This is a short list of books I've read over the past few years that you might find useful or enjoyable. Most fiction and non-fiction books I end up reading are just average books -- not great stories or not well-written or one-dimensional characters that I just don't care about. The books on this page were truly enjoyable for me to read, and I'd read them again (in fact, I have read some of them twice).


Cryptonomicon (amazon us, ca, uk, de, fr)
by Neal Stephenson
My favorite book in the whole world. It takes 50 pages or so to get used to the writing style, but once you have then you find yourself in the middle of a very intelligent book. The characters are wonderful and the story is fresh. I can also recommend all of the other books he's written.

Neuromancer (amazon us, ca, uk, de, fr)
by William Gibson
I don't really read much science fiction, but this is sort of required reading. It's largely regarded as the first "cyberpunk" novel.

Microserfs (amazon us, ca, uk, de, fr)
by Douglas Copeland
The story of some (fictional) Microsoft programmers in search of something more. The writing style is very distracting at first, but it fits the stream-of-consciousness method of storytelling that goes on, and there are some interesting thoughts and discussions among the characters.

Code To Zero (amazon us, ca, uk, de, fr)
by Ken Follett
A good, fast-paced spy novel (not bogged down in details like some of the other spy novels I've read). A man wakes up one morning dressed as a bum with no memory of anything about his life, but he quickly realizes that there's something big going on, and he's somehow a part of it.

The Burglar Who Liked To Quote Kipling (amazon us, ca, uk, de, fr)
by Lawrence Block
A fun little mystery novel with my favorite Lawrence Block character, Bernie Rhodenbarr. Burglars Can't Be Choosers is actually the first book in this series, so you can start there if you're really particular. This one is also a good stand-alone book, even if you don't want to commit to reading the other ones.


The Cuckoo's Egg (amazon us, ca, uk, de, fr)
by Cliff Stoll
The true story of a part-time UNIX admin who notices some suspicious activity on his system and ends up on an international spy hunt. If you didn't know it was true, you'd swear it was fiction. Every sysadmin's dream...

Word Freak (amazon us, ca, uk, de, fr)
by Stephan Fastis
The subtitle of the book says it all: "Heartbreak, Triumph, Genius, and Obsession in the World of Competitive Scrabble Players". This is a fascinating story about professional Scrabble players and the lives they lead; fascinating because these people are truly obsessed with the game. Very well written, so it's easy to read.

Driving Mr. Albert: A Trip Across America With Einstein's Brain (amazon us, ca, uk, de, fr)
by Michael Paterniti
No, that's not a metaphor in the title. This actually is about a journalist who travelled across America (fairly recently) with the eccentric pathologist who has possession of Albert Einstein's brain. What a great road-trip.

Crypto (amazon us, ca, uk, de, fr)
by Stephen Levy
A brief history of "popular" cryptography (RSA, PGP, etc.) over the past few decades. There are a lot of gaps in the history, and there's not much math or technical discussion, but it's a good background on some of the people who made it happen, and the issues of the time.

Showstopper (amazon us, ca, uk, de, fr)
by G. Pascal Zachary
An inside story of the development of the Windows NT operating system. It's not that technical and you don't have to be a fan of Microsoft to enjoy this book -- it's the people who made it happen and the struggles they endured that make the book interesting. And it makes you appreciate what it must be like to work on a project this large.

Selling the Invisible (amazon us, ca, uk, de, fr)
by Harry Beckwith
A great book about marketing intangible products and building a brand. It's easy to read, and most of the book is broken up into one or two page stories that really get you thinking.

On Writing (amazon us, ca, uk, de, fr)
by Stephen King
This isn't some kind of horror story, it's Stephen King discussing the art and process of writing. The first half of the book contains memories of events in his life that seemed to have developed him as a writer; the second half is just solid advice about how to write.