|Notice: I do not update this page frequently. Links to other web
sites may be broken, and recommended books may be out of stock and
Here are links to for books I mention in my web pages. For out-of-print books,
an excellent way to find used copies is through
AbeBooks.com. I have had a lot of success
getting books through AbeBooks.com, and they are also good for finding cheap
copies of in-print books.
- Gödel, Escher, Bach
by Douglas Hofstadter (at Amazon.com).
- The best book. Really, I mean it, this is the best book, because it is not
merely a magnificent exposition of the power of self-representation in
mathematics and logic and philosophy and biology, but it is a fabulously
constructed book. The word play, the demonstrations, the analogies, the
stories, the puzzles, the explanations, all facets of the book work together as
a masterpiece of art and engineering.
- Gödel, Escher, Bach is about "strange loops"—swirly, twisty,
meaningful patterns that arise in particular types of systems of symbols.
Hofstadter demonstrates strange loops in logic, brain and mind, mathematics,
philosophy, computers, and DNA. Strange loops allow a system to say things
about itself, and hence a mind can think about itself and a mathematical system
can prove itself to be incomplete. More than that, a strange loop has a power
on the system; it affects and constrains the system. Hofstadter thoroughly
explores and brings out the magnificence of this concept.
- Robert Forward.
- Robert Forward is a physicist who writes hard science fiction. I like
Dragon's Egg (at or
and I also liked Rocheworld (at
More than any other current writer, Forward explores environments that are
unusual yet just might be possible given our current scientific knowledge.
Dragon's Egg is a particularly good example, detailing life evolving on
a neutron star. It is also criticized by many people for lack of
characterization, which is fair; the book is about the possibilities and is a
nice story, but it is not about characters. Forward's later work, such as
Rocheworld, has somewhat more characterization.
- Charles Sheffield.
- Charles Sheffield is a physicist who writes hard science fiction. I like
The McAndrew Chronicles (at
but it is out of print. Try to find a used copy at AbeBooks.com.
- Death by Chocolate
by Marcel Desaulniers (at
Killer dessert recipes with straightforward instructions. This is the cure for
fancy cookbooks with great pictures but recipes you never get around to making.
I have made over a dozen recipes from Death by Chocolate, almost always
with devastating results. Take a look at these chocolate-chip macadamia
brownies (larger image, 190
They have an incredible texture and taste, and they radiate a strong chocolate
aroma. You can also make these without macadamias. Refrigerate the brownies
overnight before cutting, or they will fall apart.
The brownie recipe does not take long to make, but some of the recipes in the
book are long. However, they are straightforward, and they work. This book
raised my baking skills several notches. When I bring a dessert from Death
by Chocolate to a party, it is not unusual for folks to think it was
purchased from a professional baker, like this cheesecake
You can also see the cake before slicing
or a single slice
(110 KiB). It is
a white chocolate cheesecake recipe in the book, but I use semisweet chocolate
instead. There are several Death by Chocolate and other books by Marcel
Desaulniers. In some past years, there has been a Death by Chocolate
calendar with recipes.
- Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah
Madison (at Amazon.com).
- This is the cookbook I use most. It is filled with useful information for
learning about new foods or adding skills to your repertoire. Vegetarian
Cooking presents information on selecting, storing, handling, and/or
preparing sauces, breads, pasta, specific vegetables, and other foods. Each
section includes a variety of appropriate recipes. In addition to the 1400
recipes, the book also teaches basic cooking techniques and how to combine
ingredients to build flavor. Deborah Madison is the founding chef of the
excellent Greens restaurant in San Francisco.
- The Design
of Everyday Things by Donald Norman (at Amazon.com).
- A terrific easy-to-read examination of how to design things so their uses
are clear. Norman discusses everything from doors to computer programs, and how
the design of an object ought to convey what it does, what state it is in now,
what changes can be made and how, and so on. A simple example: stove burner
controls should be in a rectangular layout like the burners so that it is
immediately and visually obvious which knob controls which burner. Why do so
many stoves lay the controls out in a straight line? Norman's clear exposition
of simple principles leaves us bewildered at why so many objects are designed
incorrectly. There is currently a desperate need for this knowledge among web
Explained by Daniel C. Dennett (at Amazon.com).
- Consensus is growing among philosphers, neuroscientists, psychologists, and
others that consciousness is an illusion. Our conscious experience is an
illusion fed to us by our brain, a story that appears to represent the world
around us and our thoughts but that is a fabrication nonetheless. In
particular, a decision to move an arm, for example, is not made by our
consciousness but rather by another part of the brain, and that decision
becomes part of the conscious experience only a fraction of a second later.
Dennett presents and explores his model of consciousness in light of a wealth
of information from neuroscience, psychology, and artificial intelligence. His
discourse is sophisticated, savvy, and distinctly rational, not
Yourself in Court by Paul Bergman and Sara J. Berman-Barrett (at Amazon.com).
- This is a step-by-step guide to handling a civil trial, including the
basics of procedure and rules of evidence.
- Black's Law
Dictionary (at Amazon.com).
- Black's Law Dictionary is a great aid in understanding legal terms.
I like the edition I have (at
but there is a newer edition (at
Speaking by C. C. Gaither, A. E. Cavazos-Gaither, and Andrew Slocombe
- This collection of quotes about mathematics, mathematicians, and
mathematical things is the source of many of the quotes on my
mathematical quotations page.
- The Only
Investment Guide You'll Ever Need by Andrew Tobias (at Amazon.com).
- This is a good introduction to investing. Read it for the orientation you
need to make your first purchases. But it is not the only guide you'll ever
need; serious investors should come to understand how stock prices are
determined, which means understanding how companies are valued, which means
understanding corporate finance. For that, I recommend college textbooks on
corporate finance. Avoid the pop investing books you find in bookstores; buy
something that is used to teach business majors. One such textbook to read when
you seriously want to understand corporate finance is Principles of
Corporate Finance by Brealey and Myers (at
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