Desert Island Books is a new series I'm writing for the ACCU:
Desert Island Disks (http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/factual/desertislanddiscs.shtml) is one of Radio 4's most popular and enduring programmes. The format is simple: each week a guest is invited to choose the eight records they would take with them to a desert island.
I've been thinking for a while that it would be entertaining to get ACCU members to choose their Desert Island Books. The format will be slightly different from the Radio 4 show. Members will choose about 5 books, one of which must be a novel, and up to two albums. The programming books must have made a big impact on their programming life or be ones that they would take to a desert island. The inclusion of a novel and a couple albums will also help us to learn a little more about the person. The ACCU has some amazing personalities and I'm sure we only scratch the surface most of the time.
Each issue of CVu will have someone different. If you would like to share your Desert Island Books please email me.
I thought this was going to be easy as I had no doubt what my first main book would be, but then it got harder. A lot harder. Do I choose a design patterns book? What about a process book? Or a technique book? Or more straight language books? This is how I got on:
The C++ Standard Library: A Tutorial and Reference
by Nicolai M. Josuttis
This book more than any other changed my career for the better. I was fresh out of university, had my first C++ job and only knew a little C. A number of ACCUers spear headed by Phil Nash and John Crickett were guiding me to better things. Phil Nash in particular persuaded me to invest in better books. When I got Josuttis I read it pretty much cover to cover. It's the book I go back to the most (when I'm doing C++) and I wouldn't be without it. Reading this book and learning about the C++ standard library allowed me to be the only candidate to complete a programming test for new position I went for and they gave me the job off the back of that.
C++ Templates: The Complete Guide
by David Vandevoorde, Nicolai M. Josuttis
This is where it gets difficult. For my second choice I couldn't decide between Scott Meyers' Effective Series, Herb Sutter's Exceptional Series and Vandevoorde and Josuttis' templates book. The Effectives and Exceptionals have no doubt made me a much better C++ programmer, but I mostly absorbed the information as I read and don't gt back to them so often. If I was on a desert island I'd want the templates book as I love the power that templates give C++ and, when programming in C++, constantly go back to the templates book for reference. That's the one I'd want on a desert island.
Design patterns : elements of reusable object-oriented software
by Erich Gamma, Richard Helm, Ralph Johnson, John Vlissides
There are a number of technique books that I could chosen. Such as Test Driven Development by Kent Beck, Refactoring by Martin Fowler or Working with Legacy Code by Micheal Feathers. However, these books confirmed stuff I'd mostly worked out for myself and I don't generally go back to them unless I want to look up the name of something. Although I never had the eureka moment with patterns than many others have described, the Gang of Four is a book I go back to again and again and really should be on my desert island book shelf.
Extreme Programming Explained: Embrace Change
by Kent Beck, Cynthia Andres
The final book is probably the most difficult book of all to choose. I've learnt so much from a few process and practice books including the Pragmatic Programmer (series) by Andrew Hunt and David Thomas, The Practice of Programming by Brian W. Kernighan and Rob Pike and Lean Software Development by Mary Poppendieck and Tom Poppendieck. They all have good common sense advice and I've learnt new stuff from them. However the book that has had the most impact on my career and the quality of my development skills was Extreme Programming by Kent Beck. It could be argued that a book about making teams work better together isn't much use when you're on your own on a desert island, but there is a lot that can be applied even by lone programmers.
by Alastair Reynolds
Gollancz; New Ed edition
I only discovered Alastair Reynolds about eighteen months ago and I'm hooked. I've always loved science fiction (and a little bit of fantasy). Reynolds “space opera” is dark, at times addictively complex and beats the likes of Arthur C. Clarke, Asimov and Tolkien hands down. I'd take all of his books given the chance, but Redemption Ark is the one I've enjoyed the most so far.
The Crimson Idol by WASP
Misplaced Childhood by Marillion
Choosing my favorite two albums from the hundreds (1000+) that I own was easy. Had I had to choose one I'd have had a serious problem (but it probably would have been misplaced childhood). I discovered both Marillion and WASP in my late teens and listened and still listen to these two albums over and over. Specifying just one thing that makes either of these albums great is near impossible. They both have superb lyrical content. Fish and Blackie Lawless excel themselves as both describe deep emotional pain they've been through. The guitar and drum work on the Crimson Idol is something else and includes the best guitar solo in the world. Misplaced Childhood incorporates superb guitar, keyboard and vocals and take you through emotional highs and lows.
Next issue: Jez Higgins picks his desert island books.