Books that you should read

This is a list of Computer Science related books that you should read. These are not textbooks or programming tutorials because there are literally hundreds of good ones. These are background. At present, no cover images but links to either Amazon (I don't get commission) or an alternative site you can get the book from.

There are plenty of free magazines and resources available from my favourite CS website, CS4FN as well.

Showing 41 items
Alan Turing : The Enigma Alan Turing was the mathematician whose cipher-cracking transformed the Second World War. Taken on by British Intelligence in 1938, as a shy young Cambridge don, he combined brilliant logic with a flair for engineering. In 1940 his machines were breaking the Enigma-enciphered messages of Nazi Germany’s air force. He then headed the penetration of the super-secure U-boat communications. But his vision went far beyond this achievement. Before the war he had invented the concept of the universal machine, and in 1945 he turned this into the first design for a digital computer. Turing's far-sighted plans for the digital era forged ahead into a vision for Artificial Intelligence. However, in 1952 his homosexuality rendered him a criminal and he was subjected to humiliating treatment. In 1954, aged 41, Alan Turing took his own life. 
Algorithmic Puzzles While many think of algorithms as specific to computer science, at its core algorithmic thinking is defined by the use of analytical logic to solve problems. This logic extends far beyond the realm of computer science and into the wide and entertaining world of puzzles. 
Algorithms to Live By: The Computer Science of Human Decisions  
Algorithms Unplugged  
Bebop to the Boolean Boogie: An Unconventional Guide to Electronics  
Best Practices of Spell Design A tale of programming and software best practices from the Computational Fairy Tales universe. In all his years as a wizard, Marcus has never seen a spell cause this much damage. When Hannaldous's sloppy attempt at a shield spell accidentally curses the castle, the walls start crumbling at an alarming rate. Now Marcus and his apprentice Shelly must figure out how to repair the damage before the castle turns to dust. Along the way they will encounter gossiping worms, perfectionist bakers, opportunistic rabbits, and copious amounts of mold. The Best Practices of Spell Design introduces practical aspects of software development that are often learned through painful experience. Through Marcus and Shelly’s quest, the story encourages readers to think about how to write readable, well-tested and maintainable programs. Readers will discover the importance of comments in recipes, the value of testing potions, the dangers of poorly named ingredients, the wonders of code reviews in magic libraries, and the perils of premature optimization. 
Bit by Bit: Illustrated History of Computers  
Blown to bits If you want to understand the future before it happens, you’ll love this book. If you want to change the future before it happens to you, this book is required reading. 
Brown dogs and barbers Computers are everywhere, running our lives, handling our social interactions, serving as the backbone of every business. And yet, how well do we understand them? How much do we know about their rise to ubiquity? We take computers for granted, but there is a fascinating wealth of ideas waiting to be explored, a rich trail of information explaining how we got to where we are now. That trail includes grand dreams, intricate puzzles, mind-stretching concepts and a cast of colourful characters. Brown Dogs and Barbers is a story about computer science. Join me on a journey through the story of computing, discover just what makes the machines tick, learn why computers work the way they do and meet the cast of characters responsible for it all. 
But How Do It Know? - The Basic Principles of Computers for Everyone  
CODE : The hidden language of computer hardware and software What do flashlights, the British invasion, black cats, and seesaws have to do with computers? In CODE, they show us the ingenious ways we manipulate language and invent new means of communicating with each other. And through CODE, we see how this ingenuity and our very human compulsion to communicate have driven the technological innovations of the past two centuries. Using everyday objects and familiar language systems such as Braille and Morse code, author Charles Petzold weaves an illuminating narrative for anyone who’s ever wondered about the secret inner life of computers and other smart machines.  
Computational Fairy Tales Have you ever thought that computer science should include more dragons and wizards? Computational Fairy Tales introduces principles of computational thinking, illustrating high-level computer science concepts, the motivation behind them, and their application in a non-computer—fairy tale—domain. The goal of this book is not to provide comprehensive coverage of each topic, but rather to provide a high level overview of the breadth and excitement of computer science. It’s a quest that will take you from learning the basics of programming in a blacksmith’s forge to fighting curses with recursion. Fifteen seers delivered the same prophecy, without so much as a single minstrel to lighten the mood: an unknown darkness threatens the kingdom. Suddenly, Princess Ann finds herself sent forth alone to save the kingdom. Leaving behind her home, family, and pet turtle Fido, Princess Ann must face goblin attacks, magical curses, arrogant scholars, an unpleasant oracle, and rude Boolean waiters. Along the way she must build a war chest of computational knowledge to survive the coming challenge. 
Cracking Codebook Codes have influenced events throughout history, both in the stories of those who make them and those who break them. The betrayal of Mary Queen of Scots and the cracking of the enigma code that helped the Allies in World War II are major episodes in a continuing history of cryptography. In addition to stories of intrigue and warfare, Simon Singh also investigates other codes, the unravelling of genes and the rediscovery of ancient languages and most tantalisingly, the Beale ciphers, an unbroken code that could hold the key to a $20 million treasure. 
Cryptonomicon A gripping and page-turning thriller that explores themes of power, information, secrecy and war in the twentieth century. From the author of the three-volume historical epic 'The Baroque Cycle' and Seveneves. Neal Stephenson hacks into the secret histories of nations and the private obsessions of men, decrypting with dazzling virtuosity the forces that have shaped the past century. He weaves together the cracking of the Axis codes during WWII and the quest to establish a free South East Asian 'data haven' for digital information in the present. 
Dot Con: The Art of Scamming a Scammer  
Electronic Brains : Stories from the dawn of the computer age Book to accompany the Radio series. 
Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid  
Going Postal The post is a creaking old institution, overshadowed by new technology. But there are people who still believe in it, and Moist must become one of them if he's going to see that the mail gets though, come rain, hail, sleet, dogs, the Post Office Workers Friendly and Benevolent Society, the evil chairman of the Grand Trunk Semaphore Company, and a midnight killer. 
Hackers Traces the history of hackers, from clunky computer card punching machines to the inner secrets of what would become the internet. This book also includes profiles of Bill Gates, Steve Wozniak, MIT railroad club and more; the shapers of the digital revolution. 
How to solve it A demontration of how the true mathematician learns to draw unexpected analogies, tackly problems from unusual angles and extract a little more onformaiton from the data; a collection of truly practical lessons. 
In pursuit of the travelling salesman What is the shortest possible route for a traveling salesman seeking to visit each city on a list exactly once and return to his city of origin? It sounds simple enough, yet the traveling salesman problem is one of the most intensely studied puzzles in applied mathematics--and it has defied solution to this day. In this book, William Cook takes readers on a mathematical excursion, picking up the salesman's trail in the 1800s when Irish mathematician W. R. Hamilton first defined the problem, and venturing to the furthest limits of today's state-of-the-art attempts to solve it. He also explores its many important applications, from genome sequencing and designing computer processors to arranging music and hunting for planets. 
Lauren Ipsum Meet Lauren, an adventurer lost in Userland who needs to find her way home by solving a series of puzzles. As she visits places like the Push & Pop Café and makes friends with people like Hugh Rustic and the Wandering Salesman, Lauren learns about computer science without even realizing it—and so do you! 
Logic - Wilfred Hodges Another title that doesn’t need further explanation! Fantastic introduction to classical logic, suitable for post-16 and advanced KS4. 
Mindstorms : Children, computers and powerful ideas Seymour Papert is Lego Professor of Mathematics and Education at MIT, where he is also co-founder of the artificial intelligence and media laboratories. 
Nine algorithms that changed the world does just what it says on the tin. 
Once upon an algorithm Martin Erwig, 2017. Erwig illustrates a series of concepts in computing with examples from daily life and familiar stories. Hansel and Gretel, for example, execute an algorithm to get home from the forest. The movie Groundhog Day illustrates the problem of unsolvability; Sherlock Holmes manipulates data structures when solving a crime; the magic in Harry Potter’s world is understood through types and abstraction; and Indiana Jones demonstrates the complexity of searching. Along the way, Erwig also discusses representations and different ways to organize data; “intractable” problems; language, syntax, and ambiguity; control structures, loops, and the halting problem; different forms of recursion; and rules for finding errors in algorithms.This engaging book explains computation accessibly and shows its relevance to daily life. 
Rebel code  
The Computing Universe: A Journey through a Revolution  
The Dark Net The Dark Net is a revelatory examination of the internet today, and of its most innovative and dangerous subcultures, stretching from secret Facebook groups to the encrypted and hidden Tor network. In it, Bartlett goes in search of the people behind the screen, meeting trolls and pornographers, drug dealers and hackers, political extremists and computer scientists, Bitcoin programmers and self-harmers, libertarians and vigilantes.  
The Moscow Puzzles Most popular Russian puzzle book ever published. Marvelously varied puzzles ranging from simple "catch" riddles to difficult problems. Lavishly illustrated with clear diagrams and amusing sketches. Edited for English-readers, while retaining warmth and charm of original. Inexpensive edition of first English translation. 
The most complex machine David Eck. A great book for A Level, supported by a wonderful website with lots of interactive labs, and java applets that can be downloaded for use in lessons. I use it for several areas - and particularly like Chapter 4 about theoretical computing. 
The new Turing omnibus One reviews says “If there are any of you who think that the high end of computer science is another form of mathematics, then this book is for you. If you think that computer science is just programming then maybe you should take a look at this book as well. After reading this book you will have a good overview of the “science” of computer science.”. Another says “Dewdney is one of the most stimulating writers on applied thinking and computer science that I have had the pleasure to read. Where the standard CS textbooks are most stale, Dewdney is the most provocative. He illuminates the dark corners of abstract thought with practical puzzles and plain language. This book is written in small bite size chapters that grow in complexity around multiple ideas…The appeal to Dwedney and his book stems from the fact that everything he writes is game-like or puzzle-oriented.” 
The Pattern on the Stone  
The Pattern On The Stone: The Simple Ideas That Make Computers Work  
The Programmer's Odyssey  
The Simpsons and their Mathematical Secrets You may have watched hundreds of episodes of The Simpsons (and its sister show Futurama) without ever realising that they contain enough maths to form an entire university course. 
The Singularity is Near  
The Thrilling adventures of Lovelace and Babbage Meet two of Victorian London's greatest geniuses... Ada Lovelace, daughter of Lord Byron: mathematician, gambler, and proto-programmer, whose writings contained the first ever appearance of general computing theory, a hundred years before an actual computer was built. And Charles Babbage, eccentric inventor of the Difference Engine, an enormous clockwork calculating machine that would have been the first computer, if he had ever finished it. 
Tools for thought Howard Rheingold. Written in 1985 and available online, an very readable, concise account of the development of computers, with some prescient predictions for the future (that is, the 1990’s). This is a history that focuses on ideas rather than dry facts. As the author says, “You can’t understand where mind-amplifying technology is going unless you understand where it came from.” Of particular interest for educationalists will be Chapter 11 ‘The Birth of the Fantasy Amplifier’, which charts the trajectory of Alan Kay (developer of Squeak, amongst many other things), and the influence of Papert and Minsky on his development. 
Usborne Retro Computing Books Many of today's tech professionals were inspired by the Usborne computing books they read as children. The books included program listings for such iconic computers as the ZX Spectrum, the BBC Micro and the Commodore 64, and are still used in some computer clubs today. 
What the Dormouse Said: How the Sixties Counterculture Shaped the Personal Computer Industry  
Showing 41 items