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3 August 2013

Land of Lisp by Conrad Barski

Over the last few years there's been a strong resurgence in the functional programming paradigm. New languages such as Clojure and Scala, which synthesise functional features with a modern-looking syntax, have engendered enthusiastic communities. While JavaScript, CoffeeScript and TypeScript developers increasingly want to code in a functional style.


Understanding key functional concepts is widely considered to be an essential part of a software programmer's skill set. One which invariably results in higher levels of proficiency with other languages.



However, anyone who has tried their hand at functional programming knows it necessitates a different way of thinking. This mindset shift invariably takes some time to accomplish. Many give up before the proverbial light bulb is illuminated.

What would help is an engaging and entertaining introduction to functional programming. Land of Lisp aims to provide just such a solution.

It’s a comprehensive 500 page guide which covers the full breadth of functional programming topics, from using simple lists to defining your own macros. Throughout exercises and code examples are practical in nature, with an underlying gaming theme.

The author's informal style, combined with a fluid pace, well structured content and those wacky-yet-informative illustrations, are a breath of fresh air in the often insular world of functional programming.

Although the book’s content and code listings are based around CLISP (an ANSI Common Lisp implementation), the lessons learned can be applied to other Lisp dialects, or languages that support a functional style of coding.


The question is whether this book succeeds in easing the path to functional programming mastery? I think it does.

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