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Discussion on: What are your favorite non-programming books?

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Tariq Ali

Player Piano, by Kurt Vonnegut Jr. is a sci-fi dystopian novel about automation and the existential angst associated with it, from the perspective of engineers. I like this book the most, because this is the novel that I wanted to write...a story about how people deal with increasing amounts of automation in their day-to-day life.

Galápagos, by Kurt Vonnegut Jr. is a novel about humanity slowly recovering from a dystopian 1980s. While it is technically a happier story, the plot has humanity reach near-extinction levels and slowly mutate into an unrecognizable form.

Slaughterhouse-Five and Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut Jr. both deals with total warfare. Slaughterhouse-Five focuses on predestination issues while Cat's Cradle satirizes the arms race associated with the Cold War.

Heart of Darkness, by Joseph Conrad is a novel about imperialism, colonialism, and civilization (of the lack thereof), set in the Congo Free State.

There's probably other non-programming books out there that are useful, but I haven't read them yet. For example, somebody recommended The Sirens of Titan (by Kurt Vonnegut Jr.) as a better novel than Player Piano, but I haven't read The Sirens of Titan, so I can't say whether I like it or not.