Bedside Books at Casa Kedrosky (upated)

Nathan Torkington at O’Reilly has a post containing a photo of some his deskside books. He argues that it is an indicator of what you’re working on and how you work. I agree, and in a variant of what he has done I have posted here an (unannotated) two-piece contribution — but these are “bedside-books”. As opposed to deskside books, the stuff lying near the bed is, I’d argue, a snapshot of what is sloshing around in your over-cluttered head. Mine is a apparently a strange mish-mash of things ….

To make one annotative comment, the dark book about fifth from the bottom in the right pile is “Fire in America”, by Stephen Pyne. After having bought it a year ago, it has become a favorite, one I keep returning to for Pyne’s magisterial look at the relationship between North American settlement and wildfires. Color me Californi-fied.

A couple of folks have asked for a detailed list, so here goes. I have filled in all titles, plus authors where I can see them or remember them.

“The Rise of the Creative Class”, Richard Florida

“Arctic Dreams”, Barry Lopez

“Gurus, Hired Guns, and Warm Bodies”, Stephen Barley

“The Best of Roald Dahl”, Roald Dahl

“Basic Economics”, Thomas Sowell

“Moneyball”, Michael Lewis

“Prime Obsession”, Michael Derbyshire

“The Fortune Tellers”, Howard Kurtz

“Positive Fifth Street”, James McManus

“The Language Instinct”, Stephen Pinker

“Modelling the Internet and the Web”, Padraigh Smyth

“Why I Am Not a Christian”, Bertrand Russell

“The Mystery of Capital”, Hernando de Soto

“The Rise of the Vulcans”, James Mann

“Sources of Power”, Gary Klein

“Wind, Sand, and Stars”, Antoine de St. Exupery

“Calculated Bets”, Matthew Skiena

“Our Final Hour”, Martin Rees

“Mountains of the Mind”, Robert Macfarlane

“Our Own Devices”, Edward Tenner

“Programming Perl”

“Rushing to Paradise”, J.G. Ballard

“Python Cookbook”, David Ascher

“Programming Python”

“The Theory of Gambling and Statistical Logic”, Richard Epstein

“Just and Unjust Wars”, Michael Walzer

“Spidering Hacks”

“Freethinkers”, Susan Jacoby

“Innovation and its Discontents”, Josh Lerner

The Economist, November 1st

“Fire in America”, Stephen Pyne

“Weirdstone of Brisingamen”, Alan Garner

“Re-thinking the Network Economy”, Stan Liebowitz

“History of the American Economy”, Gary Walton

“The Pythons Autobiography”, The Pythons


  1. Flattering to see one of my books on your shelf. My (biased) recommendation is to read the Cookbook chapter introductions by the “guest lecturers” — It’s my favorite part of the Cookbook, in that I think it actually gives a pretty deep intro into “Pythonic” thinking, without having to get too stuck into the details.

  2. Thanks David. Funny that you should say that: I noticed right away that the Python cookbook is very different from the Perl book of similar name for precisely the reason you suggest.

  3. Frank Ruscica says:

    Off to game the jai-lai system, I see šŸ˜‰ As it happens, my friends worked under Skiena on that project…

  4. I have a similar pile, I call it the “wishful thinking” pile.
    I have a rule – if a book sits in the pile unopened for two months, it is removed. Might as well be honest about what I would like to know and what I can be bothered to read.
    Please list the books in the pile if you can, I am interested in seeing some of them but cannot make out the titles.

  5. Summary of “Why I Am Not a Christian”…Russell basically says we should not blame the bad on God or attribute the good to God…we need to understand we control our own fates, we need to correct wrongs where we see them, not wait for God to do it.
    VERY SHORT translation from Terminator 2: No fate but what we make.