Who are you, and what do you do?
I'm Alex Martelli -- Senior Staff Engineer at Google, and "guru" on the programming language Python, about which I've written my books, delivered many talks at conferences (web search for my name and you'll find plenty of videos of them), &c. Outside of programming my interests are bridge (the card game) and investing (not trading, which is a very different thing!-).
What books have influenced you the most?
Professionally, Kernighan and Ritchie's "The C Programming Language", first edition -- at the time I was reluctantly self-teaching myself how to program (my background being in hardware design) and that book struck me as a lightning bolt, totally changing my perspective about developing software for a living.
In Bridge, Bertrand Romanet's "Bridge Total" (in French, but it was since then translated into many other languages too) -- a logical, systematic approach to card play which, again, changed my perspective about the game. Descartes still lives...!
In Investing, Benjamin Graham's "The Intelligent Investor" -- when I read it I was already heavily influenced by Graham's thought (he essentially invented security analysis and value investing, so he has many disciples, but first and foremost is the guy to whom Graham gave the best grades ever, when he attended Graham's course at Columbia University in New York: Warren Buffett, who still reveres and honors Graham's memory), but reading the book itself -- so clear, sharp, simple -- still made a huge impact on me.
In fiction, and regarding life in general, Heinlein's "Stranger in a Strange Land" -- I read it at a young, impressionable age, and it jolted me right out of any temptation I might have felt to conform into respectable middle-class canons, into finding out exactly who and what I was and then being that person (me), whatever society's expectation might be...
What book would you like to write?
"Design (and other) Patterns for Python". I find the Patterns movement (originally from building and urban architecture, later SW development and other fields) absolutely fascinating and a very useful way to structure one's thinking. Alas, when I proposed that to my publisher they turned it down -- what they wanted instead were newer editions of my existing best-sellers focused on Python 3. For the Python Cookbook they ended up commissioning the Python 3 edition to other authors; for Python in a Nutshell they're still waiting but I do hope to deliver something this year, at long last...
Published on 2014-03-20