16 votes

Which books are the "bible" of your discipline?

I recall when I took biology in high school, we used the well-regarded Biology textbook, written by Campbell. Another example might be Kernighan & Ritchie's The C Programming Language.

My discipline is Electrical Engineering, focused in integrated circuit design. I find that there are often a few competing textbooks, and some of them are stronger in their explanations. Razavi's Design of Analog CMOS Integrated Circuits for example, is considered the best at explaining complex topologies using intuition, rather than complete mathematical rigor.

A book you find many junior electrical engineering students posessing is Sedra & Smith's Microelectronics, which in my honest opinion, is great for explaining operational amplifiers and simple topologies of single transistor amplifiers, but the latter chapters are much better explained (and notated) by a multitude of other authors, Razavi included.

The reason I ask is because I was considering taking a biochemistry course, and they use a hefty looking text that also has a highly descriptive name as other "bibles," simply called Principles of Biochemistry.

24 comments

  1. [2]
    NeoTheFox
    Link
    I like to think of SICP as one must-read book on all of programming. It is very refreshing compared to most other books that only focus on a language or design, or something that is supposed to be...

    I like to think of SICP as one must-read book on all of programming. It is very refreshing compared to most other books that only focus on a language or design, or something that is supposed to be a part of a much larger picture. This book gets it all right.

    11 votes
    1. pvik
      Link Parent
      Since this post talks about programming, I'll add my suggestion here: The Art of Computer Programming These volumes are distilled with years of knowledge and Donald Knuth is great at explaining...

      Since this post talks about programming, I'll add my suggestion here:

      • The Art of Computer Programming These volumes are distilled with years of knowledge and Donald Knuth is great at explaining complex concepts.

      • SICP as /u/NeoTheFox already mentioned
        SICP is a great book! There is also an HTML5 version, which is much easier to read online! (here, github).
        The videos/lectures are also worth watching along with the book (here)

      8 votes
  2. [3]
    envy
    Link
    Positioning, the battle for your mind - fantastic book if you have to name products.

    Positioning, the battle for your mind - fantastic book if you have to name products.

    5 votes
    1. [2]
      cptcobalt
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      This summary made it an insta-add to my reading list; it seems like something I’d really enjoy. (The dated “über-businessy” cover, however, explains how I’ve missed it till now.) edit:...

      This summary made it an insta-add to my reading list; it seems like something I’d really enjoy. (The dated “über-businessy” cover, however, explains how I’ve missed it till now.)

      edit: auto-correct likes to get in the way when commenting on mobile and I didn't notice. 😖

      1 vote
  3. mat
    Link
    The Complete Metalsmith by Tim McCreight is widely cited among people who work in jewellery and metalsmithing. Personally I've never seen a copy because despite being in this game for quite a few...

    The Complete Metalsmith by Tim McCreight is widely cited among people who work in jewellery and metalsmithing. Personally I've never seen a copy because despite being in this game for quite a few years now, I've yet to find myself unable to find the information I need without it.. YouTube is a particularly great resource for learning and understanding physical processes, so if anything is my bible, it's that.

    A few other bibles I know of - Contact Juggling by James Ernest; The Royal Road to Card Magic by Jean Hugard; McGee on Food and Cooking by Harold McGee (although some swear by Larousse Gastronomie but I don't); I've stripped and rebuilt a few cars with nothing more than the relevant Haynes Manual.

    4 votes
  4. Chopincakes
    Link
    In Bioethics, Beauchamp and Childress's "Principles of Biomedical Ethics" is considered the bible of the field, so much so that their list of 4 principles of bioethics (beneficence,...

    In Bioethics, Beauchamp and Childress's "Principles of Biomedical Ethics" is considered the bible of the field, so much so that their list of 4 principles of bioethics (beneficence, non-maleficence, autonomy, and justice) are considered the "Georgetown Mantra" and taught to anyone studying bioethics.

    3 votes
  5. MimicSquid
    Link
    Summa de Arithmetica, Geometria, Proportioni et Proportionalita, Luca Pacioli, 1494 Bookkeeping has gotten a little more complex since then, but mostly in the software used and the edge cases...

    Summa de Arithmetica, Geometria, Proportioni et Proportionalita, Luca Pacioli, 1494

    Bookkeeping has gotten a little more complex since then, but mostly in the software used and the edge cases regarding legal compliance.

    3 votes
  6. mrbig
    Link
    Narration in the fiction film by David Bordwell. Not really a bible though. I don’t think there is one.

    Narration in the fiction film by David Bordwell.

    Not really a bible though. I don’t think there is one.

    2 votes
  7. [8]
    Staross
    Link
    In molecular biology Molecular Biology of the Cell, in dynamical systems Strogatz's Nonlinear dynamics and Chaos, in morphogenesis Meinhardt's The Algorithmic Beauty of Sea Shells.

    In molecular biology Molecular Biology of the Cell, in dynamical systems Strogatz's Nonlinear dynamics and Chaos, in morphogenesis Meinhardt's The Algorithmic Beauty of Sea Shells.

    1 vote
    1. [7]
      JakeTheDog
      Link Parent
      The trouble with science "bibles" though is that they get outdated so quickly. Not even the basics last too long. I would argue anything that is more than ~10 years old is no longer a viable "bible".

      The trouble with science "bibles" though is that they get outdated so quickly. Not even the basics last too long. I would argue anything that is more than ~10 years old is no longer a viable "bible".

      1 vote
      1. [2]
        mat
        Link Parent
        Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica would like a word with you..

        Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica would like a word with you..

        2 votes
        1. JakeTheDog
          Link Parent
          Hahaha, touché! But give it a few more decades... Also, correct me if I'm wrong, but that book also covers formal logic and content that doesn't really change / isn't science.

          Hahaha, touché! But give it a few more decades...

          Also, correct me if I'm wrong, but that book also covers formal logic and content that doesn't really change / isn't science.

      2. [3]
        sublime_aenima
        Link Parent
        That's why they get updated with new editions though. For example, I have a 4th Ed of Principles of Biochemistry from a Metabolic Biochemistry course I took over a decade ago, while the one @Nmg...

        That's why they get updated with new editions though. For example, I have a 4th Ed of Principles of Biochemistry from a Metabolic Biochemistry course I took over a decade ago, while the one @Nmg linked to is the 7th Ed. Similarly to Cambell's Biology and Sedra & Smith's Microelectronics, the bulk of the books that I had are identical to the new editions, but they are obviously updated to keep up to date with new information. Many science text "bibles" are written about subjects where the introductory or basic info hasn't changed much in several decades and likely won't change much in the coming decades. The "bible" doesn't necessarily need to be the latest and greatest as long as it provides a strongest foundation for someone to learn the fundamentals.

        As an anecdote, I was recently directed to read Urick's Principles of Underwater Sound (funnily enough one of the people that recommended it to me referred to it as the Bible of underwater acoustics), but the latest edition is from 1983. That said, it was definitely better than the other book I had originally read and increased my understanding of sound propagation filling in some crucial gaps that I had been missing. Since I also need to be an expert on more up to date information, I look to scholarly articles, other text books, patents or industry publications that go more in depth to specifics that have advanced within the last 35 or so years, meanwhile the fundamental science behind how all these things work hasn't changed.

        1. [2]
          JakeTheDog
          Link Parent
          Fair enough. I don't teach in my field (biochem) so for me and my colleagues a combination of wikipedia, niche online repositories and the latest review article are our bibles - everything else...

          Fair enough. I don't teach in my field (biochem) so for me and my colleagues a combination of wikipedia, niche online repositories and the latest review article are our bibles - everything else gets old too quickly. Usually there is one or two really good reviews that I recommend to novices though.

          When I think of the bible analogy I think of "the ultimate authority". And in science, there is no single source.

          1 vote
          1. sublime_aenima
            Link Parent
            When I think bible, I think more as the foundation, not necessarily ultimate authority as depending on who you ask, the Bible can either be the literal word of God, the word of God interpreted by...

            When I think bible, I think more as the foundation, not necessarily ultimate authority as depending on who you ask, the Bible can either be the literal word of God, the word of God interpreted by men, or simply a collection of stories. Almost all theologians, priests and ministers study much more than only the Bible just as an expert in a given field would study much more than just the foundational textbook.

      3. Staross
        Link Parent
        The Strogatz was published in 1994 originally, but I doubt any of it is outdated. Maths usually age pretty well.

        The Strogatz was published in 1994 originally, but I doubt any of it is outdated. Maths usually age pretty well.

  8. [3]
    unknown user
    Link
    The Art of Paragliding by Dennis Pagen. Sadly, it was released in 2001, and the sport has evolved significantly over the last two decades; but the fundamental principles remain the same.

    The Art of Paragliding by Dennis Pagen. Sadly, it was released in 2001, and the sport has evolved significantly over the last two decades; but the fundamental principles remain the same.

    1 vote
    1. [2]
      JakeTheDog
      Link Parent
      May I ask what your field of work is? It's not often "paragliding" is one's discipline.

      May I ask what your field of work is? It's not often "paragliding" is one's discipline.

      1. unknown user
        Link Parent
        My profession is actually as a software engineer—however given the top level comment already covers this I thought I'd give a different answer for my main hobby instead. Ultimately I'd like to...

        My profession is actually as a software engineer—however given the top level comment already covers this I thought I'd give a different answer for my main hobby instead.

        Ultimately I'd like to make tandem paraglider piloting or paraglider instructing my career—but I currently only have my solo license. I enjoy being outside more than I enjoy being inside.

        1 vote
  9. boredop
    (edited )
    Link
    Stick Control for the Snare Drummer by George Lawrence Stone Published in 1935, this has been the rudimental "chops buster" book for drummers ever since. It's written as "just" sticking exercises...

    Stick Control for the Snare Drummer by George Lawrence Stone
    Published in 1935, this has been the rudimental "chops buster" book for drummers ever since. It's written as "just" sticking exercises for snare drum - single strokes, double strokes, paradiddle combinations, flams and rolls. But the exercises can be played at all different tempos, with different grips and muscle groups, on a practice pad or snare drum or orchestrated around the drumset. There's enough in this book for a lifetime of practice.

    Progressive Steps to Syncopation for the Modern Drummer by Ted Reed
    From 1958. The exercises in Syncopation contain one line for snare drum and one for bass drum. If you read them as they appear on the page they aren't too difficult, but that's not the point. Syncopation's staying power comes from its tremendous versatility. There is a nearly infinite number of ways to adapt the various exercises to the drumset in jazz, rock or Latin rhythmic contexts.

    Advanced Techniques For The Modern Drummer by Jim Chapin
    Published in 1948, a few years after the bebop style of jazz rose to prominence and introduced a new style of drumming as pioneered by Kenny Clarke and Max Roach. The Chapin book was the first to put the new approach on paper, and was the first method book to deal with limb independence in a jazz context. When it was first published it was almost considered unplayable due to the difficulty! But Chapin was able to convince the naysayers by playing everything in the book on demand, and it wasn't long before it became the definitive jazz drumming book. (It has been somewhat superseded in recent years by John Riley's The Art of Bop Drumming, but I practice out of both when I am actually able to find some time to shed.)

    1 vote
  10. krg
    Link
    Well, damn... I wish I had a discipline that necessitated a bible... That said, I believe Mastering Audio: The Art and the Science is the audio recording bible. And, hell, one day I'd like to...

    Well, damn... I wish I had a discipline that necessitated a bible...

    That said, I believe Mastering Audio: The Art and the Science is the audio recording bible.

    And, hell, one day I'd like to write a bible of guitar pedagogy. Though I haven't read it myself, William Leavitt's method are supposed to be up there. Still, as arrogant as it may sound, I feel like I have an interesting understanding of the instrument and can impart some wisdom. Maybe...

    1 vote
  11. DanBC
    Link
    For suicide prevention in England the annual report from NCISH (previously, National Confidential Inquiry into Suicide, and Homicide by mental health patients, currently national confidential...

    For suicide prevention in England the annual report from NCISH (previously, National Confidential Inquiry into Suicide, and Homicide by mental health patients, currently national confidential inquiry into suicide and self harm): https://sites.manchester.ac.uk/ncish/reports/

    Here's the latest report: https://sites.manchester.ac.uk/ncish/reports/annual-report-2018-england-northern-ireland-scotland-and-wales/

    1 vote
  12. envy
    Link
    Proficient Motorcycling - The ultimate guide to riding safe, which is a discipline of sorts

    Proficient Motorcycling - The ultimate guide to riding safe, which is a discipline of sorts