Ada's Technical Books

This summer, I’ve been working as an intern for Microsoft on the Direct2D/DirectWrite team. While I can’t really talk about what my work entails, I can talk about some of the fun things I’ve done this summer in my free time and the non-work-related components of my internship. I suppose most people wouldn’t start blogging about their internship by describing a bookstore, but I went to this place today and it was so incredible that I had to write about it.

In Capitol Hill, there’s a small store by the name Ada’s Technical Books. It’s in a house that’s been converted to a cafe and bookstore, and is quite possibly the most amazing bookstore I’ve ever seen. As you walk in, you’re greeted by an small cafe counter to your left and an open area to your right with short bookcases and comfy chairs. Toys, puzzles, and “Maker”-appropriate items like lockpicks and Raspberry Pis.

Who can resist a giant 555 timer?

As I explored the shelves, I found dozens of copies of Petzold’s CODE, a strong science fiction section with nods to The Princess Bride and The Lord of the Rings, myriad Make: books, Sparkfun kits, and many books I’ve only seen online catalogs. Looking for a copy of CLRS? It’s there, along with many other famous textbooks. HTML for Babies? It’s in the kids section alongside books for helping your child learn to program and Snap Circuits kits for teaching electronics. Math books ranging from basic statistics and calculus all the way through advanced algebra and cryptanalysis are available, as are language-specific programming texts for just about almost every language I’ve heard of.

Wall-to-wall bookcases in the back reading room

The back of the building has a “reading room” area with a chalkboard, large table, and a bar-like area for reading or coding. On the 3 sides of the room not covered by the chalkboard, there are wall-to-wall bookcases containing books on dozens of languages and technologies.

If you’re in the Seattle area, especially if you’re interning or going to school in the area, I highly recommend visiting this store. Even if you don’t plan on purchasing anything, it’s a great opportunity to read a few pages of a book you might not be convinced is worth adding to you personal collection, but can’t read enough of a preview online to make that determination. The fact that this store has sufficient customers to survive is a strong indicator of the impact Microsoft, Amazon, and Google have on the community–I wish there was a store like this where I live!