One of the things I want to blog about periodically is what I’ve been reading, and a few of the things I’ve read lately have actually not been about software development (which is a good thing, if somewhat rare the last few years). One book I finished last year is the Neil Stephenson’s Cryptonomicon:
This was a wonderful, very intelligent book. It did a pretty good job of making me feel like my vocabulary was completely inadequate, since it seemed like every few pages the author was using words I was unfamiliar with, or lengthy metaphors which were at times difficult for me to follow. Very humbling – if you find this book an easy read, I bow down to your language skills.
In addition to its being somewhat of a challenge to read due to its high language bar, the book does a great job of incorporating some technical content, most prominently cryptography (as you might have guessed), in a manner that is neither dry nor distracting from the plot of the story. The story itself is told across two separate generations and takes place in what might be the near future in one thread and during World War II in another. The weaving together of both threads, and their resolution as the story reaches its conclusion, is very entertaining.
I definitely recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a techie thriller, WWII history, or science fiction. Most geeks will like it, I think, and I enjoyed it enough that I’ve picked up a few other Stephenson titles (but haven’t yet had a chance to read them).