Recommended Non-Fiction

3D Computer Graphics

3D Computer Graphics

Probably the best introductory text to 3D computer graphics ever written. It covers everything you need to know to start to get a grasp on the main concepts involved in 3D computer graphics. Also the author was my dissertation supervisor, but this isn't a shameless plug of his book, I simply believe it's the best book in the field.

Advanced Animation and Rendering Techniques

Again a great book by Alan Watt, this time covering animation and rendering in more detail than in the standard 3D computer graphics textbook above.  The only downside to this book is the print and layout of the pages is nowhere near as good as the newer textbooks and can make it difficult to follow in some places.

3D Games, Volume 1: Real-Time Rendering and Software Technology

A really good book!  This was the course text for a series of lectures about computer games technology that the author presented at the University of Sheffield, while I was an undergraduate.  The book not only covers all the important algorithms and ideas but also includes the Fly3D SDK, which is a full game development environment, specifically aimed at helping to develop first person shooter style games.

Natural Language Processing

Natural Language Understanding

A good introduction to grammar based NLP.  Includes chapters on parsing, grammars, semantics, ambiguity resolution and discourse structure among others.

Foundations of Statistical Natural Language Processing

A good complimentary introduction to, as the title suggests, statistical based NLP. Includes chapters on mathematical foundations, corpus-based work, word sense disambiguation, Markov models, POS tagging and information retrieval.

Machine Learning

Although I originally bought this book to study for a course in machine learning the best thing in it is the sections on text classification.  Between two of us we built a very accurate e-mail classifier based on information found in this book.  The classifier learns using standard machine learning techniques all of which are covered in detail, with examples including text classification.

Modern Information Retrieval

Although I haven't currently worked my way all the way through this book, it seems to be a really good introduction, to a really great area of science, including information such as how the indexing is carried out for the Google search engine.

Managing Gigabytes

A great book covering algorithms for the standard and best forms of compression, storage and processing of large collections of text and images.  A must for anybody doing research into information retrieval.

Popular Science

The Dinosaur Hunters

In this book Deborah Cadbury brilliantly recreates the remarkable story of the bitter rivalry between two men: Gideon Mantell uncovered giant bones in a Sussex Quarry, became obsessed with the lost world of the reptiles and was driven to despair. Richard Owen, a brilliant anatomist, gave the creatures their name and secured for himself unrivalled international acclaim.


In 1905 an elderly couple were found murdered in their shop in Deptford, London. The only evidence at the crime was a sweaty fingerprint on a cashbox. Was it possible that a single fingerprint could be enough to lead to a conviction? Could the pattern of these tracks hold the secrets of the science of identification? Fifty years earlier, William Herschel, the colonial administrator in India, had begun to experiment with fingerprints as an irrefutable method of establishing identity. In the 1880s, Henry Faulds, a missionary in Japan, began to study the formation of the whorls, arches and loops on each finger and was the first to ask whether these traces could be the unique key to identifying every individual.

The Keys of Egypt

When the French invaded Egypt in 1798, they were astonished to find countless ruins covered with hieroglyphs - remnants of a language lost in time. The quest to decipher hieroglyphs began in earnest: fame and fortune awaited the successful scholar. Amid political turmoil in France, caused by Napoleon's meteoric rise and catastrophic fall, Jean-François Champollion was hounded, exiled and even charged with treason, but still overcame poverty and ill-health to beat his closest rival, the English scientist Thomas Young.

The Poison Principle

Years after Dr William Macbeth dies, his wooden medicine case passed to his estranged son, who treated the bequest like a poisoned chalice. Over the protests of his family, he buried the case with its bottles of dangerous residue deep in the ground out of sight and mind. But Macbeth's granddaughter, Gail Bell, who watched the arrival of the bottles as a 10 year old, eventually learnt the reason for her father's fear: in 1927 Macbeth had been accused - though it never came to trial - of poisoning two of his sons. The book is the story of the dark secrets that lie hidden within a family. Bell is determined to understand how this "calm, warm and caring" healer became a murderer and avoided detection. But as the the unexpected twists of her investigation reveal, nothing is as straightforward as it seems.

Right Hand, Left Hand

In this sweeping and penetrating investigation into the lop-sided universe, Chris McManus takes familiar, deceptively simple, questions about handedness and asymmetry and attempts to answer them: Why are most people right-handed? Do left-handers behave differently to right-handers? Why do mirrors reflect left-right, but not top-bottom? and Why are muppets left-handed?

Time of Death

When detectives come upon a murder victim, there's one thing they want to know above all else: When did the victim die? The answer can narrow a group of suspects, make or break an alibi - even assign a name to an unidentified body. But outside the world of crime fiction, time-of-death determinations have remained famously elusive, bedevilling forensic pathology throughout history. Tracing her story from the Ancient Greeks and Egyptians, the author shows how criminal investigations and scientists have made use of an extraordinary variety of indicators.

The Universal History of Numbers

This is undoubtedly an expensive set of three books but worth every penny I spent on them. The three books together cover the history of numbers from caveman to computer a remarkable achievement and one that has been done in an astonishingly good way.

Travel - Bill Bryson

The Lost Continent

"I come from Des Moines. Somebody had to" and as soon as Bill Bryson was old enough, he left. After ten years in England he returned to the land of his youth, and drove almost 14000 miles in search of a mythical small town called Amalgam, the kind of smiling village where films of his youth were set.

Neither Here Nor There

Bill Bryson's first travel book, The Lost Continent, was unanimously acclaimed as one of the funniest books in years. Now he brings his unique brand of humour to travel writing again as he shoulders his backpack, keeps a tight hold on his wallet, and heads for Europe. From Hammerfest in the north, to Istanbul on the cusp of Asia, he makes his way round this incredibly varied continent, retracing his travels as a student twenty years ago with caustic hilarity.

Notes from a Small Island

After nearly two decades in Britain, Bill Bryson recently took the decision to move back to the States for a while, to let his kids experience life in another country, to give his wife the chance to shop until 10 p.m. seven nights a week, and, most of all, because he had read that 3.7 million Americans believed that they had been abducted by aliens at one time or another, and it was thus clear to him that his people needed him. But before leaving his much-loved home in North Yorkshire, Bryson insisted on taking one last trip around Britain, a sort of valedictory tour of the green and kindly island that had so long been his home.

A Walk in the Woods

The Appalachian Trail stretches along the East Coast of the US, from Georgia to Maine, through some of the most arresting and celebrated landscape of America. In the company of his friend Stephen Katz, Bill Bryson set of to hike through the vast tangled woods which have been frightening sensible people for 300 years. Ahead lay almost 2,200 miles of remote mountain wilderness filled with bears, moose, bobcats, rattlesnakes, poisonous plants, disease-bearing ticks, the occasional chuckling murderer and - perhaps most alarming of all - people whose favourite pastime is discussing the relative merits of the external-frame backpack.

Notes from a Big Country

After Notes from a Small Island Bill Bryson returned to live in the country he had left as a youth. Of course there were things Bryson missed about Blighty but any sense of loss was countered by the joy of rediscovering some of the forgotten treasures of his childhood: the glories of a New England autumn; the pleasingly comical sight of oneself in shorts; and motel rooms where you can generally count on being awakend in the night be a piercing shriek and the sound of a female voice pleading "Put the gun down Vinnie, I'll do anyything you say."

Down Under

It is the driest, flattest, hottest, most desiccated, infertile and climatically aggressive of all the inhabited continents and still Australia teems with life - a large portion of it quite deadly. In fact, Australia has more things that can kill you in a very nasty way than anywhere else. Ignoring such dangers - and yet curiously obsessed by them - Bill Bryson journeyed to Australia and promptly fell in love with the country. And who can blame him? The people are cheerful, extrovert, quick-witted and unfailingly obliging: their cities are safe and clean and nearly always built on water; the food is excellent; the beer is cold and the sun nearly always shines. Life doesn't get much better than this...