hands.


  • by crucini ( 98210 ) on Monday July 30, 2001 @06:12PM (#2181965)
    I'm afraid you may have missed the point. The poster was pointing out that what looked like a good choice to librarians a few years ago looks a bit silly now. And I'll agree; most computer books in public libraries look pretty silly, especially after the first 10 years have gone by. By the same token, the books chosen today are likely to look pretty silly in a decade, although choosing the right ones could minimize that.
    For some reason I have this image of the 'library computer book' with a bunch of black-and-white photos in the middle:
    • Man with glasses and polyester short-sleeved shirt sitting at terminal on expensive computer desk. Caption:The smart terminal allows users to interact with the computer in real time. Courtesy Lear-Seigler corporation.
    • Woman in skirt and heels is crouching to change a tape on a filing-cabinet sized computer. Caption:Minicomputers are becoming increasingly powerful. The unit pictured here can perform hundreds of mathematical calculations per second. Photo courtesy Honeywell Corporation.
    Anyhow, I'm glad libraries keep old irrelevant junk. It gives us a way to measure the passage of time. The commercial world constantly erases and rewrites the past. This is a large part of what DMCA is about - the right of the wealthy to erase the past and rewrite it in their own image, versus the right of the commoner to retain information.
  • by catseye_95051 ( 102231 ) on Monday July 30, 2001 @09:03PM (#2181977)
    New (relatively) References:
    The Java Prgramming Language, 2nd ED.
    Effective Java
    Java Platform Prformance: Strategies and Tactics

    New Tutorial:
    The Java Tutorial.

    Older reference:
    Effective C++.

  • by Dr_Cheeks ( 110261 ) on Tuesday July 31, 2001 @12:08AM (#2181997) Homepage Journal
    Everyone seems to be focusing on K&R (expensive, very thin for a computing book, yet absolutely essential).

    But I'd put Computer Networking by Andrew Tanenbaum ahead of K&R. It's well written - not too much like a textbook, humourous in places, with good thought provoking examples (e.g. at what point does a station wagon full of tapes speeding down the highway become a higher bandwith carrier than a T1 cable?). And my copy is a few years old and still relevant (which, as we all know, is a very rare thing).

    Good for beginners, good for experts. Buy this book.

  • by mr_gerbik ( 122036 ) on Monday July 30, 2001 @03:00PM (#2182008)
    "ANSI Common Lisp"
    Paul Graham
    ISBN: 0-13-370875-6

    Not only is just up to date when it comes to the ANSI standard for common Lisp, but it tackles many issues of learning functional programming. Good examples and lessons in recursion, macro writing and much more.
  • by Gorobei ( 127755 ) on Monday July 30, 2001 @02:48PM (#2182016)
    The Structure And Interpretation of Computer Programs
  • by livetoad ( 128448 ) on Monday July 30, 2001 @03:01PM (#2182017)
    TAOCP (Knuth) and SICP (Abelson, Sussman). Both are a must. They bear fruit even on several rereads. Fun stuff!
  • by Jagasian ( 129329 ) on Monday July 30, 2001 @06:54PM (#2182021)
    Books about programming in C, C++, Java? Ha! Those things will be outdated in under 50 years. If you want to really understand computation, computer science, and programming, give these classics a try:
  • It's a slim, expensive tome, but absolutely indispensable. It's almost impossible to not come into contact with C, especially if you are an Open Source user. It's also practically a part of the geek heritage, both in the style in which it is written, and in the impact it has had on generations of coders. It is truly one of the underpinnings of a great part of Information Technology history.
  • by geekoid ( 135745 ) <dadinportland&yahoo,com> on Monday July 30, 2001 @02:59PM (#2182027) Homepage Journal
    get the K&R ansi C book.
    I would consider any book that deals with the core part of a language neccesary.
    Most O'Rielly books have a desent shelf life. I have a 5 year old html book which is still perfectly valid HTML, although not the latest.
    I wonder if you could get publishers to donate a copy of a book as it goes into a final press?
    Any book you can get I would imagine wold be good.

  • while it may not be an "applied" book, G.E.B. [] is an important text because it has a high-level description of concepts that scientists and engineers should make part of their worldview. Don't discount the importance of philosophy :)

  • I would recommend using the books that have become old standards over the years for teaching undergraduates, the "Bibles" of their respective fields:

    Aho, Sethi & Ullman's "Compilers: Principles, Techniques and Tools"

    Cormen, Leiserson & Rivest's "Introduction to Algorithms"

    Patterson & Hennessy, and Hennessy & Patterson.

    Lewis & Papadimitriou, "Elements of the theory of computation."

    Gamma, Helm, Johnson & Vissides, "Design Patterns."

    And "The Mythical Man Month."

    All of the above are about the fundamentals, the theories, and should be part of anyone's library who is serious about computers from a Computer Science perspective, IMHO. Some of them have survived basically unchanged for many, many years, without losing their relevance.
  • by robman ( 142753 ) on Monday July 30, 2001 @02:46PM (#2182042)
    The Art of Computer Programming by Donald Knuth is a must have.
  • You're being a bit too domain-specific.

    Goedel, Escher, Bach -- Hofstadter

    For the theory.

    Code -- Charles Petzold

    Yes, I know he's the Programming Windows guy, but this is one of the best explanations of how a computer works that I've ever seen.

    The Lions Book

    This is how to write an OS. Similarly, Coriolis' Linux and Apache source commentaries.

    Win32 API Reference

    4.4BSD manual set

    Macintosh Human Interface Guidelines

    Kernighan and Pike

    Some of the basics of what a working system looks like. There might be a couple of others I'd throw in.

    Include a bound copy of the most important RFCs.

    Language references

    K&R C
    Stroustrup (3d edition)
    Common Lisp: The Language
    Programming Perl
    Python references
    Visual Basic Language Definition

    The Dragon Book (for compiler writers)

    Essentially this collection is the basics of how to build a computer system after the apocalypse.

  • by IvyMike ( 178408 ) on Monday July 30, 2001 @02:45PM (#2182075) should get lots of books on the Apple II and programming VGA graphics.

  • by Mnemia ( 218659 ) on Monday July 30, 2001 @02:43PM (#2182121)
    This is one programming book that has stood the test of time... Bjarne Strousrup.
  • The first inclination of /. readers will be to suggest manuals, or more generalized reference works such as are published by O'Reilly & Associates. This is an extremely bad idea. These works not only have a short shelf life, but are also of a nature which is not conducive to use in a library, in that people who refer to them will want to do so continually, and at a moments notice, rather than saying 'Gee. I have this problem with the syntax of this Perl function. Let me go to the library and check out the camel book []', users will want to own such works durring the time in their lives when they are actively pursuing the subjects those works would relate to.

    Instead, you should concentrate on aquiring for the library's collection, books which cover a broader scope of aspects of computer science and the history of computing. This would include such books as 'Alan Turing: The Enigma []'.

  • by geekplus ( 248023 ) on Monday July 30, 2001 @02:46PM (#2182150)
    by Bruce Schneier (sp?)

    This is becoming the end-all, be-all textbook on cryptography (both composing and cracking message) in the wild.

    One of its more valuable contributions is the fact that it sets down a common language for various cryptographic terms and practices we all sorta know about, but can't really bring clearly into a conversation. Having the common vocabulary that Bruce brings to security is as powerful as the common language that the Gang of Four book brought to object-oriented design.

  • If you're looking for system admin book or language references, you generally can't go wrong with O'Reilly books - Perl, Java, etc and sys amdin books on RedHat, Sendmail, DNS, Essential Sys Admin, etc.

    Also, for Visual Basic, the Microsoft Refernece library for VB is quite extensive and well written, combine that with the VB Programmers guide

  • by TargetBoy ( 322020 ) on Monday July 30, 2001 @03:19PM (#2182198)
    "The C Programming Language"
    "The C++ Programming Language"
    "Programming Perl"/"Learning Perl"
    "Design Patterns: Elements of Reusable Object-Oriented Software"
    "Data Model Patterns: Conventions of Thought"
    "Designing Web Usability"

    A book on Discrete Mathematics
    A book on set theory
    A book on cryptographic theory
    A book on problem solving ("How To Solve it" is a good example)
    A book on the design and analysis of algoritms

    Somewhat OT:
    A machine with a CD-RW drive and links to, (project guttenburg), and similar sites. Let people BYOB (Bring Your Own Blanks) and let them burn CDs for stuff that is FREELY available on the net. Sell blank discs at cost+handling, like libraries do with other supplies.

We gave you an atomic bomb, what do you want, mermaids? -- I. I. Rabi to the Atomic Energy Commission