• "Javascript, The definitive guide. 6th edition" by David Flanagan - while obviously I didn't read this 1000+ page tome cover to cover (a large part of it is a reference section), I spent enough time with it to write a review. It's a well-written, thorough book with a lot of useful code samples. What I like most about it, though, is its coverage of ECMAScript 5. Many existing JS books were not upgraded since ES5 has become the norm in modern browsers, which makes them less relevant today. With the vast amounts of horrible JS code out there, it's great to have a book that contains good code to learn idiomatic JS from. The book also covers a lot of ground on client-side JS programming: DOM manipulation, CSS manipulation, and so on. Overall, I think it's a good idea to have a copy by your side if one's writing non-trivial amounts of JS code on a daily basis.
  • "Crypto" by Steven Levy - Technically this is a re-read; but the first time I read this book was before I began posting reviews to the blog, so I think a short review is due. This book is 12 years old now and thus very much dated, given that the subject it covers - modern cryptography in the age of the internet - has evolved a lot since then. However, most of the topics it describes are still very relevant and historically interesting. Specifically in 2013 with the whole Snowden business - reading "Crypto" clarifies how nothing has really changed. The public outrage now is charming, but whatever Snowden revealed has existed for decades and was known to the public to some extent. My major gripe with the book is that it shuns away from most technical details, focusing instead on politics and inter-personal struggles.
  • "A brief history of mankind" by Yuval Noah Harari (read in Hebrew) - Just as the title suggests, this book is the author's attempt of an overview of human history (since the early pre-Homo Sapiens days), focusing on some historical, economical and political topics he finds most interesting. While the book is not bad overall and has some interesting opinions (specifically w.r.t. religion), I was somewhat disappointed by its being relatively shallow. The author is a researcher and lecturer, so I'd expect a deeper coverage. In reality, the book is more opinionated than factual - resembling a popular non-fiction book a journalist would write.
  • "Innocents Abroad" by Mark Twain - A travel log summarizing the author's several months-long cruise to the Mediterranean and Middle East in 1867. Written in Mark Twain's typical humorous and (tiresomely) high-tale style, it covers a huge range of countries visited and a lot of cultural overviews. While generally interesting, IMHO the book digs too much into inconsequential details the author found appealing and thus is somewhat difficult to read for long stretches of time. It is however, very curious to read about this "snapshot" of Europe and the middle east (and especially for me, the Holy Land) taken more than 150 years ago and consider how much things have changed since then.
  • "The annotated Turing" by Charles Petzold - a very unusual book. Petzold took one of the most celebrated papers in the history of computer science (Alan Turing's "On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem") and dedicated a whole book to carefully dissecting it. Not an easy task, given that Turing's paper is extremely dense, presents multiple new ideas, uses very confusing terminology and contains a bunch of errors. Petzold presents untouched sections from the book, interspersed with explanations of varying length (from a few lines to whole chapters). Alas, I just couldn't bring myself to focus well enough while reading the book so I didn't dive deep into the explanations. I wish I had more time to read it more thoroughly - maybe in the future.


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