The Geeky Library

Published on Thursday, July 16, 2009 in , , , , ,

Geeky LibraryYes, geeks and books go together. But for improving your geek cred, some books are better than others. Today, I'll share a few books that can help raise your status among your fellow geeks.

I've mentioned Garth Sundem several times in recent weeks, and rightly so. If you haven't explored beyond the links I've given you, then you need to check out his books Geek Logik and The Geeks' Guide to World Domination: Be Afraid, Beautiful People. About 2 years ago, I reviewed Geek Logik here, and even posted a video clip of the author answering tough life questions mathematically.

The Geeks' Guide to World Domination is the newest book by Garth Sundem. For an idea of what geekery you can get up to with this book, you can check out the teaser ad on the author's own site, but you can get an even better idea by going over the Geek's Guide columns, which are available online for free.

The next item for the geeked-out library comes from Mental Floss. True, that magazine should be required reading for such a library, but I'm going to be a bit more specific. Their new book Be Amazing, has a good mix of geeky lessons, as well as tidbits that can often come in handy. For example, take the Be Amazing approach to quitting smoking. Do you use a patch? No. Will-power? No. Try chain-smoking until you get sick, drinking a mild hallucinogen, and then living under violent threat should you go back! Before you pick up the book, take a look through the free Be Amazing online columns.

So far, none of these books stand out with an extremely geek title. Our next book solves that problem, with its title of The Chrysalis of a Polymath (Confused? Look up chrysalis and polymath). Unlike the other books on this list, this one isn't intended for a general audience. It's written by performing magician Paul Brook, and includes full performances and unique angles on things like the Day of the Week For Any Date feat, the Knight's Tour, memory feats and more (sound familiar?). These are not just the techniques, but tested approaches for entertaining an audience with these feats!

One older book on this list, which still deserves an honored place in it, is Mind Performance Hacks, which I reviewed more than 3 years ago. The author is Ron Hale-Evans, who also hosts the Mentat Wiki site, which is a Wiki dedicated to learning and performing assorted mental feats. The book was written in the same spirit as the site, but goes far beyond it. A quick look at the sample hacks and the very generous book preview show exactly how far.

If you think you're even halfway to a decently geek library, ThinkGeek's Techie Non-Fiction book section will give you an idea of just how far you still have to go (as will the Mental Floss book section and the Mind Performance Hacks related-book section). They're all worth perusing, but one group that especially stands out here are the Sneaky series: Sneaky Uses for Everyday Things, Sneakier Uses for Everyday Things, Sneakiest Uses for Everyday Things, The Sneaky Book for Boys and The Sneaky Book for Girls. While their name pretty much explains it, these book contain the type of obscure but useful information that comes in handy at times, often when you least expect it. Fans of MacGyver will love these books.

I've tried to cover my favorite books, but I might've missed your favorites. Let me know about any of your best recommendations in the comments!

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2 Response to The Geeky Library

4:21 AM

Great list! I'd also recommend two more books for the list. They're been around for a while, but are plenty good:

1) Secrets of Mental Math by Arthur Benjamin and Michael Shermer

2) The Memory Book by Harry Lorayne and Jerry Lucas

1:25 PM

Great recommendations, Jo!

I've reviewed Secrets of Mental Math here on Grey Matters ( http://headinside.blogspot.com/2006/08/review-secrets-of-mental-math.html ), and the Memory Book by Harry Lorayne and Jerry Lucas was long ago the start of my interest in memory technique!