I read a lot. This year, I finished 308 books on my Kindle app, another dozen on iBooks, a half-dozen on ebrary and 15 or 20 around the house. I don’t read books on paper very often any more. It’s not too practical for me. I go through them at the rate of about a book a night, thanks to a very successful speed reading program when I was young (thank you, St. Mary’s Elementary School). Don’t be too impressed. I don’t watch TV and I read a lot of what I colleague called, “Junk food for the brain”. I read a bunch of Agatha Christie novels, three Skullduggery Pleasant books, several of the Percy Jackson and the Olympian books. Yes, when it comes to my fiction reading, I have the interests of a fourteen-year-old girl. Trying to read like a grown up, I also read a bunch of New York Times bestseller novels and didn’t like any of them.
So, I decided to do my own “best books list” based on a random sample of one, me, and make up my own categories.
Because I taught a course on multivariate statistics, I read a lot of books in that area, and while several of them were okay, there was only one that I really liked.
The winner for best statistics book I read this year,
Applied logistic regression, 3rd Edition, by David Hosmer, Stanley Lemmeshow and Rodney Sturdivant.
I really liked this book. I’m not new to logistic regression, but I’m always looking for new ideas, new ways to teach, and this book was chock full of them. What I liked most about it is that they used examples with real data, e.g., when discussing multinomial logistic regression, the dependent variable was type of placement for adolescents, and one of the predictor variables was how likely the youthful offender was to engage in violence against others. It is a very technical book and if you are put off by matrix multiplication and odds ratios, this isn’t the book for you. On the other hand, if you want any in depth understanding of logistic regression from a practical point of view, read it from the beginning to end.
Best SAS book I read this year …
Let me start with the caveat that I have been using SAS for over 30 years and I don’t teach undergraduates, so I have not read any basic books at all. I read a lot of books on a range of advanced topics and most of them I found to be just – meh. Maybe it is because I had read all the good books previously and so the only ones I had left unread lying around were just so-so. All that being said, the winner is …
Applied statistics and the SAS programming language (5th Ed), by Ronald Cody and Jeffrey Smith
This book has been around for eight years and I had actually read parts of it a couple of years ago, but this was the first time I read through the whole book. It’s a very readable intermediate book. Very little mathematics is included. It’s all about how to write SAS code to produce a factor analysis, repeated measures ANOVA, etc. It has a lot of random stuff thrown in, like a review of functions, and working with date data. If you have a linear style of learning and teaching, you might hate that. Personally, I liked that about it. This book was published eight years ago, which is an eon in programming time, but a chi-square or ANOVA have been around 100 years, so that wasn’t an issue. While I don’t generally like the use of simulated data for problems in statistics, for teaching this was really helpful because when students were first exposed to a new concept they didn’t need to get a codebook, fix the data. For the purpose of teaching applied statistics, it’s a good book.
The jQuery cookbook, edited by Cody Lindley
was my favorite. If you haven’t gathered by now, I’m fond of learning by example, and this book is pretty much nothing but elaborate examples along the lines of , “Say you wanted to make every other row in a table green”. There are some like that I can imagine wanting to do and others I cannot think of any need to use ever. However, those are famous last words. When I was in high school, I couldn’t imagine I would ever use the matrix algebra we were learning.
Best game programming book I read this year
Again, I read a lot of game programming books. I didn’t read a lot of mediocre game programming books. They all were either pretty good or sucked. The best of the good ones was difficult to choose, but I did
Building HTML5 Games by Jesse Freeman
This is a very hands-on approach to building 2-D games with impact, with, you guessed it, plenty of examples. I was excited to learn that he has several other books out. I’m going to read all of them next year.
So, there you have it …. my favorite technical books that I read this year. Feel free to make suggestions for what I ought to read next year.