Book review: Clojure for the Brave and True

I sold most of my paper textbooks in the early 2000s. Since then, I’ve been using electronic versions of books.

Yet, something is appealing about paper textbooks. Though most books in computing have a short shelf life, many can be generational. My kids are of an age where they are beginning to touch upon the subjects in the textbooks they find on my shelves. So I started buying paper versions of some books in case my kids notice them and the books spark a conversation.

Clojure for the Brave and True” is one such book. I brought it with me on our family camping trip and read it by the fire.

As I was reading this book, my kids and their friends asked me about the book and why I was reading it. I read a few programming language books per year, and I don’t necessarily need to actually code in that language, not even try most of the examples. I read programming language books for the ideas they might inspire. Learning new programming languages makes me a better programmer.

LISP and derived programming languages have always fascinated me with their elegant and simple syntax worthy of works of art. Though I would love to spend more time coding in such a language, historically, languages derived from LISP were impractical for general use. 

Clojure is an interesting take on LISP. It’s a JVM-based language that benefits from the vast ecosystem of Java’s built-in packages and 3rd party libraries and tools. As with all other JVM languages, it is possible to use Clojure for parts of the project that need it most rather than for the entire project.

As to why you would choose to use Clojure for anything other than academic curiosity, I am not sure. One of the arguments for Clojure is functional programming purity, but many developers find such code challenging to follow. Another argument is concurrency support, which Clojure does with flying colors, but I would rather abstract concurrency away from developers entirely.

“Clojure for the Brave and True” is written with a sense of humor that appeals to me. The tagline on the cover says: ” learn the ultimate language and become a better programmer.” Note that it doesn’t say that you will become a better programmer and use Clojure in all of your projects. 

LISP is used in university computer science programs as a language to teach some of the most critical concepts in computer science. Most graduates don’t end up using LISP for a living, despite some incredible niche applications of the language, such as deep space exploration. Likewise, learning Clojure and its concepts will make you a better programmer, even if you don’t end up using it for your projects.

Links for the week of 10/3/2022

Interesting stuff I’ve been reading recently:

  • Curiously, Shakespearisation, i.e. mimicry of the British poet and playwright at the expense of one’s own creativity is a world wide phenomenon : Link
  • Warren Buffett Says Your Overall Happiness in Life Really Comes Down to 4 Simple Words : Link
  • Rapidly building interactive command line tools : Link
  • Exercise seems to be more effective when an element of focus is added to it. Evolutionary, this is how humans became good at hunting and gathering : Link
  • On therapy and mental health : Link
  • Devops is dead. Embrace platform engineering : Link
  • Cliques aren’t actually as helpful to having a rewarding career as it seems : Link
  • Run JavaScript within a Go program : Link