- Invisible Cities, Italo Calvino. Translated into English by William Weaver - ISBN 0156453800 . Italian original published as Le citta' invisibili.
- Siddhartha, by Hermann Hesse ISBN 081120068X
- 3 Uses of the Knife, David Mamet, ISBN 023111088X
- On Directing Film, David Mamet, ISBN 0140127224
- Instructions to the Cook, Bernard Glassman, ISBN 0517888297
- Questions of King Milinda, available on-line at http://www.sacred-texts.com/bud/milinda.htm
- The Little Prince, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry ISBN 0156528207
- LeadershipIsAnArt, MaxDePree - a wonderful little book on leadership and relationship
- The Prince, Machiavelli - available on-line somewhere [see NiccoloMachiavelli]
- Zen in the Art of Archery, ISBN 0679722971
- The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho ISBN 0062502174
- TheStructureOfScientificRevolutions, by ThomasKuhn ISBN 0226458083
- The Art of Crossing Cultures, ISBN 0933662858
- The Art of Loving, ErichFromm? ISBN 0060915943
- TheElementsOfStyle, Strunk & White, ISBN 0205191584
- Jonathan Livingston Seagull, Richard Bach, ISBN 0380012863
- The Art of War, Sun Tzu, ISBN 0877735379
- WabiSabi: For Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers, by LeonardKoren? ISBN 1-880656-12-4
- This is an absolutely wabisabi book. Ward loaned it to me at a PLoP and I read it in an hour an a half. Great short description of a very difficult topic. Why are so many of my favorite books ShortBooks? -- KentBeck
- The Non-Designer's Design Book, Robin Williams ISBN 1566091594
- Finite Games and Infinite Games: A Vision of Life as Play and Possibility, James P. Carse ISBN 0345341848
- This is one of my favorite books. I read it once before I met someone who played the infinite game well. Rereading it now with that experience makes it all the more poignant. It is the sort of book you want to buy in bulk and give away to your friends. -- MichaelFeathers
- Clause and effect: Prolog for the working programmer, William F. Clocksin. What I'd imagined The Little Schemer, etc, would be like.
- QED: The Strange Theory of Light and Matter, RichardFeynman ISBN 0691024170
- Object Oriented Development: The Fusion Method ISBN 0133388239 (See also: FusionMethodology)
- The Computer And The Brain, John Von Neumann ISBN 0300024150 - pretty heady stuff about basic computer theory from one of the ENIAC guys, back in '58.
- How to get Control of Your Time and Your Life, Alan Lakein ISBN 0451167724 -- a slim book on using time effectively.
- PrecalculusMathematicsInaNutshell?, George F. Simmons ISBN 0939765136 -- A math textbook written in XP style
- Letters to a Young Poet, Rainer Maria Rilke ISBN 0393310396 -- finding and valuing one's spiritual self
- Anthropology, Dan Rhodes ISBN 0375504214 -- 101 funny and absurd short stories about relationships, each story less than a page long.
- The Last Three Minutes: Conjectures About the Ultimate Fate of the Universe, P.C.W. Davies ISBN 0465038514
- Leadership is an Art, Max De Pree. Dell Books, 1990 ISBN 0787910635 Audio Cassette, Media Books, 1999 ISBN 1578151376 -- Great encouragement to lead instead of merely manage.
- The Meaning of Relativity, Albert Einstein. ISBN 0691023522 Short and surprisingly understandable text on GeneralRelativity, though it helps to have taken a course on the subject before.
- Introduction to Axiomatic Set Theory, E.J. Lemmon. ISBN 0710062206 Formal, rigorous treatment of the subject, yet a very clear presentation.
- A Quantum Mechanics Primer, Daniel T. Gillespie. ISBN 0470299126 One of the best quantum mechanics textbooks I've ever read. It focuses on the formal development of the mathematics used for quantum mechanics - probabilities, Hilbert spaces, vector products, Hamiltonian mechanics. The quantum mechanical treatment is laid down very clearly and explicitly. Has no examples (hence the shortness), but gives a very clear, rigorous presentation.
- Basic category theory for computer scientists, Benjamin C. Pierce ISBN 0262660717 . Good introduction to CategoryTheory, covering the normal definitions, functors, natural transformations, and applications to FunctionalProgramming.
All these books say over and over, "There's so much more to say about this, but..." When an author forces him/herself to condense, they only write important things. When you read such a book, it seems full of important things, because it is.
My grandfather once told me that one of the marks of a good writer, is the ability to "KillYourDarlings
" i.e. to look at the words you have slaved over, and formed until they sound just right, realise that they add nothing to your message, and then get rid of them.
It is something that I try to remember when programming. --JonathanMarkLange
Well, when it comes to those words, perhaps YouArentGonnaNeedIt.
[moved from WabiSabi
I absolutely agree about this, that all my favorite books are short (with perhaps some notable exceptions such as TheTimelessWayOfBuilding
). Perhaps the writers out there can shed some light on why ShortAndToThePoint
is a good writing pattern. -- NicholasJacobs
Sometime in the early nineties I came across a comment in a book that "with the availability of modern word processors, any fool can write a five hundred page book and often does."
Writing a short book is not easier, it is in fact harder. At one time I earned my daily bread writing technical books; I tend to be quite snobbish about book length. If you can't fit your book into less than 400 pages, you're either not trying hard enough, or you're trying to cram two books into one.
(quote moved to TimeToMakeItShort
Note, that when a sentence is made stronger, it usually becomes shorter. Thus brevity is a by-product of vigour. Elements of Style, William Strunk Jr and E B White
Brevity is the soul of wit (Hamlet)
I have made this letter longer than usual, only because I have not had the time
to make it shorter. -- BlaisePascal
When you wish to instruct, be brief; that men's minds take in quickly what you say, learn its lesson, and retain it faithfully. Every word that is unnecessary only pours over the side of a brimming mind." -- Cicero
"A man who uses a great many words to express his meaning is like a bad marksman who, instead of aiming a single stone at an object, takes up a handful and throws in hopes he may hit." -- English lexicographer Samuel Johnson
The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak." -- Hans Hofman
"You know that I write slowly. This is chiefly because I am never satisfied until I have said as much as possible in a few words, and writing briefly takes far more time than writing at length."-CarlFriedrichGauss?
Indeed, it's interesting to note that as the length of these quotes go up, the less impact they seem to have.
For some, yes, but I like the visual metaphor of the long ones while the Hamlet quote says little to me. -- FergusCooney
''Vocabulary resubstantiates buffoonery."
See also: SkinnyBook
(those less than 1cm in thickness)