I think requests for book reviews are uncommon on other stack exchange sites because there are far too many books and it's not even sure there are other StackExchange users who have read some book I might be interested in.

But there aren't that many Mathematica books, and it isn't unreasonable that at least popular ones have been read by a few Mathematica@StackExchange users.

EDIT 2: I think there has been some confusion about this question. I'm not asking about book recommendations (which is just asking for an infinite list) but about reviews for a specific book.

For example, a "book review" question could look like this:

I've seen the book Front-End Vision and Multi-Scale Image Analysis: Multi-scale Computer Vision Theory and Applications, written in Mathematica on Amazon. Has anybody read the book? Would you recommend it? I'd like to use Mathematica 8.

The book costs $149 and has no reviews on Amazon.com, so I think this might be quite interesting to potential buyers. An answer could look like this:

I found this book very useful, because it has an almost unique focus on scale-space based image processing. Using Mathematica for this book makes a lot of sense, because many of the results are derived from first principles using calculus, then applied to image processing using transformation rules. The material you will find in this book has almost no overlap with standard image processing textbooks. On the other hand, if you want an introductory text into standard image processing techniques, you should get another book.

Unfortunately, the book is written for Mathematica 4, so it makes no use of Mathematica's new image processing functionality. It uses 2D arrays to represent images and DensityPlot to display them, so if you're looking for an introduction into Mathematica's image processing functions, this is again not the book for you. But if you're already comfortable with the new image processing and graphics functionality, you will have no problems translating the samples in the book.

Since we seem to be into lists lately (mathematica.stackexchange.com/questions/18393/…) perhaps we can start another: What are the best MMA books. (I haven't decided id I'm being ironic or not:) –  Ajasja Jan 30 '13 at 13:17
@Ajasja I surely hope you're joking... nikie: As for book reviews my vote would be off-topic, but I don't know much about mma books other than Leonid's so someone else can post a more fleshed out reason either way. As for this question: The OP edited that in after the closure. It was originally a "can you recommend an mma book", and such questions are simply closed as a dupe of the main one unless they are a lot more specific about what they want to get out of it and what their background is — See this question for an example. –  rm -rf Jan 30 '13 at 16:41
As much as I would like to access to well-written, well-considered reviews of Mathematica books, I don't MMA.SE is the place for them. –  m_goldberg Jan 30 '13 at 18:36
@m_goldberg: Could you explain your opinion in an answer? I'm not trying to argue, I'm just curious. –  nikie Jan 31 '13 at 9:53
Book reviews can be rather subjective. I may like a book because it is succinct and to the point, you may dislike it because it is shallow and doesn't contain enough examples. Same feature, two opposite opinions. This is precisely the area covered by the "Not Constructive" close reason. –  Sjoerd C. de Vries Jan 31 '13 at 19:40
@rm-rf Maybe it's time to start a wiki on one of the free wiki sites for these kinds of things. It's not ideal, not integrated with SE, but these things are not going to change in the near future, so we might as well start now. There are already several list-type requests. –  Szabolcs Jan 31 '13 at 19:42
On the other hand moderating a wiki, setting up rules and enforcing them while making sure that everyone is happy ... it may too much of a burden. I wouldn't be able to do this kind of work. –  Szabolcs Jan 31 '13 at 19:43
@SjoerdC.deVries: If the question is "did you like this book", then yes, it's subjective and not very useful. But I think the questions I mentioned ("is it version dependent, what topics are covered, what's the intended audience") aren't that subjective. Even if I liked a book and you didn't, we could probably agree about the intended audience or the Mathematica version that's required for the examples. –  nikie Jan 31 '13 at 21:29

2 Answers 2

I write this in compliance with nikie's request that I state my objections in an answer.

  • If someone wants to recommend a book as a good source of Mathematica knowledge, we already have a community wiki where such recommendations are appropriate.
  • On the other hand, if someone posts a question asking for book recommendations, that is asking for opinions, which is specifically not allowed on StackExchange and I support that.

I have come to realize that my original brief comment can be interpreted as meaning I reject any form of book review. I didn't intend that. I thought in the given context it would understood that I was arguing against allowing questions soliciting book reviews.

I see your point now, and I completely agree. Asking for a broad list of books is against the FAQ, and I don't believe it's very useful. I'd just get a long list of books that MMA.SE users have read. But that's not what I meant. I'll edit my question to clarify that. –  nikie Feb 1 '13 at 8:37

I think it would be a useful addition to the site to have a question asking about books, and an answer for each book. The initial content could be spun off from the Faysal's mega-answer, which could then link to it.

I would imagine that the most useful information about each book could include the most recent publication date, Mathematica version supported, brief overview of the book's aims/contents, some links (but not sure whether linking to a US or UK Amazon bookstore is so useful). The answers could be limited to facts, and the votes/comments would reflect how popular or relevant the books are to the community members. And why not a picture of the cover?

I completely agree. This could be very helpful. –  Murta Feb 4 '13 at 20:21

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