Computer Science Books, or the Lack Thereof

06 Jun 2006

Why is it that you can’t walk into a computer store like Fry’s, or a big bookstore like Barnes and Noble or Borders and find a decent collection of Computer Science books? I browse through these stores, and I see dozens of books on “Learning Java” or “C++ by example” or “XML is the new God” or other such things, but these are all languages and APIs. MySQL, PHP, Python, these are all worthy subjects, but these aren’t Computer Science books; they’re coding books.

I want to see books on Data Structures. I want discussions of the various algorithms for implementing a self-balancing binary tree. I know every modern language out there has a library that will do it for you, but that’s not what I want. I want to learn, to grow. When I’m writing an app for something sure, I’ll use the built-in, but when I’m programming for myself I want to try the complicated stuff. The Design Pattern books are part of the way there, but they don’t cover the meaty stuff.

Specifically, I’m currently looking for a good book on the design and implementation of compilers (e.g. the Dragon Book). I could just order one online, but I like being able to go flip through a book before I drop money on it. Call me old-fashioned.

Maybe I should just try a library. (The brick and mortar kind.)