Recommended Books

This is a list of books I like (the page is still not complete).

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance - Robert M. Pirsig

If you are an engineer, you will appreciate this book. It tries to explain the problems of life interms of engineering concepts. Sometimes the author leans too much on the philosophical side and he starts using big, hairy words. Frankly, I skipped a few sections :-) .

One of my favourite passage from that book is quoted below

When I think of formal scientific method an image sometimes comes to mind of an enormous juggernaut, a huge bulldozer...slow, tedious lumbering, laborious, but invincible. It takes twice as long, five times as long, maybe a dozen times as long as informal mechanic's techniques, but you know in the end you're going to get it. There's no fault isolation problem in motorcycle maintenance that can stand up to it. When you've hit a really tough one, tried everything, racked your brain and nothing works, and you know that this time Nature has really decided to be difficult, you say, ``Okay, Nature, that's the end of the nice guy,'' and you crank up the formal scientific method.

For this you keep a lab notebook. Everything gets written down, formally, so that you know at all times where you are, where you've been, where you're going and where you want to get. In scientific work and electronics technology this is necessary because otherwise the problems get so complex you get lost in them and confused and forget what you know and what you don't know and have to give up. In cycle maintenance things are not that involved, but when confusion starts it's a good idea to hold it down by making everything formal and exact. Sometimes just the act of writing down the problems straightens out your head as to what they really are.

The logical statements entered into the notebook are broken down into six categories: (1) statement of the problem, (2) hypotheses as to the cause of the problem, (3) experiments designed to test each hypothesis, (4) predicted results of the experiments, (5) observed results of the experiments and (6) conclusions from the results of the experiments. This is not different from the formal arrangement of many college and high-school lab notebooks but the purpose here is no longer just busywork. The purpose now is precise guidance of thoughts that will fail if they are not accurate.

The real purpose of scientific method is to make sure Nature hasn't misled you into thinking you know something you don't actually know. There's not a mechanic or scientist or technician alive who hasn't suffered from that one so much that he's not instinctively on guard. That's the main reason why so much scientific and mechanical information sounds so dull and so cautious. If you get careless or go romanticizing scientific information, giving it a flourish here and there, Nature will soon make a complete fool out of you. It does it often enough anyway even when you don't give it opportunities. One must be extremely careful and rigidly logical when dealing with Nature: one logical slip and an entire scientific edifice comes tumbling down. One false deduction about the machine and you can get hung up indefinitely.

Philip K. Dick

I can read any of his books.

Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams

This is a science fiction comedy. This book follows the adventures of Arthur Dent, an Englishman who escapes the destruction of Earth with his friend Ford Prefect, an alien and researcher for the "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy". My favourite passage from the book is

After seven and a half million years of pondering the question, Deep Thought provides the answer: "forty-two".

"Forty-two!" yelled Loonquawl. "Is that all you've got to show for seven and a half million years' work?"

"I checked it very thoroughly," said the computer, "and that quite definitely is the answer. I think the problem, to be quite honest with you, is that you've never actually known what the question is."

Surely You're Joking Mr. Feynman

Richard Feynman is one of my heroes. This has a number of personal and mostly humorous anecdotes from his life, most of them showing his curiosity about things and willingness to try new things.

Terry Pratechett's Discworld series

Admittedly, I have read only a few books from the series, but I liked them quite a lot.

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

So, you want to know what good comments should look like ? Or how to write go od comments ? or choose good function names ? This is the book for that. Very well written and written keeping a programmer in mind. Here is an excerpt from the book - on Why you need to create functions

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