What I cannot create, I do not understand.

Just because you've implemented something, doesn't mean you understand it.

book reviews, Clojure 101: Programming Clojure, Practical Clojure, and Clojure for Lisp Programmers

I’ve recently read these two introductory Clojure books and thought that reviewing them might be helpful to anyone with a background similar to mine, that is someone new to Clojure but not new to Lisp.

I wish I had found Rich Hickey’s talk “Clojure for Lisp Programmers” before buying either of these books. I think that both of them are decent books which present a startlingly fresh and exciting language in a rather plain and unexciting way. Neither of them is the kind of quirky Lisp book I apparently really like.

For programmers with a decent understanding of another Lisp, I would strongly recommend seeking other introductions to Clojure. If you know any Lisp, skip the books and watch Rich Hickey’s talk. I think it’s a much, much better introduction. Not only is it more concise but it reaches deep into what sets Clojure apart from Common Lisp and Scheme. I would imagine his talk targeted at Java programmers is probably also great.

Hickey comes across as very smart and a bit opinionated, but what’s great is that he’s also very convincing. There is a room full of Common Lisp and Scheme people asking interesting questions in that video (unfortunately some of those are unintelligible and the trascript doesn’t help). Watching that talk got me much more excited about Clojure than reading these books did. And I actually understood some of the design decisions in Clojure which had previously seemed a bit odd.

Michael Fogus’s The Joy of Clojure might be the book I really wanted. Although it’s targeted at programmers new to Lisp, from glancing over the table of contents, it looks like it covers much more than either of these books, and so I may end up reading that too. In the meantime, I’m going to start actually writing some Clojure:

user=> (load-file "goblinfort.clj")
user=> (doseq [i (take 10 (repeatedly (fn [] (make-fight-sentence (make-name 2) (make-name 3)))))] (println i))
Vuxqu lacerated Qafumes with a rough knife
Aqnup crushed Coirvol
Gelna cut off Daqikzub's leg
Fuzov poked Gomluuj
Zizbo poked Kakenok's finger with a sharp mace
Pinub lacerated Jisojve's finger with the dull mace
Eyic slashed Ofqeem
Viwwe smashed Udwuluc's leg with the rough mace
Movis chopped off Erreob's toe in a rough club
Zear tore off Iwzevzaw's arm