Going to study Computer Science at university? Here’s some recommended reading from @cs4fn ^JB

Reading for CS students: a habit that helps for a lifetime

Back in July Paul Curzon (@cs4fn on Twitter) created a Twitter thread of books he recommends to potential computer science students. Here it is with pictures.

“Reading: a habit that helps for a lifetime. Encourage those intending doing computer science at university to read. There are lots of interesting books that give a good start…Will give some of my favourites … Starting of course with cs4fn back issues.”

1. CS4FN back issues – FREE

Composite image showing the covers of 3 CS4FN magazines, all can be freely downloaded as PDFs from the downloads site
Download our back issues as PDFs from the CS4FN downloads site.

2. Terry Pratchett’s Going Postal

Book cover for Terry Pratchett's Going Postal

“Start with something really fun: Terry Pratchett’s Going Postal.
A fantasy novel set in the Discworld which has magic but also a new
Clacks comms network. A great way to learn the basics of networks.”


3. Don Norman’s The Design of Everyday Things

Yellow book cover with red coffee pot designed in a way that cannot ever work, in red

“More seriously: as too few people know interaction design Don Norman’s The Design of Everyday Things. How you can design things to be easy or difficult to use: all applies to gadgets and software.”


4. E.M. Forster’s The Machine Stops

Book cover for EM Forster collected short stories showing a fish-eye-lens view of a blue sky surrounded by buildings

“The Machine Stops, in E.M. Forster Collected Short Stories (also in Menace of the Machine, ed M Ashley) written in 1909 about a society reliant on a machine: pre-computer prediction of internet dependancy.”


5. Simon Singh’s The Code Book

Cover for Simon Singh's The Code Book

“The Code Book, Simon Singh: cryptography through the ages from ancient history to modern day and future ways of keeping information secret and secure (which now means money too).”


6. Bruce Sterling’s The Hacker Crackdown

Book cover for The Hacker Crackdown

Early stories of cyber crime and cybersecurity in the 1990s just as the internet and web morphed into a mass medium. Available free from Project Gutenberg.


7. Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash or Cryptonomicon

Book cover for Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson - first edition

Since I am on the subject: anything by @nealstephenson but Snow Crash (where the word avatar comes from) or Cryptonomicon about code breaking and online money, may be good (shorter!) places to start.”


8. Steve Grand’s Creation: Life and how to make it

Cover for Creation: Life and how to make it by Steve Grand

“About the invention of the game Creatures by the inventor on the practical, social and ethical implications of trying to create life.”


9. Douglas Hofstadter’s Gödel, Escher, Bach

Cover for Gödel, Escher, Bach, Douglas Hofstadter

“Probably the best CS (or maths or AI/cognition) book ever – won a Pulitzer Prize. Perhaps not a starter book for the faint-hearted but must be read by all.”


10. Isaac Asimov’s I Robot

I Robot - cover of Isaac Asimov's book

“On the topic of classics… The 3 laws of robotics and their logical consequences as deduced by Dr Susan Calvin chief robopsychologist. Influenced real AI and ethics.”


11. Paul Curzon & Peter McOwan’s The Power of Computational Thinking

Cover of The Power of Computational Thinking by Paul Curzon and Peter McOwan

“Not same league but adding our book as was written as this kind of reading Curzon, McOwan. Games, Magic and Puzzles to Help You Become a Computational Thinker +AI.”


12. Richard Susskind’s Tomorrow’s Lawyers

Book cover for Tomorrow's Lawyers by Richard Susskind

“For anyone interested in being a lawyer. Why understanding CS and AI is going to matter to you too.”


13. Jean-Dominique Bauby’s The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

Cover for The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

“Linear search (and frequency analysis)… The first school talk I ever gave was based on it and led to https://cs4fndownloads.wordpress.com/searching-to-speak/


This blog is funded through EPSRC grant EP/W033615/1.

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  1. Pingback: Christmas gift ideas for computing enthusiasts ^JB | Teaching London Computing: A RESOURCE HUB from CAS LONDON & CS4FN

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