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This is a question This book changed my life

The Goat writes, "Some books have made a huge impact on my life." It's true. It wasn't until the b3ta mods read the Flashman novels that we changed from mild-mannered computer operators into heavily-whiskered copulators, poltroons and all round bastards in a well-known cavalry regiment.

What books have changed the way you think, the way you live, or just gave you a rollicking good time?

Friendly hint: A bit of background rather than just a bunch of book titles would make your stories more readable

(, Thu 15 May 2008, 15:11)
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Not life-changing but books.
Here are some assorted books that I enjoyed. Not life-changing but good books nevertheless.

Harry Turtledove's Worldwar tetrology
This is an alternate history series of novels. The book is set halfway through WW2 with the premise being that an alien invasion takes place. Humanity must come together to fend off the 'real enemy'. However, the Jews are in a bit of a dilemma. Should they help save humanity or should they make new allies and get revenge on the Nazis? The books are utterly riveting. Turtledove is such an expert at getting across all the cultural nuances of the different world cultures; in fact, he's so good at it that the aliens seem very two-dimensional in contrast. There are moments of humour, moments when we face the horrors of war, and even some brief erotic scenes. Although it contains the "Show me this Earth thing called love" cliché, it's nicely executed. You feel like the whole world's getting involved. The Worldwar tetrology is just part of the Tosev Timeline (there's another series and an additional book). I've also read Turtledove's standalone book In the Presence of Mine Enemies. It's an alternate-history set in a 2010 where the Nazis won WW2 and WW3. Not as humorous but also riveting.

Voltaire's Candide
This was one of my set texts in my 7th year of secondary school (English) and also my French teacher briefly went over the French edition. Being a science-nerd, I only took English because it was compulsory at my school so only got into it enough to pass English (by then, my arts-side hadn't fully blossomed). 11 years later, I decided to re-read it (it was the same copy I took to school). It wasn't life changing but now that I had had more life-experience, it was a good read. The story follows Candide on an adventure that's full of ups and downs and everyone talking about philosophy. In a way, it seems like a metaphor for my own life.

Love Talk: A Young Person’s Guide To Sex, Love And Life
The book that would have changed my life had I read it a couple of years earlier. I read this aged 18 after I had graduated from school. It explained various truths about relationships and what to expect from them, as well as other aspects of life. Also it gave some encouragement to anyone feeling a bit shy about expressing their love to their secret crush and gave tips on how to handle rejection. By then, I had figured some of it out already, but would have been nicer to have learned this the easy way instead of the painful way. Also, it explains how to masturbate (both boys and girls). Needless to say, I used the boy's techniques while reading about the girls' techniques that day. I honestly think this should be on the school curriculum. Anyway, my sister still had a few years left at school and I thought I'd pass this book on to her. Feeling a bit shy, I did not have the guts to give it to her directly so I left it lying around (so much for being a supportive older brother). Unsurprisingly, the book vanished. My sister had nicked the copy and I had to get myself a new one.

A. K. Dewdney's The Armchair Universe: An Exploration of Computer Worlds
This book appeals to my geeky side. I got this book aged 16 and had fun reading about things like cellular automata and had fun trying to bring these abstract worlds to life on my Atari ST.

Sun Tsu's The Art of War
This was written as an ancient Chinese military instruction manual some 2500 years ago, but the techniques can be abstracted to apply to just about any situation. Also, it contains a couple of amusing anecdotes about Chinese warfare. My edition contained comments by various historical commentators and also a few appendices. One resounding quote written by one of the commentators is "The battlefield is full of standing corpses - those that wish to live die, and those that wish to die live". This means that if you have the will to succeed, you will more likely succeed, but if you think too much about failure, it will get to you.

Foley & Van Dam's Computer Graphics: Principles and Practice
This book explains various aspects of computer graphics. It helped me fill the gap in my knowledge between a BSc in Computer Science and the ability to get a job in the real-world. Also, it finally gave me a good explanation of how to convert between RGB and HSV or HSL colour-spaces.

Michael Abrash's Zen of Graphics Programming
Another geek-book. This also helped me fill in the gap in my knowledge I was so desperately trying to fill and helped me get a job. Talks extensively about 3D graphics on the PC. This book is now somewhat dated, but back in the day, it was handy.
(, Wed 21 May 2008, 12:58, 3 replies)
for the computer graphics books, even if they aren't the best, obviously, because I'm not in them ;)
I recommend Fundamentals of Computer Graphics, Second Ed. by Pete Shirley because it's excellent, he's nice and I do get mentioned in it.
(, Wed 21 May 2008, 13:03, closed)
and Yay for Candide
A brilliant novella - read it in an afternoon and smile.
(, Wed 21 May 2008, 13:10, closed)
Alternate History
If you're interested in Turtledove's stuff, can I suggest the forums on Alternatehistory.com? There's plenty of like-minded folks there.
(, Wed 21 May 2008, 22:24, closed)

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