Alan Kay's favorite books

  • The Principia

    I have never forgotten the combined shock and thrill of making my way through this in my 20s.

     — Source

  • Mythology

    Mythology

    Edith Hamilton
    Timeless Tales of Gods and Heroes
    Literary Collections

    The world-renowned classic that has enthralled and delighted millions of readers with its timeless tales of gods and heroes. Edith Hamilton's mythology succeeds like no other book in bringing to life for the modern reader the Greek, Roman and Norse myths that are the keystone of Western culture-the stories of gods and heroes that have inspired human creativity from antiquity to the present. We follow the drama of the Trojan War and the wanderings of Odysseus. We hear the tales of Jason and the Golden Fleece, Cupid and Psyche, and mighty King Midas. We discover the origins of the names of the constellations. And we recognize reference points for countless works for art, literature and culture inquiry-from Freud's Oedipus complex to Wagner's Ring Cycle of operas to Eugene O'Neill's Mourning Becomes Electra Both a reference text for scholars of all ages and a book to simply enjoy, Mythology is a classic not to be missed.

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    The first adult book I read all the way through & one of my first mental wakeup calls.

     — Source

  • Art in the Blood

    This was a labor of love

     — Source

  • Computation

    Computation

    Marvin Lee Minsky

    Buy on Amazon

    it is one of my favorite books of all time Im surprised I didnt include in the original list.

     — Source

  • LISP 1.5 Programmer's Manual

    A favorite book. I have bought many copies of this book, both for its mojo and to give as gifts.

     — Source

  • The Mythical Man-Month

    The Mythical Man-Month

    Frederick P. Brooks Jr.
    Essays on Software Engineering, Anniversary Edition
    Computers

    Few books on software project management have been as influential and timeless as The Mythical Man-Month. With a blend of software engineering facts and thought-provoking opinions, Fred Brooks offers insight for anyone managing complex projects. These essays draw from his experience as project manager for the IBM System/360 computer family and then for OS/360, its massive software system. Now, 20 years after the initial publication of his book, Brooks has revisited his original ideas and added new thoughts and advice, both for readers already familiar with his work and for readers discovering it for the first time. The added chapters contain (1) a crisp condensation of all the propositions asserted in the original book, including Brooks' central argument in The Mythical Man-Month: that large programming projects suffer management problems different from small ones due to the division of labor; that the conceptual integrity of the product is therefore critical; and that it is difficult but possible to achieve this unity; (2) Brooks' view of these propositions a generation later; (3) a reprint of his classic 1986 paper "No Silver Bullet"; and (4) today's thoughts on the 1986 assertion, "There will be no silver bullet within ten years."

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    an early look and experience with timeless truths (and gotchas) from systems building with teams

     — Source

  • The Art of the Metaobject Protocol

    The first section and example is a must to read and understand.

     — Source

  • Molecular Biology of the Gene

    Molecular Biology of the Gene

    James D. Watson
    Biochemistry

    The mendelian view of the world; Cells obey the laws of chemistry; A chemist's look at the bacterial cell; The importance of weak chemical interactions; Coupled reactions and group transfers; The concept of template surfaces; The arrangement of genes on chromosomes; Gene sttructure and function.

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    Another book that I've loved

     — Source

  • The Sciences of the Artificial

    A much stronger way to think about computing

     — Source

  • Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea

    Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea

    Jules Verne
    Fiction

    Professor Aronnax sets out in search of a dangerous sea monster, only to learn that the monster is really Captain Nemo's powerful submarine

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    A formative book in so many ways.

     — Source

  • Molecular Biology of the Cell

    Molecular Biology of the Cell

    Bruce Alberts
    Science

    As the amount of information in biology expands dramatically, it becomes increasingly important for textbooks to distill the vast amount of scientific knowledge into concise principles and enduring concepts.As with previous editions, Molecular Biology of the Cell, Sixth Edition accomplishes this goal with clear writing and beautiful illustrations. The Sixth Edition has been extensively revised and updated with the latest research in the field of cell biology, and it provides an exceptional framework for teaching and learning. The entire illustration program has been greatly enhanced.Protein structures better illustrate structure–function relationships, icons are simpler and more consistent within and between chapters, and micrographs have been refreshed and updated with newer, clearer, or better images. As a new feature, each chapter now contains intriguing openended questions highlighting “What We Don’t Know,” introducing students to challenging areas of future research. Updated end-of-chapter problems reflect new research discussed in the text, and these problems have been expanded to all chapters by adding questions on developmental biology, tissues and stem cells, pathogens, and the immune system.

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    it has been the best single volume narrative of life from scratch

     — Source

  • The Organ-Builder

    The Organ-Builder

    Francois Bedos de Celles

    Buy on Amazon

     — Source

  • Advances in Programming and Non-Numerical Computation

    Bob Barton had us read [this] in his famous advanced systems design class in 1967.

     — Source

  • A Programming Language

    A Programming Language

    Kenneth E. Iverson
    Algorithms

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    This has the same thought expanding properties of Lisp.

     — Source