"A classic is a book everyone wants to have read, but nobody wants to read!" - Mark Twain.Most coders seem to agree that the TAOCP books are classics, but there seem to be precious few who have actually read it. Moreover, I read some alarming highly-moderated comments on Slashdot recently where people claimed that TAOCP is not as useful as it is made out to be and one should read some other book instead. To be frank, the TAOCP books would have met a similar fate to the other classics on my bookshelf had it not been for the fact that I read them when I did not know yet that they were supposed to be classics! This was thanks to my father who brought Volume I ("Fundamental Algorithms") from his office library to me seeing my interest in computers while I was in high school. I read it from cover to cover delighted by the ground-up approach, the no-nonsense attention to details, the quirky but immensely insightful use of MIX and the wonderful exercises. I asked him to get the other volumes too, but could not read them as thoroughly as I had the first one. To this day, whenever I have a doubt or I feel like knowing something more about a particular coding problem, I turn to one of the TAOCP volumes and I have seldom been disappointed. I just wish the newer generations of coders understand and appreciate this. As an aside, among the few reasons that I respect Bill Gates as a person is because of the following quotes attributed to him:
- "If you have read this book [TAOCP] from cover to cover, send me your resume!"
- "The only magazine I take the time out to read is The Economist"