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Practical Common LISP (Books for Professionals by Professionals) Hardcover – 21 Aug 2012
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About the Author
Peter Seibel is a serious developer of long standing. In the early days of the Web, he hacked Perl for Mother Jones and Organic Online. He participated in the Java revolution as an early employee at WebLogic which, after its acquisition by BEA, became the cornerstone of the latter's rapid growth in the J2EE sphere. He has also taught Java programming at UC Berkeley Extension. He is the author of Practical Common LISP from Apress.
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Top customer reviews
I also bought Paul Graham's ANSI Common Lisp, downloaded several of the out-of-print free copies of Lisp books, trawled [...] read Paul Graham's website, lemonodor.com, Bill Clementson's blog, etc, etc.
Paul Graham's book is probably one of the more famous and recommended Common Lisp books, and these are the main reasons I bought it. It feels more aimed at the very basics of Lisp, going into reasonable detail about these, and is a fantastic quick-reference book (i.e you should buy it, too!) but it also feels very much of its time (the 80's, I think) and being a reasonably seasoned programmer in other languages, I found myself skipping chunks of it.
The two books which really helped me get excited about were David Lamkins' "Successful Lisp" (also available to buy and on-line) and "Practical Common Lisp". The two complement each other very well, where Practical CL starts off gently, giving a basics cleanly and comprehensibly, then drops you right in with real examples that I found I could compare with how-you-do-it in other languages. This makes it sound like it's a sink-or-swim style, but definitely isn't the case. Instead, it uses a examples that mix concepts explained in the current chapter, plus those that are coming up later, so you can see early on how multiple facets of the environment go together as a whole, rather than as independant chunks that you have to put togehter yourself.
My only complaints were early on, where "Scheme" (one of the other major Lisp dialects) was not explained well enough: my first big dilemma was whether to start learning Scheme or Common Lisp (go for CL first, but try to learn both, I've decided) but Paul's now put a quick but decent few paragraphs in the first chapter about Scheme. The other complaint was it hasn't a reference section, which is always very useful when you're starting out in a language, so you can browse, remind yourself quickly, etc. I later discovered the HyperSpec (and "Successful Lisp") but the published version of the book has a whole chapter devoted to getting more information, incl. must-have references like the HyperSpec.
All in all, I can't fault this book, nor can I recommend it highly enough to novice Lispers.
Well, Practical Common Lisp did the trick and in a pleasant way. The writing style (discourse) of the author is really good and in parts entertaining (see the story introducing macros in the corresponding chapter), the coverage of the language is very well achieved for an introductory to medium level book and the practical parts are very good. I think that currently, even without having read any of the more advanced books on Common Lisp out there I'm very well equipped in relation to the majority of my colleagues who have gone the way of the course given by the company alone.
A very good thing is the free availability of the book in the internet in HTML format. This allows you to have a light version of the book reachable with ALT + TAB while you're trying the code at the REPL. You may also "try" the book before buying it.
Some points to notice:
* The practical chapters which are dependant on AllegroServe won't work today (2011) with the portable version of AllegroServe which isn't maintained AFAIK.
* The code doesn't work in all implementations of Common Lisp, but I used ABCL for a large portion of the book without problems. The more common implementations work (ACL, SBCL, CLISP, etc).
Come with an open mind. Forget the lame jokes and stereotypes propagated by those who have never even seen Lisp let alone programmed it. If you want to be a serious programmer, do yourself a favour and get this book.
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