Building a computer from the ground up....sounds like science fiction! Ultimately it enabled me to see machines, not as these "black boxes" that do "magic"...I felt like I was taken through a journey that gave enough theoretical background to get you going and then left you to the implementation whilst they hold your hand. It was much, much harder than I expected, especially the later chapters, which in fairness I had to cheat a little but it was the first half of the book that was the magic for me. It is a brilliant read and I would recommend it to anyone with a technical background.
I have not read it all yet, but so far it is very good and I am looking forward to enjoying the project in its entirety. Check out one of the authors on TED.com for his short talk on the self-organising computer course for details about the book and the course.
If you want to gain a decent understanding of how computers work without spending half your life doing so, look no further. This book explains computer systems from the ground up, from basic hardware components to high-level languages, covering assemblers, compilers, virtual machines, operating systems and more along the way. The authors advocate a hands-on approach: for each major system covered, they define an associated project that involves constructing and testing the system. At least for me, this is a very fun and effective way to learn. The authors have an infectious enthusiasm for the subject, and their prose is both clear and engaging. This is an exceptionally well-written book.
have only got through the first two chapters so far but am having a whale of a time, the book doesn't really tell you what to do, it just lists components that need to be created ( i.e. what their properties need to be) and you fill in the blanks, however it seems that it lists them in approximately the order you would need to construct them anyway. I heartily recommend as a little project, as each chapter is self contained so it's perfect to dive in and out of, if you're still not sure you can even read the first 6 chapters on the course's website nand2tetris.org