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TechRepublic's geek reading list

Here's the list of 75 titles featured in the TechRepublic gallery of must-read geek books. Add your recommendations to the list, and let us know if you're buying more e-books than hardbacks.

In the gallery 75 must-read geek books, contributor Wally Bahny features fiction and nonfiction recommendations from TechRepublic members, writers, and editors. Here is the list of the 75 titles featured in the gallery:

  1. Atlas Shrugged
  2. The Lord of the Rings
  3. 2001 A Space Odyssey
  4. The War of the Worlds
  5. Neuromancer
  6. Snow Crash
  7. The Fountainhead
  8. The Soul of a New Machine
  9. Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution
  10. Brave New World
  11. Frankenstein
  12. If Chins Could Kill: Confessions of a B-Movie Actor
  13. Shadows over Innsmouth
  14. The Call of Cthulhu
  15. The Ultimate Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy
  16. The Illustrated Man
  17. Does IT Matter?
  18. Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid
  19. Microserfs
  20. Show-Stopper!
  21. The Cuckoo's Egg
  22. The Google Story
  23. The Road Ahead
  24. Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything
  25. iWoz: Computer Geek to Cult Icon
  26. 1984
  27. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
  28. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
  29. Foundation
  30. Harry Potter
  31. His Dark Materials
  32. The Day of the Triffids
  33. The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe
  34. The Time Machine
  35. 1632
  36. Fahrenheit 451
  37. Slaughterhouse-Five
  38. Watchmen
  39. Wicked: the Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West
  40. Contact
  41. Dune
  42. I, Robot
  43. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
  44. Lila
  45. Profiles of the Future: An Inquiry into the limits of the Possible
  46. Revelation Space
  47. Starship Troopers
  48. Where the Wild Things Are
  49. World War Z:An Oral History of the Zombie War
  50. The Geek Atlas
  51. Little, Big
  52. The City & The City
  53. Everything Bad is Good for You
  54. Stranger in a Strange Land
  55. The Cluetrain Manifesto
  56. Anathem
  57. Predictably Irrational
  58. Amber series
  59. Magician: Apprentice
  60. Magician: Master
  61. The Serpentwar Saga: Book I, Shadow of a Dark Queen
  62. The Serpentwar Saga: Book II, Rise of a Merchant Prince
  63. The Serpentwar Saga: Book III, Rage of a Demon King
  64. The Serpentwar Saga: Book IV, Shards of a Broken Crown
  65. Code Complete
  66. The Mythical Man-Month: Essays on Software Engineering
  67. Ender's Game
  68. American Gods
  69. Ringworld
  70. The Forever War
  71. The Ghost Brigades
  72. The Sword of Shannara
  73. Hyperion
  74. A Brief History of Time
  75. The Dilbert Principle

Let us know which titles you would add -- and which titles you would remove -- from this reading list. Please think of this as a good starting point for discussion.

Amazon: E-books selling more than hardbacks

One interesting news item this week is that Amazon says it sold more e-books than hardbacks in the past three books. According to The Wall Street Journal, "Over the past month, the Seattle retailer sold 180 Kindle books for every 100 hardcover books it sold, it said." Does this news come close to reflecting your reading habits? Let us know by answering this poll question.

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About

Mary Weilage is a Senior Editor for CBS Interactive. She has worked for TechRepublic since 1999.

49 comments
gjost2002
gjost2002

I can't believe Fahrenheit 451 was picked instead of of Martian Chronicles

noux
noux

I can't believe that the serpent war saga was broken down book by book, and there is not even a mention of DAVID EDDINGS???????

nmenkus
nmenkus

I would add Peopleware, by DeMarco & Lister. I would remove the 4 Serpentwar books.

webmaster
webmaster

I would add The Anubis Gates. Or pretty much anything else by Tim Powers. And no RR Martin represented?

korenm64
korenm64

I can't even remember the last time I bought a hardback (apart from coffee table-type books). Living in Australia has both advantages and disadvantages in this respect. Advantage - most books aren't published in hardback but go straight to paperback. Disadvantage - because of the restrictive import laws designed to protect local publishers, and the fact that many of the paperbacks are the large trade-sized ones, books are usually a lot more expensive here than in the US. I tend to save up my geek-type book purchases and put in orders to Amazon a couple of times a year. I've never bought an eBook, partly for the same reasons. A lot of eBooks aren't available to buy in Australia, and many of the rest are priced to be cheaper than the hardback book which I wouldn't have bought anyway, but comparable to the mass-market paperback.

PurpleType
PurpleType

I cannot understand why the list did not include "The Mote In God's Eye," which is possibly the best science-fiction novel ever written. Of course, I also cannot understand why George Lucas has not made a movie out of that book.

gypkap
gypkap

Instead of Ayn Rand's polemic, add Issac Asimov's Foundation series. Old but still worth reading.

TBBrick
TBBrick

Atlas Shrugged was one long, repetitive, and wretched slog. If you must torture yourself with Rand so you can say you've read one of her "books," read the shorter Fountainhead. Only good thing about Rand is when you've read one, you've read them all. Here's my "I can't believe it did not make a Geek Book List:" John Shore's, The Sachertorte Algorithm, http://preview.tinyurl.com/24auyt6

amosm
amosm

I was happy to see Little, Big on this list. Crowley is one of my favorites. I agree with about 80% of the list (the rest I haven't read yet...)

GSG
GSG

I use the Nook, rather than the Kindle, but I really like reading the books on the Nook. I purchased an actual, physical book this week because it wasn't available in ebook format yet, and I'm spoiled and didn't want to wait. The font was a bit small, and I really missed the ability to change the font size to a larger font. I do like the feel of a real book and the ability to see the cover art better, but for cost savings and space savings, I'll go with the ebook before I'll buy the physical book. And before you say that there's no cost savings because of the cost of the device, yes, there is. I read a LOT and the nook paid for itself in 3 months. I would add the Belgarion series by David Eddings, then the Mallorean series which is the sequel series. It's the typical fantasy quest novel with the company of diverse companions, but it's still awesome.

Ed Woychowsky
Ed Woychowsky

Not counting the series, has anyone noticed that Ayn Rand hold three spots on the list; Atlas Shrugged, The Fountainhead and Anathem. While H.G. Wells, H.P. Lovecraft and Robert A. Heinlein have only two each.

Ed Woychowsky
Ed Woychowsky

I've only read 41 of the 75 books on the list. I'm off the book store...

deb
deb

Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson

markpowers80
markpowers80

Suggestion: The Wizard in Spite of Himself

itssri
itssri

The list would have been much more useful if it contained the following additional information: Author Publisher Year published Ebook version availability

IT-->PM
IT-->PM

Baxter writes fiction based on science theory and it stretches science fiction farther than any other author I have read.

wolsonjr
wolsonjr

A lot of good titles there of all types - brings back a lot of memories. Most of my current reading is either Abe Books for ancient out of print materials or failing that, Gutenberg & Google. Some things just can't be had in hard copy and are not loanable from libraries.

mikifinaz1
mikifinaz1

Now a real book, that's the thing. It never loses power You can't drop it and break it. You can put it in your back pocket. You can sit on it and not break it You can use it to prop up a table You can swap it You can mark it up A book lasts forever unless you lose it or your house burns down. There are rare books that aren't in E form A book doesn't shine in your face, I would think that after staring into a computer people would get tired of staring into another electronic device need I go on?

kaur
kaur

I trade books online through paperbackswap.com

boxfiddler
boxfiddler

I get them wherever I can find what I'm seeking. Online booksellers, chain stores, local booksellers, used booksellers.

abc123a
abc123a

The Laidoff Ninja by Craig Brown and Javed Ikbal available on Amazon.

chrisbedford
chrisbedford

Serpentwar series listed as separate books, but not Dune (6 volumes), Foundation (also 6), His Dark Materials (3) [not very geeky, that one...?], HHGG (5, plus one posthumously by a different author). How about Stieg Larson's "The girl with the dragon tattoo" trilogy - the heroine is a 5'0" 88 lb reclusive hacker who has learned how to look after herself in a hostile world (Forget the movie version where she has been made into a bit of an action Barbie) - I think these whould be on the list.

santeewelding
santeewelding

This is -- all of it -- after Gutenberg. You don't even have to scramble. It lays out there waiting for you...

lafa91
lafa91

I never buy eBook, i read those only if i found a torrent. I buy around 10 bookks a months, sci-fi, heroic fantasy, cyber-punk, technical ... after i read them i let my brothers read them and after others people could read my books. If i buy a kindle or any other eBook reader i would have to buy 2-5 of those to be able to lend my ebook to others. If not i waste my money on books just for myself... book that others will have to buy also. Those people buy books too and i could read those books. For myself there are too many books for geek out there to only post 75, i'm sure if i look into all my books i could find easily 25 more books then those in less the 10 minutes. I must say that i did read lots of those but there are some i didn't so i would print the list and try to find those i din't read yet. I will begin to buy eBook when i will be able to share them. lafa91

The COBOL Wizard
The COBOL Wizard

If you're "Management" or "GREEDY Capitalist", you won't like it. The more working people who read it, the more we will be "... Mad as Hell, and We're NOT GOING TO TAKE IT ANYMORE!!!". Ye Olde Goate "Olde Goates don't 'fade away', they just 'butt out'."

seanferd
seanferd

While I rather agree with your sentiment overall, Anathem is a Neal Stephenson work (excellent, BTW). Miss that "a", and yes, you end up with Rand's Anthem.

The COBOL Wizard
The COBOL Wizard

And many, many, many more -- sci-fi and otherwise -- that aren't on the list. Would probably read most of them again before I'd bother with some of the more obscure sci-fi titles. Ye Olde Goate

lafa91
lafa91

It should be in the top of the list for every geek.

The COBOL Wizard
The COBOL Wizard

"The Adolescence of P1", Thomas J. Ryan, 1977 -- "Original AI" sci-fi, very readable, entertaining, thought-provoking. Not as "far-out" sci-fi as most of these "fantasy/fiction" titles -- not even in 1977, when I read it. Think of a "Capitalistic" AI program/entity to "acquire and grow capital". It may inspire some hacker-geeks to "try it at home". Ye Olde Goate "Olde Goates don't 'fade away', they just 'butt out'."

bblum
bblum

John Brunner has three: "The Shockwave Rider" "Stand on Zanzibar" "The Sheep Look up"

Rick_from_BC
Rick_from_BC

you drop a paperback in the ocean (yeah - I know, but my hands were slippery with suntan lotion) you can usually find another copy that won't cost you $200, like a Kindle would.

Dr Dij
Dr Dij

as a student, I get access to netlibrary books. Thousands of them, and I can both search them for topics and increase font size. Printed books often cram stuff into small print to cram more into the book. I could not afford all the books I have access to. Plus storing hundreds of books online or on a kindle type device is quite an advantage. As mentioned, some very rare manuscripts such as ethiopian or indian ancient texts are scanned and available for free or subscription.

jdventer
jdventer

I agree with mikifinaz that there are a lot of downsides to E Books. I also agree that there a lot of positive sides to traditional hard copy books. I am attracted to the convenience of storing many books in a reader about the size of one real book. I would not call E books junk. I have not bought an eReader mostly because I'm not comfortable with giving Apple . . . any more the control over free speech than they already have.

stoffell
stoffell

I guess you don't have a kindle.. :-) Reading e-books on an e-reader is nothing like reading books on a PC or iPad. It's not a book but sere as hell reads as one! Enjoying all of the Gutenberg's classics is an expensive (if at all possible because of the rare books) hobby when you want to do it on paper. And at the same time you can find many other free (geek) e-books or buy stuff from amazon. cheers!

wolsonjr
wolsonjr

can't argue with your thoughts, but, there are also rare books that are ONLY available in e-form (I don't have the time or money to visit the libraries with the rare copies)

Jacdeb6009
Jacdeb6009

Could not agree more! Geek as I may be, however, there is a pleasure in browsing through a bookshop with real books, seeing, smelling, feeling, that an electronic book cannot bring to me. There is no joy in sitting down and reading a book from my computer's screen or any other electronic device, sorry, doesn't cut it! Even when travelling I can still always find a corner to fit in a real book!

The COBOL Wizard
The COBOL Wizard

That her work was being compared to relatively "irrelevant" sci-fi genre. I like sci-fi, too, (Heinlein, Herbert, Tolkein, Bradbury, "Tom Swift") but it's "message" does not typically have the "socio-economic" impact of the classics. Ye Olde Goate

rclark
rclark

Serpents Reach Foreigner Series Honorverse Cyteen Series Crystal Series Cast Series

nick
nick

Since I read a lot of Sci-Fi when I was younger I recognised and had read many of those titles. A lot that could go in there. How about "The World of Null A" By A E Van Vogt?

stoffell
stoffell

When reading your title I really thought you were going to recommend Geek Mafia by Rick Dakan. He has a nice Geek-series of books. Would be a great addition to the list. cheers!

Equinus2
Equinus2

If you think this book was about Greedy Capitalists" you've missed the whole point. Better listen to the "Money Speech" one more, make that several more times.

TBBrick
TBBrick

I'm neither management nor greedy capitalist and I still did not like it. I'm just not into hypocritical blowhards, be they on the right or the left. Classic example: While married, she's having an affair with also married and much younger Nathaniel Branden. Then when Branden had an additional affair with a much younger woman, Rand threw an unholy fit. This the champion of the philosophy of rational self-interest.

kkarney
kkarney

i agree -- Snow Crash is a lot of fun, but Cryptonomicon is more real world from a technical point of view, and it's just a great piece of writing on many levels... the Captain Crunch scene is one of the funniest i've ever read (and i read a lot).

Ed Woychowsky
Ed Woychowsky

I have a USB with Cool Reader and lots of ebooks as *.epub from Baen's Free Library and Project Gutenberg. Project Gutenberg is where I found Edison's Conquest of Mars.

TBBrick
TBBrick

He was agreeing that it was not about greedy capitalists!!!

The COBOL Wizard
The COBOL Wizard

The book wasn't about GREEDY Capitalists, it was about the 20% of the people who do 80% of the work (GNP value-added) in our economy. If the book was ABOUT the GREEDY Capitalists, they'd be the only ones who bought and read it. (EGO boost, little do they need it). Never make the Best-seller list. The book was really about one of the oldest characters in Western literature -- EVERYMAN. Ye Olde Goate

sboverie
sboverie

Atlas Shrugged was a long and hard read; but it did have some good ideas as well as explainations about why communism did not work. Rand immigrated from USSR and was enthusiastically capitalistic. The fault you hold against her is that her personal life did not match the ideals of her writings about Objectivism. People are prone to temptations and also tend to rationalize their behavior when caught. Rand is no exception. It is not whether Rand was a bad person for not following her ideals; it is whether those ideals are worth following. I enjoyed reading "Atlas Shrugged", but "The Fountainhead" lacked the mystery. "Atlas Shrugged" is not about greedy capitalists but about business leaders who love their industry and take pride in their products. The bad guys are the businessmen who do not like business and use politics to cheat their way to success. It was the political businessmen who pushed the industries into the ground while living large. Not far off from what is going on now with the financial industry taking huge risks without suffering the consequences.

The COBOL Wizard
The COBOL Wizard

Just applying the basic (but popular, best-seller) theme/premise/title (of that era) to our current political/economic scenario. Some authors have writing styles that are difficult to "wade through", but what they have to say "has merit" (albeit in fewer words). Ye Olde Goate