Over the past year, I've read through a number of books for programmers. Some of them have involved learning to program, mostly through game making software, and others have been focused on the soft skills of programming. Today's book review installment includes both.
Realm of Racket: Learn to Program, One Game at a Time! Published by No Starch Press.
Aimed at a youthful audience, this book by Matthias Felleisen and his team of college freshman computer science majors delves into the language Racket. Like many other books in this genre, the book guides readers through increasingly more complicated games. The book is appropriate for novice programmers who have zero programming experience.
Each of the games introduces new programmers to one of the fundamental structures of programming in any language: from lists to loops to artificial intelligence, this book transforms programming from an arduous chore to a fun and entertaining activity. Loaded with pictures, diagrams, and step-by-step instructions, eager beginners will be able to build games from scratch by the end of the book.
The Health Programmer: Get Fit, Feel Better, and Keep Coding Published by The Pragmatic Bookshelf
As a yoga and meditation teacher, I spend a lot of time with people whose careers are taking a toll on their bodies. Programming is a largely sedentary activity, and as we've heard many doctors say sitting is getting to be a health epidemic. Too much sitting leads to weight gain, poor circulation, muscle tension, and increased blood sugar.
Author Joe Kutner is concerned enough about the length of time programmers sit to write a book on how to stay healthy and keep coding. While most of the information in the book is fairly basic - walk more, sit less, take eye breaks from the bright screen, and eat healthfully - for people who aren't accustomed to this way of thinking (i.e., programmers) this information is assembled in straight-forward language complete with action plans. Kutner discusses how his suggestions ease back pain, reduce head aches, and eliminate eye strain - 3 main hazards for people who sit in front of a computer upwards of 40 hours per week.
Whether you're a seasoned programmer or just getting started, these books will get your mind and body started on the right path.