The Lovely Little Schemer

Although only half way through a curious little book, I have fallen in love.

The Little Schemer by Daniel P. Friedman is a quirky little book with a quixotic appeal. Admittedly it took some time to get into, but now I can safely say that it is bordering on the magical. It is one of the very few coding books (if not in fact the only coding book) I’ve read that genuinely makes me want to relax into a comfy seat, glass of wine at the ready, Nina Simone playing in the background and settle down to a good read.

Since working in Emacs every day I have been meaning to get around to learning Lisp and this gorgeous little tome has always been one of the top recommendations for not necessarily learning Lisp (in the form of Scheme) but learning how to think in Lisp. Well, if The Little Schemer is any indication of what thinking in Lisp is like, please count me in!

It is so very different to other coding books I have read before, with its strange conversation style, questions and answers, I can’t understand why it hasn’t been more of an influence to other authors. One of the particularly interesting aspects about it is that you are continually building on what has come before, and quite literally. You cannot advance through the book without constructing the functions required to progress. This forces you to step back and actually use your brain instead of passively consuming. This is what programming is all about, this is why we do it.

Although only half way through this curious little book, I have fallen in love.

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