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Christmas books for 2011

The following is my suggested list of books to consider buying somebody to celebrate Christmas or Isaac Newton’s birthday (in the Julian calendar which applied when he was born). To pad out the list I have added a few books from Christmas’s before I started this blog.

The Number sense by Stanislas Dehaene, the second edition is a significantly revised and expanded version of the 1997 first edition and is even better than the first. A very readable introduction to the brain structures involved in processing numbers along with lots of practical examples of how this processing effects our everyday handling of number related situations. If you regularly work with numbers you have to read this book.

Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud. Superficially about comics but really a master class on how to convey lots of information with the minimum of content. An indispensable read for anybody with an interest in writing source code or diagrams that can be understood by other people.

The Psychology of language by Trevor Harley (now in its third edition which I have not read, this recommendations applies to the second edition from 2001). This book is the perfect antidote to the Chomsky syntax/semantics nonsense that continues to permeate the software world. This book discusses linguistic behavior from the perspective of psychological processes elucidated from experimental evidence. Not such an easy read as my first two recommendations, but worth the investment.

R in a Nutshell by Joseph Adler. A handy quick reference to have sitting next to the keyboard. There is opportunity for improvement in this niche but in 2011 this is king of the hill.

Europe at War by Norman Davies. Broad brush view of World war II from a variety of perspectives. Lots of numbers and readable analysis. An eye-opener for anybody who thinks that Britain’s (and all other European allies) manpower contribution, in the overall scale of things, was significant.

Other suggestions welcome.

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