I'm leaving for a much-needed vacation in a couple days. In the weeks leading up to a trip, I tend to spend as much time thinking about what I'm going to read on that trip as I do thinking about what we're going to do when we get there. Since vacation is one of the few times I can spend long stretches of time reading, I tend to save books I've been wanting to read for those times.
As a rule, I don't bring my laptop on vacations (my wife appreciates this), so I try to avoid reading anything that will make me want to sit down and start coding right away. This rules out many technical books. I also tend to bring more than I think I will need (especially when travelling to a country where I don't speak the language) because of the fear that one of them will be a stinker.
On my last vacation (which happened to be my honeymoon), I read the following:
Beautiful Evidence, Edward Tufte
I'm a huge Edward Tufte fan, and this is his latest book. It was difficult to wait until vacation to start reading this. While it's not my favorite of his books (The Visual Display of Quantitative Information remains that), it was still a pleasure to read, and it made the flight over the Atlantic go by quickly.
A Madman Dreams of Turing Machines, Janna Levin
The subjects of this book about the lives of Alan Turing and Kurt Gödel are fascinating men. Unfortunately, this book was a little disappointing - it was easier to put down than I'd hoped it would be. The focus of it was on the mental struggles of these men with very little description of the mathematics involved. I'd love to find biographies of these two geniuses written by authors who did not assume their readers were afraid of mathematical detail.
Special Topics in Calamity Physics, Marisha Pessl
This novel drew me in early. While it doesn't have the depth that the reviews of it suggest, Marish Pessl's use of language is entertaining, and the story moves quickly enough that the book seemed much shorter than its 500 pages.
After an embarassingly large amount of deliberating, I've decided to bring the following on my upcoming vacation:
Against the Day -- Thomas Pynchon's latest.
Compilers: Principles, Techniques, and Tools -- You know, the dragon book. I'm embarassed to have not yet read this and am looking forward to finally doing so. This may break my rule about bringing books that make me want to code, but that's a risk I'm willing to take.
Dreaming in Code -- I'm a sucker for stories about software projects.
After I get back from my vacation, I'm in Chicago just long enough to shower, catch a nap, and grab my laptop before heading to Portland for RailsConf. I can't wait.