Wired has posted a list of nine books they think every geek should read. I’m left wondering what my readers would suggest are the books every geek should read.

Those on Wired’s list are not all ones I’d have chosen. That’s not very surprising, of course – we all have different tastes.

Godel-Escher-Bach-cover-250pxI certainly wouldn’t have included the first on my personal list of  nine to recommend – Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Dungeon Master’s Guide. Nor the comic book series Watchmen.

That’s not to say that I didn’t read comics as a kid – we used to trade them down at a corner book exchange a few blocks away from our house. I also played the text-only adventure games Zork, with their geeky puzzles.

Books I have read on their list are Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, The Lord of the Rings and The Visual Display of Quantitative Information.

Their list leans more to novels than mine probably would, perhaps for wider appeal, and I guess is targeted at present-day computer geeks rather than geeks in a wider sense. Mine would likely include more of the better popular science and lean towards targeting science geeks.*

But what books would you put in a top-nine for geeks? This is your chance!To kick things off, here are a few more candidates, lazily included by eye-balling the shelves around me:

Rather than dredge up links to all of these, if you take a trip to GoodReads.com, enter the search field (confusingly located in a small box near the middle of the page, rather than at the top), you can find others’ opinions on just about any book.


*  But then I started with computers fairly early so I ought to be a computer geek too, right? Favouring thes science probably reflects that as much as I like messing about with computers and developing algorithms, in the end I like to use them as tools to explore scientific problems. I’d add adventurous travel too, but I guess that’s not very geeky.

** Then again they’d need to offer more than nine .

These I typed in, then realised they’re ‘just’ good reads, rather than essential geekery. Rather than delete them I’ll leave them here in case they prove useful suggestions to readers:

  • Charles Darwin: Voyaging and Charles Darwin: The Power of Place (Browne – excellent; let’s also toss in The Voyage of the Beagle by the man himself)
  • The Man Who Mistook His Wife For a Hat (Sacks; also An Anthropologist on Mars and others)
  • The Name of the Rose or Foucault’s Pendulum (Umberto Eco; there are more, including Serendipities)
  • The Silent World (Cousteau; it includes accounts of their developing the aqualung)
  • Eon and subsequent sci-fi works by Bear (personal choice, which won’t be to others’ tastes)

Other posts on Code for life:

Teaching kids critical thinking

Free books: basic statistics, evolution and origin of man

A Geek Nation reviewed

Expert Witness — new forensic science book

Book review — The Poisoner’s Handbook

Writing a popular science book; links and writers’ warnings