In no particular order:
C programming language – K&R
This might seem an odd book to include on a list like this. It is literally a programming language manual. That sounds pretty dry. And no, it’s not humorous, or filled with side stories – or any of those other things that can make dry books fun. It’s just very well written. It’s a beautiful example of what good documentation looks like, and it’s a pleasure to read.
12 Rules for Life – Jordan Peterson
For those who know me, it’s no secret that I’m a big fan of Jordan Peterson. The first time I read this book, I almost did it out of a sense of duty from how helpful his videos were, not that I didn’t enjoy it – I just saw it as a book form of his lectures. The second time I read it, I appreciated it more, and intend to read it again to further internalise its wisdom.
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintanence – Robert Pirsig
I’ve only read this once. It’s not a light read. It’s an autobiographical piece about a bloke who led a complex life. It’s semi-philosophical, not at a level I found terribly useful, but I did find that to be a nice aside. It’s troubling really, but in a way that should make one think.
Traditional Login I – Martin Cothran
This is a book that sat on the shelf for years when I was growing up. People would tell me I should read it, and that I would like it. I would ask them why, and they didn’t explain much more. I would try to read it, and not understand it. A few years later, I would try again. It was quite frustrating really. I ended up ignoring the book. Then, one day, I picked it up, and read the first chapter (on the distinction between words, mental images and ideas); then came syllogisms. I was hooked.
The Dangerous Book for Boys – Iggulden
I do like a good wikipedia dive every so often, and some wikipedia articles are more enjoyable to read than others, but wikipedia is increasingly biased – and also on the internet. The Dangerous Book for Boys is a pre-wikipedia collection of articles that I can enjoy at breakfast without powering up the laptop.
An Honourable Mention: Antifragile – by NN Taleb. I’ve still not finished this one, but I’m not in a hurry to finish it. Currently, I reckon it’s probably a favourite, but as it hasn’t stood the test of time, I don’t yet list it as such.