20 July 2010

28. The Book of Codes

28. The Book of Codes: Understanding the World of Hidden Messages (An Illustrated Guide to Signs, Symbols, Ciphers, and Secret Languages) General editor: Paul Lunde (4.5/5)

The Book of Codes is my favorite thing I've read in quite a while. Makes me wish I had a photographic memory.

Take a minute and think about how many codes you encountered or used today. Go ahead, I'll wait.

I'd say chances are excellent this book covers everything you thought of and a ton you didn't even consider. Read anything? Buy something with a UPC label on it? Calculate your change? Look at the sky to determine what the weather is doing? Follow traffic signs? Place a fork on the left and a knife on the right of a plate? Do a crossword or a sudoku? You get the idea.

The book is an encyclopedia of codes, a fascinating peak into how we interpret the world around us. History, science, linguistics, mathematics, social customs: there's a bit of everything from before hieroglyphs, to wartime ciphers, to music, to genetics.

Though most topics just get a two-page spread, a good bit of information is still imparted. I don't imagine everyone would be interested in reading the book all at once like I did, but I think there's something of interest in it for everyone. Avail yourself of the contents and detailed index.

A very cool reference book, painstakingly formatted, lots of photographs and images, and quite readable. If I weren't trying to accumulate less stuff these days, The Book of Codes would definitely be on my shelf.


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