Saturday, February 12, 2011

Valentine's Day Recommendations

This entry re-establishes a tradition on my blog suggesting technical books and novels for your significant other on Valentine's Day.  What better way to show you care than providing someone with a riveting book on Computer Science or Software Engineeirng!

My first recommendation is an edited compilation from Diomidis Spinellis and Georgios Gousios (Eds.), Beautiful Architecture.  This book provides some great chapters on software architecture and will be part of my software architecture and design course in the fall.  Diomidis is no stranger to my Valentine's list.  Year's ago I recommended, Code Reading, a book on reading code and it too would make a great gift.  Moving onto HCI, for years I have been pressing for including an anthropological approach to user experience work.  I gained this appreciation through a book by Bonnie Nardi and Vicki O'Day, Information Ecologies, and am using a new book by Bonnie Nardi in my HCI course at Penn, My Life as a Night Elf Priest: An Anthropological Account of World of Warcraft.  Night Elf Priest is a great companion to these cold winter nights with your significant other in either real or virtual worlds. My final recommendations for technical books that would make great Valentine's Day presents are: HTML5: Up and Running by Mark Pilgrim and, in case your significant other loves to learn a new software language (and who doesn't!), Getting Started with Processing by Casey Reas and Ben Fry.  If your significant other also likes to build things, you can supplement the last book with an arduino kit.

My science fiction recommendations this year start with some classics I am rereading.  The first is Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson, an excellent read even the nth time around, a gift that will keep giving.  Note that I provided a link to a used book store, alibris, which I frequently use for older technical books.  A great service and a hedge with a less expensive gift, in case you think your romance will not survive another year!  I also am in the midst of rereading the Dune books by Frank Herbert.  The two of you will gain a new appreciation for a glass of water.  Some more modern recommendations are Richard K. Morgan's, TH1RTE3N, Morgan's books will certainly encourage togetherness since they are great scifi thrillers with a new concept almost every page.  Another mind blowing idea a page flip author is Charlie Stross' Glass House, a bit of gender bending and a truly fascinating read.  Stross's books are always mind blowing.  I once communicated with Charlie and he actually gave me a manuscript version of Halting State (a great book) but alas when I got swamped and did not return any comments, he never responded to any further emails.  My loss, but don't make it yours, highly recommended.  Other authors I will cover in future posts are China Mieville, John Scalzi - Old Man's War is a modern classic as is Stross' Accelerando, all fantastic reads for your valentine.  Last I could not close the science fiction section without mentioning a novel that is hard to classify but excellent to read William Gibson's, Zero History.  Actually it is best to read the earlier novels in the triology before you gift this one, Pattern Recognition and Spook Country.  Definitely the triology would make a special Valentine's gift.  Gibson is also an avid tweeter, if you are interested follow GreatDismal on twitter. 

Phew!  Finally if you really want to make Monday special, cook for your valentine.  If you are at a loss for what to prepare, I recommend a good marinara sauce (gravy in new jersey) with pasta from Marcella Hazan's book, Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking.  A no knead bread with a great crust would complement this menu and one of the best is from Jeff Potter's, Cooking for Geeks.