50 Books Every Geek Should Read
Eric Dahl / InsideTech
January 12, 2010
How STUFF Works
“Gödel, Escher, Bach,” Douglas Hofstadter
Melding math, music, and art, Hofstadter’s “Godel, Escher, Bach” is a singular exploration of the work of the title figures and, through them, of thought itself.
“Gut Feelings,” Gerd Gigerenzer
This is one of my sentimental picks, but it’s part of a larger point: If you’re ready to geek out on a subject, you outta be willing to find a source that’s deeper and more technical than mainstream fare.
And that’s just one reason that “Blink” is for sissys… Ever wonder where Gladwell got the idea for his rapid-cognition pop-nonfiction masterpiece about experts unconsciously leaping to better conclusions than they can work out in their heads? Well, it mostly came from the research behind Gigerenzer’s “Gut Feelings.” Gigerenzer shows you why the stuff in “Blink” works by getting at the evolved capacities that make rapid cognition possible.
Normally I’m happy for a writer of Gladwell’s talent to translate some dry academic writing into something normal people can read, but as it turns out, Girerenzer’s an engaging writer, too. Do yourself a favor and go straight to the source.
“A Brief History of Time,” Stephen Hawking
GraphJam is probably right about the stats on how many people have actually read this one, but those who do find a remarkably comprehensive and digestible summary of physics from one of the smartest human beings on the planet. At least buy a yourself copy so that you can claim you’re planning to read it.
“Hackers and Painters: Big Ideas from the Computer Age,” Paul Graham
Graham explains the hacking mentality like no other, relating it to everything from painting to playwriting and wondering what a new generation of hackers will make out of this medium.
“The Evolution of Useful Things,” Henry Petroski
Petroski crafts an appealing enigineering history looking at how and why everyday objects from the paperclip to the fork came to be designed the way they are.