The Book Club at LEDAS

There are exactly 42 books on our reading list, something Douglas Adams would approve of!

Ilya Lichman

Just as it is hard to clap with one hand, it's hard to develop mathematical algorithms only by reading technical articles. And so despite the fact that we regularly read and write about C++ and CAD (for instance, about constraint solvers and plugins), we have regular book club meetings at our company at which we read fiction and non-fiction.

Perhaps one day we'll make a list of our favorite technical books on designing complex and reliable systems and must-read articles on mathematical algorithms, but for today we'd like to share a list of the books that interest us.

Back in 2018, LEDAS Book Club meetings were held in person, but gradually we've come to realize that it's much more convenient to meet online. As of 2020, this became the norm for many events, of course. However, even without the distraction of global epidemics, there is a benefit to holding our book club online: After members move to another organization or another city, they can keep meeting with us. They find it almost impossible to break away from conversations about books with people who are close to them in spirit.

One of the founders, and the first president of our club, specialized in C# projects, and was seriously involved in digital medicine projects. The current president of our club is much closer to CAM (computer-aided manufacturing) projects, working on Human Machine Interface (HMI) applications with futuristic WPF/MVVM User Interfaces and tight connection to various controllers, where he must follow Isaac Asimov's "Three Laws of Robotics" obviously. Sometimes at our the LEDAS Book Club meetings, we end up discussing progress in our AI projects, because, for example, a similar plot line is taking place in the sci-fi story we're reading and talking about.

Book Club at LEDAS

Here is a list of the books that we have discussed over the years:

  1. The End of Eternity – Isaac Asimov
  2. Cat Country (貓城記 / 猫城记) – Lao She
  3. One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel García Márquez
  4. Gateway – Frederik Pohl
  5. Beyond the Blue Event Horizon – Frederik Pohl
  6. Good Omens – Terry Pratchett, Neil Gaiman
  7. Mort – Terry Pratchett
  8. The Sorrows of Young Werther – Johann Wolfgang Goethe
  9. At the Mountains of Madness – H. P. Lovecraft
  10. The Call of Cthulhu – H. P. Lovecraft
  11. Hopscotch – Julio Cortázar
  12. Solaris – Stanisław Lem (and also the movie of Andrei Tarkovsky)
  13. Different Seasons – Stephen King
  14. Catch-22 – Joseph Heller
  15. A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens
  16. Christmas Eve (Ночь перед рождеством) – Nikolai Gogol
  17. In a Grove (藪の中) – Ryūnosuke Akutagawa
  18. Time in Advance – William Tenn
  19. Beyond the Aquila Rift – Alastair Reynolds
  20. Bears Discover Fire – Terry Bisson
  21. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest – Ken Kesey
  22. Blindsight – Peter Watts
  23. Eifelheim – Michael Flynn
  24. Extracts from Adam's Diary – Mark Twain
  25. Eve's Diary – Mark Twain
  26. The Last Wish – Andrzej Sapkowski
  27. Sword of Destiny – Andrzej Sapkowski
  28. Ancillary Justice – Ann Leckie
  29. The Selfish Gene – Richard Dawkins
  30. Neuromancer – William Gibson
  31. For Whom the Bell Tolls – Ernest Hemingway
  32. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone – J. K. Rowling
  33. Don Quixote (Don Quixote de la Mancha) – Miguel de Cervantes
  34. Wind, Sand and Stars (Terre des Hommes) – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
  35. The Brothers Karamazov (Братья Карамазовы) – Fyodor Dostoevsky
  36. Moscow-Petushki (Москва-Петушки) – Venedict Yerofeyev
  37. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
  38. The Final Circle of Paradise (Хищные вещи века) – Arkady and Boris Strugatsky
  39. Roadside Picnic (Пикник на обочине) – Arkady and Boris Strugatsky
  40. Transhumanism Inc. – Victor Pelevin
  41. Never Talk To an Intensivist (Никогда не разговаривайте с реаниматологом) – Razia Volokhova
  42. Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman! – Ralph Leighton and Richard Feynman

We always make a short summary based on our discussions in the LEDAS Book Club. Perhaps one day in the future we will publish some of these summaries here.

I don't want to say to you, “Read these books to develop the best algorithms,” but some key titles are on the list, and we see them as very important to our own work. Enjoy your time reading the best books!

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