August 9th, 2004

classic beard


Powell's is running an essay contest. 300-750 words on What was your most memorable reading experience of the last ten years?

Ignoring the details of the contest, and focussing on the question, I read not quite as much as I'd like, yet more than most - and thus have a variety of memorable reading experiences. Breaking them down into categories,

Fiction - Cordelia's Honor, Lois McMaster Bujold. One of those casual pickups that drove me to - almost obsessively - hunt down everything else she's written, and not just in that world... the turns of phrase, the heroism, the nobility, the sense of great gifts requiring great usage. And on top of that it's fun space opera :-)

Technical - The Humane Interface - Jef Raskin. One of those "everything you know is wrong" books, comforting in that it both showed why some interfaces really are painful, and rational (not mystical!) ways to get on the right track. I have a reputation for building "interfaces that kill people" - the most extreme case involved a bug tracking system that convinced the company to spend thousands of dollars on Segue. Now I have the tools to identify what parts of that design were bad, and that's enough to make progress.

Online (yes, in fact, most of my reading material glows, and I'm actually absorbing words for more than 2/3 of my waking hours) the comments from various people on my Europython trip notes - which provided encouragement for me to do it again, and thus travel more...

Unsurprisingly, these are relatively recent - my reading has narrowed over time, and a 10 year window doesn't include Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Catcher in the Rye, or *shudder* Tale of Two Cities. (Memorable experiences aren't necessarily *good* ones....) For that matter, my reading of a particularly distinctive copy of Kahn's The Codebreakers was almost 15 years ago.

I'm not even reading Dive Into Python for inspiration - mostly for review, to decide if I'm going to hit other people on the head with it - though if I do ever write a book like this, I'm going to consider the approach: starting "hard" seems like it has potential for *efficient* teaching, if not particularly the friendliest style.